Posts Tagged With: Sheffield Castle parkrun

There were tadpoles! Parkrun tourists take to the hills at Sheffield Castle parkrun

Digested read:  Community minded, a small but perfectly formed parkrun.  You will get a warm welcome, tadpoles (in season), access to loos and an opportunity to fraternise over a tea urn afterwards.  You will not get a castle.

So, to get the important things out of the way first, it does need to be acknowledged that Sheffield Castle parkrun doesn’t actually have a castle as such on site.  There’s not even an old dried-up moat here.  There is a reason why this is called the Sheffield Castle parkrun.  It’s all to do with there once was a Castle in Sheffield, as far back as 1066 or 1270 depending on how rigorous is your grasp of history and willingness to undertake your own research. I heard it from a fellow parkrunner and then just filled in the gaps on Wikipedia, but it’s a start eh?  Unfortunately, this timeline predates parkrun, so it’s hard to be sure exactly when it all began. However, this original castle wasn’t sited here where Sheffield Castle parkrun takes place. This parkrun actually happens in Manor Fields Park, which was essentially the country retreat linked to the original castle.  It had its own Lodge referred to variously as Manor Lodge or…. and a drum roll please in recognition that I’m finally coming to the point… also known as Manor Castle!  Da da!  See what they’ve done there?   So Manor Castle, was located within what was at one time an enormous deer park, but now there are just pockets of this green space remaining, of which Manor Park Fiels is but one.   I’ve just realised there is a good summary of the history of Manor Fields Park to be found on their website, so just look at that. It’s unexpectedly interesting.  Well, I thought so, but then I’m quite easily entertained.

Manor Fields Park, isn’t huge by any means, and it seems to burst out from unpromisingly urban surroundings.  However, it’s been really lovingly landscaped, and has some unexpectedly fine and interesting sculptures and metal work within.  Look out for the carrot tops.  You get to run past them, but having done so three times (it’s a three lap course) I’m afraid I couldn’t be bothered to skip round a fourth time to photograph them.  Not to worry, you can have the fun of going out to discover that for yourself.  As I couldn’t record its bijou loveliness myself, I’ve nicked, sorry shared, some photos from their website. I don’t think they’ll mind.  🙂

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So, even though to the literal-minded it might be disappointing not to find a castle there, on the plus side, the venue did have a beautifully constructed water feature, and what’s more there were tadpoles in it!  You can’t say that about every parkrun now can you?  I’d rather have some living tadpoles in situ than a dried up moat.  Besides forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes, consider yourself forwarded!  You’re welcome.

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I’m conscious that if I say that one of my favourite things about Sheffield Castle parkrun was that they had tadpoles there,  this may be misconstrued as an overall negative for the event.  But really, it wasn’t, the event was very fine indeed, and having big, fat, healthy tadpoles swimming about in an improvised mini-pond was, for me,  simply the icing on the cake. I’ve not seen tadpoles up close in years, their presence made me very happy.  Whether or not this particular parkrun has to put a volunteer on their rota particularly to tend to the needs of these pre-metamorphosis amphibians I know not.  I do know that all parkruns have their unique variants, maybe this is the stand out one for Castle?  There was a woman in hi-viz in the vicinity post-run, so perhaps it was her role to be keeper of the toads.  I didn’t ask, as she was busy chatting.  I like to think so, but you can’t tell just by looking.

volunteer end

As my regular reader knows, my home parkrun is Sheffield Hallam, but I was in the mood for a bit of impromptu parkrun tourism.  I’m never sure whether just venturing a couple of miles away from your usual turf constitutes proper parkrun tourism, and I have been to Castle parkrun before, but not for well over a year I think, but it was a change anyway.  Turns out, a few of us were in the mood for a refresh.  Three of us from Smiley Paces arrived in the car park shortly before a Monday Mob contingent, also on their summer progresses from Endcliffe Park.  Rother Valley parkrun was cancelled this week, so there may well have been refugees from there too.  One at least was intending to come/  I know this for a fact, because they posted on Facebook asking for confirmation that the course was an entirely flat one.  Someone did provide this reassurance, but I’m not sure it was completely fair. I mean, you might get away with calling it flatish by Sheffield standards, but for non-Sheffielders that wouldn’t wash.  I can report from personal experience that there are at least two hills in there and each is negotiated three times, so that would erm.. Hang on, let me get my calculator – two times three makes, er – SIX!  Six hills to be run up.  Not really flat then?   At best context-free news, at worst fake news indeed!  I wonder if they came and conquered, or came and just got puffed out half way up that second steep hill adjacent to the cemetery.  You have to admit that graveyard is conveniently sited if nothing else.  I thought I’d expire every circuit, though in fact I have survived to tell the tale (at length as always).  Be thankful.

