Posts Tagged With: walking

Best of times at Bestwood Village parkrun #248

You never regret a parkrun EVER!

I wasn’t really feeling the love this morning. It was cold, I was feeling rough, and had no particular parkrun plans or people to go with or meet up with. I’m feeling somewhat earthbound at present, walking is hard and honestly, did have a brief moment of wondering whether or not to just roll back under the duvet for once. And might have done, but for a parkrunning friend messaging me to say that parkrun is not compulsory and maybe take a Saturday off. What sacrilege was this! It was enough to shake me to my senses, if not to my very core. It may not be actually compulsory to do a parkrun on parkrunday, but surely only in the sense that the parkrun police wont take you into custody as such. However, it is mandatory in the way that brushing your teeth in the morning is. I wouldn’t dream of facing a day without doing so, and if ever I’ve had to omit this baseline of personal hygiene – due to combination of forgotten toothbrush and extreme near death illness say – I spend the day feeling uncomfortable and even soiled in some way. It’s no way to live. Of course I’d go to a parkrun! Having my bluff called worked. Barcode on, thermals on, parkrun buff on, way to go! Also, where to go?

I have a list of parkruns that are in relatively easy reach of Sheffield, and Bestwood Village has been on it for aaaaaaaaaaaages. I don’t even know why I’ve not been before. I think it’s because at a subconscious level, Bestwood Village makes me think of an out of town shopping centre or discount retail outlets. Souless, concrete, nowt to see or do. If I’d thought about it a bit more, it was on balance unlikely that any such venue would host a parkrun, since unless it was one that began with an X (obvs), the lure of a 50 lap course round a parking lot would wear thin. And that’s allowing for the fact that it would probably be super handy for loos and post parkrun coffee. Mind you, I guess there would always be some hardcore parkrunners up for it. What about those legends that did 5k garden parkruns and even marathon distances in hotel rooms during lockdown? Mind you, lockdown drove a lot of people quite a long way down the continuum to eccentricity – if not actual madness, probably not the best reference point for parkrunning mortals now lockdown is no more. Bestwood Village parkrun it would be, it was only an hour away, and as like Lady Macbeth (but without the bloodied hands) I seem incapable of sleep, I was wide awake in good time to get over there anyway.

I’d already printed off all the info, so for those of you who like the official blah de blah I can share with you that, according to the Bestwood Village parkrun website the course:

The event takes place at Bestwood Country Park, Park Rd, Bestwood village, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG6 8UE.

Course Description: One lap clockwise around the Park, starting from the Dynamo House, heading East. There are two (and a half!) “undulations” through woodland and open parkland. As well as the marshals and temporary event signs, the course has permanent direction and distance signs.

Facilities: There is limited free parking at the Country Park: look out for parkrun signs announcing extra parking along Park Road. There is a toilet in the Dynamo House by the Start/Finish area, accessible when café staff begin preparing for the café, and there are public toilets at 1.2k around the course. Drinks and cake are on sale in the Dynamo House café after the event.

Location of start: The event starts from the back of the Dynamo House.

Getting there by road: Bestwood Country Park is on the edge of Bestwood Village, 6 miles north of Nottingham city centre. The car park can be accessed off Park Road. Sat nav users follow NG6 8UE.

Post Run Coffee: Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in Dynamo House – please come and join us!

and the course looks like this:



Wait, so Bestwood Village is not some ghastly out of town retail outlet centre at all then? This looks really nice! How have I missed this one for so long? That’ll do. And one lap! Not done a one lapper in far too long. Quick check on their pages in case of last minute cancellations but nope, looking good, and even a my-sized gap on the rota for a second parkwalker, I might volunteer my services for that if I got there in time if they were happy to have me. Relaxed either way, but the blue vis is definitely the most flattering and it is a gateway to interacting with other parkrunners and volunteers when you get to a new venue if you don’t know anyone. Yep, that would work, this had the makings of a plan!

I quite perked up, off and out, and on my way. It was a straightforward drive to Nottingham, taking me near Sherwood Pines parkrun and probably Beeston parkrun, which are two others I have very fond memories off. Oh, and hang on, am I breezing past Hucknall junior parkrun territory too? That has a great reputation as a friendly and fun parkrun. This boded well.

I made good time, cheered on my way by passing through Papplewick, which is indubitably the most excellent name for a village, and to find it is a real place, and not a made up one for hobbitland is a real boon. I also passed a rather upmarket events venue that specialises in catering for Geese, which, not gonna lie, I found commendable, but confusing. I guess with avian flu all around, those feathered friends that are able to afford it, need to take care of their health as best they can! To be fair, Papplewick does sound like the sort of place that might have such niche venues #goodtoknow



The drive really did take me through some gorgeous little villages with stone houses, traditional looking pubs and a fine selection of ancient looking crosses. I was obviously focussed on getting to parkrun, but it did make me think this is a part of the world that would be fun to explore, and that is rich with history. There was many a Sherwood reference along the way, and plenty of green spaces and woodland too, yep, this is indeed a lovely part of the world. parkrun touristing is much more fun as the days get longer and warmer – though next week could be a challenge – and it was good to be venturing a bit out and about without constant fear of imminent death due to icy patches, ill-lit roads and unknown territory. Touristing is best as a spring and summer hobby it is true.

The parkrun was super easy to find, but what made it extra fun, was the sight of two exuberant marshals, handily positioned to direct parkrunners to their overflow parking. This is maybe a 15 minute or so walk from the official start, and is locked at around 10.30 I think, but stops parkrunners clogging up the official carpark so preventing other users from visiting the country park. Fair enough. Having said that, the cheery high vis heroes advised me there was some parking a bit nearer, so I took advantage of that. Although I’m much more mobile than I was, a 5k is about my limit and if I’d had to walk there and back as well I’m not sure I’d have managed, certainly not within the time frames allowed. However, it isn’t that far, and would be the more public spirited option if coming in. Plus, you get to see the amazing foam fingered duo, who wouldn’t want to follow that directional pointing, it was ACE!



Greatly cheered by this welcome, I chugged on up to the main carpark. There was space, but it isn’t huge, I can see why they encourage parking a bit further away. Before arriving I wasn’t sure what the Dynamo Building was, but when you arrive you can’t mistake the old colliery machinery workings. They look rather fine, standing out against the blue sky. There were already some ‘caution runner’ and directional arrow signs out, and I could see the volunteers gathering too. All good. And it was only just 8.30 so lots of time. Oh, and pussy willow, right near where I’d parked the car, very seasonally appropriate. Usual apologies for my camera offerings, I know it’s time to replace, I really am on the cusp of getting a smart phone now, with a decent camera, but currently paralysed by indecision and horror at the cost. It’s a dilemma, the horns on which I sit uncomfortably. I am increasingly shamed by my pics, though I guess they are enough to give you the general idea, and frankly, for this parkrun in particular, you really should make the effort to come and see it for yourself.



So I hovered awkwardly for a bit, and then, seeing as the volunteers appeared friendly, went to say hello and see if a parkwalker might still be welcomed. They did have one already, but seemed to take a more the merrier view of things, and were happy for me to add my name to the rota which was appreciated. There were lots of fun things about the parkrun set up which I’d not seen before, so much to explore. First though, I explored the loo situation. Now, strictly speaking there aren’t really loos at the start, though there are some a mile or so round the route. However, the café was just opening, and as I was now resplendent in my high vis it was ok to nip in and avail myself of the facilities. It is just the one loo though, so not really geared up for hoards of parkrunners. What’s more, as a hangover from covid ventilation perhaps, hilariously and somewhat alarmingly, the loo door was held open with string, however, you are allowed to remove this before entering so you can powder your nose without the entire café staff looking on. Leaving the café was somewhat challenging though, as they have an automatic door, but one where you have to push a button to activate it, and when you are standing in front of the door, the button is behind you on a pillar that you can’t see. It took me longer than it ought to have done to find it. More mortifying still, I thought at first it was motion activated, so stepped back and tried to walk through it again, not a good look. Honestly, I sometimes wonder how it is I am able to live independently giving that passing through a door seemed to defeat me. Still, it’s not like anyone will ever know is it. Apart from you Dear Reader, and I’m sure you won’t tell will you?

Right, exciting things I’d not seen before, or things that I was excited to see again so beautifully executed. Well, there was a real attention to detail here. The welcoming flag was where you couldn’t fail to see it as you turned into the park, so that was a win for starters. They have the new diddy pop up sign (which I do find hard to take seriously to be honest, I know size isn’t everything, but it just looks so shrunken compared to it’s huge, aerodynamic, monstrously difficult to collapse or carry predecessor. I think the new bijous version is probably an improvement, it’s certainly more manageable, but change can be hard can it not. That’s probably why I caught sight of the old sign peering out from behind some bins. It haunts the parkrun route still. The diddy pop up sign was positioned where the first timers’ welcome and start were located. It also had the backdrop of the colliery workings which was a nice touch. Then there was the Personal Best Bell, with which Red Ted was especially taken. A displayed map of the course along with its elevation and undulations – it is Yorkshire flat. There were details of how to volunteer and perhaps finest and most innovative or all a board where finish tokens could be hung up, saving the token sorter a lot of grief. There was also a handy table surrounded by friendly volunteers. There also seemed to be a ‘guess how many tokens in a jar’ competition going on, and an opportunity to buy fresh eggs, laid this very morning. All very community spirited I felt. Splendid in fact.



I was super impressed by how friendly and chatty everyone seemed to be. It is nerve wracking rocking up at a new parkrun sometimes, but I was made very welcome. These Nottinghamshire folk seem to be a pathologically friendly lot, I recall being love-bombed at Beeston parkrun too, must be something in the woods that brings out the best in people. You’d be very lucky to have this as your home event. You need never be lonely at a parkrun again!

People started to gather the way parkrunners do. There were a fair few first timers at this parkrun and some barkrunners rocking up for their first ever ever parkrun which was jolly exciting. I LOVE it when people discover parkrun for the very first time. A whole new world for them to explore, their lives will be better for it, body, mind and soul!

After a little while, the RD summoned newbies over for the first timers’ welcome. He had a PA system, the good thing about this is that it was really easy to hear him. The bad thing was some people just talked louder to each other during it. I do despair at people talking through parkrun briefings. It just seems really rude, and like the failure to return library books, the most terrible of wrongs. parkrun asks so little from its participants in return for the free, weekly timed event, just to turn up, respect other participants and parkrun users, listen to the briefings and have a barcode if you want a time. I tried not to be too irritated, but it was a stretch.

The briefing was excellent, good humoured, welcoming and full of helpful information. There was rather a lot of talk about hills, almost all of which went upwards apparently, very little on the downhill side of undulations as far as I could make out. The course was described in some details, just one lap, regular marshals with their won spots, and a part with a red cone in an area parkrunners are especially prone to falling over for some reason. I never saw the cone, too busy chatting, maybe that’s what happens and why people end up face planting, I just got away with it today through beginner’s luck? We were reminded you could buy eggs today if you wished, but it was helpfully pointed out it might be best to do this at the end of the run rather than the start. Egg and spoon events not having entirely caught on in the parkrun world as yet for some reason. We were advised to look out for Teresa and Daisy at their own marshal spot, though Daisy wouldn’t be there today, or possibly Teresa, for reasons I can’t quite recall. There was a reminder that the overflow carpark would be locked 10.30ish so if you wanted to go for post parkrun coffee best to retrieve and repark your car. Lots of helpful detail. Be mindful of horses on the course, although for the most part they know about the parkrun and avoid the tracks at those times. Some rather cute cobs clopped by during the briefing to illustrate the point. They had riders with them, they hadn’t come on their own. Then the RD asked if there were any birthdays, or milestones or challenges or anything else. There was a birthday! Hurrah. Someone was twenty one today. Twice! It all felt genuinely welcoming, inclusive, relaxed and good natured, just as a parkrun should be.



As well as signing in the volunteers, and doing the first timers’ welcome the Run Director then did the official briefing after a short interval. This was to the point, a quick round of applause for volunteers, shout outs for birthdays and egg sales, and then we were orf! It was quite a wide start with parkrunners approaching from a variety of different angles, but it was all pretty good natured, and people found their most appropriate places within the pack. Oh one extra thing, I noticed at the start there is a route marker for a permanent 5k route which is also the parkrun course. That’s pretty cool. It makes it a most excellent place to do a freedom parkrun. This seems a welcoming, almost bespoke parkrun venue, a lot of attention to detail, all good.



I took some pictures of departing parkrunners then slotted in towards the back. I found myself in something of a no-man’s land with the tailwalkers and accompanying barkwalkers a bit behind me, and then quite a gap to the next walker ahead. After a bit I settled in to my pace, I paused to thank the marshals en route and to try to capture them in action with clapping, directional pointing and supportive cheering all nailed to perfection, each new volunteer even lovelier than the one before – nigh on impossible as that is to believe!



After the first kilometre or so, another parkrunner, who’d arrived a bit late, caught me up. She paused, thinking I would want her out of my photo and that led to us striking up a conversation, and then there was a particularly fine upward flat section, when she habitually walked bits of it anyway, so we ended up getting in stride together and having a most companionable twalk – walk and talk. It was really nice. We talked about parkrun, obviously, and her experiences as a relatively new convert, she’d only discovered parkrun earlier this year. It was lovely to be reminded of how transformative parkrun can be, and also we talked about the different volunteering roles quite a bit. I felt a bit of a fraud as parkwalker in some ways today as there wasn’t anyone who really needed my support as such, but talking to my walking buddy, it was good to find myself saying that part of the importance of the role is to my walking at parkrun visible. We were talking about cycle paths at one point, and how empty cycle paths don’t seem all that inviting. If you see many cyclists using a busy route then you are much more inclined to join in, the parkwalker role is a bit like that too. Yes, it can be solidarity or company for walkers who want that, but it’s also important just to be there, walking the route, to encourage other walkers to come join in and do the same.

The route is lovely. Even though this might not be the absolutely bonniest time of year, you get lovely open views on the edge of the wood, there is the calm and beauty of mature trees, and a good variety of planting to add interest too. It was nice to see other users of the space too, dog walkers, horse riders, all sorts. I like it when open space is appreciated in this way, everyone we met was very friendly. I had a little look up about the park when I got home, hang on, let me tell you what I’ve found out about Bestwood Country Park.


Bestwood Country Park is jointly owned by Gedling Borough Council and Nottinghamshire County Council and sits between Arnold and Bestwood village. The park has 650 acres of varied landscape, wildlife and industrial heritage. The park has become popular with walkers, cyclists and bird watchers as well as those coming to see Bestwood Winding Engine House

and according to wikipedieasoitmustbetrue Bestwood Country Park

Bestwood Country Park is a country park near Bestwood Village, Nottinghamshire, England.[1] Bestwood was a hunting estate owned by the Crown from the medieval period until the 17th century, when King Charles II gave it to his mistress, Nell Gwyn, and their son. In the Victorian era, Bestwood was the location of a coal mine which closed in 1967. It was established as a country park in 1973.


In the Middle Ages, Bestwood Country Park was a hunting estate in Sherwood Forest owned by the Crown, and used by the landed gentry and monarchs visiting Nottingham. In the 17th century, King Charles II was known to visit the park with his mistress, Nell Gwyn. He set the boundaries to the park and granted it to Gwyn and their illegitimate son Charles Beauclerk, the 1st Duke of St Albans. Thereafter, land was sold in parcels and in the early 19th century there were thirteen farms in the park. In the Victorian era, owner William Beauclerk made a significant impact on the park when he established the Bestwood Coal and Iron Company to mine coal at Bestwood colliery. The mine became the world’s first to produce one million tonnes of coal in a single year. He also demolished the original medieval hunting lodge and had designer Samuel Sanders Teulon build a new lodge. The mine was closed in 1967, and the country park was established in 1973.

Nell Gwyn: King Charles II gave Bestwood Park to his mistress Nell Gwyn and their son. While staying at the hunting lodge, the King and his guests would tease Gwyn for sleeping late and for not taking part in the hunting. The King was reported to have offered to give Gwyn “all the land she could ride around before breakfast.” The next day, he found her already sitting for breakfast. She had reportedly “ridden out early, dropping handkerchiefs along her route, and the encircled area became Bestwood Park”.

Winding engine house: The winding engine house of Bestwood Colliery in the Nottinghamshire coalfield with its vertical steam engine of 1873 has been preserved to commemorate Bestwood’s industrial heritage. The engine would lower miners into the mine shaft and winch coal back up. It stands at the entrance to the park and is now a listed building. The winding engine was restored with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the council.


That’s a pretty cool history is it not. And so it’s the winding engine you can see at the start. Hurrah. Good to know these things.

So we walked round, appreciating the outdoor space and sharing parkrun stories. My only regret, is somehow missing the iconic Red Cone, which is so important it gets an actual mention and photo on the Bestwood Village parkrun Facebook page as well as honourable mention in the run briefing. Surely a selfie would have been in order here. Keep your eyes peeled fellow parkrunner, if you find yourself here! Twisting on the dislodged gravel would have been no joke though, but to be honest I found as a walker the paths to be pretty stable, and on a dry day like today not an issue. Even so, stay safe out there!



I took photos at intervals, but they don’t really do the course justice. I loved that it was one lap, that it undulated. Properly undulated, some people exaggerate or are deluded by the extent of their elevation, but this was proper hillage and up and down. Hurrah. I loved that there were both contemplative woodland paths and more open sections. As walkers, we seemingly had the whole place to ourselves for quite a time, as the faster parkrunners were ahead out of sight, and those comprising the party at the back with the tailwalkers were some distance behind, also out of sight as the paths curved away.



There are some sections on the way were it seems like there are multiple paths, the main path is usually evident, but if you did go down one of the many alternative routes you’d end up in the right place. A sort of ‘all paths lead to the parkrun route’ scenario. Wouldn’t it be lovely if that were always the case? I mean, one day it probably will be, there are after all according to the parkrun website there are currently 1,165 parkrun events around the country taking place every weekend, with more locations being added all of the time. That’s 5k and the 2k junior events, but just in the uk. If you count all of them Worldwide there are EVEN MORE – 1891 different events currently according to the running challenges numbers. And that doesn’t even include those parkruns that have been and gone like Terrific Tring parkrun say. So many parkruns, so little time. I envy younger people who have already discovered parkrun, they will have many decades extra to go exploring in the parkrun world. Yay for them though, the world is a better place for the mixing of parkrunners across the world. There are so many places I’d never have visited and people I’d never have met were it not for parkrun and junior parkrun. I honestly can’t imagine my world without it. I’d still have my tadpoles I suppose, and they also bring me joy, but I’d like to hang on to parkrun in my life too if that’s possible. Even when parkrun didn’t happen during lockdown, and when I was poorly, it was parkrun friends who kept me connected. It’s quite something.

Oh, and there were more kilometre markers for the 5k route. You should so go and do this.

We were so engrossed in chatting, the finish funnel seemed to come into sight really quickly. A full complement of volunteers on guard to guide and welcome us in. I paused to take a photo. Maybe if I hadn’t I’d have got my final parkrun bingo number from the Running Challenges Chrome extension. 4 seconds out. Oh well, I’m almost wanting to be the slowest person ever to achieve the challenge now. I think it might be three years since I got my penultimate number! Also, worth it, to record this vision of loveliness that welcomed us home!



Just for us! Well, us and the other 120 odd participants. Not that I’m not odd too, but you know what I mean.

All timed in and scanned, we dutifully hung up our tokens on the token board. I still think that’s genius…



then to the cafe for post parkrun parkfaffery.

