Well on the way to becoming a recognised parkrun tourist

There is a special page on the parkrun website which lists all parkrunners who have run 20 or more different parkrun events.  One of my aims for this year was to get onto this table, and I’ve been busy slogging away working out which new parkruns I can visit just lately.

I’m currently up to 92 parkruns at 17 different events, and I’ve loved seeing all the differences in the parkrun events I’ve been to.  I really must write a post at some point with all of my favourite elements of each parkrun as I’ve seen some great ideas this year which might come in handy for anyone setting up a new event.

I thought I only had my last three parkruns to write up, but it actually turns out I’m five behind now.

Annoyingly, I visited Wimpole Estate and Blickling when my phone was still broken so don’t have any pictures to share from those events.

Here goes…

parkrun #88 – Kettering
29th July

This was the first time I had been able to ‘run hard’ at a parkrun in a while.  Dan offered to come along and push Oscar round in the buggy so that I might test my legs out.

I misjudged my starting position though, realising as the chap stood next to me during the briefing raised his hand to indicate that he would be pacing 33 minutes!

I tried to shimmy myself further forward in the pack, but pacers were one of the last announcements made, and before I knew it, I was weaving in and out of other runners with a choppy stride trying to squeeze past others on the narrow path.  There went my potential good time!  Kettering parkrun has a long pontoon at the far end of the course that you run along twice, and I was very held up behind other runners during my first crossing as many of them slowed right down to feel less wobbly as the bridge came up to meet their pounding feet.  It is a very bizarre feeling as you run across with the bridge wobbling everywhere!

Kettering parkrun as a family of three

I think Dan realised just how difficult it could be running with the buggy and avoiding other runners during this run!  Still, I jogged back to see him finish in a respectable 34:07.  Oscar was busy chewing on his giraffe, which he then shared with his swimming buddy, whose Dad was marshaling at one of the corners towards the end of the run.

Official time: 27:30
Position: 94/315
Gender position: 22/145
Age category position: 3/12

parkrun #89 – Wolverhampton
5th August

One of Dan’s best friends got married at the start of August.  Dan was one of the ushers so headed back for last minute wedding details (and drinking) on the Friday evening, leaving Oscar and I to drive across the following morning.  As the wedding was held near to Dan’s parents’ house in the West Midlands and the wedding service wasn’t to be until the early afternoon I jumped on the chance to get some more parkrun tourism in, planning on showering and changing at Dan’s parents’ house after the run.

The Wolverhampton course is three laps around the outside of West park.  I’ve been to the park many times as Dan has often parked there when he goes to watch the football at Molineux on a weekend.

Another runner helpfully pointed me in the direction of the start when I arrived.  The first thing to note about the Wolverhampton parkrun is that everybody had really strong Wolverhampton accents!  I’m glad I’ve spent lots of time around Dan’s family and friends lately because otherwise I’m not sure I would have understood too much of the briefing! 😉

I had been asked to start at the back, as I had Oscar.  I understand why parkrun events ask buggy runners to start at the back, but I do think some of the responsibility of placing yourself and buggy should lay with the runner, especially on a course with laps, as you are much more likely to end up clipping somebody if you are frequently overtaking others with the buggy than if you were to settle in to the correct starting position to begin with.

The first lap was tough with so much overtaking, but by the second lap I could easily move around the narrow path without problem.  I was really shocked how few runners there were actually.  Wolverhampton is a massive city, but with just 266 runners, this parkrun is actually one of the smaller parkruns I’ve visited, especially when it comes to relative size to location.

The nice thing about a lapped course is that you see the same marshals several times.  One marshal kept updating me on how awake Oscar looked, and they loved that he just propped both feet up on his front bar and chilled out for the entirety of the run!Wolverhampton parkrun with Oscar in the buggyAt one point, Oscar caught a falling leaf, and found it the best thing ever!  He was so excited and kept squealing away in his buggy! Wolverhampton parkrun with Oscar in the buggyI ended up with my fastest buggy parkrun time despite the slow start, which was a nice surprise!

Official time: 30:39
Position: 166/266
Gender position: 39/102
Age category position: 7/11

parkrun #90 – Wimpole Estate
19th August

I had a free Saturday morning and had hoped to get in another new parkrun.  A pregnant friend contacted me the day before to see if I fancied running a parkrun the next morning.  I said yes, on the condition that it was a new-to-me one, and so we made the hour-long journey to Wimpole Estate.