For the record, I think this might be one of the friendliest parkruns ever.  It’s pretty small, so I suppose that makes it easier in some ways, but I’d swear the Run Director greeted every one of us individually as we arrived.  It’s not so much a first timers’ briefing as an individual talk through, complete with a large map for reference, and much pointing out of landmarks along the way.  For this course, there’s not that many marshals on the route itself, so you have to pay attention to the cones and little yellow arrows which the volunteers have laid out in advance, it all works well though.  You really won’t get lost on this one.  Just need to be able to count to three, and even then I reckon the volunteers would help.

I was initially a bit put out that the Race Director directed his remarks, about the current course record of 16.39 minutes, to a young athletic looking male giving it as the time to beat.  When I protested, he hushed me before adding that ‘the female record holder time is 17.26 minutes‘ so I was pacified.  I decided not to go for that today (cough).  After all, I’m really just starting back into my running at the moment, and I wouldn’t want to rock the boat by blasting all the Sheffield Castle parkrun regulars out of the finish tunnel, obviously.  Bad for morale.

It was good to catch up with people at a new venue.  There was a handy wheelie bin where you could deposit your coat for dry safe-keeping whilst on the run.   I think that’s what it was. It may of course have been an impromptu jumble collection/ clothing exchange drop off point.  Perhaps I committed some terrible breach of etiquette by placing my own fleece in it at the start and removing the same one at the end.  Who knows.   The volunteers were all very friendly, pointing out the loos and being generally encouraging.  At the run briefing the race director went through the usual tourists/ first timers/ milestones but then also really urged people to stay afterwards for a tea or coffee.  They ask for an optional donation as they are collecting for a defribulator, but you were encouraged to have one anyway if you had money or not, you can always pay another time, but anyway, it seemed to be really about building a community.  This is a parkrun where if you turned up not knowing anyone I’m really confident someone would approach you and make you feel welcome.

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So here comes my parkrun geek alert.  parkrun have recently produced their first parkrun UK run report 2016  I am keen enough on both parkrun in general and procrastination in particular that I have actually read it.

parkrun UK 2016 Run Report by parkrun cover

In amongst the general overview, something caught my eye.  Now, (and quite honestly, this is a sentence that I never thought I’d think in the privacy of my own head, let alone write down) this was the fact that there is now a new mission statement for parkrun.  Honestly, I couldn’t have told you what the old one was, but knowing it has changed the new one feels apt to me, albeit on the ambitious end of the ‘for the greater public good’ end of the continuum.  Basically, it says this:

In 2016 we redefined our previous mission statement from ‘a parkrun in every community that wants one’ … to ‘a healthier and happier planet’.  A statement that is intentionally ambitious, and represents our desire to instigate change, and pro-actively target areas where parkrun can make a difference…

.I take that as a shift from the focus on getting people who already know they want to be able to run running, towards more of a focus on community enrichment, engagement and involvement.  I wonder if raising the profile of volunteering and getting the message out about it being ok to walk at parkrun is part of that.   It was interesting to read this in the days before coming here to Sheffield Castle parkrun, because this one really does have a community feel.  You can just run and disappear off afterwards if you wanted to, but at this parkrun the socialising aspect is really actively encouraged and embedded. They have  tea urn at the ready!  You don’t want to turn your back on that!  No wonder people kept on coming at the start.

still they come

Parkrun is full of (pleasant) surprises.  However, although they do try to be encouraging, try not to be misled by the parkrun signage on this course.  It’s further from the start to finish line than it appears in the photo.  You have to run round quite a lot between these two signs, it’s not a straight A-B.  Don’t be scared though, you can walk round if you want to, a friendly tail marker is available here.   Or was today at least.