OMG. The cafe is amazing! It was bright and clean and run by friendly volunteers. The cake selection was fabulous, but the prices were insanely good value. The cakes are all home baked, delicious and generously sized and 75p each. You read that right seventy five pennies! Coffee or tea was but 50p for a decent filter coffee and a choose your own milk or soya milk. The cakes included vegan and probably gluten free options. It was such a bargain. Oh and behind the counter with it’s many cakes and treats, was a huge wall with old photos of the original colliery workers and houses. The terrace of miners accommodation is still standing and just round the corner from where we were standing. You can still see it, in fact I did, out of my car window as I glanced down the side streets I passed on the way out.



We found a table from which we had a good vantage point of the automatic doors that require the use of some initiative to operate. I was heartened to see it wasn’t only me who had been defeated by this challenge. At intervals someone would stand bemused at the unmoving glass, and helpful regulars would call out advice on how to exit. It was like a little enrichment activity, and in some ways it was a rather cunning ploy to identify new people to the cafe who could then be welcomed and chatted to – except they were trying to leave so to pounce on them at that point might have tipped over from love bombing into actual kidnapping, so maybe not, but you get the idea. Sort of a variant on wearing a high vis, blue or any other colour, is a signal to parkrunners new and regular alike that you are open to being approached and a friendly face to help if help is needed.

After a bit, we were joined by another of the volunteers, so that was great too, we shared parkrun stories and aspirations, and I also pumped my new besties for advice about what smartphone to go for. I’ve narrowed it down to a Samsung or a Google Pixel, previous issue for both, but still confused. It seems people who know about these things or are youthful (under 30 is youthful from my perspective) whereas people closer in age to me tend to be Samsung. Oh dear. I’ll have to set foot in a mobile phone shop and be bamboozled even further. I hate surrendering myself to such places though, usually ends up with deeper confusion. Still, my walking buddy has made a promise to volunteer at parkrun so I should make the promise to get my smart phone if not this week this month. It was going to be this week, but now we have snow forecast which makes getting out tricky (I live on a really steep hill) and also I’m thinking of getting a refurbished phone and now the new S23 has come out, maybe there will be a little flurry of bargain listings. Also, my head hurts every time I think of going into a phone shop. Then again, just think of the parkrun photos I’ll be able to take. I too may become a legend at Selfie taking – imagine that! And I’ll be able to do barcode scanning on the virtual volunteer parkrun app. I used to love doing that volunteer role. A whole new world of parkrun related adventures will be mine for the taking.


Thank you lovely Bestwood Village parkrun volunteer team for making me so welcome, and to my chat buddies I met on the way round at the end, it really made for a memorable and joyful morning. You are the best.

I hope to come back one day, perhaps in a different season, I need to see the trees in leaf, the red cone and check out some of the other cafe options too. So much to do, so little time. Yay for spreading the parkun joy,.

That’s all for now, but as ever, you can read all my parkrun related posts here.  Or not.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.  Reading is not compulsory. Thanks for sticking with me though, happy parkrunning adventures ’til we meet again. Hope you find your happy place and may all your paths keep leading you back to a parkrun route – though not in a ‘nightmarish, Escher painting, no escape, endlessly finding yourself back where you started’ sort of way, but in a joyful, ‘make the world a better place’ way, just to be clear.



Categories: 5km, parkrun, walking at parkrun | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

SURPRISE! Ups and downs and round and rounds in the rain at Sheffield Castle parkrun

It is a fact universally acknowledged that a parkrunner in possession of a barcode is always in search of a parkrun. Further more, such a person will never regret a parkrun. Sometimes you may think you will, in the small dark hours of a dismal winter day blinking up at the ceiling from under the fragile warmth of a tightly clutched duvet, but actually, nope, even the most inclement of conditions bestow bragging rights, and the most perilous of journeys can provide payback in terms of future anecdotes. It is always worth stepping out for a parkrun adventure. What is comedy but tragedy plus time after all. However, some parkruns you don’t regret even more than others. Sheffield Castle parkrun is one such event. It is an ostensibly modest offering, small by many parkrun standards, with an average number of finishers each week of around 60. It is an erm, let’s go with ‘unpromising’ at first glance Sheffield location, and has definite ‘Sheffield flat’ sections that give the course the illusion of being almost entirely uphill. In fact scrap that, it isn’t an illusion, it actually is entirely uphill. Think Escher painting with the endless upwards staircases and you’ll get the general idea. However, those of us who have experienced the event at its Manor Park location know of its secret delights. Dear reader, you should know that The Manor Fields park has burst forth phoenix like

“From one of the most rundown bits of wasteland in the city to one of the city’s most attractive parks, this place is a gem for wildlife and humans alike. It has to be one of the best designed wildlife parklands in the country and should be a shining example for all” (Andrew Stringer, 2019).

It still suffers from that reputation in the minds of some. It had more than its fair share of fly tipping, burnt out vehicles, dog crap and yes, actual dead bodies over the years, as opposed to apocryphal ones. Yet now, if you just make the effort to trot along you’ll be greeted by possibly the most genuinely community focused of the Sheffield parkruns. The reclaimed land has been lovingly seeded to create amazing wild flower meadows in the summer months. Nature themed sculptures abound, and careful landscaping has created water habitats in abundance. It is the most fantastic space. Sheffield Castle parkrun is too often over looked. It’s proper lovely, always welcoming, always full of interest, and with stalwart volunteers that are such regulars at their spots it is almost as if they have merged with the landscape, if not actually grown out of it. Check out these photos lifted from the Manor Fields Park Facebook page:



See! Reyt nice – though granted these pics seems to have been taken on an altogether sunnier occasion…

Despite all this insider knowledge about the giddy delights of the venue that awaited, I cannot tell a lie, the deluge of rain that fell from the sky like a giant sized ice-bucket challenge first thing in the morning did not imbue me with enthusiasm at setting out.

My EWFM bestie was up in Sheffield for the weekend. Today would make for a hat trick of consecutive parkrun rendezvous which is no mean feat given she is in London and I’m in Sheffield or ‘up north’ as my southern reader might have it. We’d been debating taking the opportunity to do some tourism a little further afield, I’ve done all the Sheffield parkruns many times now, about from Hillsborough for some reason. Too many laps and a bit bargy when I went though it has a great reputation and now a fab cafe too, so I really should go back. Anyway, for various reasons we decided to stay local. I’m always happy to go back to Castle and it’s been a while, and it would be a new to her parkrun. Everyone’s a winner. Watching the rain beating on the windows with such force they were like shards thrust horizontally at the panes by angry demons* we were grateful for our life choices. I would not have fancied a long road trip aquaplaning across the country to an unknown destination many miles away. I was even for once quite relieved to be a parkwalker. I have to fight back tears of frustration quite often at my restricted mobility these days, and parkrun days are all too often the most painful reminder of what I can’t do, that and the Round Sheffield Run which I also missed out on this weekend. Today though, I was quite pleased to be able to legitimately rock up to the event in a full length rain coat, hat and multiple warm layers. It was surely going to be a wet one. Even so, parkrun day, to parkrun we should head, and so we did. Taking a photo of us just before we set off to share with other parkrunners heading off in the dark on their parkrun journeys. I pity them, missing out on Sheffield Castle parkrun, but dare say they enjoyed their own respective parkruns in their own way…



We drove across Sheffield, it isn’t that far, but I went some weird route because I couldn’t quite visualise the best way to get there and so let the satnav take us on a magical mystery tour instead. It did not disappoint. Negotiating the tram tracks on the way (I have never quite got used to sharing the roads with trams, it makes me nervous) we got to Manor Fields Park nice and early, nabbing one of the last few parking spaces in the modest car park.

Oh, I have written about Sheffield Castle parkrun before, but just in case you are late to the party, here is the Sheffield Castle parkrun website blah de blah:

The event takes place at Manor Fields Park ,City Road, Sheffield, S2.

Course Description: 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.

Location of start: The run starts at the entrance to Manor Fields Park, City Road (next to Premier Supermarket). The start line is visible from main road.

Getting there by public transport
Bus: From Sheffield Interchange City Centre 120 platform A, bus stops at entrance to park, City Road (Spring Lane).

Train: From Sheffield City Centre, Tram stops opposite park entrance on Spring Lane. Walk on to City Road to entrance to park.

Getting there on foot: The Park entrance can be accessed from City Road S2 1GF and is situated 2 miles from the City Centre.
Getting there by road: Sheffield Park Square Roundabout via Duke Street (B6070) then follow on to City Road (A6135) Manor Fields Park. The Car park entrance is just on left after Premier Supermarket. Car Parking Free.

Post Run Coffee: Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in York House – please come and join us!

and the course looks like this:



but don’t let the picture fool you. It only looks flat because it’s a 2D image, the 3D reality is most definitely erm, let’s go with ‘undulating’. Fun for sure, but definitely a hump or two on the way around, a veritable caravan of camels worth, and bactrian camels at that! Mind you, personally I do like a camelid, under-rated and rather magnificent creatures in my world. Much like wart hogs. They are glorious beyond words.

It was definitely still raining on arrival. Even the wonkies didn’t want to get out of the car. To be fair, I’m not entirely sure my precious and rare parkrunning buddy did either, though she was putting a brave face on it at this juncture.


We did a bit of sitting steaming in the car, reflecting on our life and parkrun choices, peering through the rainy car windows to see marshals wrestling with parkrun flags and cones as they set the course areas up, Then I suddenly remembered as I was a volunteer parkwalker, I probably ought to brave the outside and let the Run Director know I was there. Also, there was the inevitable issue of facilitating a precautionary pee. The good news is that Sheffield Castle has a loo right near the start/finish area, the bad news is that it is just the one, so inevitably there is a bit of a queue. Time to move. The wonkies – made of repurposed high vis in case you haven’t been concentrating and havent worked it out, for the most part decided to stay put, but Charley and Red Ted committed to getting out and about. Admittedly, Red Ted is strapped to my walking pole, as a sort of emotional support wonky. I had never really reflected on this particularly until a child at junior parkrun asked me why he was tied up in that way and I felt suddenly exposed in some act of vile coercion and cruelty. I couldn’t come up with an adequate explanation. One of the many unexpected challenges of volunteering at a junior event I suppose.

As we exited the car another car breezed in, we espied frantically waving shadows inside and reciprocated with frantic enthusiastic waves back before quizzing each other ‘Who was that?’. ‘No idea!’. We had only managed to clock the UK parkrun tourists Facebook page buff between us, and were each hoping the other had made a positive id through the grey rain and seemingly darkened windscreen. Oh well, we’d find out.

And so we did!

SURPRISE. And OMG what a FANTASTIC surprise. A contingent from Huddersfield parkrun, although inexplicably not all decked out in Super Mario fancy dress. We’d first met I think back in August at their 500th parkrun event which had been an amazing and welcoming occasion. That is an astonishing course, there are moments en route where if you look around it really does seem like parkrunners are going in all possible different directions and on all possible levels – over bridges and through tunnels below. You really should check it out if you haven’t already done so.

Through the rain, and brandishing AMAZING giraffe leggings and scrunchie for a synchronised tourism occasion still to come was a familiar face, hurrah! It is always brilliant to turn up at a parkrun and unexpectedly see a familiar face, but what was extra brilliant and bizarre about this particular reunion is that we had literally been liaising a couple of days before about rendezvousing at Scunthorpe parkrun next week. That is tricky for me because I’d already committed (health permitting) to join another parkrunning friend for their Cowell run (100 different events). I felt bad though, as we tried to go to Scunthorpe before Christmas but snow and ice made heading out too scary for me. I was feeling guilty and like I was being a bit flaky. This was especially depressing as I really want to go to Scunthorpe. Partly because who doesn’t like a parkrun by the seaside, and partly because, shallow and childish as it is, I do feel the urge to add Scunthorpe and Clitheroe Castle parkrun and indeed Sloughbottom parkrun to my Penistone parkrun result and achieve my personal Infantile Sniggering at Saucy Words challenge, I’m not sure what the virtual badge for that one looks like, perhaps best not to over think it. A chortling smiley face emoji perhaps? That would be family friendly and tasteful. The acceptable face of collapsing in giggles at hidden ‘rude’ words within parkrun names perhaps.

Anyway, the enormous irony of us actually being in Sheffield instead, today was hilarious, brilliant and perfection personified, or parkrunnerfied more accurately. I couldn’t have been more astonished if they’d all burst out of a gigantic super Mario themed cake to the accompaniment of a full size steel band and a troupe of acrobats. It was magnificent! They had the advantage on me having checked out the volunteer roster, but were also tail walking. The intention was we’d be joined by others, but they had car issues en route and ended up doing Hillsborough instead, so near and yet so far. Still, we could be whooping and amazed and excitable with enough demonstrative passion for all of us! A fantastic surprise. #lovetheparkruncommunity We managed a rendezvous and I know longer have to split myself in two across two far away parkruns in order to avoid missing out on or putting out fellow parkrunners, hurrah! It may have been raining on the outside, but it was all sunshine on the inside.

Quick pee, scamper to collect the blue high vis – it is massively the most flattering of the high vis options in my opinion, and then to the pop up banner, that was more blown down and saturated then popped up and perky and some photo options. Selfies and wonkies all needed to be captured on film. That’s me pointing with my surprised face, and that is surprise visitor looking pleased with themselves for being so surprising, and why wouldn’t she be? So much joy! Also, aren’t are hats splendid!



The photo shoot required a certain amount of acrobatics and indeed contortion as unless held upright with some force the pop up sign did a kamikaze-esque collapse. Then wonky Charley did a faceplant as soon as left unattended, so there was much ducking behind signs and posing with signs and all sorts. It got very jolly in fact. I do love making my own entertainment, and was perfectly accessorised for such adventuring what with having both Huddersfield companions and my precious and rare EWFM which in case you haven’t been concentrating is sort of like a BFF but waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better, more enduring and more complex. A very good thing indeed, and very much for life not just for Christmas, much like parkrun. Are you following?

Anyway, we ended up directing a number of photoshoots of other parkrunners seeking a pic with the pop up. Initially they stood dripping and bedraggled like muddied survivors from a disaster moving, but with a bit of encouragement played up for the camera beautifully and provided much jolly pre-parkrun entertainment, hurrah! Making your own fun is highly recommended, it is always pleasing just how up for it other parkrunners are if you just set the playfulness in motion. I say up for it, maybe they were just particularly suggestable and have traipsed home full of regret that they didn’t nab their usual rigidly upright, solemn faced behind the pop up photo. Oh well, there is always next week I suppose. I like our photos, though somehow, we failed to get one of me and EWFM in all the confusion and merriment. Never mind, we have our memories and got one the next day at junior parkrun so all was not lost.



With all the pre parkrun faffage, it seemed that really quickly we were called together for the Run Director’s briefing. There were the usual shout outs for tourists – there were a few, but mainly from Yorkshire although obviously my bestie from Londonshire was also present and correct if a little damp around the edges. Thanks to the volunteers. There was a full roster today which was good to see, but possibly largely on account of people resting their legs before the iconic Round Sheffield Run tomorrow. One person had a number up for grabs, and I endeavoured to get it for my lodger, however it didn’t work out as I was walking and the parkrunner concerned had long gone by the time I got back. Maybe just as well as I’m not entirely sure if it would have been possible to do name changes at this late stage. Darned shame though.

All too soon, we were sent on our merry and puddlestrewn way. I didn’t have my camera with me and to be fair it wasn’t really photo weather, people were understandably loathe to risk their phones in such conditions. However, you can take my word for it that it is a really brilliant route. I love that the inclines mean you see the runners streaming away from you, and the twisty turny paths and open landscape mean you get great views of others ahead. The three lap bit means you get lapped as a slower participant, but that’s jolly too, a good opportunity to make new friends and share greetings as you pass one another.

There was another parkwalker which was good to see, they were power walking so a bit ahead of me and the two tail walkers. We had a little party at the back with walking and jeffing parkrunners. Both were regulars. We ended up having the familiar conversation about why is Sheffield Castle parkrun called Sheffield Castle parkrun when there doesn’t appear to be any castle as such. I sort of know this but couldn’t entirely remember the details. It is confusing, because this park, together with what is now Norfolk park was all once part of a deer park, and as I recall there was a fortified looking hunting lodge as part of the estate which was known locally as The Castle, even though it wasn’t an actual castle though it was where Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner for ages and ages. To add to my confused history, there was a real proper Castle in Sheffield at one point, which is now long gone, but referenced as Castlegate in Sheffield City Centre. Oh, and actually, there was a dig a few years back which found some stuff of interest apparently, but the Castle reference for Manor Fields has a different origin, i.e. the turret house from Sheffield Manor Lodge:



Hang on, let’s just Wikipedia Sheffield Manor Lodge shall we? Might save some time:

Mary, Queen of Scots, was held prisoner by the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury at both Sheffield Manor Lodge and Sheffield Castle (her ghost is said by some to haunt the Turret House building). Wolsey’s Tower was built to accommodate Cardinal Wolsey, who then died after travelling on to Leicester.

Mary came to England in 1568 after her defeat at the battle of Langside seeking the support of the Catholic nobility. Mary’s freedom was restricted after her cousin Elizabeth was advised of the threat that Mary posed to her own crown.

She was handed over to the custody of George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury on 4 February 1569. Talbot had armed guards watching her constantly, however she was still able, with the help of the Duke of Norfolk and others of the Catholic nobility, to plot against Elizabeth. Several times Mary had to be moved to places of greater safety and stricter control.

On 28 November 1570 she was taken to the Earl of Shrewsbury’s castle at Tutbury, where, apart from a few breaks at Chatsworth and Buxton, and more regular visits to Sheffield and the Manor House, she remained for 14 years.

So now we all know. I shall make it my business to immediately half commit this to memory in the spirit of passing on partial truths in perpetuity, so next time someone asks me I can sound much more authoritative and confident, that would make a pleasing change.

I did sort of know most of this history, albeit it had got a bit mangled since I last looked it all up. What I did not know until it was pointed out to me today, is that there is a particular point on the course where you can see the silhouette of the turret towers on the distant horizon. This means you actually get three shots at spotting them, more if you include partial views. I think this is pretty cool, and also another boon of walking and talking – twalking – because it creates the time and space to have things shown and explain to you, hurrah! This is in addition to putting the world to rights, comparing parkrun stories and being excited about tomorrow’s Round Sheffield Run winter edition and sing the praises of this amazing event. Definitely best race ever, it is a race not a run, unlike parkrun, but in many ways retains a parkrun ethos being inclusive and social and altogether brilliant. A parkrun on steroids with a medal at the end, where you can eat your bodyweight in jelly babies on the way round. Coffee and pizza at the end and loads of photos of happy smiley people having the best time outside together. Just sayin… might not be free, or weekly, but it is timed and it is awesome. Even volunteering for it is a joy, much like junior parkrun, though takes a bit longer, might want to bring your own chair. You can tell this marshal is a parkrun ambassador, got lucky with his position adjacent to toilets in Bishops House where the volunteers provided hot tea. He had to bring his own chair and snacks though, and it is a long time to be out there cheering and clapping I know. Looks like he’s nailed it though, has sussed sitting about is way easier than running round in the mud, however lovely the route!



Back to Sheffield Castle parkrun though, it was just lovely. The weather may not have been the best – though Warrington parkrun had it worse for sure



and I can’t resist these pics of runners in action elsewhere too – check out The Holmfirth Photographer at the TNT and the puddle of doom at Temple Newsam 10 on Sunday. Fortunately running in the rain just makes you more hardcore.


