parkrun tourism: Kingston

parkrun #283 event #69
Reason for visit:  a rare chance to see both my little darlings being marvellous!

I was in London as J had been nominated in 2 categories for the National Dance awards, and I was also staying to see H’s latest West End venture. Originally the plan had been to do Bushy for H’s 50th, but when he couldn’t make it I switched to Kingston as the next closest.

Access:

I was staying in the Traveloge Teddington, a handy 4 minute walk from the railway station, and very close to Teddington High Street, along which many buses travel.

From there I was able to jog the mile or so down High Street, trying not to be distracted by the delightful little boutiques. Helpful indicators that I was near the river, across the footbridge, and another 500m down to the Hawker centre.

The 285 bus goes between Heathrow and Kinsgton, handy tourist knowledge.  Allow an hour to get to the airport though, what with traffic and roadworks.

Facilites:

There are clean loos in the Hawker centre, and presentation of your barcode gets 15% off in the cafe.

First timers briefing takes place here also.

Course:

The course is a sort of lollipop shape.  The start is around 200m further towards Kingston, runs on a tarmac path alongside the river, onto the towpath under the footbridge, along to Ham field.  This can get a bit mucky!

From there it’s back along the same route, finishing at the Hawker centre.  There’s one small section where runners are going in both directions, so keep left! And there’s a slight incline coming out of the field, otherwise it’s pretty flat.

There was a minor bit of panic early in the week as the council were carrying out work to the path, with a possible cancellation warning.  But they finished on the Friday, just in time.  I was still able to win “parkrun cancellation Top Trumps” with my Crissy Field story.

It can be a narrow path at times, but the crowd soon thins out.

Crowd:

There’s usually around 400 runners, some buggy runners bravely taking on the field.  I saw a  few dogs, though the sitepage says it’s a “no dogs” course, and quite a few adults accompanying thier under 11s.

It’s a popular one with toruists, I got chatting to a number of cow cowls and bobble hats, as well as some world tourists who were doing their 90th event!  Letter K is also a popular one for alphabeteers and name-spellers.  And look, a lesser spotted 500 shirt.

I got a shout out in the briefing as having come the furthest, and during the run got a “Well done Miss Northern Ireland!”, which was nice.

Gear:

I was wearing my purple Jog Lisburn top, with gloves and headband agaisnt the cold wind.  My purple skort is getting a bit tight, i really must lose weight. I’ve managed to find my missing zippy belt, and theres a ziped pocket in the back of the trousers where i kept my hotel key card, away from my phone.  No watch or music, so I was using counting to 100 and back down again as a distraction technique.  Hokkas were a good choice of footwear for this mixed terrain.

And the rest:

Well J was just amazing.  She looked stunning in her jacket by Adam Brady (not the Scottish dancer) and giant soled shoes.

A cross between Cruella de Ville and will.a.am.

The talent in the garden room at The Barbican was electrifying, and I really enjoyed meeting critic Donald Hutera, who I’ve followed on Twitter for some time.  And the awards ceremony was really well done, with short video clips of all the nominees shown in each category.

The next day I was able to meet up with my son, who’s working backstage on Magic Mike Live, an energetic and exciting show with lots of impressive dancing and cheeky audience interraction.

Thank you Magic Unicorn!

All my parkruns

222 or tutu too at Tymon

The distance between milestones can seem awffy long, so I often find different challenges or number of runs to celebrate.  Usually with a sutiable outfit.  And cake, of course.

My 222nd parkrun was due to take place on 22 September.  I liked that coherence already, and started to research which parkruns would be having their 2nd birthday, or 2nd, 22nd or 222nd runs.  And lo, my friends in Tymnon, Dublin were having their 222nd event on the same day. I got in touch, asked how they felt about a theme, and did they prefer 2 little ducks or Desmond Tutu.  They laughed and we agreed on a tutu theme, one which reflects my dancing proclivities.

So, what to wear.  I already had a comedy number 2 which I’d pinned to my 100 shirt on the occasion of my 200th run.  I still had the black ribbon and the white fabric paint so another couple of number 2s were easily produced.