so it ends

So, where was I?  After the run briefing you set off pretty much straight away. It’s not a big parkrun, there were only 68 today, and the highest ever attendance is just 97.   The average is given on the parkrun site as 39.3  I include this statistic because I am fascinated by the concept of a 0.3 runner.  I wonder if that might be me?  Someone dropping out after just the one lap perhaps?   By the way, they are planning birthday celebrations I think the first Saturday in August this year.  Course run in reverse, presumably cake?  One for the diary surely….  On a separate note, as numbers are relatively small, even though it’s a three lap course, faster runners shouldn’t feel boxed in here as by lap two the slower runners will be pretty much spread out, and the whole route is tarmac so lends itself to overtaking.

Honestly, I found the first lap hard.  The first ‘incline’ is in actual fact, a hill.  Definitely.  But then again, when you get to the hill proper, you shift perspective. It is a long haul up the hill alongside the cemetery, but on the plus side the views are really unexpectedly stunning.  I will concede the novelty wore off a bit by third time round, but if you want the challenge of heave-hoing up a hill, the sight of trees in blossom and miscellaneous public sculpture works will offer welcome distraction!  As you summit the top of the killer hill (is it acceptable to use ‘summit’ as a verb in this context?  Apologies to any grammar police out there who may have now spat out their tea in agonies of convulsion at the very idea).  I was saying.. as you summit, the start/ finish area comes into view, and the time-keeper – who on this occasion was also the run director – called out the minutes elapsed for your first lap.  This is helpful and potentially either encouraging or depressing, depending on how you view things.  Again, because numbers of participants are relatively small, it’s not frenetic, so  I guess the timer is able to do this without becoming apoplectic with stress.  All good.

So it was off round again for lap two.  You can see the front runners streaming ahead, which reminds me.  Incidentally, if you are new to parkrun firstly where have you been?  Secondly, don’t worry about getting lost, you can’t.  You just follow.  Even if you are in the lead it’s very obviously sign-posted.  For lap two, in my case, I was reminded that I have not been paying enough attention to training running up hills.    Fortunately, just on my heels was a cheery monday mobster, who – perhaps unwittingly – kept me going.  It isn’t about being competitive, I wasn’t seeking to beat her, it was more a sense of if she can keep on going so can I.  When I felt like slowing, I heard her getting closer, and tried to pick up speed again.  I can’t talk and run, so couldn’t communicate thanks at the time, but it was appreciated.  May I thank you now, Monday Mob Motivators.

MM happy faces

Somewhere on lap two I started being passed by the faster runners, it was OK though.   I tried to breathlessly cheer them on with ‘great running’ or some such vacuous commentary.  For the most part they said something encouraging too as they sped by.  It was extremely good-natured.  It was nice to be at a smaller gathering for a change.  For the record, there was a particularly fabulous marshal at the bottom of the long haul hill, he was just very encouraging.  I spluttered out my ‘thank you marshal‘ as I passed, with increasingly poor diction as the laps took their toll, but he kept up his supporting and encouraging clapping and comments.  It’s a long stint of clapping a parkrun, when you are a solitary marshal out on a course and the runners are all so spread out.

At the end of lap two, the timer was still able somehow to shout out cumulative lap times as well as click in the finishers.  Impressive multi-tasking.  I was slowing.  Oh dear.  By the third lap I was struggling a bit, but I know I can run 5k continuously, so I was determined not to stop. On the course was a small child with a scooter, at the top of the first incline, heading back towards the park community house.  She was proffering high fives, which was really sweet, and surprisingly effective in encouraging me to continue on past the carrot tops sculptures and get me to the bottom of the big hill for the last time.  It is counter-intuitive, but the last lap is the easist one, because the literal as well as metaphorical end is in sight.  Indeed, as I got in sight of the finish tunnel my Smiley Buddies were waiting to cheer me in.  You can’t slack when your running club mates are watching FACT, I even managed a (short) sprint finish, and crossed into the tunnel feeling like the first one home.  Admittedly only because there was such a big gap between me and the person in front, but hey, details.  Still a case of yay, done it.  Phew, that was hard.