But walking round with lovely parkrun buddies is The Best. Plus, we got to appreciate the various sculptures in the space, and to thank the somewhat sodden but irrepressibly cheery marshals as we passed them. One had come with an umbrella which was not holding up well to the challenge, but still beaming at the self-imposed hilarity of the situation. Yay for the marshals, they are The Best. And yay for the naming of the radish leaves sculpture, it may not have actually been called this previously, but it is now. You heard it here first dear reader:



So we walked and talked and put the world to rights, and laughed and shared stories and made new friends and rekindled old friendships. My EWFM bestie came to join us after completing her parkrun to walk us in. She was delighted with her number 69 finish place, I don’t know why in particular, but she was definitely chuckling inwardly more than grown ups are generally expected to do, but exactly the amount besties should, so all good.

The rain fell as we headed up the final hill past the cemetery, the last lap was pretty much just a couple of walkers and the tail, but none the worse for that. Unsurprisingly, by the time we came to the finish funnel, most other parkrunners had dispersed, but cheery hardcore finish funnel and scanners and timers were all very much in situ and hugely appreciated by all of us walkers. They were even still smiling. The RD was busy in the house token sorting, so I waved goodbyes to the stalwart volunteers who were busying themselves with final course set down and waved goodbye to my Huddersfield friends – the two of them who had run also circled back to join us again. I thought this was solidarity, but it may have been that they didn’t have the car keys which would allow them to get themselves to a place of dry safety as their driver was my tailwalking buddy. Still, we made a jolly troupe heading to the finish.

And then, suddenly, everyone dispersed. It is magical how people come together for parkrun and then vanish into the mist afterwards as if we were never there. Leaving nothing but footprints and taking nothing but memories, and maybe photos, and in this case, large amounts of rainwater soaked into clothing, but that was all!

If you like to see accounts triangulated, you can see the full results from today here and see the write up of the event below. Hurrah!



So that was all properly lovely, even if my last outstanding bingo number still eludes me. Oh the frustration.

The best bit though, we can do it all again next Saturday, and for me and my EWFM bestie we could do it again tomorrow, at junior parkrun. We went to Sheffield Olympic Legacy junior parkrun on the Sunday, all tooled up with wonkies and had the best of times. I like to pretend the wonkies are primarily to give joy to junior parkrunners, but they have taken on characters all of their own and their joy radiates outwards far beyond juniors. Even so, it was fun to have them back in their natural habitat and en masse too. One of the frogs and one of the cats got carried round by two sisters taking part. I love it when that happens and the wonkies get a proper work out. The little things eh?

It didn’t even rain! I know, what are the chances? #loveparkrun #especiallylovejunior parkrun



There we go, another parkrun weekend done and dusted. Thank you Sheffield Castle parkrun for being awesome always, small but perfectly formed, thank you lovely EWFM for being my parkrun bestie, and thank you Huddersfield parkrunners for the amazing surprise and thank you everyone who keeps the parkrun community alive and thank you RSR for being the best running event ever (apart from parkrun obvs) hopefully I’ll find a way to join you again at some point in the future. Yay to all in the Sheffield running community who make it so!

Same time next week people? Go awn, you know you want to!

Incidentally, you can extend your parkrun contemplations for longer by reading all my parkrun related posts here.  Or not.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.  Also, you might just like to lean back in a comfy chair, close your eyes, and dreamily recall your happiest parkrun moments.  Bet there are loads.

*well, like I imagine shards thrust horizontally by angry demons would seem to be, not having actually experienced this personally to date

Categories: 5km, parkrun, walking at parkrun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Shipley Country parkrun – making a splash on the parkrun map!

Another parkrun day, another destination. It’s not been the best of years for me parkrun wise, but I suddenly realised I can get my 3/4 Cowell done this weekend if I moved out of my comfort zone and braved a but of tourism. Although strictly speaking a parkrun tomorrow on New Year’s Day is in 2023, because it’s all this one weekend, it feels like I’ll nail it this year.

Yesterday, in some quite ingenious procrastination activities, I set about doing some parkrun research, trying to fathom which parkruns I haven’t yet done are in realistic driving distance from Sheffield. This is basically a bottomless pit of distraction as each unique parkrun can take you down its own wormhole of parkrunpedia factoids and individual loveliness or character at the very least. I need never tackle an unpleasant activity again now I have landed on the perfect vehicle for endless procrastination. You might find it handy too.

I can report this research was both interesting and faffy in equal measure. Throwing up loads of venues that had inexplicably dropped off my radar, and generating a very long parkrun ‘to do’ list, that didn’t even include the destination parkruns like Bere Island and Somerdale Pavilion. Various parkrunning buddies of mine have taken to filling in whole spreadsheets of forward plans and I begin to see the attraction. Sometimes these shared documents float by my eyelines and up until now I’d only ever considered them as having value as a stalking activity. You get to see where other people are rocking up and can either stalk them or not and often they have done all the lengthy background research so you are guaranteed maybe a fancy dress display team, a particularly scenic venue or at the very least a milestone celebration with associated cake. That reminds me, did you see the lovely animation of the Charlie Mackesy book ‘The boy the mole the fox and the horse’ over Christmas. It’s just so perfect. Check it out on iplayer or at very least get yourself a copy of the book from world of books or whatever.

Anyway, I’m now thinking creating your own parkrun spreadsheet may in fact have merit, as it seems there are relatively near parkruns that are most worthy of visiting that I’ve yet to get too. In amongst the rediscovered parkrun treasures was Shipley Country parkrun. I don’t know quite why I’ve not already been, it’s relatively near and easy to get to from Sheffield, and from a cursory look at the website blah de blah seems to have all the things, parking etc. Hang on, I’ll prove it:

The official website blah de blah declares:

The event takes place at Shipley Country Park, Slack Lane, Heanor, Derbyshire, DE75 7GX and describes the course and facilities thus:

Course Description – The course is run on a mixture of tarmac, trail and gravel paths. The route starts on the main path between the Visitors Centre and the events field, near the childrens adventure playground. From here the route heads down onto Coppice Hill Bridleway. Participants veer right and then at the end of the bridleway, turn right onto Bell Lane. After approximately 200 metres turn right on to a footpath. The footpath passes Meadow Farm and heads back to the back of the Visitors Centre. Participants take a short path back on to the main path, and head down towards Osbornes Pond. At Osbornes Pond, take a right turn and take a short sharp gravel path up the hill. Participants follow this path and veer right, following the path all the way back round past the Visitors Centre and will again follow the path down to Osbornes Pond, take the right hand path up the short sharp gravel hill again. Follow this path back round towards the Visitors Centre, where the finish funnel will be at the events field.

Facilities – The Country Park has good facilities including a visitors centre (including gift shop, exhibition and display area of leaflets), baby changing facilities, toilets, first aid room, wildlife garden, Ramblers Café, Derby Lodge Tearoom, a number of childrens adventure play facilities, dedicated disabled parking, cycle pathways, bridlepathways, nature trail.

Location of start – The event starts on the main path between the Visitors Centre and the events field, near the childrens adventure playground.

Getting there by road – The main entrance to the country park is well signposted from Derby Road (A608) and from the motorway M1, junction 26. The park can also be accessed via Mapperley Village.

There are two car parks available at Shipley Country Park. The main car park has space for 216 vehicles and entrance is accessed via Slack Lane, Heanor, DE75 7GX. This car park is located within the country park and has 16 dedicated disabled parking spaces. You can also park at Mapperley Reservoir car park- accessed through Mapperley Village on Shipley Lane. Please note all car parks operate a pay and display facility; payments can be made by cash or card.

Post Run Coffee – Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in Ramblers Café, Nr Visitors Centre, Shipley Country Park. Show your parkrun barcode for special offers – please come and join us!

and it looks like this:

I did a bit of a results check and saw a full rota – though some people doing multiple tasks, and a friendly facebook page which is always a good sign of a proactive event team. Plus, lovely photo AND they give the what three words for the visitors’ centre which are apparently qualify.grumbles.stylists a trio that pleased me somehow. Grumbles and Stylists in particular sound like they might be reindeers that didn’t quite make the cut. Nice picture too

Why wouldn’t you want to rock up at a parkrun venue that looks as lovely as that? Precisely. No reason at all. Game on.

I didn’t sleep much the night before, like Lady Macbeth (though not for the same reasons I hasten to add) I seem to have completely lost the ability to sleep which is really annoying. On the plus side, wide awake in plenty of time for a leisurely drive over. The weather was pretty dire going across, standing water on the roads was a bit scary, I slowed right down, but others were less cautious so there was a lot of spray and the possibility of aquaplaning at any point. I wondered what the course would be like. In fact, the jolly volunteers had already posted a Facebook teaser:

Well, the course descriptors do always warn courses ‘may accumulate mud, leaves and puddles after rain‘ so fair dos.

It was easy to find the venue from the postcode, and there are brown signs to the park too, which give you confidence since there is one turn off where you seem to be going through a very residential area before you emerge at the country park. I passed both a BP garage and a Tesco nearby but didn’t stop for my usual precautionary pee as I figured it likely there would be facilities on arrival and I like to live dangerously sometimes. Taking risks adds a certain frisson to events sometimes. They say you should do something that scares you every day to keep you feeling alive. I mean, this comes with the rider of exercising a certain amount of discretion, so talking to someone new say would work but jumping into a piranha filled river would be more sub-optimal, but whatever works for you. How can we know our limits unless we test them after all? Quite.

There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly?” as the great Erin Hanson puts it.

So I arrived pretty early, and headed in to the first car park. In fact, I could have gone on just a little further and there is one even nearer the start right by the visitors’ centre, but I was fine where I was. I pulled up partly because I’d seen what looked like an Easter Island Statue and wanted to go check it out, but investigation showed it as a bouldering stone I think. Squidging over slidey grass to check it out I did have a moment of angst I might have over-faced myself. Although my mobility is improved my balance can be off if my leg starts doing weird numby, tingling, dead leg things and the surface was more suited for body slides than picking round a parkrun. Much mud, and much standing water. Quite a lot of water still falling out the sky – no wonder the wonkies opted to stay in the car, just Red Ted game enough to accompany me on this occassion.

On the other hand, exciting old mining bits and bobs, open spaces, and the building anticipation of a parkrun event as I could see trainer clad folk gravitating towards the visitors’ centre. I followed them, and what great joy, there were loos and they were open! There is also a café – you could see inside that prepping was going on for the later onslaught though it wasn’t open before parkrun I think. There was loads of seating, some nice features like water bowls for dogs (though any self respecting dog would have found itself a puddle today I reckon, though it is the thought that counts) a bear (quite bijous, not to scale methinks, mosaics, all sorts really. There were signs to various activities and trails, including an Elf trail, oh and I passed a mounting block in one of the carparks so horse riders also welcome on certain paths. Lots to do at Shipley Country Park in their 700 acres, play equipment, nature walks all the things, but only one thing for me today, parkrun!

I sploshed my way towards the area where volunteers were congregating. They were in a tight circle like a rugby scrum or a team motivational chat. All busy about their preparations, there was a good atmosphere. One thing they did which I really like is that they all lined up for a high vis heroes photo together before scattering to their various posts. I really like it when volunteer teams do this at a parkrun, I think it helps build the community and it’s just really nice to acknowledge that without the volunteers the event wouldn’t happen. My favourite parkruns are those where the volunteers get a chance to know each other. At Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park junior parkrun, where I regularly rock up, they always walk all the volunteers en masse to their marshal pints so you can walk and talk and familiarise yourself with the course and the other volunteers as you head round. It makes it really friendly and social. I think the group photo is another variant on getting a gang together and a brilliant way to connect with each other. They shared the photo of them from the front, meanwhile I was taking the shot from the back – tis for you dear reader to decide which is their best side. I have ever so slightly photobombed their picture in the doing, but not so as you’d really notice, just like a ghost on their photo. Which reminds me, I feel a need to apologise for my pics, my camera is slowly dying on me, but I can’t bring myself to actually part with it, and anyway, rubbish photos have comedic value at least, plus, you get more of a sense of the penetrating wetness of the event at times. Perhaps we can tactfully agree that this adds atmosphere, if not actual clarity, to proceedings 🙂

I had a little wander about and a wonder about the general slipperyness of it all. Setting foot on the grass was properly hazardous, but although there was standing water on the compacted gravel path, that was fine if you didn’t mind the ankle deep sloshiness of accumulated puddles. You shouldn’t really as it is an actual fact, that running in rain over head or through water under foot just makes you a way more hardcore runner, so now you know.

This parkrun had a great atmosphere, people greeted and welcomed each other, it just felt extremely – almost pathologically – friendly and very well organised.

There was a jolly and informative first timers’ welcome. At this four parkrunners identified themselves as first time everers which was jolly exciting, although in fact I think the results suggested there were seven. What a day to pick! It was a lovely venue for sure, but a brave choice given the prevailing weather conditions that can fairly be described as ‘inclement’.

The briefing was thorough. We were told to basically keep going to the right as if you veer leftwards you’ll probably end up lost. There were of course marshals aplenty though to stop you going wrong. We were advised there would be a muddy bit through trees, and there was a normally hilarious as well as helpful quip about remembering to skirt around the lake, but if you ended up with wet feet you’d know you’d gone too far. Didn’t entirely help on this occasion, but the sentiment was apt. The RD stood by and diligently wrote down the names of any tourists’ home parkruns and any milestones and things, that was good. Not gonna lie though, that notepad looked like it would be papier-mâché before he made it to join the timers at the start line. Still, I do value an optimistic outlook. It’s amazing where self belief can take you. Absolute first timers were scooped up for an extra bit of explanation about barcodes and all, and the rest of us shuffled about wondering if the rain would pass. I was glad I was wearing my actual raincoat, which I’d wondered if would be over the top. Another parkrunning tourist was in a plastic poncho thing, which to be honest was a fab idea. Add to cart at the next small hours accidental shopping foray I reckon.

Next was the actual run briefing. The RD risked life and limb clambering up on a bench to address the assembled active wear clad parkrunners. Huge respect for the RD who did that classic of just waiting for everyone to be quiet. And it worked! I find it so stressful when people talk through run briefings, it’s just rude, and if you are new to an event then there’s stuff you need to hear – particularly on a day like today when the weather might impact on participation. He did so with good humour but authority too, there was a little bit of distant chit chat, but for the most part people were respectful. Hurrah. Nicely played. Milestones were shouted out, newbies welcomed, tourists acknowledged. I wanted to locate the tourists from Beeston parkrun as that is one of the friendliest events I’ve ever been to, but to be fair this event was pretty darned friendly too – though no parkrun is ever going to ace the Beeston parkrun Boathouse café, there’s only room for one Tony in the parkrun universe.

After the briefing, a little amble up the hill to the start area, and once everyone had gathered, off we went. Amazingly, just as the parkrun started it seemed to clear up a little, and even reached the point of actual dryness after the first half hour or so. Well, dry over head, under foot was a different matter all together.

Helpfully, although it was exceedingly wet, the actual path surface was hard and fine, apart from a couple of brief sections under trees where leaves had accumulated. Also helpfully, this seemed to be a genuinely walker friendly parkrun. There were two parkwalkers as well as the tail walker to be final finisher. There were a couple of intrepid nordic walkers, some jeffers walk/jogging the route, and others companionable walking and talking or twalking as I like to think of it. I made an effort to walk a bit more purposefully than for a while. I’m quite down about how little I can still do. I just remember last Christmas imagining a year ahead that I’d be running and mobile again, and I’m just not, and it’s crap. I have raged at the world over this quite a lot, although disappointingly it doesn’t seem to help much. I miss being properly part of parkrun, just being able to show up and take part without being an outlier or worrying about holding people up or creating paper work from toppling over somewhere. Praise be for the Walking at parkrun Facebook page and parkwalk initiatives for normalising walking to some extent… honestly, my experiences have been mixed as a walker, it’s always chancing it to go somewhere new. Today however, I needn’t have worried, this particular parkrun was very walker friendly and I had a genuinely good time, the erm ‘ambient moisture’ just making everything all the more memorable. I was very glad of my stick though, and just wish I could fit into my trail shoes again as I think they’d have been what we experienced parkrunners call a ‘boon’ to my performance!

I did a sort of awkward shuffle in between walking. And stopped at intervals to try to photograph the marshals. Each was a vision of loveliness of course, with every new marshal seemingly even more photogenic than the one I’d just passed, impossible though that might seem to be. They were all quite up for being photographed and so it’s a shame my camera can never do justice to their outstanding directional pointing, exceptional clappery and – at one spot in particular – full on karaoke and dance based supporting. Oh, and there was a marshal hiding in the woods too to scoop people up in case they skidded to such an extent they failed to take the intended corner and needed assistance being extricated from the pooled water that awaited the unwary. Attention to detail you see, that’s what makes a good parkrun truly great!

The course is described as ‘undulating’ but it’s pretty flat, there is one hill that you do twice that was a bit of a heave ho, but nothing too scary. Also, the way the course works, even though you do one bit twice, the faster participants are long gone by the time I got there so there wasn’t much of an issue with overtaking that I was aware of. I got passed a couple of times but it was all friendly and not particularly congested as far as I could tell.

You do a first biiiiiiiiiiiiig loop, and then a little one, and as you emerge from that you come by the finish funnel, which was being enthusiastically supervised by proactive and cheery marshals, There was such a good atmosphere as you rocked on by. I paused to get a couple of photos to capture a sense of the action. I mean, you’ll have to use your imagination to some degree because, well, not the best camera at the best of times, and in my possession, it’s not the best of times either. Still, maybe the pics will be a teaser to get you down to join the fun.

and off again for the mini loop, by this time I’d fallen into companionable stride with the two parkwalkers who were excellent company, sharing stories of upsideydown parkruns in Australia and being cajoled into starting parkrun by running club evangelists. I love hearing people’s parkrun stories. We all have our own origin tales. I gather there is a really successful junior parkrun here too, and they even held one on Christmas Day for them, figuring that the next time junior parkrun day coincides with Christmas day will be so many decades hence this might be their only ever opportunity to do a Christmas day parkrun. Good point, well made. I queried why they’d both had multiple parkrun volunteer roles, wondering if maybe they struggle to get volunteers, but apparently not, it’s just that volunteering is super fun. Which of course it is! It’s like opening a packet of Pringles (other savoury snacks are available) once you are on the volunteer rota you might as well bagsy all the spots you can because it’s rewarding. As my walking buddies were saying at the end of the day parkrun is all about community, the people you meet, the connections you make. Inclusivity and the joy of seeing others achieve goals is just The Best Thing EVER! I’d not really thought about it, but as one of them said, they put off going to parkrun for ages because they didn’t know anyone, which is totally the wrong way round, get stuck in, and you’ll soon know lots of people at your local parkrun. The beauty of doing an activity rather than blinking at one another in the awkward silence of other possible contexts is that you have something to do, and you can build up the levels of interactions as you feel comfortable with them. parkrun is just so brilliant.

It was with my new besties we shuffled past a well behaved gee gee, and then once again came across karaoke marshal, I think karaoke should be mandatory at parkruns where possible. It was lovely as well, that the parkwalkers greeted everyone they passed by name. Like I said, seems to be a very genuine community here. Hurrah! Yay for the instant party marshal spot though.

round again, puffing up the hill. I am so unfit. Wobbly leg is only part of the challenge. Then ‘suddenly’ back to the finish/ start. Past the blue cone, clicked in a barcode scanned, hurrah, and still no rain.

