Friday, August 09, 2019

Parkrun Tourism Part 01 - 2017

I became a parkrun tourist by accident. I didn’t even know it was a thing. Now I know it is and I enjoy ticking off new locations but I’m not so obsessive that I would plan my holidays around it like some people (Tour operator lauches parkrun holidays). If we are going away somewhere for the weekend I will check to see if there is a parkrun nearby and, if there is, pack my running shoes.

Edit. 14/08/2019. Added [number of participants].

Tooting Common (home parkrun). 18/02/17, 29:32. [459]

It all started because some friends of ours did Couch to 5K (C25K) and then signed up for parkrun. I managed to do C25K in three days so I thought I’d give parkrun a try as well. I signed up, printed off my barcode and went along to my local parkrun at Tooting Common.


That was my first experience of running around a park with nearly 500 people! A three lap course and it is always hard as I start my third circuit to see the young lads peeling off to head for the finish funnel.

Tooting has lots of volunteers that are particularly friendly and encouraging. It is also a very courteous course where I have picked up the habit of saying "Thank you, Marshall" to the volunteers as I go round.

Malahide. 25/02/17, 27:41. [284]

As it happened the very next weekend Mary and I were going to Dublin for a Rugby Six Nations match. We stayed out at Malahide because central Dublin was booked solid and Malahide is an easy ride into town on the DART.


I emailed the Malahide course director to ask if my barcode would work in Ireland - that shows you how little I knew. After all it was only my second ever parkrun. He replied to say "yes it would work". Now in Ireland Parkrun starts at 9:30 instead of 9:00. I have always assumed that was to allow for excessive consumption of Guinness on a Friday night.


Anyway I turn up and there are a few hundred people there. I’m standing around and the Course Director does the usual introductions: thanking the volunteers, describing the course, and then asks “Is Mark from London here?” I sheepishly put up my hand and several hundred people burst into a huge round of applause. I wasn’t expecting that!

So off we go trotting round the course. Halfway round I’m struggling to breathe when a bloke pulled up alongside me and says “Are you that Mark from London, then? “Yes I am” I puffed. We then had a conversation about his brother doing parkrun in Ealing until I run out of ability to talk. It’s not like that in Tooting; very friendly the Irish.

Eglinton. 21/10/17. [137]

It was back to Tooting for a few months although my attendance was erratic due to various social events and trips to Italy. Mary and I came back from Italy to see Emeli Sande at the O2 and then to Scotland to visit her mum for her birthday. We checked the parkrun website and sure enough there was a parkrun not too far away in Eglinton Country Park. So I packed my running shoes and off we went.


This was quite a contrast to Tooting. Instead of 500+ runners there were only 137. The introductory spiel did not follow the standard script, much less structured. A good job I knew what to expect but it might have been hard for a first timer.

We went off round the course which was a lot harder than the very flat Tooting Common. It is more undulating and goes through some pretty woodland paths with tree roots and mud to dance over. It is also the most convoluted course of any I have run with multiple loops and crossover points. Thank goodness for the volunteers marshalling the route.

They did seem a friendly bunch, lots of people seemed know to each other including the Fit Ayrshire Dads. Like Penrith the following week a real community in contrast to the packed London events. 

Penrith. 28/10/17, 31:57. [182]

Our friends Kate and Nigel, those responsible for me signing up in the first place, had moved to Penrith. We went up to visit for the Winter Droving festival and of course to join them at their local parkrun. Another very flat course, two circuits of the playing fields.


A huge contrast to London parkruns. Everybody congregates in the clubhouse for tea and cake afterwards. A lot of the runners know each other so it’s a really friendly atmosphere. It’s possible that it happens at some London parkruns but with typically large numbers (500 to 1,000) it would be hard to get that many people into a cafĂ©.

Then the rest of the day was fun and merriment.


Bournemouth. 09/12/17, 29:13. [311]

We bought tickets to see John Bishop at the BIC (Bournemouth International Conference) centre on the Friday night. We went down and stayed with my dad's cousin who lives there. After breakfast I went and did the Bournemouth parkrun. It was a bit nippy at -2°C but a nice flat course.

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Now I’m up to five different locations and starting to see the fun in ticking off some more.

Linwood. 23/12/17, 29:43. [125]

Another Scottish Parkrun. This time visiting Mary‘s mum for Christmas we stayed one night with the sister-in-law who lives on the outskirts of Glasgow. There are a number of Glasgow parkruns but this was the closest.


Another small parkrun with only 125 people. Doing a parkrun in Scotland in December is a bit chilly it has to be said. After the run we didn’t hang around but shot home to get warmed up.

And that’s it for 2017. More to follow...