Got my finish token and barcode scanned in record time, and then was able to cheer back the final few finishers.  They stormed in.  One of the things I love about parkrun is that everyone’s a champion here!

There was a bit of generic milling about whilst people collected belongings and did some post run stretching and fraternising.  Obviously, we also had to do some mandatory posing for pictures.  Then it was next stop communal tea drinking.  Also a sport associated with parkrun…  and not just any tea, but Yorkshire tea.  Actually, in these parts, I’m not sure there is any other tea available, and quite right too!

There is a little house – York House – which seems to be a community space.  As well as having a loo inside and out for pre run precautionary pees, there is a kitchen space with a big urn, tea and coffee and mugs put out and you can help yourself to a hot drink (or water/ juice) can share running tales with friends old and new or family as you wish.  There is a pot for an optional donation.  The photos show the post-run euphoria captured brilliantly!  Now wasn’t that fun.

Tea/ coffee quaffed, we said our farewells to the great and glorious volunteers.  Thank you Sheffield Castle parkrun people.  We’ll try not to leave it so long next time, and we’ve put your Fourth Birthday Bash in the diary for 5th August  (nearest date to inaugural one on 3 August 2013, so presume that’s right).  Hopefully see you there.  Presume there will be cake?  🙂

and we went in search of post-parkrun breakfast.  Which isn’t compulsory but might as well be.  On this saturday we went to The Forge Bakehouse on Abbeydale Road (we were in a car), which I’d not been to before. It’s got an extraordinary selection of fabulous looking stuff.  Mostly sweet.  Expensive, but very nice.    I had the french toast, which was delicious, but not as expected.  The place was heaving, so we had to sit outside, but that was OK because you can borrow a complimentary grey blanket if you wish. We did wish, it might be the may bank holiday weekend but no-one has told the weather gods it’s time for some warmer days.

So this was my post parkrun fix – probably negating the positive benefits of running but oh my, quite a treat.  Note to self, would have been better without the chocolate sauce as well. Next time I think I’ll try the mexican bean breakfast as a more savoury option.

breakfast

So Sheffield Castle parkrun. Friendly, unexpectedly scenic, three laps (not keen on that) watch out for them there hills. If you just want to know about parkrun, register here, go to your nearest just remember, as always #DFYB – Don’t forget your barcode!  (Though if you do, you can still run, you just wont get a time, and where’s the fun in that?)

DFYB

Try it.

The end.

For all my posts about Sheffield Castle parkun see here

For all my parkrun related posts see here

Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Storming the castle! Smiley Paces going places take on Sheffield Castle parkrun

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Morning has broken, and another gorgeous sunrise.  Really quite a nip in the air though, anyone would think it was winter!  No bonus points on offer though as it did warm up in time for parkrun (for new readers, Smiley Paces club members are undertaking a series of running challenges throughout January to March, extra points are gained from sub-zero temperatures, and also unique timed runs, it’s too complicated to explain all over again just go with it, or if you really care, check it out at Smiletastic Challenge information page on our website – all you really need to know, is if it stayed sub-zero out on the run a bonus point might be grabbable).

Today parkrun tourism had Smiley Paces going places once again.  In part we’ve been meaning to get around the other Sheffield runs a bit more this year anyway, but the specific reason for going today (ironically forgoing cake for a 50th milestone celebration at Hallam) was the quest for Smiletastic bonus points.  We didn’t know about the cake offer at the time we were co-ordinating who went where otherwise we may not have martyred ourselves in quite this way.  Even so, we were heading off to a castle, yay, what’s not to like.  Sheffield Castle parkrun to be precise.

I scooped up two Smiley Paces team mates on the way, and we had a sort of collective navigation thing going to get to Manor Fields.  The first weird thing about getting though, is that where you pull in to park is sort of hidden by an optical illusion,you needed to hold your nerve to turn in when coming from our way anyway.  It was like the Harry Potter pushing your trolley through the wall thing to get to platform 9 3/4 or whatever it was you needed to be on to get the Hogwart Express –  though don’t try that literally, the first turning is a phoney one, then you see the entrance a bit further on that you expect to get in to the car park.  And there is parking, not masses, but more than enough for the bijou turnout, so that was good.