Safely scanned, I took a couple more shots of my new besties, and the final finishers who had been walking round but did an impressive sprint finish. At about this time the heaens properly opened in comedic torrential rain. I had no idea that it was possible there was so much water still left in the sky! It was properly hilarious.

Huge respect for the RD who made the most of the opportunity to do some full on puddle jumping. This is why we have puddles at parkrun, to play in! Fabulous. I think there should be a video of this doing the rounds somewhere, but you can make do with this still for now, it sort of encapsulates the whole parkrun today I reckon. Joyful, but ridiculously wet! I imagine the video will go viral in due course, I for one will be monitoring the Shipley Country parkfun Facebook page.

I thought it had started raining, but then water just fell out of the sky like a water tank exploding, it was beyond hilarious, you just had to go with it. Not gonna lie though, I was very pleased of my mac and even with it, was wet through to my knickers from water sploshing upwards, worth it though!

The high vis heroes were busy doing final course close down stuff, so I said my thanks and farewell and squelched away. It had been a good morning. I was invited to join the café conversations, but was too wet to stay and needed to get back, but I slightly regretted this as it was such a friendly group of runners. I chatted briefly to some in the café who were engaged in some good humoured banter around the risks of being allowed out without their carers. I think it was banter. I think it was carers. Might have been minders. One of them seems to have dodged death on innumerable occasions and still got a small scrap metal yard worth of medals to his name. Though with all those medical emergencies and falling over I was quite surprised he was to be trusted with a hot beverage. It was properly lovely though, I got a real sense of a community that comes together for a parkrun party week in week out and frankly probably doesn’t feel the need to trouble themselves with other parkruns because they are living the dream here. Having said that, a local running club does weekly tourism together, with members ndicating where they are bound so others can join in if they wish. Isn’t that lovely? Rhetorical question deear reader, because yes it is!

As we were chatting a great procession of marshals marched forward, carrying the pop up sign aloft, possibly because they needed to leave it somewhere to dry, though we all know that’s just a cover story for the fact that probably nobody has ever been able to fold it up again since the day it first landed at their event. It happens.

It was like they were parting the Red Sea as they processed by, parkrun paraphernalia carried aloft and carefully stored away til next week.

and that was that, suddenly time to splish home, aquaplaning the highways.

This was a great parkrun to finish the year with though, thank you lovely Shipley Country parkrun, you are the best, a memorable morning for sure. Yay you!

Categories: parkrun, walking at parkrun | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmas! Roberts Park parkrun, delivering all you could possibly dream of for Christmas :)

This parkrun was properly amazing! It’s been circling round my peripheral vision ever since I learned that the genius behind the Walking at parkrun Facebook page – set up to both normalise walking at parkrun and make it visible – has Roberts Park parkrun as his home parkrun. Hurrah, I was confident of a walker friendly parkrun, and better yet, it was sort of equidistant from where me and my fine EWFM better-late-than-never-to parkrun buddy would find ourselves on Christmas Day. I mean, what could be more perfect! It’s what all parkrunners dream of for Christmas, a Christmas Day parkrun, to have a walker friendly one would be quite a boon and as for having my EWFM there, well, that set off virtual pyrotechnics and confetti cannons in my minds eye as I could imagine nothing could possibly add to the magic of the parkrun event.

Dear reader…

I cannot tell a lie

I was wrong.

This was Christmas Actual Day parkrun dear reader, and yet it had all the things. I’m talking llamas, an actual cannon (though teeny tiny disappointment that it wasn’t spewing confetti on this occasion, probably saving it for their New Year’s Party) an open toilet for a precautionary pee and an OPEN café – not to mention a veritable fascination of fine Santa hats, the jolliest volunteers you can possibly imagine, admirable fancy dress, even sunshine, and that’s without mentioning it is a parkrun with its very own snicket! No really! You don’t find them every day. Somerdale pavilion parkrun may have its Curly Wurly and Bushy parkrun its unicorns (yes it does, don’t mock until you’ve been and seen for yourself, there are rainbows lining the finish funnel as well) but I reckon a snicket might also be a unique offering, and let me tell you for free it does not disappoint! It being Christmas there were also slightly unnerving Santas and hilarious hounds, my favourite of which was called Dave. I do love a dog with a good solid name! Though the dogs who had taken the time to accessorise their look with tinsel were very much appreciated too.

Let’s step back a bit though, and go through the basic blah de blahs.

According to the Roberts Park parkrun website:

The event takes place at Roberts Park, Higher Coach Road, Baildon, West Yorkshire, BD17 7LU. See Course page for more details.

Course Description: The start line is on the main promenade, close to the lodge. The course then begins by heading along the full length of the promenade, before doing a 180′ turn and returning along the promenade in the opposite direction. Two right turns at the end of the promenade will then take you alongside the cricket pitch and café. A right turn just before the cricket pavilion will then take you out onto the nature trail. Follow the nature trail til the far end passing either side of the staircase, where a hairpin turn will take you back in the opposite direction, along the bottom of the houses. Then cross over the short grass section past the goalposts, and turn left up the snicket. Follow the signs through the snicket, and then follow the path around the top of the park. A right turn will then bring you back out onto the promenade. That is your first lap completed. Complete a second lap, but this time a right turn three quarters of the way along the path after the snicket will take you to the finish line.

and it looks like this:

Facilities: There are public toilets in the park located next to the Half Moon Café. These open at 7:30. There are also toilets in the Half Moon Café. These open at 8am.

Location of start: The event starts on the main promenade, close to the lodge.

Getting there by road: The best postcode for the park is BD17 7LU.

The park is in an unusual position in that it is perfectly accessible from two different sides. The main car parks are off Coach Road. There is a small car park directly outside the Coach Road entrance, and a larger one off Higher Coach Road, just before Titus Salt School. Both of these car parks are free to use. On the other side of the park you can park in the Exhibition Road car park and walk down, however, there may be a charge to park at this location

Post Run Coffee: Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee at Half Moon Café in Roberts Park – please come and join us!

Well, that all sounded jolly welcoming of course, but what with it being Christmas, who knew what might befall us facilities wise? Would we be crossing our legs and reaching for incontinent pants or sprinting off into any hint of greenery that promised to cover our decency at least to a minimal degree? Spoiler alert, NO! Because this is the parkrun with ALL THE THINGS. Honestly, it’s one of my all time favourites, which is good to know as parkrun is for life not just for Christmas, and I feel really confident if you go along to this event on any parkrun day of the year you’ll have the most excellent of times too!

I’ve been a bit tardy with my blog posting of late, so this will be – by my standards – a somewhat truncated version of all that is lovely about this event, but the good news is there were lots of pictures courtesy of Alien Aerial photography, I don’t think he was an alien or indeed airborne as such but the photos are excellent nevertheless. I’ve lifted loads. I mean just check out these two collages for starters:

I know. Feels like you were there already. And it really was just that magical, with a purple dinosaur and everything. Even a bespoke Merry Christmas selfie frame! This really was the parkrun that kept on giving.

Christmas Day morning began dark though. Allegedly the days are getting lighter but not so you’d really notice. I was up and out paranoically early, as is the parkrun tourists way. Much as I enjoy seeing different events, I’m not over keen on driving in the dark to unknown destinations, but you know what dear reader, practically no traffic at all. It was a really easy drive over from Sheffield, for which I was grateful, as there were some crazy roundabout configurations and super highway roads that I would have found intimidating to have to jostle for position on. As I approached the general environs of the event I began to suffer from slightly panicked bladder. Well, good news, I happened on an open BP garage a couple of miles out and thankfully took the opportunity to powder my nose. Honestly, the gift of a loo for a pre parkrun precautionary pee is the ultimate gift, honestly, it felt like Christmas, and, coincidentally, it actually was!

Bladder needs catered for, and being but a few minutes from the event I could relax into the morning, hurrah! A little further on, and I found the first set of carparking around a little mini roundabout thingy, and near the playground, I opted to go on a bit more though because I wasn’t sure where I was in relation to the start. Good news, as I followed the road ahead, I captured glimpses of unmistakeable parkrun paraphernalia proclaiming a course set up in progress to my left hand side. Then, just opposite one of the entrances to the park a half moon of parking places with just a couple of vehicles parked up already. I saw some trainer clad people wending their way over to the park. Hurrah! Arrived and parked up and only 8.20. I just had time to send a couple of ‘Have a tolerable Christmas’ type texts before getting one myself from my rendezvousing precious and rare parkrun buddy. She had also arrived and was at the other carpark. She joined me minutes later and we could have a proper festive hug and it was brilliant. Maybe parkrun tourist rendezvousing can be our new Christmas tradition. We have done a number of parkruns together now but this is only the second time we’ve just met up with each other at a new to both of us parkrun destination, and it was just maaaaaaaaagical! The first time was at another relative nearby parkrun Bradford, which was splendid also. A great part of the world for parkrun adventuring it seems.

After festive bouncing and greetings, into the park.

Oh wow! My parkrun buddy was in need of facilities. I didn’t want to pee on her snow, but didn’t see how she could possibly get lucky on Christmas Day of all days when everything was bound to be shut. We made our way into Roberts park. It was immediately amazing! A hubbub of festively adorned volunteers were busying themselves with parkrun preparations, there was a bandstandy thing, a cannon, statues, so many photos needing to be taken! My camera has resigned from taking serviceable photos, so it was fortunate that I was able to outsource photo taking to my parkrunning companion. However, she was unable to concentrate until she’d done the necessaries, and so we asked around for a loo, and lo, there was one! And it was open! Oh my! What’s more, it had been opened by the café which was also open! This I did not expect.

There was the traditional queue for the loo, but that’s fine, as you get the chance to chat to other parkrunning regulars and tourists. The loo was fine but had a slightly alarming door with a sort of open grill on it, so even though you could lock it and enthrone yourself safely tucked around the corner, it did feel a little like you might have your proverbial wares on display. The greenery tucked around the openings seeming unlikely to be sufficient to preserve one’s dignity. However, worry not, it may be a discombobulating architectural feature, but it has been thought through rather than left see-through.

‘Ablutions’ attended to, we could focus on getting the photographic record of the occasion, but where to start. With llamas obviously.

You can tell they are llamas because of the banana ears. Alpacas have much daintier, smaller ones. I had no idea why there were llamas in abundance, checking out Wikipedia later I learned many things about Roberts Park, including that:

The park was designed and laid out by William Gay (1814–1893) for Sir Titus Salt (1803–1876)[3][5][6][7] and was opened on 25 July 1871 by Sir Titus,[8] although conceived of as early as 1850.[9] The park was named Saltaire Park but was known informally as The People’s Park, and Salt’s Park.[3][7] The development included a widening and deepening of the River Aire for boating and swimming purposes, and for the construction of a boathouse on the southern bank of the river.[5] In the centre of the park is a semi-circular pavilion designed by architects Lockwood and Mawson, constructed in 1870.[5][7]

In 1891 the park was purchased by Sir James Roberts (1848–1935). In 1903 to commemorate the fifty years Salts Mill had been operating and the centenary of his birth, a bronze statue of Sir Titus Salt was erected by the main promenade. The statue was by Francis Derwent Wood R.A. (1871–1926) of Chelsea for (Sir) James Roberts [2][5]

Not overly helpful then. However, subsequent googling in the twixtmas period tells me they are to recognise the contribution of animals to the textile industry, so actually are supposed to be alpacas, but honestly that’s not what alpacas look like in my opinion. Llamas have straighter backs than the more rounded alpaca and the coats hang a bit differently too. Actually, the bronze back on the standing one is a tad curvy but the ears are just wrong I tell you, wrong and the sitting one has a straight back. They are probably supposed to be alpacas as they are more obvious animal to get fibre from (it’s not called wool) but clearly whoever was very good at making bronzes was less hot on camelid identification. The people of Saltaire are probably lucky not to have had a camel bronze instead, that would have been way more expensive apart from anything else, would have needed a lot more bronze. Hang on, let me equip you with the tools to apply your own critique and then I can continue with the important parkrun business of the day …

Differences between alpacas and llamas

Anyway, we did the obligatory photos with the camelids. Then it was on to the big statue number:

that so looks like a llama too. Allaming how misidentified these camelids can be. Not the one with a blue tail, that’s an erstwhile flatmate or EWFM for convenience. The tail is optional, the stripy socks a given. Obvs. The llama is squished into the base of the statue along with a mohair goat somewhere I think. Good point for a cheer marshal though, must be fab views of the parkrunners from up there.

Next stop the cannon, and then to the bespoke Christmas selfie frame. We weaved our way about, feeling ever more festive as others gathered around. And we spotted Mr Walking at parkrun himself who was busy with organisational things but promised a selfie op later one. All was splendid!

There was such a lovely festive feel to this parkrun. Cheery good will oozed out like mutant ectoplasm from the epicentre of the core team. There were Christmas goodies and fancy dress. A call went up for the first timers’ welcome. This turned out to be a double act as two volunteers were up for doing it and embraced doing it together rather than having one step down. It was a great welcome – interactive – THREE times through the snicket! We learn we are doing the winter course so three laps rather than two. It was all very clear and very jolly and full of seasonal goodwill. We besport ourselves with seasonally appropriate frolicking and fossicking and what to wear faffery before joining the start area for the Run Director’s briefing.

We were both walking today, talking and walking which is basically twalking. My EWFM is able to run, but I (still) can’t, I hold out hope I may again one day, but with each passing month it seems less likely. This is why it was so brilliant to be at a parkrun where parkwalking was explicitly mentioned and we were made most welcome. The RD did a most festive briefing, but not gonna lie, slotted in towards the back as we were I couldn’t really hear it. There was also a very excited dog barking there enthusiastic anticipation from about a mile away. Their mortified human companion was gamely trying to minimise the impact of this at the briefing but to little avail. It didn’t matter, this is also a very dog friendly parkrun and many happy hounds hung around the back eager for off. Including the aforementioned Dave. For our part, we two clapped along where audience participation seemed appropriate and hoped we weren’t clapping anything dubious. I’m sure it was all benign and lovely, milestones, birthdays thanking the volunteers – who were a most picturesque lot.

and then suddenly we were off! A mass of parkrunners companionably setting forth, a purple dinosaur and a festive present among the fancy dress, some especially awesome grinches in evidence, and – and I really liked this touch – various participants wearing milestone tabards so we knew who to cheer especially loudly as they passed.

The route is sort of out and back briefly and then you thread around various paths. The toing and froing aspect means you get lots of chances to see other runners and encourage them. It was really lovely. I cannot stress enough what a strong community feel this parkrun has, every marshal greeted parkrunners and were thanked and greeted in return, and it seemed people really knew each other too. parkrun perfection 🙂

The only slightly alarming thing was how quickly the faster parkrunners were whizzing back towards us, but hey ho, it was a no pressure parkrun as the tailwalkers were far behind and their were other parkwalkers too. Off we went to the first turn around enjoying the sight of parkrunners coming back towards us:

At the turn around pint there was a very cheery Santa marshal and some deeply disturbing (to me) Santa effigies, I’ve never been very good with dolls or ventriloquists dummies, it was lucky I had my brave EWFM to act as a human buffer zone and to embolden me.

Phew. Safely negotiated, it was back to where we started from and beyond.

It is a lovely course. It reminded me somewhat of Huddersfield parkrun super-mario course because there are so many bits where you can see all the other parkrunners snaking off in all directions like decorative festive bunting. Splendid. After a bit of a meander through the more formal gardens, you head off into the nature reserve area. Normally you head out quite a way for the two lap summer course, but because of mud this is cut short at this time of year. You are instead headed up a minor hill past some molehills. These were to me symbolic of how a positive parkrun experience can make mountains into molehills and here mountainous cares were tossed aside as little modest mole mounds from which you could skip away, all cares forgotten. Hurrah!

At the top of this little incline was an actual snicket! It had its very own sign, and a hidden marshal at the end of it, making it basically an en route santa’s grotto, so that was lovely too. You aren’t supposed to overtake in this section, and it is tight, at the very end room for one only to squeeze through. All were pretty considerate going through here, one over enthusiastic junior weaved in and out but it was all fine. Again hurrah.

Best bit though, was taking a moment to look backwards at all the parkrunners en route, about their parkrunning business. Super fun! Be sure to click through the pics!

Once you are through the snicket and have left your troubles behind, you go back into the park and marshals cheer and directionally point you with aplomb. This marshal was extra aplomby, as she had to send people in different directions depending on which of the three laps they were on. It’s actually really hard work holding both your arms out at shoulder height to point in opposite ways for that length of time, and as for pulling off such a feat whilst cheerily supporting is nigh on super human. Yay for ace supporting and directional pointing. You made sure all made it safely round!

And round we went again. Even though we were right at the back of the pack, it felt chilled and friendly and fine. We could espy the tail walkers even further back, and as we passed through the start / finish area enjoy the buzz of people having Christmas Day catch ups. We even espied an actual Robin we’d noticed on arrival. I do think having your name on your running coat should be encouraged, but it was especially magnificent to see a seasonally appropriate one. Bark runners were settling into their pace and all was well in the parkrun universe.

Round again and this time down into the finish. There was still a warm welcome, which was much appreciated. We were timed and scanned, and then we negotiated the steps down to the half moon café. One advantage of being almost the final finishes, was that the queue at the café had dispersed. We were greeted and served by Sally, who informed us she was more than happy to open just for the parkrunners on Christmas Day as she finds the parkrun crowd super friendly and loves being a part of the event. It is a pretty conclusive endorsement of this relatively new event (it only launched post lockdown, and this was event # 61, that someone would proactively want to work Christmas Day to join in. Originally she’d just been asked to open the loos, but when she’d heard the parkrun was on, she was in! I wonder if she’ll be persuaded to complete a parkrun one day? I really hope so. Meantime though, it was just the icing on the cake to have a post parkrun coffee.

The little café is in an extraordinary half moon building with original tiling and lots of atmosphere as well as much cake. It’s a happy coincidence then that it goes by the name of The Half Moon Cafe It is a happy place with a friendly welcome, books being sold in aid of a foodbank, local art work on display and surely a community hub for anyone in need of a place to go. Just practically perfect in every way!

The volunteer team were there doing results processing and token sorting and other duties but still time to join us for chats and selfies. We found connections too. The parkwalker knew my EWFM neck of the woods in London really well, and another Bushy parkrun so we were able to have much interconnected chit chat which was another thing of wonder. the parkrun world may reach across the globe, and yet it allows s all to link up in our local communities and find connections between each other too. It’s rare to rock up at a parkrun event for the first time and not find some common ground with someone, if you can just pluck up the courage to give a self conscious smile and say ‘hello’. First timers’ welcomes are good for this, tells you who the newbie are, and parkwalkers too, often the friendly face of a parkrun.

and then suddenly it was time to take our leave and go our separate ways, but it was much easier to tackle the Christmas ahead after a proper parkrun positivitiy fix, sets you up for anything.

Oh, and what’s more, afterwards there were photos to pore over and memories to relive as we found ourselves and others and actual elves all captured in pics. And we even got to be parkrun famous on the walking at parkrun Facebook page #livingthedream

So thank you parkrun in general and Roberts park parkrun in particular for bringing festive cheer. You are indeed a fabulous parkrun, definitely one on my list for a return trip maybe to see the summer course and do a proper alpaca v llama assessment of the bronzes. parkrunpedia needs to know!

Here’s to merry parkrunning and parkwalking and park twalking into 2023. May it hold parkrun adventures for all of us. Preferably fun ones, but failing that anecdote generating ones as the next best thing.




All. The. parkrun. Things.

parkrun = parkfun.

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

Mighty, Meditative, Marvellous & Magical: Markeaton parkrun

Another Saturday, another parkrun.

