Saturday, December 30, 2023

Parkrun Tourism Part 07 - 2023 Episode 02

All over the place. May-December 2023.

Dramatis personae:
  • Mark McLellan (me)
  • Mary Galashan (wife)
  • Sandra Carpenter (sister-in-law)

This year I did 48 parkruns including 20 new locations and 4 new countries. 

As reported in Parkrun Tourism Part 07 - 2023 Episode 01 I reached 50 unique locations in the first four months of this year including:

  • Ford
  • Gateshead
  • Cleethorpes
  • Victoria Dock
  • Ruchill
  • Monsal Trail
  • York

Since then I have done 13 others taking me up to a grand total of 63 unique locations:

Normally we do not do much touristing over the summer because we are in southern Italy. This year however we aimed to complete our Alphabeteer challenge so we did a number of city breaks in Poland and Germany plus a "Grand Tour" by train from Italy back to the UK:
  • University of Stirling
  • Zielony Jar
  • Holyrood
  • Jabłona
  • Itchen Vally Country 
  • St Albans
  • Neckarufer, Esslingen
  • Farfalle
  • Hellbrun
  • Amsterdamse Bos
  • Malahide (Mary's first time)
  • Springburn
  • Beverley Westwood
  • Southwark
We reached a number of parkrun milestones:
  • 25 volunteering at Holyrood on 17/06/2023 (Mark)
  • 50 volunteering at Salento on 15/07/2023 (Mary)
  • 150th parkwalk at Penrith on 04/11/2023 (Mary)
  • 200th parkrun at Penrith on 02/12/2023 (Mark)
And achieved a number of 5K app challenges:
  • Pirates at Cleethorpes on 14/01/2023 (Mark, Mary)
  • Groundhog Day at Salento on 25/03/2023 (Mark)
  • Half Cowell at York on 29/04/2023 (Mark) 
  • Palindrome at Salento on 02/07/2023 (Mark)
  • Alphabeteer, Jetsetter and"Parkrun" at Neckarufer, Esslingen on 23/09/2023 (Mark, Mary)
  • Half Cowell and Volunteer Tourist at Neckarufer, Esslingen on 23/09/2023 (Mary) 
  • Compass Club at Southwark on 16/12/2023  (Mark, Mary)

University of Stirling 06/05/2023 28:36 [85 / 170].

Headed north to the University of Stirling parkrun where we got a "U", a Nelson 111 and wet. Scenic two lapper round a loch in lovely countryside. Only slight downside is that the start and finish are slightly separate so there is a small hill which you do at the start, middle and end.

Afterwards, as they say in Scotland, drookit!

Amongst the day's lovely volunteers were this Tailwalker and her Tail Wagger!

Zielony Jar 27/05/2023 28:13 [23 / 46].

A new parkrun for us in a new country, Poland, and got a Z. The Run Director asked for a Tail Walker so Mary volunteered. She had a great walk round chatting to Michael on his first ever parkwalk and saw a red squirrel. We were joined by Sandra who is now addicted to parkrun and parkrun tourism. Quite a few visitors, including Michelle and Lance who have promised to come to Salento parkrun.

Mary got a volunteer credit for Zamykający Stawkę which slightly made up for the fact that the hi-viz clashed with her new Tikiboo outfit - I knew that!

Full report of the weekend at City Break - Krakow.

Holyrood 17/06/2023 28:34 [212 / 365].

Parkrun in Scotland starts at 9:30 instead of 9:00 unlike England, Wales and the rest of Europe. As Mary had already done the course and knew about the elevation profile, she offered to be a volunteer. We were early enough that I was able to help set up the finish funnel and get a volunteer credit as well as running.

Mary sporting yet another new pair of colourful Tikiboo leggings. Apparently she chose them to match the volunteers’ orange hi-viz forgetting that marshals get pink ones!

Full report of the weekend at City Break - Edinburgh.

Jablonna 29/07/2023 29:40 [75 / 125]. 

Parkrun Jabłonna and a J for the parkrun alphabet. Only when we arrived at the start we discovered it was their 300th event which meant lots of runners and walkers plus cake and jollity. Very enjoyable 3 and a bit lapper through the woods. 

Posing before the start.

Mary volunteered as parkwalker.

Mary was surprised by the huge cheers she got at the finish line but it turned out that, at position 116, she was the person who broke the previous course attendance record. The previous record was 115 people on 26th August 2017 and that's why there was so much cheering! The finally tally was 125.

The official photographers took some great photos.

The record-breaking crowd at parkrun Jabłonna.

Full report of the trip at City Break - Warsaw

Itchen Valley Country 19/08/2023 29:59 [84 / 206] 

Back in the UK for three weeks, we ended up doing a very enjoyable 10 day road trip round the south of England visiting various friends. The first Saturday we were in Ringwood and went to nearby Itchen Valley to get the penultimate letter for our parkrun alphabet.  

Full report at UK Road Trip, August 2023.

St Albans 26/08/2023 29:18 [241 / 544]

The second Saturday of our road trip found us in St Albans. Choice of parkruns nearby but decided on the eponymous St. Albans. A run / walk around the lovely Verulamium Park and a view of the cathedral - they missed a chance to have another V in the UK! A big crowd, more than 500, but wide open at the start so no congestion. Lovely 3 laps of a lake and great day for it, not too hot. 

Unusually there was another parkwalker who walked at the same pace as Mary so she had company all the way round. 