Harry-Potter-Platform-9-3-4-kings-cross

The next weird thing, no castle.  Not that I could see anyway.   I really, really wanted there to be a castle.  The absence of one is a shame, but the venue has other delights, so don’t rule it out.  Those other delights include extraordinarily welcoming marshals, and a whole pack of them!  Almost as many volunteers as parkrunners which makes a change. It is a small parkrun compared to others, I think there were 35 of us out today, but the consequence is it all feels quite intimate and bespoke even.  Those of you who are worried about my need for a precautionary pee can be put at ease, there is a loo at the start!  Phew, also, a handy wheelie bin in which you can dump your stuff whilst you run.  We sort of hovered about (not hoovered in fact, even though I almost always use those words interchangeably with unfortunate but amusing results).  I made a half-hearted attempt to bag some atmospheric shots but with mixed success.

Manor Fields themselves were quite unexpectedly lovely, my photos are basically shite, sorry about that.  There was a playground area, and loads of sort of ‘public art’ I suppose you’d call it.  Most of it you see whilst running round, but I didn’t actually stop to take photos en route so you’ll either have to take my word for it or go and see for yourself, you can sort of see one of them in the background of the shot of my two Smiley compatriots.  There was a lovely pond with masses of bulrushes which are one of my favourite plants (I nearly said favourite aquatic plants, but then I thought I cant really name that many aquatic ones, so I thought it might be damning with faint praise!).  The resident marshals made us welcome, it was all quite relaxed and low key.  There was a friendly and brief welcome, basically, you run round a clearly marked route, all on tarmac, then you do it again, and then you do it again.  No barcode, don’t go through the funnel – because we all know by now don’t we, No Barcode, No Time, No Exceptions #DFYB.

For those of you who like it spelt out, the Official course description for Sheffield Castle parkrun blah de blah is as follows if you really care about such details:

The course consists of three laps of Manor Fields park in an anti-clockwise direction.
The Start/finish line is situated at the entrance to the park from the car park adjacent to York House, City Road.   From the start head east following the tarmac path which descends gently and then takes a more north easterly direction. Take a right fork climbing gently on a curved path towards the Queen Mary Road entrance to the park keeping the houses to your right.   Adjacent to the Queen Mary Road park entrance take a left turn following the tarmac path north east towards the children’s playground.
Immediately prior to the playground, at the cross roads, turn left and take the gentle descent north westerly. Continue along the tarmac path following it north keeping rocks to your right and over the discreet, level bridge.   Take the next available right and continue along the tarmac path in a generally northerly direction as it ascends ever more steeply towards the Raynald Road exit from the park. Follow the tarmac path left and north west as it descends steeply towards the Manor Park Crescent park entrance keeping within the park boundaries following the path as it bends left passed the entrance heading south in a steady climb.  Stick to the main tarmac path as it bends south westerly and commences its steady climb past the cemetery entrance on the right back to the start/finish line.
Complete three laps of the course for the 5km of the Sheffield Castle parkrun.

This description makes it sound as if the course is ludicrously complicated to navigate.  Trust me, it isn’t.  You just follow the person in front, or if you are in front (and well done you for being so) follow the yellow brick road of pointing clapping marshals and don’t barge through the carefully positioned plastic cones that have been lovingly put in situ by early rising volunteers in advance to indicate the ‘no through roads’ when running round.  The hardest thing is having to count to three, so you do enough laps.  It felt like a lot more than three times round to me to be honest, and I was gutted on completing the second loop that the marshals didn’t mistake me for a fast finisher and helpfully pointed me back round to run it all over again whilst waving through the front runners who had comprehensively lapped me.  You start and finish in the same place, the finishers go to the left of the tape – I don’t know if you can quite make it out in the photo, but there is a dear little arrow pointing you the correct way by the sign – and the ‘still going rounders’ continue on to the right.  It’s very obvious when you get there, no orienteering skills needed.