Reet nice out.



Where to go? I wasn’t entirely feeling the parkrun love this week. As my regular reader will know I’m struggling a bit with walking at parkrun, and these days always feel quite a bit of trepidation about whether and where to go in my quest to find a welcoming parkrun. Some times it just seems crazy to drive far, far away just to traipse round a park in pain for 5k in solitude. Then again, I might get lucky, find a new amazing park, see smiling welcoming high vis heroes, have a micro adventure, maybe see someone I know. You never regret a parkrun as the saying goes. What the hell…

I picked Markeaton parkrun for this week. It’s quite near to Sheffield, and honestly, I don’t really know why I’ve not spotted it before, it being a well established parkrun, yep, that’d do. It seemed to have all the tourist things, loos, car parking, a full roster in advance to give confidence it would be happening, yep, that’d do. It was a last minute decision, but you know what, ’twas a grand one too!


The official |Markeaton parkrun blah de blah states:

Course Description
The course consists of two clock-wise laps on a mix of tarmac and limestone path. The start is located by the stone bridge at the top of the lake. The course follows the lake towards the east side of the park then curves round to the right just before the park boundary and heads back towards the centre of the park. The course then crosses the main path in the park and passes the front of the south car park. At this point the surface changes to a limestone path and heads up a hill towards the wooded section. Just before the exit of the park the course takes a sharp right-hand turn and heads downhill along the south boundary of the park.

After another sharp right-hand turn and a small hill downhill to the left the course follows the west boundary of the park, a left-hand turn leads back onto a gravelled tarmac path with a right-hand on to a straight path. Half way along this straight is a left-hand turn and the path passes behind the old stable building and back past the start where runners begin a second lap. On reaching the straight for a second time runners continue to the finish in front of the stone steps by the Orangery. The course will be well signed and marshalled where available.

There is a small fee for car parking. Details can be found on the Derby City Council website.

Toilet facilities are available at the Craft Village and the Mundy Play Centre. Radar Key operated disabled toilets are available at both locations. Opening times vary according to season.

The park has many additional facilities including a children’s play area, boating lake, pitch and putt, light railway and fishing.

Getting there by road
There are two car parks – the main car park (nearest to the start of the run) is accessible from Markeaton Island on the A38 and A52. The SATNAV postcode is DE22 4AA. It has a 2m height restriction.

The other car park, near the Mundy Play Centre, is accessible from Markeaton Lane and the SATNAV postcode is DE22 3BG. There is a small charge for both car parks.

Post Run Coffee
Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in the Orangery Café – please come and join us!

And it looks like this –



Which I think you can agree, is basically a badly drawn map of Australia, that either completely omits Tasmania, oops, or just pretends they didn’t and it’s actually the roundabout! So feel free to come do this course dressed as a koala or other marsupial of your choice. Personally I’m more wombat than kangaroo, but I’d definitely have improvised a hat with corks on a string hanging from it if I’d only thought of it in advance. Now you’ve had my tip off you can go prepared. The team will appreciate it. It’s a cheaper and greener way to become an international parkrun tourist, and what’s not to like about that?

I think they should rewrite their course description with reference to the various states of Australia, not only because this would amuse me, but also because that would be edutainment at it’s best. Be honest, how many of the states can you name, and, what’s the capital of Australia whilst we are about it?

Really? Are you sure? OK, you might be confident about that, but what year did Scott and Charlene get married? Eh? And how about, how many parkruns are there in Australia? Clue, more than you might think! And last question: is the Bungle Bungles a real place or an imaginary one? Photos on the internet prove nothing by the way, you mustn’t believe everything you see there, ask yourself rather, does that geological formation look plausible? Quite. I rest my case.

Where was I? Oh yes, en route to Markeaton. It wasn’t too long a drive this morning, but as always |I set off paranoically early. Climate change being what it is, it was an extraordinarily mild day. Leaving the house I saw that as well as my lobelia still being in flower (not a euphemism) now my lavender has bloomed again and is set off beautifully by a backdrop of geraniums and fuchsia. My garden looks fantastic, but it’s hard not to be discombobulated by these signs that indicate the end of time. Oh well, I had a parkrun to attend, mustn’t linger dwelling on our world imploding.

Lovely autumn colours lined the roads for a super easy drive from Sheffield. Only at the last point did I somehow get lost. I had input the satnav for Mundy carpark, but although it did take me there pretty much, I lost my nerve as it seemed to be miles and miles away from where the park was and I didn’t think I’d manage to walk that distance back to the start. There were some runners around, but not obviously parkrunners, though I do always wonder why anyone would run around 9.00 on a Saturday morning at a parkrun location if not a parkrunner. I decided to head back and use the satnav for the other car park, which to be fair, was what I’d meant to do in the first place. Uh oh. Fail. The sat nav took me back to the big roundabout where there is an Esso petrol station and a massive McDonalds and an abundance of exit roads. Somehow, I ended up being directed off in another direction entirely, definitely no parkrun on the dual carriageway there. Reasoning the sat nav was off, I found a suitable place to turn around and went for a circuit of said roundabout. This time I saw huge ‘unmissable’ brown signs to Markeaton park, and an even huger ginormous one pointing to the main entrance to the park. I have no idea how I missed this first time round, but the moral is, be alert to your surroundings rather than slave to the satnav. I was glad I’d allowed some extra time to rock up there though.

Once I’d found the entrance, it was pretty straightforward. The car park was pretty spacious and there were helpful signs all over. There was a miniature railway, this seems to be a trend in some of the parkruns I’ve been to of late. Maybe I’m missing a trick in not taking advantage of them. There are loads of facilities, cafe, loos, sports courts. All the things. You do have to pay for parking (unless you have a blue badge) parkin was reasonable but the reference to ‘small fee’ made me think it might just be a pound say, whereas I think it was more like £1.60 for an hour and then going up in increments depending on how long you stay. So fair enough, but more than I was expecting. You can either go quietly insane trying to find the right app, downloading it etc, or just pay with cash (no change given) but the good news is that there was loads of space. There was also a growing number of arriving parkrunners with tourist buffs and slightly confused expressions as they tried to get their bearings, and some regulars, marching purposefully out of the carpark in the direction of the muster for the start.

Markeaton park is truly spectacular! I was amazed at the size and maturity of some of the trees looking stunning in their autumn colours. The sun came out – a bit too much to be honest, it was more than my camera could cope with, but I was astonished to find such a huge and lovely park next to the unpromising roundabout populated by two of my least favourite businesses. I think beyond the park I could see building from the University of Derby, but if you looked the other direction the green space seemed to go on to infinity. There were periodic public art bits and bobs, maps, lots of water all very lovely, thank you for asking.

I followed the people who looked like the knew where they were going. We’ve been through this before, it slightly concerns me how readily I’ll follow people who look confident, this is how you end up joining cults but hey ho, as cults go, parkrun is a pretty benign one. Oh, and there were these clusters of fairy toadstools too. It was a gorgeous green space. As per, the photos don’t really do it justice, you’ll just have to use your imagination. I really liked the figures pointing in opposite directions, though you do have to hope the marshals will be a bit clearer with their directional pointing (spoiler alert, they were). I guess the fun thing to do would be to poke your heads through the slots and get a picture, but my arms weren’t long enough for me to achieve the necessary contortions to make it so. To be fair, they still aren’t now, but maybe you could give it a go, especially if you have journeyed there with a friend. Go on, you know you want to.



After a bit, the ‘craft village’ came into view. Oh my! It’s a full on historic building – Markeaton Hall, complete with blue plaque for the Mundy Family. ‘Who?’ I hear you cry. Worry not dear reader, let me google that for you. Oh, turns out there is quite a lot, and I don’t want to go full on parkrunpedia on you, the basics are:

Francis Mundy (bapt. 29 Aug 1771 – 6 May 1837) was an English landowner, Member of Parliament for the Derbyshire constituency and, in 1820, Sheriff of Derbyshire.

Poor Francis only got to inherit the one estate, Markeaton Hall, but fortunately, it was and is a jolly nice one, so not exactly roughing it. Oh wait, hang on, that mahoosive building isn’t even the hall, that fell into disrepair, it is just the orangery which is all that is left. Wowsers, how massive must that hall have been. Nightmare to heat. Oh wait, this is properly interesting, I’ll do a cut and paste for you and hope it’s true!

The manor of Markeaton was held by the Tuchet family from the 13th century. Sir John Tuchet (b.1327) married Joan, daughter of James Audley, 2nd Lord Audley and heiress of his brother Nicholas Audley, 3rd Lord Audley of Heleigh Castle, Staffordshire, and in due course their son became the 4th Lord Audley.

Sir John Audley of Markeaton fought for Richard III of England at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

The Audleys sold the manor in 1516 to Sir John Mundy, Lord Mayor of London in 1522. The Mundys replaced the old manor house with a new mansion in about 1750.

Sir John Mundy’s descendants included a number of High Sheriffs of Derbyshire including Francis Noel Clarke Mundy who commissioned paintings from Joseph Wright of Derby to decorate his home and record the hunts that took place at Markeaton.

In 1929, the Markeaton Hall and twenty acres (81,000 m²) of its gardens were given to the Corporation by the Reverend Clarke Maxwell who had inherited the estate from the late Mrs Mundy, on condition that the whole area would be used as a public park and that the mansion would be maintained for cultural purposes, for example a museum or and art gallery. Unfortunately the hall was used by the Army during World War II and allowed to fall into disrepair after the war.

The Hall was eventually declared to be unsafe and was demolished in 1964, leaving standing only the Orangery, a Grade II listed building



Fair play, that’s a lot of history.

Looked impressive too. Now the ‘mere’ orangery is still standing and still breath taking. What a backdrop for a parkrun. There was a whole courtyard behind, which I now know you could take a shortcut through to get to the start if you didn’t want to listen to the run briefing. Please do that instead of just talking through it, it does my head in that people do that. There were loos that were open and reasonable. They had the weirdest inside design though. The sinks being one side of the door way and the hand driers the other, so as there was a queue in the ladies there was a constant circulation of folk moving from one side to the other, or going with the frantic handwaving or the failsafe wiping washed hands on your leggings rather than barging back through the queue. No idea what the gents was like, but I’m going to guess that as usual they don’t have to queue and had no such formation dancing going on whilst having their comfort breaks and performing any necessary ablutions.

In the courtyard was the largest ornamental urn thingy I’ve ever seen, and towering around its edges were ornamental railings. I don’t really know what function this might serve, but it was definitely impressive and now I want one too. Even though I’d have to demolish part of my house to accommodate it in my garden, that would be but a small price to pay for such an astonishing bit of garden sculpture, though Markeaton Park authorities might not be keen to part with it. I got an early sighting of some of the volunteers, I thought they were just chatting, but now I’ve see them in action, I’m pretty confident these two were just working out the bell ringing synchronicity to make sure it was perfect from the off. Spoiler alert, they nailed it.



After a bit of milling about, there was a call out for first timers to gather for the first timers’ welcome. This was thorough and genuine, though being told ‘just ignore any references to cardiac hill’ was somewhat mischievous. A couple of tourists were sporting 500 tees, don’t see too many of the in the wild, so that was exciting too.



First timers’ welcome over, time to mill about and do some sign posing before the RD briefing.

One of the excellent features of the venue, is that the raised courtyard area has steps leading down to the finish funnel, which is the area where parkrunners gather for the Run Director’s briefing, so they can stand atop the steps and be clearly seen and heard which is great. The Run Briefing was extremely good. There was a Couch to 5k group that was doing their graduation parkrun. They were warmly welcomed. A volunteer with a milestone volunteer got an extra round of applause. Tourists were welcomed from near and far ‘from Leeds? Never mind’. There was a shout out for someone who was doing 7k every day for 7 days in a sort of relay I think, with someone else taking over next week. I didn’t quite catch what that was about to be honest, but the point is, I felt like this is a mature parkrun community. People know one another, care about one another and share each others achievements. The park walker was particularly identified as someone to walk around with and gave a friendly and vigorous wave, so that was lovely. I felt the welcome for parkwalkers was completely genuine. It was all very impressive. And yes, there was a noisy cohort chatting throughout, but at least they stayed towards the back. I’m definitely getting more intolerant in my old age.



Run briefing over, there was a mass migration to the start area. I wasn’t expecting this relocation so was possibly disproportionately excited by the micro adventure of following the throng along the outside wall of the orangery and round the corner where there was a sawn laden water feature with it’s own feature bridge, and the backs of a mass of parkunners ready for off.



It was only when we were all mustered at the start, that I fully appreciated how many people were gathered. It’s a large field, and the venue is such it could take still more. We were urged to keep left if walking so faster runners could overtake, but it never felt congested.

I watched the off, and then joined the pack towards the back. The first two marshals were busy bell ringing and cheering with great enthusiasm. All marshals are lovely obvs, but I do have a special place in my heart for marshals who accessorise appropriately and noisily to help not only get the party started but keep the party spirit alive. Hurrah for jingly marshals!



I tried to put on a bit of a wiggle, my aim was to stay ahead of the tail walker, and I started off with a degree of confidence, but very quickly the field pulled away and my leg started playing up and I realised, alas, I’m not magically cured. It is so frustrating that my body just won’t do what my head wants it to. On the plus side, the route was absolutely gorgeous. It was a great sight to see the colourful stream of runners curving ahead like a string of prayer flags caught in the wind. All shapes and speeds and sizes. Some with pushchairs, some walking companionably with others. A group clustered with the very jolly parkwalker. There was even a tailwalker with an actual tail. A tail-wagger if you like, though strictly speaking I didn’t see them until the very end.



I was my usual stop start taking photos as a way to pause and rest every so often. I tried to photograph as many marshals as I could, but it was harder than you might think. They were all really friendly and welcoming. It felt like a particularly positive parkrun community, with lots of shouting encouragement to participants by name. The two lap element giving lots of scope for interactions. It just felt relaxed and friendly. One marshal team near the car park included a young man holding a huge tin of sweets by way of refreshments on the way round. I resisted the temptation on lap one, but paused at lap two to say hello, and enquire what the was the occasion to merit such bounty. Well, get this dear reader. He has them EVERY WEEK, well every week he marshals that is. Isn’t that great? I took an opal fruit joyfully, although actually turns out this is now a starburst. Honestly, you’ll be telling me marathons aren’t a thing any more next! What an astonishingly photogenic lot they all are though, each marshal more decorative than the one before! An abundance of loveliness indeed. There is something about the high vis that makes all who wear it a joy to behold. Inner and outer delightfulness made manifest through the reflective power of the high vis.



There were lots of things to look at on the way round. The mature trees were magnificent, but there were also random sculptures of wood, wire baskety things that looked like they might be for making beacons except they were too near trees and not especially high up so I couldn’t really fathom them. I was a bit taken aback by one carving that was of a miniature wooden tank. It just seemed in very poor taste as a piece of public ‘art’ or play equipment. I don’t know if there is a story behind it, but in the light of all that is going on in the world now particularly it jarred. On the other hand, there was another carving of a squirrel and periodically little houselets, fairy dwellings? Much to see and wonder at.



As I walked I slowed, and got further and further back. The parkwalker and her merry band overtook me with cheery waves. They were a jolly sight indeed. I really wish my photos did them justice, they lifted spirits just by being there.



From then on I was walking on my own, which is fine, but it was a little unsettling that there was no-one in sight. I could see neither the parkwalker ahead nor the tailwalker behind, this is why we need more people to walk at parkrun, to fill that gap at the back. I do long to be at a parkrun event where I don’t end up being quite such an outlier. But unless I relocate to South Africa where I understand there is more of a walking culture at parkrun, I think this is my parkrun reality now. I’d be lying if I tried to pretend it doesn’t profoundly depress me at times, but it is what it is. One day I’ll get to South Africa and in my head that means I’ll stroll through dusty trails espying journeys of giraffes on the horizon and watching jolly warthog families cavorting alongside. Whilst not South Africa, and therefore having fewer rhinos, and not Australia, so having fewer wallabies ths was nevertheless a really nice parkrun. It was friendly, picturesque and really well organised, but ultimately it was a bit lonely out there doing a lap alone, who wants to be stuck with their own thoughts really? Existential angst ever present. Fortunately, I could be distracted by the scenery and I was grateful to the marshals who stayed in place to over encouragement as well as cheered by the sight of runners passing me on their way through to the finish.



As I finally came round towards the finish for the second time, I saw ‘my’ departing bell jingling marshals, who gave me a bespoke cheer as I was approaching the last few hundred yards, it was much appreciated. The finish funnel was still up and resplendent, and by the look of things every one still in place, so I did get to experience the same finish as all the other participants, which isn’t a given. That was nice.



Oh wait, there was one teensy distinction, as it was just me, I was allowed not to complete the entire snake of the finish funnel and allowed instead to break through – or at least politely duck under – the parkrun tape. Do not brand me as a funnel ducker dear reader, this was absolutely consensual on all sides. It must be quite some finish though at it’s busier, as it was a long and impressive queue barrier. Think airport terminals or that sequence in Shrek where creatures are queueing to enter the theme park.



I was scanned and then directed to pop my finish token in one of the little buckets on a faraway table. This was something I’ve not seen before but clearly actual genius! It seemed at first quite high risk to send people off with tokens, but there was not only a huge sign warning you not to pass that point without checking you’d surrendered your token, but also a little group of buckets each labelled for a different section of 100. This means that the token sorters can start their busy task earlier on, and grouping this tokens just makes that whole process a bit easier to manage. Actual genius. Why doesn’t every parkrun do this? I guess some do – now I thin of it Bushy parkrun has different containers for different numbers, but that’s huge. This is a respectable 3-400 parkrunners and the system seemed to work really well.



I deposited my token, got a flat white from the orangery, and then, since everyone had waited for me, waited to cheer in the final couple of participants. It was a nice chilled and relaxed atmosphere, unhurried. In due course the tail walker and accompanying tail waggers were welcomed home.



Final finisher safely home, the team busied themselves with course close down, and me and Red Ted weaved our way out of the park. He insisted on a photo op, and who can blame him. It’s a cool thing to do 🙂 I would have tried to recline in the circle too if I thought I’ve had had a sporting chance of squeezing in, but little point really as Red Ted can’t operate the camera either. Maybe next time.



and that was that.

Time to leave the autumn colours of Markeaton park behind.



Thank you lovely Markeaton parkrun team, your event is truly an asset to the parkrun family. A lovely venue and a welcoming parkrun indeed. Yay to all of you.

Oh and for triangulation purposes, the official run report for event 378 is here ‘You Ad Me At Hello‘ Loving the run report branding, plus it has a squirrel! Yay, what’s not to like. Oh and that Markeaton Park sign, it’s actually there, in the park, but my photo didn’t really capture it with the same pizzazz. Oh well, I tried, and it makes me happy that they have nailed it, so I get to share the image too. 🙂 Walk, Jog, Run, Read indeed!

If you have the stamina, don’t forget you can extend your parkrun contemplations for longer by reading all my parkrun related posts here.  Or not.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though. Otherwise, bye for now, see you next time.

Categories: 5km, parkrun, walking at parkrun | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Making it Massive! Moving it at Monsal Trail parkrun

I do concede that to the untrained eye we might not appear to be doing a massive amount of actual moving around in the banner pic, but that’s just a quirk of when the picture was taken. We were moving it for an honest, 5km for starters, because that’s the parkrun route, and it was definitely parkrun ‘Monsal Maaaaaaahoooossive’ as yoof speak would phrase it, apparently, so all good. This I have been told by a reliable but confidential source, and who am to disagree with that pronouncement?

