parkrun, 27th May 2023

Last Saturday’s warm, sunny weather persisted throughout the week, leading to another round of hot parkrun action this weekend.

The Claremont stronghold at Leazes was well populated by sky-blue runners and volunteers alike, the pick of which was Anneliza Andreadi, smashing her previous PB by almost a full minute. Good also to see Kim Collings, getting round on tail-walking duties as she continues on the road back from injury.

Mark Anderson’s recent purple patch has gone on so long, that it can probably just be considered the norm now. He chalked up another course PB at Jesmond Dene, finishing 3rd overall.

Lena and Kim (and Rossi) rendezvoused over at Druridge Bay for some sunny lakeside running, with Elizabeth O’Mahony, Cate Walker and Francesco Carrer also going coastal at Blyth Links and Whitley Bay respectively. Tara Hipwood was all the way down in Newport, pleasingly running her fastest time since before the pandemic, while Clare McKitterick warmed up for Sunday’s half marathon at Portobello in Edinburgh.

Some Claremonters have become inreasingly gripped by parkrun challenge fever recently, with ‘Alphabeteering’ a particularly popular mission. Maria Dueñas headed down to collect an ‘H’ at Hartlepool, though she’s still only a little over halfway through this particular endeavour. She was also 3rd lady.

A couple of our members seemed to be competing for ‘who had it tougher’ this morning. Alex Harding said of his visit to Hafan Pwllheli in Wales:

“Probably high in the list of the UK’s toughest parkruns. Deceptively flat but tougher than some cross country courses. A very, very warm morning, 20 degrees and not a cloud.

An out and back course completely on the sand. Although flat, definitely one of the most difficult courses I’ve ever done, soft sand with each step sinking into it, made each step more difficult and draining leading to a time of 30:56. Would I do it again – yes in an instance, but it isn’t one for the faint hearted and only if you don’t mind finding sand in some odd places for a while after either.”

Elevation rather than terrain provided the challenge for Tom and Gill, on their excursion to Whinlatter Forest in Cumbria. If there has to be a winner, the tag of ‘2nd toughest’ ranked parkrun in the country probably gives them the edge over Alex’ sandy slog.

I took advantage of a trip to the capital, to pilgrimage to the birthplace of parkrun at Bushy Park, eschewing many closer options (there really are a lot of parkruns in London).

The huge popularity of parkrun, and the aforementioned interest in completing challenges, means that the ‘OG’ event understandably attracts big numbers, with nearly 1300 finishers on this occasion.

We were gathered beind a line of cones probably a good 60-70 metres across on a large patch of grass, and were set off after a surprisingly swift briefing, in which people were advised to try and avoid the speakers, placed centrally and directly in front of the onrushing runners!

An almost immediate collision led to my watch being paused for a few seconds before I noticed, as the first 200 metres saw the crowd funneled onto a gravelly path, with the more astute runners (not me) who’d stayed over to the left, able to pass by the traffic on the grass outside.

Plumes of dust from the path hung in the air as the masses stampeded along. Eventually the crowds thinned a little, and one could better appreciate the flat course, and the expansive beauty of the park in the brilliant morning sunshine. Despite switching variously from dusty path, to woodland track, to grass, and tarmac, it was an easy route that allowed for fast yet relaxed running.

I had hoped for a fast time, and was therefore pleased, if not slightly surprised to record a PB by the skin of my teeth. Considering the scale of the operation, Bushy clearly has a well-oiled volunteer team. Start, run and finish were all smoothly done, with lots of friendly encouragement.

Would recommend for all of the above reasons, a massive event in a massive park that still manages not to lose sight of the joys that make parkrun what it is. I did, however, wonder if some of the women still queuing for the toilet at 8:55 actually made the start…

Blyth Links
32:52Elizabeth O’Mahony
Bushy Park
19:40Laurie Johnson (PB)
Hafan Pwllheli
30:56Alex Harding
21:23Maria Dueñas (3rd Female)
26:09Clare McKitterick
Riverfront, Newport
24:59Tara Hipwood
Druridge Bay
32:27Kimberley Metson
37:45Lena Webster-Costella
Whinlatter Forest
25:13Tom Tinsley
35:43Gill Milne
Whitley Bay
26:36Cate Walker
27:24Francesco Carrer
Jesmond Dene
18:56Mark Anderson (3rd, PB)
25:30Lucy Keating
25:52David Devennie
28:07Luke Woodend
Town Moor
22:07Mungai Wairia
24:54Brian Hegarty
25:08Allie Wilson Craw
30:58Hannah Budge
23:29David Lydall
25:30Anneliza Andreadi (PB)
25:43Nina Jentl
26:16 Rachel Hurdman
27:42Michael Teasdale
28:18Sam Dunn
29:03Kat Truong
33:31Ann Smith
59:19Kim Collings (Tail Walker)
Laurie Johnson -