I’ve borrowed tutus from friends in the past (see Waggy Races Fairy Dogmother outfit), but felt it was time to invest in my own.  A black one was procured from Elliotts for the princessly sum of £4.75. Watch out for it being reused at Hallowe’en.

I persuaded hubby to come with me and make it a day trip, so thanks to him for the transport and photos.  Sat nav assisted we arrived just before 9 am to find the set up underway.

Last time I’d been here, there was just a table by the car park wall, but now they have use of the GAA facilities including an indoor space, and there were sweets aplenty, as well as a special rocky road cake.

I got a shout out in the brief.  The course was somewhat changed form my last visit, a reminder to ALWAYS listen to the run brief.

The weather was cool and slightly damp, but compared to the gale force winds of recent weeks that made for very pleasant running conditions.  With Minnie’s assistance I easily managed a PB, dancing my way over the finish line before enjoying some pleasant chat over the post-run goodies.

I was very touched by the gift that they had made for me – a large pebble painted with the date of the run on one side, and an uncannily accurate portrait of me on the other.  What a really lovely idea!  I made it my FB profile pic, and tweeted “Free Weekly Timed”, the podcast, that this week’s three words were “personalised tutu stone”.

 

Thank you to all at Tymon who made this such a fun way to spend a Saturday morning,

https://twitter.com/tweertweet/status/1043625058294489088

and who even tweeted a short video

 

of me dancing across the finish line!

parkrun tourism: Ally Pally

ap1

Event number 42 (for all you Hitchhiker fans), parkrun number number 180 (said in darts commentator voice) and putting the A in DANCER.

Access:

There’s plenty of parking in and around Alexandra Palace.  I walked from a lovely Air BnB nearby, and the W3 bus goes through the grounds.  There’s a nearby railway station, and the closest tube station is Wood Green.

Facilities:

There are loos in the ice rink and in the Phoenix cafe.  We enjoyed coffee and sausage rolls afterwards in the Palm Court bit of the main bulding, but there’s some refreshements available at the ice rink also.

Course:

It’s 2 big laps with a start and finish section.  Start and finish are in the same place, so you can leave bags and belongings there.  The terrain is very varied, from tarmac, to gravel, to grass, and a steep muddy incline!  Not the easiest, but the views over London are just spectacular.

Crowd:

I was impressed at the number of young people here – a confident young man effectively delivered the first timers briefing, there were lots of teenage marshalls giving cheering support along the way, and I was in awe of young Georgia in her white 10 shirt, sharing motivational chat with her Mum all the way round, and managing a brilliant sprint finish. I got chatting afterwards to a 250 shirter called Liberty, who was really friendly, and there was a warm welcome from the RD and team. Numbers are usually in the 200s.

Gear:

I always travel in my second best trainers, and these were a good choice for the sometimes slippery surface.  My Garmin worked OK, but its clippy lead has disintegrated.  My headphones worked for half the yodelling song from Eurovision 2016, but then refused to behave at all. I wore my apricot Wallace top.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

No headphones so no shuffle.  But my earworm was a country song called “What Ifs”, and I distracted myself by trying to remember all the lyrics.

Time:

Tough course, no Minnie, no music, and I stopped to take photos en route.  So 36 something. Bleurgh, it can only improve. I did manage my signature skip-change step over the finish line.

Sticky letter:

IMG_2262

I’ve been trying to get someone appropriate to stick each letter of DANCER as I run them, and what better than an actual p’feshnil dancer to do the honours!  Jemima also took plenty of great action photos for me.

And the rest….:

I was in town to see Evita, which my son is working on, and what a rare pleasure to have both my children in the same room!

And I finished my Saturday with a bit of dancing at the RSCDS London Branch dance, where it was lovely to catch up with old friends, and make some new ones.

apdance

All my parkruns:

all the parkruns I’ve completed

 

 

 

parkrun tourism: Navan

Event number 41 for me, and elusive letter N to help me spell DANCER.

IMG_2242 - Copy

Access:

There are helpful sat nav co-ordinates on the course page, and the Facebook page is very responsive to messages, and gave me advice on travel from Da Nort.  Which is basically Slane, Navan, straight across the first roundabout,  right at the traffic lights, and Blackwater Park is about 400m on your left.