After a shower and change it was off to Harpenden on the train for my godson Lorenzo and Julie's wedding.

Neckerufer, Esslingen 23/09/2023 29:57 [22 / 44].

We had a fantastic weekend in Esslingen near Stuttgart, a part of Germany that we knew nothing about. With huge thanks to Markus and Manuela for inspiring us to visit the area and giving up their time to act as great local guides.

We first met Markus and Manuela when they came to Salento parkrun whilst on holiday in Puglia. Markus is one of the Run Directors for Neckarufer and was encouraging people to visit. 

Mary had got out her spreadsheet earlier in the year and worked out a plan whereby we could complete our parkrun alphabet challenge (doing a parkrun starting with each letter of the alphabet, except X) plus Mary's 50th different parkrun location and Jetsetter (parkruns in five countries) all at the same time at Neckarufer!

In parkrun circles visiting 100 different locations is known as a Cowell (after the first person to complete the feat) and 50 events is a half Cowell (or Cow). Before the start Markus and Manuela presented Mary with appropriate bovine headband, and as you can see she already had the alphabet leggings.

After parkrun and breakfast with the locals at a nearby cafe it was back to the apartment for a shower and then some normal touristing with Markus and Manuela. Full report at City Break - Esslingen.

Farfalle 07/10/2023 28:51 [23 / 54]

To celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary we embarked on Interrailing for Seniors - a three week rail journey from southern Italy to Amsterdam. The first Saturday of this grand tour was in a place with a parkrun, what are the chances of that! Four laps of a lovely wooded course. Lots of tourists and a couple of local celebrations so great fun.

A homemade frame constructed of plywood and sticky tape.

Mary volunteered for tail walker.

Padua is a fascinating city, still to be written up in a blog post.

Hellbrun 14/10/2023 29:41 [19 / 23]

The second Saturday of our 30th wedding anniversary tour we are now in Salzburg and, guess what, there is a parkrun here! 

Lovely flat, 2.5 laps with brilliant views. As is usual here tourists outnumber the locals today - apparently the locals prefer to run up the mountains.

Great bunch of volunteers including Mary as Schlussbegleitung (Tailwalker). Given the Hell in the name Mary chose leggings called "More Bloody Skulls".

Mary also doubled up as "post event clear up" volunteer.

Then off to get ourselves a serious does of culture.

Amsterdamse Bos 21/10/2023 28:48 [72 / 123]

The third Saturday of our 30th wedding anniversary tour and we were in Amsterdam. We chose Amsterdamse Bos parkrun to get an A for the Namely challenge (every letter of your name). Beautiful park, one lap course, lovely local cafe for parkfaff and great bunch of volunteers. Tourists from all over with strong contingent from Oz. 

We were amused by the cheese shaped receptacle for the tokens; normally it is just an old bucket.

One more night in Amsterdam to complete the Grand Tour.

Malahide 11/11/2023 28:49 [182 / 311]

A return visit to one of our favourite cities, Dublin, for the first time in a while. I have done Malahide before - literally my second ever parkrun. Now Mary parkwalks we are playing catch up, ticking off locations that she had missed first time round and we were joined by Sandra. It was the 11th birthday of Malahide parkrun on the 11th of the 11th on a near perfect day. Complete with song led by Eric, RD from Belfast:

🎵You are my parkrun, my only parkrun
You make me happy when skies are grey
And when you're not on
You do my head in
Please don't take my parkrun away🎵

Sandra volunteered as parkwalker in the blue tabard.

Mary, as often, volunteered as talkwalker.

Then into Dublin for more Guinness!

Springburn 18/11/2023 28:30 [80 / 123]

A trip to Glasgow for a cookery course so Springburn parkrun today. A wet day but amazingly the rain held off between 9:30 and 10:30! Lovely park, great bunch of volunteers and lots of tourists. Another briefing involving a song - this time a spoken version of Wonderwall with adapted lyrics. Two laps but start and end are in slightly different places meaning that you do the only real hill three times!

Sandra powering in at 38:51 - that is a fast walk!

Mary in matching pink parkwalk t-shirt.

Lovely autumnal colours.

A bit of a cold wet one.

Beverley Westwood 25/11/2023 29:39 [97 / 219]

We went to Pocklington to see an amazing slide guitarist, Martin Harley, full report at Pocklington Weekend. We chose Beverley Westwood parkrun over other possibilities in the area as this gave us a compass point and a B for Sandra, 

Beautiful sunny morning but cold with a biting wind. Two laps of a very scenic course in a lovely park. The course took us round an old black windmill.

Two and a half laps, frosty and hilly. A bit up and down - even the undulations had undulations.

Huge thanks to the volunteers and especially the really cheerful marshal who was stationed on the coldest part of the course. 

Southwark 16/12/2023 28:37 [252 / 271]

In London for a few days decorating a rental flat. Silver lining was that it was a great chance to catch up with London-based friends who we now rarely see.

On our last day we did Southwark parkrun for a South to complete the Compass challenge. Three flat laps on tarmac round a lovely park.  Should have been a fast course but not for Mary after all the Christmas meetups this week.

Quite a few tourists, great bunch of volunteers and more pacers than ever seen before, spanning 19 to 40 minutes.

And that was our last new tourist venue for the year. It was back to Penrith for the rest, apart from Christmas Day at Keswick parkrun.

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