One of the advantages of doing three loops, is that you do get to appreciate the surroundings.  I thought that it would be grim running round and round in circles, but fair play to the place, you get some great views going around.  The downside of this is that the reason you get great views is because you are on hills.  Lots of them.  They just kept on coming.  I was talking about Sheffield hills with someone the other day, they maintained that what goes up, must come down, i.e. don’t worry too much about running up a hill as ‘sure as eggs is eggs’, you will get to run down it again later.  I say crap to that.  These hills only seemed to go up, if there was a little undulation downwards now and again it was but to toy with you, tease your frantic mind into thinking there was to be some temporary respite, before throwing up another EVEN BIGGER hill in front.  For them as enjoy hills, and find hill training useful, which I suppose it is (hypothetically for other people) then this is a great course. Personally, I found it hard.   It doesn’t help that each time you tackle a hill on the way round, you continue in the knowledge that it remains unfinished business, you will have to do it all over again, twice.

The hills of death had a Escher like quality, upwards and upwards only, and it didn’t help that for a lot of the course you are in sight of the (admittedly picturesque) cemetery, which inevitably encourages you to contemplate your own mortality as you pound around wondering if it is your legs or lungs which will give up first.  To be fair, looking at the picture it looks like you could go continuously downhill as well if you chose.  Maybe they should try running the route in reverse? In any event, great choice of place to train for the Sheffield Half which is basically up hill all the way going out and down hill all the way coming back.  Sounds dire, what were we thinking when we accidentally entered?  Presumably we a) weren’t thinking at all and b) it was far enough away that training seemed hypothetically possible.  Time will tell…

Escher-Ascending-Descending-detalj

I did puff a bit, I felt determined to keep going, I was wearing my Smiley vest for goodness sake, the honour of the club was at stake!  My calves were hurting today for some reason.  Maybe the cold, maybe because I never do any stretching before hand if I’m honest.  Maybe I can get away with it at Hallam which is basically flat – bit of a gradient, but not really a proper hill as such, much more prolonged up hill here.

As we went round the sun came out, and the light looked lovely.  I don’t think I’ll ever really be sold on multiple lap courses, but if I had to do one, this is a good one.  Maybe if it was your regular run it would become quite therapeutic, getting in a rhythm and loping round.  Because attendance is small, there is nothing to stop you running as fast as you like (I was going to say ‘as fast as you can’ but that’s not true, for me, my head prevents that every single time I venture out).  You can’t really get boxed in, and if you slow, it will be your own doing not outside influence.  There didn’t seem to be all that many other park users around, a few people with dogs watching from the sidelines were friendly enough and I wondered if they might have a parkrun connection too to be honest.  One quirk I noticed going round was periodically there were some weird shapes in the tarmac, sort of circular squiggles, like an attempt had been made at three dimensional graffiti perhaps, etching into the path, but then removed by someone else, shoots of green had sprung up in some of the gaps leaving a sort of impressionistic artistic shadow in their wake.  They weren’t all that distinct, but enough to leave an impression of swirls and shapes.  Manor Fields answer to the Nazca lines of Peru perhaps?  Also any excuse for Paddington.  (Note to self, must ask the others if they noticed them too…)

I was relieved to finish, and finally get to veer to the left and pass the timer.  Friendly congratulations and instantaneous scanning of my barcode.  This didn’t go entirely according to plan as I initially proffered my tomtom as that is also on my wrist (I’ve got a parkrun wristband – they are brilliant), sorted eventually though, once I’d re-engaged my brain and brandished my wrist band instead.  I’ve fallen out with my tomtom today, as for some reason it recorded my run, but failed to upload it.  Catastrophe, I am gutted!   It had better redeem itself at Longshaw 10k Tomorrow!  On a cheerier note, retrieving my bag from the wheelie bin baggage drop receptacle,  I noticed there are even glasses and a jug of water at the finish, that is so brilliant!  Good job Castle.

It was companionable at the end.  We retrieved our things, met some new people – a couple of nice women were potential Smiley recruits, always a bonus.  We managed to get one of them to take our photo as is traditional for a parkrun tourism foray.  Well I say traditional, it’s the first time we’ve done it actually, but I think we should from now on!  Look at us, aren’t we lovely, Smiley Paces going places, looking like the holy trinity here!

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One of the great joys of it being such a small field, is that you find yourself whizzing up the finishing places to an extraordinary degree.  (I know, it’s a run not a race, but it’s fun to unexpectedly excel!).  I ended up in an uncharacteristic 24th Place and gained what was for me an unprecedented 93 points!  Normally I barely get a solitary point, and finish in the high hundreds in terms of finish position.  At Bushy Parkrun I’ve made it as high/low as finish position 1023 on one occasion to tell the truth, so you can see the novelty value in making double figures in the line up.  Yay!