Join me for the Monsal Massive low down as my most recent parkrun fix.



Monsal Trail parkrun this week – but I’m thinking you might have guessed that already? If so, well done. Have you also guessed that I’ve lifted many photos from other parkrunners again? My camera isn’t really doing the job these days, but I’m coming round to the view that just as I increasingly have my own personal escort at the back of parkrun events, so too, it is handy to have at least one dedicated official photographer around to document these adventures. Life is definitely easier if you have staff attending you I find. I’m really hoping for a personal chef and a personal trainer to rock up some time soon too, but it takes time to find the right people. parkrun day was sorted though, staffing wise, so that was good. Thanks to my tail walking companions and multi-tasking photographers both.

Another week, another parkrun, another week of ouchery.

Is it boring that I keep going on about my ailments? It must be. I’m so over it myself. Yet, I feel this context is helpful in terms of making sense of my current parkrun adventures, I can’t talk about my parkruns without reference to how my health impacts on how they go. It seems that I have entered that demographic that not only spontaneously makes noises when getting up and sitting down, but also has to do a mental physical assessment check each day on waking. It’s very tedious. Pain is lonely. Also annoying. Very annoying indeed.

The big medical adventure last week, was having someone inject steroids into my big toe joint. FYI this hurts just as much as you think it might, the numbing ointments and local anaesthetics doing little to make the procedure any more bearable. Well, I mean, obviously they must help, but OMG I’m not putting my body through that again. Apparently my big toe joint is a bit small, tight and arthritic so the person administering the injection had to have a bit of a jab around to get it in (they don’t just guess by the way, they do have an x-ray up on a screen to refer to as they plunge about with the needles) and maybe because I’m on blood thinners I got quite a bit of bruising and swelling and – of course – a rare but not that rare reaction – which cased my whole toe joint to flare up for 36 hours afterwards. It was beyond excruciating, I may have railed at the world, screamed into a void, sworn never to put my body through anything like that again and honestly, were I not vegetarian I’d have gnawed my own leg off to stop the pain. I was back to not being able to cover the foot with a sheet let alone get shoes and socks on. However, it did then ‘suddenly’ improve, so parkrun became a possibility again – well parkwalk at least. However, it all feels a bit tentative on the tootsies, you can surely grasp why it might. It’s hard to know if there has been any improvement as a result of the shot, or I just feel a bit better purely in contrast to the agony immediately post the jab. Oh well. Just goes to show pain is relative, and you have to try these things sometimes, even if only to rule things out,. The medical treatment equivalent of kissing a lot of frogs before you meet you actual love. Hmm, I’ve probably gone as far as I can with that analogy. I’ve subsequently seen a physio who said that you need to not do anything too much for a couple of weeks at least to allow things to settle as the procedure is basically a trauma to the foot, albeit for long term gain, so perhaps it’s unsurprising this turned out to be a particularly painful parkrun. Oh well, hindsight eh? Has a lot to answer for.

Where to go though? I was originally thinking Rushcliffe parkrun, but long story short (an unusual statement from me I know, and probably not even true) headed to Bakewell Monsal Trail parkrun instead. In essence, this is because I’d have the experienced, friendly and photogenic tail walking team from last parkrun day at Chevin Forest as my personal escort. A bit like having my own personal staff to carry me around, only they do this only figuratively, not literally, not having access to a parkrun endorsed sedan chair being part of the challenge. I do get that recruiting volunteers is a struggle these days, and even the most modest of sedan chairs needs quite a team to lift it aloft for the whole distance. I would happily forgo the extra folk with the fans at this time of year if that helped at all, but it’s still a bit labour intensive for the average parkrun. Reminder dear reader, if any is needed, that every parkrun appreciates volunteers, step up if and when you can.



I’ve said a bath chair would do, but they ain’t biting. I don’t know why, buggies are fine at parkruns after all. Did you know that sedan chairs are also called palanquins? No me neither, I thought that was a perilously endangered trafficked animal. Every day a school day!

Whilst we are engaged in edutainment, I learned a brilliant new thing this week! I always thought the way to a builder’s heart was through biscuits, decent coffee and builders/Yorkshire tea, but guess what? Actually, don’t bother even trying, I don’t think you will be able to. The real way to their heart is though processed cheese triangles! I know! Who knew? Well, all of us now, obvs, but I felt it was in everyone’s interest to share the scoop. Such serendipity. Could be a game changer! You’re welcome.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I made the call to head to Bakewell Monsal Trail parkrun. Having made that call, it then materialised there would be other With Me Now pod listeners too, including Team Burrelli freshly sporting 250 tees following shared milestone celebrations last weekend. Wait there’s more – 50% of the tail walking team would be celebrating their fiftieth different parkrun location making her an absolute cow, which is tremendous news. There’d be an outfit for that for sure. Yep, I’d go there. Hurrah. Also, just a hop from Sheffield, so less ‘stupid o’clock alarm setting’ and more ‘just another 5 mins in bed’ before having to surface and face the day.

There was even talk of additional deferred fancy dress making an appearance this week – we have the outstanding pirate costume in need of an outing after all, as well as potentially an inflatable cow to be donned. In the event, the pirate got marooned en route to the parkrun (now that is a long and painful story) and the cow thought the better of fancy dress that some might thing a bit too jolly for a period of mooing mourning, which is understandable, though a bit of a shame too. Pirates in particular are having a terrible time at the moment, on account of the Queen’s Funeral coinciding with International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I’m thinking they won’t be conducting the ceremony observing that tradition, such a loss.

A weird juxtaposition of dates you’ll agree.



Oh well. This further deferment will simply serve to build anticipatory excitement even further. Eventually the moment shall come when all those pent up fancy dress outfits shall surge forth from their bottle neck in one great tsunami of OTT costume couture choices at some future event, people will gather from near and far; high fives will be swapped; jumping in the air shall be the order of the day; photographers will flash their cameras; barcodes will be brought and scanned – there may even be cake – and it will be glorious. FACT. And it’ll probably be at York parkrun on 15th October 2022 if you’re interested.

Also, just so you know, lack of fancy dress, didn’t mean nobody dressed fancy. Au contraire! Check out the shoes and socks options flaunted on the trail today. Some excellent buffery and yellow heart accessorising too, and that custom Brooks t-shirt is The Best!



That t-shirt! What’s more, it was an actual freebie! I’m so jealous. There are hoodies as well apparently. Wowsers. Brooks are one of the parkrun sponsors now, and attend various events unannounced, where you can test run their shoes and they also give out the odd freebie to random finishers. I’m not sure what this parkrunner had done to merit this honour, but to be fair, she’s appropriately delighted by it. I would be too. I genuinely like Brooks stuff, I got some freebie sunglasses from them at an event way back and they are absolutely brilliant, wore them for the London marathon back in 2018 and many times since and they are good as new. I’m totally stalking the Brooks Facebook pages now, in hope of the slightest of hints as to where they may descend next. I’m shameless #brooksrunninguk @brooksrunninguk #parkrunhappy choose me!

Hmmm, they are toying with us though. Playing hard to get – it seems we will have to not only stalk their social media pages, but also harness our psychic powers to find them. Oh well. I love my parkrun apricot too 🙂 and I have patience. My time will come.



Never mind, where was I? Oh yes ouchy feet and parkrun touristing, I’ll get there in the end.

It wasn’t too early a start, and the drive over in early morning sunshine gave gorgeous light across the dying back heather. Expansive views to lift the soul. It was all going splendidly, until I came across an unexpected road closure and had to do a grand detour. I arrived at Hassop Station carpark after 8.30 and it was already really busy. There is a very limited amount of free parking, but I’d forgotten about those spots and was too late for it anyway. There seemed to be a field open over the road where many parkrunners had parked up, but I wasn’t sure if you had to pay for that, and didn’t want to add in the extra distance, so I coughed up the £3.50 for three hours parking. I don’t begrudge parking fees generally, but that does seem steep when you are probably going to use the cafe as well. This wasn’t a cheap morning. I’d hoped to be earlier as I was going to offer to be the tail walker having heard my original buddy no couldn’t make it due to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and rubbish garages relating to newly purchased cars. My logic was, I am sooooo slow everyone ends up waiting for me anyway, so I might as well be that person at the back, and then I wouldn’t have the agony of someone else trying to jostle me onwards at a pace more that I could muster. It’s so awkward when others try to jolly you along. I was counting on the other tail walker repeating her outstanding service last week and being content shouting support to other parkrunners and getting creative with the photos as we went. Yep, that’d work.

Except I was too late for that, tail walker sub was already in place. Which is good in a way, since it shows how parkrunners are happy to step up to cover for one another when things aren’t going to plan. I’d just be limping round at the back as usual then, with my personal escort.

The first thing to remember about Monsal Trail parkrun is that it’s actually Bakewell parkrun. Well, maybe not any more strictly speaking, but it definitely used to be, and now it isn’t, but the pop up banner is very much still saying Bakewell, so that’s confusing if you are touristing and are on an alphabet completing schedule and have lost track of what country, county or rural paradise you are in. Do you follow? People still call it Bakewell although really it’s not, it’s more Hassop, and Monsal Trail is more accurate still. Like Endcliffe is still known as Sheffield Hallam and Knavesmire parkrun is still known as York. Oh wait, hang on…. Whatever, the point is, it will play havoc with future Facebook memories, but for now, you have to improvise with the pop up banner that’s to hand, and that’s what happened. Those posed photos have to be taken, just as if it ain’t on Strava it didn’t happen, how can you be sure that any given parkrun wasn’t but a dream unless you have the pop up pic to proof it? Ooh, I wish we could have actual pop up photos, the way we used to have pop up books in the olden days. I suppose in the future we will, and they’ll be holograms. For now we have to make do with jpeg files, but fortunately they are lovely. We spent a while trying to get the making it massive moves nailed. It would help if I understood the whole concept a bit more, but I reckon I blagged it pretty well in the circumstances. What massively cool dudes we are. Hurrah.



Foreground is official photographer, soon to be official cow and experienced escort, centre is me with White Ted on this occasion – and that’s the sub tail walker all smiles and raring to go. We are quite lucky to have her in the UK at present as she’s a world parkrun tourist prone to seeking out new adventures all over the place. Catch her if you can. Oh, and I’m crouching down in a futile attempt to stop my stomach from blocking out the sun, I’m not that short. I mean, I am quite short, but I can see over the pop up sign without standing on tip toe despite what the photo suggests.

The id explanations are just in case you are curious, but there won’t be a test or anything, so you don’t have to concentrate too hard on who’s who, in fact it’s probably better if you don’t. Just keep calm and carry on. We know each other purely through parkrun in general and the With Me Now podcasts and live streams of parkrun lockdown in particular, which is pretty remarkable really. I don’t think I’d know anyone at all if it weren’t for parkrun and the people who live in my laptop. Oh and the quarantine quiz too of course – more of which later, possibly. Depends if I remember. I have an EWFM* too, obviously, but that’s in an entirely separate category of gloriousness all of its own. Obvs.

Yay, for jolly planned meet ups of With Me Now tourists, and a selfie of the party at the back posse pre parkrun . I’m assuming it’s expensive to replace the pop up sign, and actually, I have a vague feeling that there might be a pause on new ones anyway because of the need to change the sponsorship names. I think that might be why we still have the Bakewell parkrun sign. The other – perhaps more obvious explanation – is that what with the hiatus in parkruns and a change in the event team, no-one has been able to pass down the necessary knowledge of how to fold up the sign. Hence, there it sits, in perpetuity, unless and until some gifted travelling passing parkrunner shares their secrets and normal order with respect to the tidying away of things is restored. The main thing is DON’T PANIC! Well, I mean panic about many things, heaven knows there’s enough catastrophes kicking off in the world – just not about that. Save your panic for scenarios like the planet burning and forgetting your barcode. It’s all about perspective.

So in all seriousness, this is one of the parkruns that during lockdown was re-routed and renamed but kept it’s event counter ticking. The start and finish remain in the same place, but the route is now an out and back in the opposite direction. I’m in the position of having previously completed this parkrun when it was still Bakewell parkrun, but it morphed into Monsal Trail parkrun on my stats, which wasn’t a problem but did mean my profile suggested I’d completed a route I actually hadn’t, only now I have, so problem solved. Be happy for me. I am generally in the mood for touristing as I’ve been so unable to do anything for years, but this is a new route on a familiar course so didn’t feel too much like a repeat.

Oh and I feel I should say more about our companion cow. Look! Here she is.



Last week a Jill in the Box but this week a complete cow or just half a Cowell depending on how you calculate these things. The Cowell is a Running Challenges Chrome Extension thing by the way. Specifically, to join the Cowell club you need to Run at 100+ different parkrun locations anywhere in the world. Named after the first parkrunners to complete it. A quarter cowell is available at 25, half at 50, and three-quarter at 75. Those who have completed their fiftieth different parkrun venue can claim cow status, and this is what happened here. For my tail walking photography compatriot. One day, in years hence, she may get this virtual sticker added to her profile. A fine reward for many years of touristing i think we can all agree.

It seems 2022 is actually her year of fifty things – fiftieth birthday (I know, doesn’t look a day over 21, it’s a miracle); fiftieth occasion of her home parkrun at Chevin Forest and fiftieth different parkrn event. Does that make her 150 then, if she’s done all the things? I’m not sure, but it’s splendid anyway, and worthy of celebration. No wonder she was jumping for joy all over the place. As previously reference, she was supposed to be wearing an inflatable cow, because that’s pretty much compulsory for marking your 50th, but well, you know, period of mourning and all that, the inflatable cow will just have to wait for York.

The jumping about thing was set to continue though, because of course any parkrun has parkrunners jumping for joy, and to be fair there was something of a jump off occurring at intervals. High jinx all round one might say. Since we had a Jack outa the box giving our Jill outa the box a run for her money!



Did you spot the 250 tee in the blur of bouncing? Hopefully yes you did. Jumpage is understandable but can make it hard to see the finer details of individual outfits, but I reckon that 250 top is pretty distinctive. Green team, dream team. Just so you know, that’s it being worn on it’s first ever outing after being achieved just last parkrun weekend at Burnage parkrun, alongside another person’s 250 volunteering milestone. More specifically their other/better half. Nice bit of carefully planned parkrun milestone synchronicity there. It’s taken a lot of organisation to nail that particular celebration, but oh so worth it! Check out the cake, that’s just outstanding. Apparently it tasted amazing too, not just an Instagramable option but a dietary delight! Oh and they had milestone capes too, which should be compulsory really, at all events, but aren’t quite yet. Capers with capes are so much fun!



All things were being celebrated here. This had also been planned as a fancy dress option, with the 250th parkrun being completed in a particularly fine Mr Zippy outfit (no reason, do you need a reason?) but again, restraint was exercised in respect of donning the fancy dress. And then in a hat trick of missed fancy dress opportunities, my pirate buddy was thinking maybe pirate today, but then didn’t make it due to a series of unfortunate events, specifically relating to mechanical misadventures en route, meaning she ended up at Brierley Forest parkrun which is very much lovely and all, but not the intended destination.



And the consequence was that there was no pirate and no Mr Zippy last week and no Cow this week. A lack of fancy dress might be a cause of disappointment but…


There is a plan. All these missed fancy dress outings will be reconvened on the same date at some parkrun in the future. There will be an explosion of fancy dress at the next midi gathering where missed opportunities will be made good. Not that this lot need much of an excuse to get the fancy dress on, but they can share their joy in donning it en masse and properly mark the milestones and arbitrary achievements that have had but muted recognition where they’ve fallen during these 10 days. Might be all the better for having a backlog of celebrations to mark all at once. A positive scrum of joyfulness. You think they’ve jumped high and dressed to the peak of fabulousness already? Pah! You ain’t seen nothing yet!

First though, back to today!

I arrived parked up, joined the queue for the loo which wasn’t too long and definitely not 5 miles, and no live tracking you just had to take your chances.

I did, and then was rewarded for this by bumping into a world tourist With-Me-Nower in the scrum of exiting it. How exciting! Turns out, they were everywhere today. Outside the loos; in the café; at the start on the parkrun; volunteering – all over the shop.

I made my way to the start area and we started to find one another. It was VERY EXCITING. People I actually knew, people I knew by their high ranking status as parkrun ambassador for example – there seem to be loads of them out and about at the moment we get one or two at Sheffield Olympic Legacy park junior parkrun most weeks- people I knew through Facebook but not through real life, and by reputation for example as uber tourists. It was great, and unexpected. There is actually a whole sequence of photos of ever growing numbers being gathered together for a group shot as new people we ‘knew’ kept appearing out of the crow, and we still didn’t manage to get everyone in to the one shot, nothing like. Well it is a bit like herding cats I suppose. Here’s a grand stab at the bulk of us though. Impressive isn’t it, remembering these were not all planned meet ups either, it’s just the parkrun community’s network keeps on reaching out and ever more connections are made, so every parkrun can feel like a reunion at times. It’s good like that 🙂 You are truly never alone at a parkrun. Unless you turn up as the only one who hadn’t twigged it had been cancelled, that can be discombobulating, but mostly, never.



We busied ourselves doing the parkrun friends equivalent of dogs sniffing each others bottoms until we were summoned for the first timers’ welcome. According to the results there were 7 first time everers and an astounding 96 tourists, so that’s nearly 50% of the field of 203 participants. This is a tourist destination it has to be acknowledged, and it isn’t really that near a local population which I think contributes to the difficulty it sometimes has in getting enough volunteers. Fortunately, it’s not a complicated route so not too heavy on the number of marshals required, but it’s still hard for teams to manage at times. We were grateful for the warm and friendly welcome. We were reminded very much of the need to respect other users. It’s a busy path with cyclists, horses, walkers all availing themselves of the lovely route. That’s why it was also important to keep the trail free at the start, and remember to keep to the left of the path out and back to minimise the possibility of collisions, and also to facilitate more effective high fiving as you pass each other in a contraflow at some stage en route. He didn’t actually say that, but I’m sure it was implied…


The Run Director’s briefing came next. Quite quickly in fact. I still have never quite got over the astonishment of having pre parkrun chatting interrupted by having to actually commence the parkrun. The poor RD had a cold, but gamefully stood atop her steps to brief us and send us on our way. I felt for her though, she definitely sounded a bit rough, and it was a nippy morning, beautiful yes, but nippy. Thank you lovely RD for turning out despite feeling rough, and thank you even more to you and all the high vis heroes for making all the parkrunners so very welcome, right to the end of the pack.

As is usual now, I took some photos at the start, then slotted in at the back of the field with my bouncy parkrunning friends. There might have been a bit of a jump off going on at one point, all in apparent jest, but I see a future rematch pending. I so wish I had a proper camera at times like this, they were awesome. Flying through the air like acrobats on acid. Cirque de Soleil has nothing on a pair of over-excited parkrunners soaring high. Never has leaping for joy been more literal or more inspiration to behold.



But where were we going? Don’t worry dear reader, I can explain! Shall I wait for you to get a pen to make some notes, or will you just take a screen shot for later? It’s no problem I can pause for a bit…

Welcome back, ready? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

The route is basically out and back. If you don’t believe me, here is the Monsal Trail parkrun route blah de blah from the website

Course Description

Out and back course on the Monsal Trail. Start and finish are in the same place by Hassop Station.

and the picture looks like this:



Erm, that’s all you can say. You run away from the timers for 2/12 km when you are met by a wall of marshals. Well, two and their dog Nigel on this occasion, and a rather sweetly positioned cone to trot round, or skid round, or handbrake turn around as the mood takes you, and then you run right back the way you came. I belief it is fractionally downhill on the out and uphill on the way back, but honestly, not so you notice, this is properly flat. Hilariously though, if you run it in the other direction as the Bakewell parkrun used to, Strava doesn’t understand the concept of tunnels so will think you’ve done some epic and speedy ascents. That is, gone up and down those hills, rather than straight through the middle, this is excellent for boosting your bragging rights if you don’t let the truth get in the way of a good running narrative.