Somebody I work with regularly runs at Wimpole Estate, and I knew of a few runners from Twitter who occasionally made it over for this event too.  All had warned me of the hill out on the course!

I had Oscar in the buggy for this run, and bumped into Katie with her little one, Flo, who I have only spoken to via Twitter previously.  Katie’s husband would be the one with the buggy that week, and she filled me in on buggy tips for the course, and at what point the hill would appear!

I vowed to run the entire course with the buggy, and thinking I had already gone up ‘the hill’ decided that it was actually a fairly easy route, despite the long, thick grass underfoot.  I soon realised that the hill was yet to come though, and my vow to run the whole course was almost thwarted here, as it seemed everybody around stopped to walk the hill.  I took Oscar off-track, onto one wheel briefly, head down and continued to push him up the steep climb.

We made it to the top and enjoyed a lovely view before rocketing back down the other side.  Very glad I took Katie’s advice to tuck my hand in the handlebar loop and keep a tight grip here!

I don’t have any pictures of the hill, but Maria has one on her blog.

Oscar and I at Wimpole Estate parkrun{Picture taken from the Wimpole Estate parkrun Facebook page}

At the bottom the other side there were several cattle, but marshals among them to make sure they didn’t wander on course.  One was stood right behind a parkrun sign and from a distance it genuinely looked as though the sign had been pinned to the cow!

Katie and husband were there to cheer me through the finish which was nice, and I then waited for my friend to finish her run, before we headed to the café for cheese scones and hot chocolate.  It was the first time I’ve run parkrun with a friend in a long while and I’ve missed my post parkrun cake shop visits!

Official time: 34:57
Position: 316/396
Gender position: 115/166
Age category position: 10/16

parkrun #91 – Blickling
2nd September

My fastest parkrun since having Oscar!

My Dad volunteered to come along and push Oscar around the course in his buggy and act as support for my run this week.  The course is ideal for support, as there is just short of two full laps of the section of the park we ran.  This meant I passed Dad and Oscar twice, although Dad nearly missed me the first time, despite my mad waving!

There were quite a few other tourists stood alongside me at the new runners’ briefing, as shown by their apricot tops.  I think I’m going to ask for an apricot top for Christmas.  I’d like to have it printed up with my home parkrun, although I’m not really sure I can count Northampton as my home event any more.  I hardly ever seem to run there now!

The course at Blickling starts on a slight uphill.  I had been unsure how to approach the run, but after a strong start, with a low 8:xx constantly showing on my watch despite the uphill, I decided to just go for it and run hard the whole way round.

It’s a very lovely out-in-the-open course run along tracks with vast areas of grass all around.  There is a small section where you run through the trees towards the end of the lap, but this was really pretty.  I guiltily passed a chap pushing a double buggy containing older children who were demanding snacks at this point on my second lap!

It felt so nice to run at a harder pace again.  I’ve had to take Oscar along with me for the majority of parkruns since he was born.  Although, as Dan now has a season ticket for the football again this year, I think he might want to start spending a bit of time with Oscar on Saturday mornings before heading back for the football each week so I might see some more harder runs before the end of the year.  I’m sure I can’t be too far off that 26:xx parkrun time again!

Official time: 27:10
Position: 96/197
Gender position: 22/88
Age category position: 2/8

parkrun #92 – March
14th October

I’ve been traveling back four times a week to see my family since mid-September.  My days tend to be Monday, Tuesday (with a stay-over in between), Thursday and then Saturday.  Evenings only whilst I was still at work last month.  It took me until now though to realise that I was missing out on some serious parkrun tourism opportunities on my drive back on a Saturday!

Last weekend I was torn between Kings Lynn and March for the location of my parkrun.  Either could tie in with my journey back to Norfolk.  In the end though, Oscar dictated the March event, as he took too long to eat his breakfast in the morning, and March is closer to us than Kings Lynn so at least I knew we would arrive in time!

Oscar at March parkrun

I ended up actually arriving quite early and set Oscar up in his buggy, pushing him around what looked like a rather small park as my warm up.  It felt really chilly as I got out of the car, but the temperature soon started to rise and I was glad I had decided to just wear a short sleeved t-shirt rather than any extra layers.

I had hurriedly checked both the Kings Lynn and March parkrun websites the previous evening to see that they were buggy suitable.  I had failed to spot the mention of the four laps at the March event though, each including a set of ten steps!

The steps at March parkrunThey don’t look very steep here, but…TEN STEPS!

