I’ve attended the RSCDS AGM for a few years now: the first year I was there, I was missing Perth’s inaugural parkrun by one week. I found time to run it on my second visit (despite threatening floods from the River Tay), and managed a PB the following year, with the help of a pacer.
But since acquiring my “cow cowl” (an unofficial emblem of those serial tourists who’ve done at least 20 different events) I’ve been aware of the need to take any opportunity to run at new locations. Yes, yes I was the first female to run all of Norn Irn’s parkruns, but that’s a fairly limited field. Even by adding in the odd parkrun south of the border, I was going to have to make more of an effort if I want to attain my “half cowell” (50 different parkruns. The Cowell Club is an unofficial parkrun club for tourists who have run at 100 or more different events. Named after Chris and Linda Cowell, the first male and female parkrunners to do it.) This would be my 33rd, worldwide.
Handily enough, I was staying at the Station Hotel, so popping on a train to the next nearest event was made simple. And the nearest one was Camperdown, in Dundee. So that’s where I planned to go.
Did I say simple? Having checked the train times and arrived in good time for my 8.15 journey, I was a little concerned to find a bus parked outside the station, which did indeed turn out to be the substitute method of travel that morning. Nervously, I asked the ticket clerk what time it arrived in Dundee – he didn’t know, but reckoned he could drive it in 20 minutes. So I was reasonably confident of making it in time, as we set off on a crisp clear blue-sky day, passing trees resplendent in their autumn colours, and with splendid views of the famous Tay bridges as we approached Dundee.
There were taxis waiting at the station, and I chatted to the driver about the purpose of my visit on the journey to Camperdown Country Park, which is a few miles out of the city centre. He opined that collecting new parkruns was a bit like bagging Munros, the mountains over a certain height in Scotland, an interesting comparison! The taxi was £8. I caught a bus back to the centre afterwards – there is a bus stop near the entrance to the park, and a single costs £2, which includes a scenic tour of the local housing estates and Asda.
We had a bit of a guess as to where to drop me off, and I began the anxious scout for high viz vests, milestone T-shirts and “caution runners” signs, and it wan’t too long before the familiar type crowd made their appearance. There’s plenty of parking, and it’s free.
At the pre-run brief the RD described the course as “undulating”, explaining that this means there are two ruddy great hills.
The course is one lap, skirting the edges of the park, in a sort of bow-tie shape. It takes in many of the parkun bingo features, including a stately pile, duckpond, and rickety bridge.
The weather was what is described in these parts as “braw”. I was glad of my new leggings – cow print to match the cowl. But I only had my 100 shirt, short sleeved, and therefore arm-freezy.
Thankfully the start and finish are at the same points, so I was able to keep my windproof Craghoppers jacket on as long as possible, before stashing it under a picnic table.
There were 152 runners the morning I was there. They had some pacers, including a few at more than 30 minutes, and they had “expected time” plates at the start line. The Run Director gave a cheery brief to the first timers. There didn’t seem to be much hanging around afterwards, though I did find a few friendly souls in the cafe after I had done my photograph-grabbing lap, which was also where the results were being processed, most efficiently.
Not too much near the start, but there are toilets beside Camperdown House, and also at the cafe. Which does a great bacon buttie!
Strangely Appropriate Song On Shuffle:
Beyonce crooning “Who runs the world – girls”
I found the course extremely tough, plus I hadn’t been sleeping well the previous few nights, so a slow 34 minutes it was. The parkrun UK Facebook page had the theme of “entrance boards” for their photo montage this week, so I found a few signs to selfie in front of.