It’s compact gravel, and the only issues are really making sure you are respectful to other participants as you parkrun out and back.

Almost instantly the main bulk of parkrunners streamed out of sight, and we were but a few at the back. My two tail walking companions and 50% of the newly anointed green team who’d opted to walk and talk which was jolly sporting of him. I did feel initially some pressure to get a move on, which was challenging, but we did settle in to a more manageable pace.

On a serious note, I’m finding parkrun pretty tough at the minute. I think because I look fine (bit podgy obviously, but I mean ‘able bodied) and indeed opted for walking poles rather than crutches precisely so I’d blend in a bit more, people over-estimate my capabilities and I seem to constantly have people cajooling me to get a move on and that feels really shaming. I totally get it’s unintended, but it’s crushing every time. I can’t ‘get going’ I need to pause, and sometimes I’m in a lot of pain. Feeling embarrassed because I’m holding everyone up is an extra pressure and at times I feel like bailing or opting out entirely. Even with supportive parkrun compatriots I feel quite vulnerable. My fear is that once I give up on parkrun, I won’t be able to go back at all, and that thought makes me sad. It can be a mixed bag walking at parkrun and I really hope that next month’s parkwalk initiative normalises this a bit more because speaking personally, I think that’s very much needed. I worry about being a burden to individuals and teams, of course I do, the official parkrun line of ‘walkers always welcome’ doesn’t always reflect what happens on the ground. I try to go to different parkruns so I don’t make the same team have to wait for me each week, and I have always made a point of volunteering regularly to ‘give back’ a bit as well, but that doesn’t quieten the voices in my head that are constantly making me feel inadequate and that I don’t have the right to be there. Every parkrun I go to is a battle lately, and I’m conscious it doesn’t take much to push me into despair. I guess partly because every parkrun I hope will be a bit better, that I’ll make some progress and although I have made progress if you look back over a whole year, I’m very far away from where I was before and it feels unfair, which is jolly surprising, because usually life is 100% fair is it not? (Spoiler alert, it’s not) I know I’m lucky compared to many, and I am still there at the moment, however insecure I may feel about it. Hanging on by my fingertips. One foot in front of another. Sometimes blinking back the tears, but not bailed yet.

It was a bit of a wobbly start, but once we were underway on a lovely crisp sunny morning, things were looking up. Just because it’s a straightforward out and back though, doesn’t mean you can’t have parkrun adventuring along the way. Au contraire!

It’s jolly pretty for one thing, the route has lovely trees creating an avenue along it, then there are open vistas where you get great views, and if you have your wits about you you might spot the rare Bakewell born and bred long necked sheep – oh wait, what’s that you say? Really? Shame alpacas adjacent to the path. There was a little wren, busying herself popping in and out of the gaps of a moss covered stone wall. There was a very junior marshal – taking it all in. All very lovely.


So the scenery was lovely, as well as the the company, but we had other adventures too. Specifically, on this occasion there was a mass group of walkers taking part in a Fund raising 26 km trek for the charity Together for short lives – Helping families caring for a seriously ill child make the most of every moment together. It was pretty chilled by the time we at the back met up with them, but earlier may have been a bit of a challenge. Like those early gladiator sort of films, where thousands of extras were brought in to stage battles, running at one another and mingling as each fought to pass the other. Not that that would happen here though, because we’d all been briefed to give way, and parkrunners are polite obvs. Think more parting of the sea rather than riotous bunfight. Or gentle ordered contraflow, I’m sure it was negotiated with grace. They were an eclectic and jolly group of walkers, it was quite early in their walk I think, so they had a long way to go, but my what a lovely day they picked for it.

One warning though, this is not a route for arachnophobes, which, presumably erroneously, was not explicitly mentioned in the briefing. Fortunately, the spider people running round today were being shepherded by lovely With Me Now crew to keep us all safe. It’s so lovely when parkrunners look out for one another in this way. They even gave us a reassuring wave of acknowledgement as they breezed by, letting us know the whole situation was all under control. Phew. There were 23 personal bests today though, which seems a pretty high percentage of the field of 203 so maybe the spidery presence just made everyone else run just that much faster. Apart from me. I’m very much just walking still. Besides, I like to get my money’s worth at an event.



One of the super fun things about an out and back course is that if you are a slower parkrun participant you see all the faster parkrunners as they come back, and if you are a faster parkrunner, you see all the slower participants as they are going out! Everyone wins. It made for a highly sociable and people spotting parkrun. Hurrah.



What made it even more fun, was being part of a very vocal party at the back offering up bespoke motivational cheering at every opportunity. Our tail walking cow has an enormous amount of experience at this and was in fine voice. But better yet, we had some Welsh language cheering from the stand in tail walker, always a boon. Not that we restricted ourselves to cheering only those we knew, anyone was fair game, potentially whether partaking in parkrun or not, we were happy to be sharing the parkrun love! All of us at the back got on board with parkrun appropriate whooping. It’s not called the party at the back for nothing! When it works, walking at parkrun is therapeutic indeed.

and that works at junior parkrun too. This recently shared anecdote made me properly cry, because it’s just SO LOVELY!


Tony Kenyon
I have told this story a number of times because to me it is what parkrun is all about. One week we had just one child at the junior parkrun where I’m now part of the core team. I was tailwalker. They didn’t want to take part by themselves. So I convinced them to walk with me. They only agreed if every volunteer walked with us. So we all took a leisurely 2km walk.
That same child now regularly runs, seeing a PB after PB, getting faster each week. Those who walk today may run tomorrow. Or they may not. We should embrace them all.

See comments section of


I properly cried. Snot and everything. It’s peak parkrun practice in my view. It also very neatly illustrates why for parkwalk to be successful next month, solidarity from plenty of walkers is needed. Consider walking one of your regular parkruns instead of running and experience the event quite differently. That junior parkrun intuitively knew that walking together was the way to go. How right they were.

Back to us. Eventually we made it out to the full extent of the 2.5 km and to the turn around point – that’s Nigel in the middle, supervising. Barkrunner par excellence! Not one parkrunner overshot the route turnaround point, so he did just grand.

We weren’t having a stand off, we were just having a parkrunny chat. Getting our Chat’s Worth at the parkrun nearest to Chatsworth was apt indeed.


Cone negotiated safely, and we were coming home again. It was very quiet for the return leg, the charity walkers and other parkrunners having long since passed this way. But we could take in the scenes, and have companionable chats and so all was good.


Finally, almost exactly on the hour, we were back to the start, which handily is also the finish. Where diligent marshals were still waiting and standing by to swing into time keeping and barcode scanning business on our return.


The RD was in desperate need of a pee by the time we got there, a scenario for which I have enormous personal sympathy, and I felt mortified that she’d had to wait for me. Oh well. She was self deprecating about her plight, but it did catapult me back into the mindset of having spoiled the parkrun experience of others. Paranoia is devilishly hard to shift.

There was a bit more picture posing, trying to perfect the shot of the range of t-shirts on show, and also to get our lovely green team to pose appropriately with coquettish over the shoulder glances for maximum impact. Well we were entertained anyway. I never did get the perfect shot, but fortunately have been able to loot this one from elsewhere. Resource gathering skills come in handy at times.


All done, back lit, we made our way to the Hassop Station Café.



There is actually a special parkrun deal from a table area outside, with coffee and a variety of bapts/ breadcakes whatever including the double meat sausage and bacon options, veggie and vegan options – though I don’t know what the vegan option was to be fair.

A fellow with me nower and his family had already secured an outside table, so we queued inside (not five miles) and went for the more extensive menu. You just give your table number and order from the counter. The hot beverage situation confused me hugely, doesn’t take much. I asked about this and was told it would be brought out, but some said they’d been asked to collect if from the counter. In fact I think if you only have a drink you wait for it, but maybe if you are having food as well they bring it out. In the event this didn’t work particularly well for me as my flat white never came, although on reflection an unclaimed mug of tea brought out earlier might have been my order processed erroneously. When questioned they claimed it hadn’t been ordered, which was annoying as I’d paid for it, but hadn’t got a receipt, they were game for going through the whole till roll again to prove their point, and in the end my lovely tailwalking companion by passed the whole thing by just just buying me another one, which was kind of her and eminently sensible but somewhat grated in terms of customer service. Top tip, get a receipt. I know I’d paid, because I asked ‘and do I need to wait for my coffee now’ and they said ‘no, we’ll bring it out with your order’ so that’s not me not having ordered it is it? This aside, the food was amazing and the staff accomodating, in that we were able to customise our orders swappoing halloumi cheese for vegan cheese in toasties. These were pricey but came with a rather fine salad, some of which gathered on my top, but worth it. There was also amazing bakewell slices to be had, and an abundance of choice. Yum.



Some were feeling the cold, but nevertheless, this brave duo braving the warm Bakewell slice or possibly Bakewell pudding with ice cream topping because, well it had to be done. They were worried about it being too cold to enjoy properly, but hard to justify being in Bakewell and not having someone step up to the challenge. In the end they were in it together, but took the safety precaution of getting a hot chocolate to warm themselves up afterwards, the yin and yan of post parkrun cakery I suppose. They are experienced like that. It’s really inspiring when other parkrunners are willing to make these sacrifices on behalf of others, brings a tear to the eye. I can report dear reader, they totally nailed it!



We were quite an assembly, and there was loads of seating for post parkrun faffing and no pressure to move on beyond how much parking we’d paid for. More photo posing and parkrun story reminiscing ensued. Not too shabby a head count for what had been a pretty much entirely unplanned and arbitrary meet up! With Me Now pod listeners a-gathering.


Alas though, all good things come to an end, and eventually people needed to disperse. There were hugs exchanged, but not without some discussion of appropriate hugging etiquette, still unsure what we can and can’t do these days, ,and also, you feel like you know people but don’t entirely so what to do? And then I worry about inadvertently thwacking people with my walking poles which is definitely sub optimal. I dodged that social faux pas on this occasion, but not the food down my front awkwardness unfortunately. It was only afterwards that someone helpfully pointed out the splattered tomato bits collected on my decoupage décolletage. Whilst a breast shelf can sometimes be handy for gathering assorted snacks together for later, it’s generally not a good post parkrun look, though pretty common amongst us more rounded runners. Nevertheless, I was glad of the tip off before any non parkrun interactions. Not sure if it saved me from indignity whilst recording the bonus question for the next quarantine quiz? Oh well, I’ve survived indignities enough of late that it will hardly register. I can only hope there was no spinach caught between my teeth either. Well, there won’t be spinach as there wasn’t any in my order, but there could have been rocket.

Others waved off, we hard core trio gathered by the Monsal Trail sign to record an impromptu bonus question for the awesomeness that is the Quarantine Quiz. I know, exciting! But you are just going to have to wait for the next quarantine quiz to showcase our collective genius to judge for yourselves! This is roughly where we positioned ourselves though, in case that teaser helps soften that blow. I know, delayed gratification is very annoying, but you’ve got this! 🙂 It’ll probably be for Quiz 85, in case you are interested, not sure when that will be, but do join the next one if you can. More the merrier. Oh you don’t know what that is? Erm, it’s an interactive, virtual quiz hosted by a German parkrun team –

RDs from Neckarufer parkrun, it is bilingual, featuring parkrunners asking the question and impressive fancy dress, some created by a 3d printer in the possession of an individual with a crazed imagination. It grew out of lockdown, and continues still, bringing an international parkrun community together. Oh, and the questions are sufficiently random there’s no shame in not knowing the answers, and in fact, being the tail walker (lowest scorer) is a particularly highly prized badge of honour too, and so it should be. Tail Walkers are the best! The literal translation of the German is ‘Final Accompaniement’ which I think is splendid.

Thank you Schlussbegleitung! You are The Best! In any language.



And that was that. Time to depart. Others were heading off to Chatsworth which has THE MOST AMAZING EXHIBITION on at the moment, based around the burning man festival. I’d love to have gone, but too much walking for one day alas. I’ve enjoyed seeing the photos on line though. It’s worth checking them out. ‘Radical Horizons: The Art of Burning Man‘ That horse can gallop and fly! I know, impressive.



As we departed, a parkrunner passed us his face etched with a look of absolute ecstasy. Rubbing his tummy he just uttered the words ‘sausage and bacon sandwich’ as he gazed skyward in bliss and rapture. Apparently it had been beyond exquisite. It had to be acknowledged, that even as two vegetarians and one vegan you could not acknowledge that exuded joy. A fine café indeed. Oh, apart from my coffee that never came – mouth watering vegan options also available.

So to conclude, the fine bits of today were very fine indeed at this parkrun, but there were a couple of wobbles for me personally. I need a walking at parkrun win where I can just ‘be’ without feeling slow shamed or a burden. Yep, it might be on me how I interpret things sometimes, but it’s also a reaction to cumulative interactions that leave people potentially sensitised to throw away remarks that reveal a deeper truth. One comment might not hit home, several at the same event can shade otherwise positive parkrun experiences. Fingers crossed for parkwalk in October. Hopefully as well as bringing more walkers to parkrun, it might raise awareness amongst teams about what creates a welcoming environment and what does not, unintentionally or otherwise. Just as I’ve learned so much from the deaf and hard of hearing takeover in Sheffield. Needs aren’t always obvious, but when known, sometimes they are really easy to accommodate where there is the will to do so. Still love parkrun, still grateful to my parkrun friends and although, yes, sometimes it’s complicated, it’s still worth it for me.

Are you still here? Aw, thanks for sticking with me 🙂 I know it’s a long haul at times but it is appreciated. Shared experiences can be bonding after all. Oh, and another thing, here is the link to the Monsal Trail parkrun event 152 run report in case of interest. And results for the record too.

For now, that’s all folks, time to pack it all away until next parkrun day.


The End.


But before I go, can we just have one more random adorable parkrun thing please? It is a lovely one I promise…

Yes we can. Check out this BEST EVER parkrun report. Hand written and fully illustrated. Love it! Thank you Great Yarmouth North Beach parkrun for sharing.



I know. Cuteness overload, sigh #loveparkrun

Also – POST FAIL – how did I not spot the opportunity for Bakewell Tart punnage. The shame will never leave me!

*Erst While Flat Mate. Yes, I know it ought to be erstwhile flatmate, but I have my reasons.

You can read all my parkrun related posts here.  Or not.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.  Your choice

Categories: 5km, parkrun, walking at parkrun | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

parkrun Nivarna at Normanby Hall?

I’m fearful that what I am about to post may be deemed by some to be only just short of sacrilege in parkrun terms, but I can not tell a lie, Normanby Hall parkrun is truly special. (That’s not the controversial bit). I think it may, for me at least, knock Fountains Abbey off it’s plinth of ‘most spectacular of the region’s parkruns’. (That’s the controversial bit). I mean Fountains Abbey parkrun is not known as Fabbey parkrun for nothing, it’s an astonishing venue, but Normanby Hall parkrun is definitely a new favourite for me. It’s got all the things, and no pressure to finish and depart before the grounds open which knocks the shine off Fabbey parkrun if you are parkrunner who needs an hour to get around.

I’m not even entirely sure how Normanby Hall parkrun came to be on my radar in the first place, though now it is I’m mortified it was missing from my parkrun ‘to do’ map up until yesterday. It just fitted the bill for an accessible sounding parkrun within reasonable reach of Sheffield. I honestly didn’t know much about it before. I know, I know, I’m truly embarrassed by this, but hopefully by being properly open about this history, others can learn from my mistakes and not leave it so long to rock up and discover this gem of a parkrun for themselves.

The day didn’t start particularly well. I think it’s taken my body a while to recover from last week, and I was in a lot of pain first thing. I long for a day when I wake up pain free, but am coming to the depressing conclusion that that’ll be the day I wake up dead, which is annoying because if you are dead you don’t feel the benefit. I am not debilitated by pain the way I was a few months ago, I can do stuff, but everything hurts. I was hoping to have a stick free parkrun today, going to a new venue where no-one would know me and so no pressure, but was wondering if that was such a good idea. Hmm. It’s hard to know with this new reality how much my fears of falling are founded and how much they are an understandable, but disproportionate anxiety. Hmmm. I decided to take red ted and my stick with me and review when I got there.

In the car, and on our way. Wait, what was this stuff coming out of the sky? Rain? I’d forgotten about rain, it’s been so long since we’ve had any. Oh well, I’d be getting wet, I’d failed to chuck a waterproof in the car though I did have my fleece with me. It is officially meteorological autumn now apparently, and it did seem darker suddenly and even a bit of a nip in the air as I set off. parkrun tourism gets a lot less viable once the bad weather sets in. ‘Winter is coming‘ isn’t only an ominous phrase in Game of Thrones terms, it fills the most dedicated of parkrun tourists with fear and horror at the prospect of cancelled parkruns and missed starts due to ice and snow and dark and stormy nights!

Not here yet though, and in fact, by the time I got to the parkrun location it had not only stopped raining, but it was properly humid and sticky and not even autumnal let alone wintry.

It was an easy drive, me and my sat nav seem to have worked through our forming, storming and norming stages and are borderline performing. We got there without any passive aggressive demands on her part to do a u-turn but without meeting any diversions either.

The directions to the parkrun on the official Normanby Hall parkrun website blah de blah say:

Getting there by road
From Scunthorpe: Follow the B1430 to the north, signposted Burton upon Stather. When you reach Normanby go straight ahead at the mini roundabout and follow the road round to the right, the park main entrance is on your right.
From the Humber Bridge: Follow the A1077 towards Winterton/Scunthorpe. Just before Winterton, turn right towards Thealby/Burton Stather. In Thealby turn left towards Normanby. The park Gate is on your left after about a mile or follow the signs to Normanby Hall Country Park
From the M181: Follow the A1077 towards Winterton. Turn left at the third roundabout onto the B1430 signposted Burton Stather. When you reach Normanby go straight ahead at the mini roundabout and follow the road round to the right, the park main entrance is on your right.

There is plenty of free parking within the Park. For free parking use the overspill car park (signposted) and display a parkrun barcode in the windscreen of the car. PLEASE DO NOT USE ANY ADJOINING ROADS, INCLUDING NORMANBY VILLAGE FOR PARKING

but to be honest, I just used the postcode for Normanby Hall which is DN15 9HU, and then followed the brown attraction signs as I got near. It was very easy to find. On arrival, there is a huge car park, and a big sign directing you to the overflow carpark where parkrunners can have 2 hours free parking if they display a barcode. Why you’d need to park on adjoining roads or Normanby Village I don’t know, there is an abundance of well organised parking right at the parkrun. Having said that though, I initially followed the signs and went right down to the end of the unsurfaced road and ended up at what looked like a campsite, so had to turn around and come back. By this point there were three car park marshals in situ and it seems you actually just go into the big field to the right of the sign, not down the long road. It’s obvious really, it’s just I was very early and attempted to park before a marshal was in place.

