Parkrun tourism, part 2: England

I can admit immediately that my initial plan to follow up on my Parkrun streak from Ireland with three Parkruns in England failed. There was no way I could get up and pack my tent at the break of dawn after a busy WIMA rally and farewell dinner followed by a rock concert by Thor, the gods of rock (that is what they call themselves, and I’m inclined to agree).

The first weekend in England we headed into Stoke-on-Trent and Hanley Park. Parking possibilities there were excellent and the park offered a challenging and rather complicated combination of loops before the beautiful home straight by the pavilion. But before we got started, the Parkrun organisers had to deal with a medical emergency and an ambulance was called in. Someone had collapsed and needed medical attention, which the team saw to with impressive professionalism. With a mere 20 minute delay, the rest of us were sent off running.

After the rather small Parkruns in Ireland, this one felt gigantic, probably about 250 runners. We did not stay for Parkrun coffee, instead we returned home to Christopher’s parents for a brunch consisting of rice and stirfried veggies that his mum prepared, yum yum.

The last Parkrun, in Ludmoor Park, Weymouth, was one I had looked forward to for a long time as my friend Sheonagh was going to join me. I’ve done this Parkrun a few times before when I was house-sitting and she was away riding motorbikes in Africa, but we had never done it together before. In the three years since I last ran, there the gathering had grown to a shade over 400 hundred runners and we all set off like a colourful snake through the park. I think this is the largest Parkrun I have attended.

Before.
After.
After.

For this outing I had swapped my motorbike for an e-bicycle. After the run, we returned home for coffee and toast with homemade marmalade in the garden. Then off to the beach. A grand finale for my Parkrun tourism!

Next time will be with my Sudbury Court mates in December when Christopher and I are going to London for a cultural weekend.

Parkrun tourism, part 1: Ireland

“Are you going to take part?” the man asked me rhetorically as I parked my motorbike near the Parkrun start and finish. He was happily surprised when I responded, “Yes! I’m just going to get changed”. Off with boots, trousers, jacket, gloves and helmet and on with my Vivo Barefoot shoes, running watch and cap. When all my motorbike gear was packed away and secured on my bike, I was ready to start. Ride and Run, yeah!

Parkrun tourism is a great way to interact with the local running communities while running in some new and interesting places. All our Saturdays were planned so that I could run a new Parkrun.

First out was Tullow Parkrun near the Wicklow Mountains. Their Parkrun is a two lap course in Rathwood Rath nature park near a garden centre where you could eat full Irish breakfast to the price of two for one afterwards. The run itself was an enjoyable, flat course in the forest and around a pond, overall on a rather soft, pleasant surface and the breakfast got full points.

Taking off at Tallow Park Run
Taking off, barcode in hand.
No, I have not started to eat bacon and black pudding all of a sudden, this is Christopher’s breakfast.

The following Saturday we were on the south coast camping at Eagle’s Point. We had just waited out a horrible storm and the weather for Saturday’s Parkrun at Glengarriff Nature Reserve was excellent. The course was a figure of 8 on a mixed surface, some excellent soft trail but also some rather harsh tarmac. It was a rather challenging course with one super long hill but I made a point of running all the way, albeit very slowly at points. This Parkrun had no feasible breakfast place so we continued over the mountain and the Caha Pass and on to Kenmare for a full Irish, but not before I’d had a splash in the river to freshen up. So, full points for the location, the route was very scenic and the river refreshing. This was my overall favourite among the three Parkruns I participated in.

My favourite stretch of this Parkrun.
I can’t think of a better place for a run.

The third and last Parkrun in Ireland, Clonmel, was the most sociable one. They might be disappointed to see that their Swedish Parkrun tourist from Spain actually is registered with Sudbury Court Running Club in London. Well, it is the running club in my heart and it is difficult to let go. The course was a temporary one, normally they run on the perimeter of the horseracing track, but the substitute was a delightful 2.5k along the River Suir and back again.

Sprint to the finish.