NI parkruns: St Andrews

Yes, yes, I know St Andrews isn’t in Norn Irn, but I felt I could include it in my continuing series of parkrun tourism. I happened to be in the town for a week’s Scottish dancing, and I had to skip half a class to get there on time, but I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to try  out a course that awards itself the title of “best parkrun in the world”! 20140809_085509 Access: Various tourist leaflets I had read claimed that Craigtoun Country Park was either 2 or 4 miles out of town.  If it was 2, and I knew exactly where I was going, I’d have jogged.  But given the uncertainty I booked a taxi.  The parkrun page gave directions from the main entrance, so I got the driver to leave me at the big gates by the road (to be honest, the fare was over £6 at this stage, and I only had £5.50 with me.)  As it turned out, I still had a bit of a walk to get to the entrance to the country park proper, but the views along the way were stunning.

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Course:  The park is absolutely gorgeous – white castles reflected in a calm duck pond, Japanese gardens, clumps of bright sunflowers, stone follies.  The route is three large laps across a variety of terrains including gravel and grass, with a final leg to the finish sprint across a grassy patch. There’s a slight incline on the way up, and then a gentle slope down on the way back, and the path crosses a minaiture railway track.

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Crowd: The run director asked for anyone who was new to the course to come to one side, and he took us through its key features.  I got chatting to one of the regulars, and asked if anyone might be able to give me lift back to town.  He volunteered his services, and as we were chatting on the way to the car, we discovered that he was related to one of my Dad’s friends!

 

My kindly chauffeurs Blair, Jane, and neice Emma

My kindly chauffeurs Blair, Jane, and neice Emma

 

Gear:  I was travelling light, so I didnt have my jacket with me, and even though it was August, it was still rather chilly.  Fine once I started running, though.  I pressed START on MapMyRun too soon, so its time elapsed was about a minute too much, and I spent my run trying to bring down my average pace. As the finish line is in a different place to the start, any water bottles, keys etc can be palced in a fetching bag which is taken to the finish.  Apologies for the terrible photo…

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Oddly appropriate tack provided by shuffle: Since I was mitching class, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird made me grin, and it timed itself just right so that the fast section coincided with my final half lap.

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Time:  I was aiming for “around 30”, and came in at 30:53.  I did struggle with the final hill, and a few runners overtook me there, and I can always claim I was distracted by so many beautiful views.

 

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Atmosphere:  There was a good bit of friendly standing around chatting afterwards, a few waggy doggies to say hello to, and rice crispie buns!  See you guys again next year 🙂

List of all the parkruns I’ve completed.

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