Once I was parked up, it was but a short walk across the carpark to the sunflower surrounded toilet block, via a quick detour to check out the Go Ape wooden sculpture. They don’t have actual apes, which is good, because primates in captivity is an abomination, but they do have one of those air rope; zip wire; scary treetop courses. The sign about the go ape course was super scary, apparently three people have fallen off Go Ape courses because of not abiding properly to the safety protocols of securing their harnesses at all time. Well, that’s telling you. Luckily I was there for the parkrun where there is no requirement for safety harnesses. Whilst a face plant is always a possibility, it won’t be from the height of the Hyperion redwood.

Lots of loos, though behind cages, separating the men’s and women’s which was somewhat weird. It was like each toilet block had it’s own distinct exercise yard, I have no idea why. I can report they were very clean, and came complete with not only toilet paper but hot water and liquid soap too. This parkrun venue has nailed the parkrun precautionary pee protocols, always a positive first impression at a new parkrun when it delivers on this front. You can dear reader, travel to this venue with confidence in the personal ablutions and toileting aspects of your adventure. These details matter, well they do to me anyway. And let’s face it, hot water anywhere is going to become a rarity in months to come. We must celebrate both the presence of water and the miracle of it having been heated up for our indulgence whenever and wherever we can. Anyway, bottom line is, that it was sat nav accuracy? Tick. Car parking? Tick. And toilets? Tick. All good. Satisfied at this provision you can free your mind to focus on the other winning aspects of the parkrun.

I still was ambivalent about whether to try the route unaided. I mean if I could joggle and jiggle a bit last week then maybe this week I should ditch my metaphorical training wheels in the form of my stick and parkrun naked – figuratively speaking obvs. Don’t be childish. It’s what’s going on inside your head that made that sound risqué not mine. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Racked with indecision, I wobbled and wound my way back to my car, a friendly marshal asked if I needed any help, I must have been unconsciously sporting my perpetually bewildered look. Still, it was fortuitous, as I took the opportunity to ask about the surface of the route. It was a reassuring account. Sounded not only highly accessible, but, get this, bouncy tarmac in parts! You know that thick rubberised stuff, that is used on surfaces for playgrounds and things. That is very forgiving, only peatland themselves are bouncier, this was going to be fun. I’d ditch the sticks, throw caution to the wind, and make every parkrun count by just seeing how it unfolded, hurrah!

I made my way through to the courtyard, where as I entered I saw the high vis heroes assembling. This parkrun is so well organised and set out. This is where the post parkrun café is with loads of outside seating. As the volunteers gathered, there was a big white board inviting people to sign up to volunteer on subsequent weeks.

There’s an obvious path out of the courtyard, and an impressive array of information boards, including a map of the route. Oh good, I’d not really looked that up before hand. Though I will now, the official Normanby not Normandy Hall parkrun page course description blah de blah says:

Course Description
The route takes you on mainly surfaced paths with two very short lengths of trail path. Some sections of the course may accumulate mud, leaves and puddles after rain, or ice in winter. Dependent on availability, marshals will be at key sections of the course

I think it is fair to describe that as ‘minimalist’. Perhaps the picture will help. The course apparently looks like this:

Is that photo the right way up? To be honest, the picture doesn’t really help much does it. I mean, I suppose that is the map of the route, not just a bit of wet spaghetti randomly dropped onto the map from a great height

Oh well, maybe the map on site will help. Oh good yes, it has different colour codes and marshal points and all sorts, bound to help!

Erm, nope, not really. This is why parkruns have marshals. I decided not to worry my pretty little head with navigational details. One boon of being a walker is that for the most part I’m in touching distance of, if not actually alongside the tail walkers, and there ought to be people within my line of sight at least for the most part, though that isn’t a given these days of course.

You exit the courtyard, where there is the reassuring and exciting sight of the parkrun flag, erected in readiness along with a ‘caution runners’ sign, so you know you are in the right place. Off to the left a bit, down a path and then oh my! Just look at that house. A huge grand building with a Narnia/ Mary Poppins style line of Victorian lamp posts alongside, which cultural reference in meaningful to you depends on your frame of reference. Based on subsequent experience of the park though, I’d say this is a magical Narnia land more than an American imagining of Victorian London, but each to their own. Even more excitingly, people were a-gathering. More specifically parkrun people. You could tell on account of their apricot tops, milestone shirts, running club tees and generally cheery dispositions and extremeley photogenic appearances. The marshals as always being the most photogenic of all, of course.

I didn’t know anything at all about Normanby not Normandy Hall, so I’ve subsequently googled it. Google thought I was looking up Norman Wisdom at first, so that was confusing, but we got there in the end. Apparently ‘Normanby Hall is a stunning Regency mansion, set in an idyllic 300 acre estate in the heart of North Lincolnshire, offering the perfect backdrop to your day out’, all well and good, but not a lot to go on. It is now a venue for all the things from weddings to the Antiques Roadshow. And they also have a marathon especially for hedgehogs coming up soon. I’m a bit dubious about whether that’s a good thing to be fair, don’t they need all their resources to be building up to get them through winter? Still, anything that raises awareness around hedgehogs has to be a good thing. Oh, and actually it’s only a half, so probably ok…

Oh hang on, I’ve found more stuff…

The House and Family
Built in 1825, Normanby Hall Country Park is a Regency mansion designed by Robert Smirke, and is owned by the Sheffield Family, former Dukes of Buckingham, and the original owners of Buckingham Palace.

During the 19th and 20th centuries the Sheffield family resided at Normanby for five months of the year, spending the winter season here pheasant shooting, and entertaining guests over Christmas and the New Year. In the spring, the family would move to London with some of their servants for the ‘coming out season’ and then return to Normanby for a week in June/July en route to their shooting lodge in Scotland where the family would spend the summer.

In 1964 the Sheffield family leased the house and grounds to what was then Scunthorpe Borough Council on a 99 year lease. Since then, the rooms that are open to the public have been furnished in the late Regency style using inventories of the house from 1829 to 1840 as a guide.

Well, that is positively enlightening! Even allowing for the fact that Robert Smirke sounds like a made up person, but then again so does Lord PANIC who we keep hearing from of late. Yes I know it’s actually Pannick, but that spelling is not nearly as entertaining. Why let the truth get in the way of a good story after all. Anyway, it’s sort of an audio joke isn’t it? Don’t need to ruin it by writing it down.

I had no idea that it was once owned by the Sheffield Family, but then again, I didn’t know the hall existed at all 24 hours ago. Blooming second homers though eh, only living there for part of the year. Still, if they hadn’t indulged themselves with landscape gardening a country park then we wouldn’t have a parkrun here so, I’ll let that go. A 99 year lease doesn’t seem very long though, more than half way through. Anyway, enough of this parkrun related edutainment, back to the parkrun in question. Quick, let’s look at some photos to get back in the mood. Where was I? Oh yes, gathering parkrunners. And lovely things, like a photo frame for picture posing, a ‘secret’ walled garden, so many intriguing places inviting you to go off and explore… Then again, exploring parkrun paraphernalia is super fun too! They had a trolley for putting all their things on, dinky token buckets that would double for building sandcastles if you fancied a sojourn to a sandy beach later; and a finish token board, lovingly crafted to keep tokens from escaping into the wild or shuffling out of sequence. The finish funnel was all set up, and volunteers were meeting and greeting one another.

I was starting to feel properly excited. Then the RD took possession of a mike, and it felt like it was the compere at a festival starting the warm up. A big up welcome, and a call out to first timers to gather for the first timers welcome. Which we duly did. It felt like a reasonably big parkrun but there were only 14 first timers of whom an impressive 6 were first time everers. isn’t that exciting, first ever parkrun and they came here. Wowsers, they chose well. I’m not sure if the first time everers actually made the first timers’ welcome, but according to today’s results they all got times so presumably they worked out what to do or came with friends who facilitated their parkrun debut. There were a fair few I noticed in Couch to 5k graduate 2022 t-shirts, but I honestly couldn’t tell if they were recent or long time graduates of that app.

We had a high vis faun as our very own Mr Tumnus to greet us to the parkrun. Would now be a good time to admit I’ve never actually read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, always found those sort of books really heavy going with the unrelatable children and heavy handed religious imagery, but then again, I’ve also not seen Game of Thrones and still feel confident enough to recycle the ‘winter is coming’ meme, so that’s me, living life on the knife edge, taking risks, putting myself out there. Sorry, if as a result the whole thing is nonsensical, but look at him, standing all welcoming under the lamp, it does have a wonderland feel to it I’m sure you’ll agree 🙂 And I’m Lucy after all, so it properly works, who knows what lies beneath those trousers, might be a faun. He did reference deer in the park after all as part of his welcome, maybe that was a clue, carefully planted for those intuitive enough to spot it?

Amongst the wide eyed, bushy tailed and attentive first timers, was an a contingent from Beverley Westwood parkrun, which, as well as having actual cow marshals, is erm ‘undulating’ one of their number boldly declared he was aiming not only to be first finisher but potentially break the course record. Kudos to him, this is a great surface for a fast time, and flat too. however, I do think it is an ambitious aim to try for first finisher if you’ve not done the route before. Our very own Mr Tumnus welcoming marshal gamely tried to explain the route, but honestly. Something about out and back, and round and round and tractor turns and woodland, and watch out for the der, and I just started to hear white noise and made the grateful decision just to follow the person in front. Having now completed the course I can confirm it is genuinely confusing. Sort of like being blind folded and spun round and then pushed out to find others in a game of blind man’s buff only without the blindfold and with more rainbow chimes in the woods.

Briefing done, the RD did some trawling for milestones. There was at least one person with a 50th celebration, the RD being at pains to point out it was their fiftieth parkrun not their fiftieth birthday, the parkrunner in question being actually 21. Fair enough. They had balloons though, so that’s good. Shout out for tourists..

… and then – and this made me SO HAPPY – we were invited to shimmy down to the start. Yes, dear reader, you heard that right. This was a parkrun where you get to shimmy, and are even encouraged to do so, and what’s more dear reader – yest there is more – some people were to be seen executing outstanding shimmying as they made there way to the start. Told you this parkrun gives others a run for their money, there is not enough shimmying as a default when gathering at parkrun starts.

And so shimmying concluded, parkrun started and awf, a pouring forth of parkrunners excitedly galloping off into the woods. Hurrah!

First loop was indeed into the woods, the path was good, and I could see the bright colourful train of parkrunners streaming ahead. It was an impressive sight. The first loop is relatively short, and as I was heading out and just reaching one of the early marshal points, I was in time to see the faster parkrunners coming back to rejoin our path after doing the first little loop round. I already loved this parkrun, I love that the marshals were super friendly and helpful, I love the venue and I love that you get to see the faster runners and indeed other parkrunners in general as the out and backs within the separate loops (it’s complicated to explain, you have to be there) lends a certain sociability. It was my first and probably only time here, but even so by the time I’d finished the course there were marshals and participants I must have passed and exchanged greetings with half a dozen times, I’m sure regulars must find it easy to get to know one another if they choose to do so – and why wouldn’t you, they all seem lovely!

You head round the loop, going towards some seriously impressive ornamental wrought iron gates. There a seated marshal was in situ to shoo you round the loop, and then you re-emerge at the marshal we’d passed earlier. Spoiler alert – you get to see these marshals again later, more than once, but I didn’t know this at this point. There are also little carvings scattered about, a squirrel that was ENORMOUS and a fox that was not, all very maaaaaaaaaaaagical though, plenty to gawp at and enjoy, those faster runners are missing out as all these lovely forest secrets pass them by in a blur of speed.

back the way we came, and oh look! The finish funnel! You get to run back and forth past this several times too. Again, I like this. Oh, and the surface in the early wooded bit was indeed bouncy tarmac, really inviting. Not had such a buzz since I ran along one of those weird walking travelators – flat ‘escalators’ (which is the opposite of Sheffield Flat, as these assist speedy horizontal rather than vertical progress.) at a deserted airport once. Honestly, I felt super human. Even though I can do barely a joggle and that a jiggly one, I did have a wee scamper on the bouncy bit and can report it feels lovely. Oh that all running routes were as forgiving.

and past the funnel we go and more distracting things to see. Check out this amazing fenced off tree for starters:

I concede my photo doesn’t really do it, but honestly it was ancient, and glorious, with stories to tell I’m sure.

Then another marshal ahead, once again, faster parkrunners were to be seen peeling off in a different direction, but I ploughed on ahead, snapping photos now and again as it was a great sight. Lots of lovely parkrunners doing their thing. I’ve done over 260 parkruns now, and I still find it makes me feel emotional at times when you find yourself at a new parkrun community, where elite runners and just getting rounders can participate in the same event and meet and greet and encourage one another, and in this instance the tail walkers have actual tails too. It’s quite something, I never tire of it.

Plodding onwards, another marshal and more speedy parkrunners. Past some of the Go Ape adventure playground in the sky, and again on a contra flow. The parkrun tourist was in the lead on target for first finisher although whether he’d get the course record was impossible to predict. I got one flying feet pic, so feel vindicated for my point and push efforts en route. Small victory but one to celebrate all the same.

I don’t really know if this was the mid point of the second loop as such, but anyway as I reached the end, the parkrunners ahead of me were looping the loop round a sort of grassy traffic island ahead. I mean it’s not quite the curly wurly of Somerdale Pavilion, but has it’s charm. Whilst the speedy parkrunner were heading back down for the final out past the finish funnel and round back again I got waved down the little side path to the right and into the woods proper. Wooo!

Oh my, the woods. This was my favourite bit! By now I was on my own, I couldn’t see the parkrunners ahead of me, partly because the path was a bit windy at this point, and partly because I’d slowed to a slow walk. Sore poorly legs and feet. I was managing without the stick, but learning how much it does help take some of the weight and that does make walking less painful. The tail walkers were quite far behind, I think they were having a social walk and talk and why not.

The woods were brilliant. It felt like going on a micro adventure of exploration and discovery. You can totally see why children in fairy tales end up leaving the path and getting lost in big woods. I kept being seduced off the path as I espied hidden treasures and curiosities amongst the undergrowth. A little detour wouldn’t hurt surely, I wasn’t going for a time, and as long as the tail walkers weren’t too close behind it wouldn’t delay the finish. I gazed up into cathedral high canapés canopies. Negotiating the parkrun without my sticks meant they didn’t get in the way of checking things out, and the distractions took my mind off my leg which was exploding with pain by this point. But pain is only pain, I didn’t feel like I was going to fall over and lose balance which had been my big fear, so that’s a breakthrough too. I just loved the woodland bit, you could lose yourself in there, having adventures, forest bathing writing your own stories. Perfect. Narnia indeed, but without the clumsy affectations of the book. And with less snow. Though I imagine the route would be gorgeous in deep snow if you could manage to get here for it. Apparently in season you get a confetti of blossom from the cherry trees as you pass on the way to the finish. What a wonderland!

There were huge, specimen trees towering overhead; a secret house; some rainbow chimes; bees in trees; nest boxes; Go Apery so much to see! I think it was here I noticed some parkrun footpath signs, so I guess this is one you could do as a freedom parkrun or (not)parkrun fairly easily. There were little bridges over streams, some rather dried up pools, I hope any amphibians have completed their transition into froglets by now. it was just lovely.

and then I emerged, confused, to where I think I’d been before, but frankly no idea any more. This was a truly perplexing route, I got completely disorientated, not in a bad way, you just put your faith in the marshals and surrender to the experience, but I did feel turned around. I guess if I went back and did it again it would make sense, but I was happy to just enjoy it.

Back out and oh look, a tractor train thing, all ready for the visitors arriving shortly. Like I said, lots to see.

And here was the 21 year old parkrunner on her fiftieth parkrun, all coming back down again as I headed back up to the finish/ start and once again carried on by

Belatedly the course was now beginning to make sense. I put a bit of a wiggle on up past the finish, though I did pause to try to get some shots of parkrunners who’d already finished mingling after their runs. I was acutely aware by the time I made it back again they’d probably all have scattered. In fact, a fair few were there, not just the mass of the volunteer team, but partners and friends of those still en route. Some came back out to join those on the course, and others were doing a cool down lap. I more of a sit down after parkrun type of participant, but each to their own.

I thanked the marshals still in situ, who were starting to feel like old friends. So positive. The RD made a point of encouraging people to thank the marshals as they passed in addition to the usual round of applause gesture at the start. The round of applause is good, but if you are a marshal out on course you don’t feel the benefit do you? Having a load of parkrunners greet you as they pass is way more fun. Today there had been some rejigging of the roster for some reason. Whether that was due to last minute no shows or just not enough volunteers I’m not sure, but either way, the team had rallied round to get the parkrun show on the road – or more accurately country park tracks – and see them home safely. I don’t know how they know everyone is back now I come to think of it, as I wasn’t aware of them counting us all out and counting us all back, but maybe not all the other parkrunners choose to go off piste in the enchanted wood. Even if they did though, I bet they do a sweep, and those tail walkers, probably sniffer dogs now I come to think of it. They looked like a pretty elite canine operation team now I come to think of it. Albeit quietly understated because of being undercover perhaps, but definitely would have found you and saved you from yourself if you found yourself passing through a mist into a parallel world of magic and mystery.

Here is the elite sniffer team for reference:

You have to admit, I may be onto something here.

And here are photos of the other sights as I made my way past the finish and beyond. You do go past the start/finish a great many times on this course, from a variety of angles. It’s like an invisible force keeps pulling you back. So I went past and back up to the turning point, only this time you get to run round the mini roundabout (which is actually angular rather than round, but you still have the smiley marshal with the music sound track – did I mention she had music about her person before? Well she did.) then back down again, past the start/finish again and past the tractor people, who let me take their photo and admire their train, and then turn around and back again. I’m very aware I’m making this sound like some sort of horrendous army running bleep test, but it was all very consensual and lovely and picturesque and supportive and not horrid and mandatory at all. Just in case you were starting to worry.

For the final stretch there was a parkrunner with a 6 week old baby, yep, you heard that right, good to start them young. Actually, in all seriousness, assuming parkrun survives, then I wonder what number of parkruns some of this next generation might yet hit. I didn’t even start parkrunning til I was nearly fifty, she’ll have a half a century of extra time to rack up parkruns. Maybe a 2000 miletone tee wont be all that extraordinary at all. Only about 40 years worth. Very doable. I wonder what colour they’ll go for. Maybe gold sequins – only biodegradable not plastic ones. Of the style that shows new pictures as you run your hand over it. It could be a colourful rainbow as the outer design, but as you stroke your hand across to reverse the sequins, you get an image of Paul and Jo S-H emerging beneath, captured on the occassion of their 500th parkrun. That would be great actually. If only I knew some parkrun ambassadors so I could put a word in. Surely a shoo in. That and an apricot travel mug, no idea why that’s not a thing yet. Is it really only me who is bothered by such an omission?*

We’d sort of being leap frogging one another as I paused to take photos and then jiggled ahead again. I decided that I’d do the previously unimaginable and go for a sprint finish. Everything is relative you have to understand. You might not have noticed any sprinting as such, but power walking feels like flying for me after months of not being able to mobilise at all. Finally, I got to go through the actual finish funnel instead of just endlessly trotting past it. Hurrah. I raised my arms in triumph, and got a lovely welcome from the team who were very much still present. I mean, it is an occupational hazard of volunteering in the finish funnel or time keeping that you have to stay to the bitter end, but the team did so with energy and enthusiasm and even joy. It was grand. I was able to turn around and snap the final finisher, before going to get my finish token and scan and all that business. No queues, another boon of being behind the rest of the pack. Personalised service. I could have the pick of the scanners, which was a tough call, as each was as magnificent as the next! It was like trying to choose a favourite froglet in my wildlife garden, an impossible task. And anyway, why would you want to, each was/is unique and magnificent in their own way.