It’s also worth doing Castle just to get that warm glow of boosting your points score from single figures (in my case, sad but true), to almost maximum available.  The only time I’ve bettered this was when I’ve volunteered on the first day of the new year for my home parkrun.  100 points, straight off, found myself at the top of the points leader board (jointly admittedly) for the first and only time. I could have had singular lead position if I’d only thought to volunteer as tail marker too, hilarious.  Another Top Tip for the more competitively minded amongst you out there…

I snapped away a few not very good photos, so I’ll add a little smorgasbord below in case of interest to give a bit more of a feel for this lovely venue.  Granted, it is in the middle of pretty urban surrounds, and it’s small, but beautifully formed.  A little oasis in a perhaps an initially less than promising location.  It might not be able to compete with the likes of Bushy parkrun but it can hold its own in its own way in its own terms.  Give it a go, I would go back certainly.

There was the option for tea at the venue in the adjacent community building.  People were really welcoming, but we’d had another idea.  So we waved and shouted our thanks – and sincere it was too, its a really, really nice and friendly parkrun, and heaved our weary carcasses back in the car to head off to Kelham Island.  I know, madness really, totally out of our way, and not en route to anywhere, but once we got there, I could see it was well worth the effort.  We were headed to The Depot Bakery, which was just stunningly good!

Granted, when we first headed off, to an apparently increasingly derelict industrial area of the city, I did feel like I was being abducted.  Even when we got there, you have to duck into what looks at first like a dead end backstreet – though personally I do like the old red-brick industrial architecture.  However, once we got in, oh my god, I’ve never seen such an amazing array of bread and cakes.  Though you have to question the wisdom of the artistry in question for at least one of their offerings… is it just me that can’t get out of their head what it instantly reminds me of.  I wont spell it out.

There was some slight disappointment that they weren’t doing the weekday menu so still no scrambled eggs on toast with mushrooms on offer.  However, I went for a mushroom and spinach rarebit which was fantastic. Really quality cup of coffee with the squirly pattern on top and everything.  Cheetah buddy had a goats cheese, courgette and pepper focaccia toasted, and we halved each with each other.  I was genuinely impressed.  It was on the expensive side for a breakfast, but I loved the ambiance of utilitarian surroundings, friendly service, spacious, and details like they had an see-through urn of chilled water that you could help yourself too, and it had sliced cucumber in it.  How upmarket is that.  Ten out of Ten, I vote for doing Hillsborough parkrun next weekend just so we can go back to The Depot again afterwards with a bit more of a geographical justification for doing so in terms of proximity to parkrun venue.  It was empty when we first arrived by the way, but filled up by the time we left.  The food was much nicer than it looked, these photos have stripped it of all panache and presentation, oh well.

So there you go, another parkrun tourism outing in the bag, and a really successful one, Sheffield Castle parkrun even provided sunshine!  Also, because it’s such a small field, and the team seem incredibly well organised, we had our results ping through on a text before we’d had a chance to order brunch.  That’s service indeed.

So thank you Smiley companions, thank you Sheffield Castle parkrun team and thank you Depot Bakery too.  A good mornings work!

So final task on returning home was to upload the run on Strava.  Disaster, an error message, no run.  Fortunately Cheetah Smiley sent me a copy of her run so I could use that for Smiletastic purposes – the distance, route and elevation are all the same, and pace isn’t relevant for this challenge.  Unfortunately-ish, there is no way I can alter her time, so it looks like I was turbo charged (by my standards) all the way round.  Isn’t that splendid.  I will enjoy the moment whilst it lasts, and hope I never have to prove it was me what ran it…  Don’t understand the graph though, I’d swear those hills were steeper, elevation total was 243 according to summary stats too, so the numbers make no sense. I don’t care, we all did it, that’s what counts!

Castle parkrun route

In summary, don’t expect to see a Castle, but do expect to experience a warm welcome.  Enjoy.

 

 

Categories: 5km, parkrun, road, running, running clubs, teamwork | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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