Sunday, January 05, 2020

Parkrun Tourism Part 03 - 2019

All over the place. 2019.

Parkun tourism continues with another 7 locations added in 2019 (showing location, date, my time and number of participants) bringing the total to 20 unique locations.

We are opportunistic parkrun tourists. There are some who plan their trips based around parkruns they want to tick off. We, on the other hand, if away for the weekend, will check out if there happens to be one nearby that we could do but that’s as far as it goes.

As any tourist will tell you they vary tremendously. Some are flat, some are horribly hilly; some have a nice smooth paths, others squelch through mud and puddles; some are urban parks, some playing fields, some beautiful countryside.

They can have one, two, three or four circuits. For me two is optimum: one large loop and I’m thinking "are we there yet?", three laps and I dispiritedly see all the younger, faster runners peeling off to the finish while I still have one more circuit to do, four laps is just boringly repetitive. With two laps you can think to yourself "I’ve done this before, I am nearly there".

Attendance also varies. I have run everything from over 1000 to just the two of us turning up, our only opportunity to be 1st and 2nd at parkrun. The big numbers are no fun as you have to wait just to cross the start line and then squeeze through narrow spaces jogging on the spot. Never a PB at those events.

They also vary in degree of friendliness. Some venues are very good at saying “Thank you Marshall” to the volunteers as they go around, others much less so. Some are so large they are anonymous, others you get people being cheered on by name. At some Mary gets encouragement from the faster runners as they lap her, "Well done!", they shout. Some congregate and chat afterwards, others everyone clears off home. Wherever I am I practice being “that nutter who talks to strangers”. I will talk to whoever is beside me at the start line, if they are first timers or visitors I will generally make some encouraging chat to make them feel welcome.

Caffarella. 09/02/2019. 28:04 [62]
We were in Rome for three weeks in February attending a language course. So of course we had to check out parkrun and there were two: Caffarella and Roma Pineta. Caffarella was easier to get to on the Metro so we went for that.

The previous week there had been 10 attendees so we were a little surprised when we arrived to discover a large number of people, 62 as it turned out. It was because Wales were playing Italy in the Six Nations and I would say at least half the parkrunners were Welsh.


It is a very pleasant park running round the meadow. We went again in the second week as the other parkrun was the wrong side of Rome and harder to get to. We had the novel experience of running round a flock of sheep. Fortunately they stayed in the middle of the meadow and did not wander into our path.


Richmond Park. 09/03/2019. 26:52 [552] 26:30 5PB stays at 22:34
Richmond is my brother’s home parkrun and a lovely venue. He has not done parkrun for a while as he has switched to the treadmill in the gym. Since it was only last year that I finally managed to beat his personal worst we thought it will be a laugh to parkrun together for the first time. We did keep together for most of the course but in the end Ian finished 8 places and 17 seconds ahead of me.


Clapham Common. 01/06/2019. 27:45 [986]
Over the summer we had a lodger, the daughter of a friend of a friend. She used to do parkrun in Scotland and said that she was intending to parkrun on Clapham Common with a friend. This was news to me as I did not know there was a Clapham Common parkrun. It turns out it’s been running less than a year which is why I was not aware of it.

I thought I would pop along as it is literally my closest parkrun. When they asked "do we have any visitors" I enthusiastically stuck up my arm and when asked where from replied Tooting which got a large ironic groan from the assembled company. It’s a very pleasant course but packed, there were over 980 attendees. Not a course for a PB.


Old Deer Park. 06/07/2019. 29:31 [165]
Mary and I recently made new wills and set up lasting power-of-attorneys for our executors. One of them is my nephew and godson, Lorenzo, who lives in West London. Saturday morning was the best time to visit him for signing so I thought I’d combine it with a bit of local parkrun tourism. I was tempted to visit the "mothership" in Bushy Park but the Old Deer Park was closer to him. It was a surprisingly small parkrun for an urban London course in terms of numbers and a very pleasant, flat course.


Belloluogo. 05/10/2019 29:00 [45]
Much to our surprise southern Italy has given birth to a second Parkrun in Lecce very close to our usual Salento Parkrun. We were not able to make its inaugural run as we were back in the UK that weekend. We went back a couple of weekends later for only their third event by which time they had refined the course to make it easier to follow. Basically they have made it four identical laps. A very lovely park and a fast course on good tarmac paths although having to do four circuits can get a bit tedious.


There wasn’t as much post run camaraderie as at some other venues despite there being a convenient cafĂ© right next to the start/end. There were small groups of friends obviously together but not much general mingling. Still that may change as the locals get to know each other. Salento parkrun is the role model for friendliness.


Moors Valley. 23/11/2019 28:59 [426]
We had to take our new car back to Ringwood where we bought it for a minor spare part to be fitted. We combined that with the visit to my second cousin in Bournemouth for lunch and an evening meal plus overnight stay with our friends in Ringwood on the Friday night. Of course that meant a Saturday morning parkrun in the nearby Moors Valley Park. One large single circuit through very pleasant countryside.


Mary power walking over the finish line.


Each parkrun has a different age profile based on the demographics of the local area. At my home parkrun of Tooting there are very few in the veteran male 65–69 bracket (typically 3), in Moors Valley there were 13 of them, likewise in Richmond. I guess that reflects the affluence or that many people retire to those areas.


Dean Castle Country Park. 25/12/2019 30:36 [124]
Christmas was spent in Scotland with Mary‘s mum. This was an opportunity to do our first ever Christmas day Parkrun. The local park run at Eglinton was not putting on an event but fortunately a new parkrun had opened up in Mary‘s hometown of Kilmarnock a short drive away. So off we went wearing Santa hat and tinsel. A very friendly bunch but the down side was the two lap parkrun had some short, sharp, steep slopes which completely knackered me.


Even the dogs were getting into the festive spirit.




Another year over and now up to 20 unique locations. This year we already know of three more: NYD at Eastleigh, Skegness at the Rock and Blues Festival in January and Dublin city centre for Valentine's day. Plus who know what else 2020 will bring?

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