March parkrunAfter a walked lap of the park (where we saw a rat run out in front of us and do a little dance, much to Oscar’s amusement!) I hung around the meeting point waiting for things to get underway.  I did spot somebody else with a running buggy, although they had a much older child inside.  There was a new runner briefing, which I took Oscar over to.  After this, the guy who had the other buggy came over to say ‘hi’ and to share his tips for the best way of getting up the bank alongside the steps with the buggy.  He suggested starting climbing the bank a little way before the steps, as it was less steep and less likely I would tip my child out of the buggy!  I hoped that people didn’t think I was taking a short cut each time, but nobody seemed to shout me back at least.  I still ran all the way over to the top of where the steps were before turning back on myself.

The picture below is taken from a video clip of the first lap which was posted on the March parkrun Facebook page.  You can see me to the left of the shot making a getaway with Oscar!

Oscar and I at March parkrun

Mainly people shouted out well dones for getting round with the buggy which was nice.  The marshals were all lovely and so helpful when I spoke to them.  It was a really friendly parkrun.

About half of the route was run along the grass, which was quite rutted in places.  The marshals had used mini cones to place on any rabbit holes which runners might trip or fall from, which I thought was quite a good idea.  The other half of each lap was run along the tarmacked pavement you can see in the above screenshot.

I started from the very back this week again, although quickly overtook several runners near to the start.

Although only a small parkrun, as well as running pacers, there was a run 1min, walk 1min pacer and a run 2min, walk 1min pacer, which I thought was a fantastic way to give non-runners or beginners the confidence to start visiting parkrun.Oscar at March parkrunOnce completed and scanned in, we took a quick visit to the nearby swimming pool to change Oscar before completing our trip to Norfolk.Oscar and I at March parkrunOfficial time: 33:49
Position: 97/132
Gender position: 43/66
Age category position: 5/7

Do you tie parkrun visits in with trips at the weekend?
Have any of the parkruns you have run contained steps?
Do you have an apricot top?
How many different parkrun events have you visited?

8 thoughts on “Well on the way to becoming a recognised parkrun tourist

  1. Wow you have done so well, especially with the buggy too- that would add an extra element of planning etc.
    Steps! I honestly have nightmares about that sort of thing (and also tunnels that get gradually thinner until they are more like a pipe)- steps in a lapped course too- very harsh!
    Ha, I remember the hill at Wimpole- I think when I visited it was my first parkrun/run since a holiday and I walked up it taking photos! Loved the scenery though. There’s a 10 mile and half marathon held in October so I might do one of them next year.
    All I seem to do at the moment is tour parkruns- I am not complaining but it just seems to have happened that we have been away for weekends for various reasons. Although I do need one local weekend to go to Castle Park for my final Herts one. My last 10 events only contain two Ellenbrook and one Panshanger so it’s not much at home at the moment. I’m up to 30 events in total- my aim was to get to 20 but somehow have zoomed past!
    I have an apricot t for Panshanger (which was my home run) and then a vest for Ellenbrook (my new home run)- they are a super fit (just like the milestone t’s). I keep pondering a jacket but I’ve not ordered one yet- maybe Christmas is a good idea.
    Maria @ Maria Runs recently posted…The home of parkrun!!!!My Profile

    1. Yep, running with the buggy has it’s challenges!!! I haven’t spotted any tunnels that gradually get thinner, but I shouldn’t imagine I would like those very much at all.
      I’ll have to have a look out for the races in October next year and see if I am free. It is really pretty in Wimpole.
      Well done for zooming right up to 30 events! That’s a fantastic achievement. Glad to hear the vests and t-shirts are a good fit. I’ve added one to my Christmas list!

    1. He’s usually a fairly happy chappy to tell the truth. Just going through a phase when I drop him off at nursery at the moment, but other than that, he’s usually got a big, beaming smile on his face! We’re very lucky.

  2. I love this! Yes to more parkruns and parkrun tourism! Sounds like you did well at them – especially with the added difficulty of running with a bugggy or having someone to help out.
    I’m actually now looking into the alphabet parkrun challenge… but it’s going to take some time as some of them are so far away (hello Poland for Z!) but fun anyway :)

    1. I LOVE the idea of this challenge. Although it is pretty impractical for me to attempt it at the moment I think. All of the parkruns near to us seem to begin with the same letter unfortunately. I’ll have to encourage parkrun startups nearby at all the places beginning with letters I haven’t run yet!

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