IMG_2232

Facilities:

There’s a good number of parking spaces, though I did notice a bit of overflow onto the drive as I was leaving.  A children’s playpark, but no loos.  Just as well I called into the Applegreen on the way!

IMG_2230

Course:

The finish is by the car park, but the start is a wee walk away.  It’s 3 and a bit laps of the park, pretty flat, and a good tarmac surface. Can get a bit congested for the first 400m, so if you’re speedy make sure you’re near the front.  There are nice views towards the town, and it’s a pleasant green park.

Crowd:

I was visiting on their event 99, and they were really looking forward to their 100th.  Average attendance is around 100, and I was the recipient of  lucky token number 50.  Run Director Ken and his team of volunteers were really friendly and welcoming, and even gave me a shout out in the run brief.

Gear:

After I’d paired my headphones, they told me that they needed charged, so I was running with no music.  My Garmin worked well, though I notice that the clip which attaches to the USB port is starting to come loose.  Again.  Hmmmm, if only it were my birthday or something soon……

IMG_2240 - Copy

Strangely Appropriate Song On Shuffle:

Well I had no music and so no shuffling, but running a 10k the next day I was reminded of my darling son when Owl City and Fireflies came on.

IMG_2235

Time:

I’m still carrying too many kgs and not running enough kms, so my target was to sub-30.  And we actually got a sub 29, thanks to my bestest running chum, Minnie, who was so good during the 90 minute journey each way.

All My parkruns:

parkruns: summary list

minnie at navan

parkrun tourism: Edinburgh

IMG_1975

I’d harboured a bit of a question mark over whether I’d be able to make this one.  All my nearby easily accesible events have now been done, so any additional ones require a bit of effort and sacrifice.  I knew I could squeeze Edinburgh into my week at  St Andrews summer school, but it would mean missing one class. I’d applied for some financial assistance to attend the course, and would have felt morally wrong in doing this  had that been forthcoming.  As it was, it was with a clear consience that I boarded the X60 bus which took a lovely leisurely journey along the Fife coastal route to the capital.

IMG_1976

 

Access:

Aside from the scenic bus route, the Edinburgh course is sited at Cramond promenade.  Car park spaces are few, thought there is plenty of additional space at the Silverknowes approach.  Many people chose to arrive by bike, and it’s also a short stroll from the no.41 bus route.

IMG_1982

Judging from the lowness of the planes passing overhead, it would be a short taxi ride from the airport, should you find a suitably early flight. Don’t forget, it’s a 9.30 start in Scotland!

IMG_1974

I was staying in a lovely Air BnB a short distance away, and my 10 minute stroll to the start line went along the Almond river, where I heard a woodpecker, and saw this little chap chewing some nuts and spitting the shells into the water below.

IMG_1959

Bobbing among the boats was a craft called “Sea Dancer”, and as this run was putting the E into my spelling out DANCER in parkruns, I smiled at the congruence.

IMG_1971

Course:

This is a dead flat route, out and back with a loop at one end, named in honour of a departed and much missed local runner.

IMG_1991 The views are just magnificent, and I was stopping to take photos as I went.   As a bridge afficianado, it was inspiring to see the tips of the now 3 Forth bridges to Fife, the latest Queesnferry crossing being a stunning creation.

IMG_1989

The course is fast, and as I hit the 2km marker, the top runners were passing me on their return leg. The male course record is 14.31, the female 16.35.

IMG_1986

IMG_1987

Facilities:

There are some clean toilets near the start line, and a choice of nearby cafes for coffee afterwards.

IMG_1967

Gear:

I was wearing my cow cowl, and met up with some fellow tourists, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.  IMG_1972

My earphones died just at the start, so I ran with my phone in my hand, ready to take pictures along the way.

This allowed me to hear all the great support from marshalls and others.

People:

It’s not Scotland’s oldest parkrun,  but it is by far its biggest attended.  There were nearly 600 running the day I was there, but their record is 731.  The numbers increase during Edinburgh Festival season…

IMG_1994

The first timers brief was one of the most energetic I’ve ever experienced – the guy delivering it and I worked out we’d met before when he’d been in a group of Scottish runners doing all the Norn Irn parkruns in a weekend, and I’d been at Wallace dishing out haribos.

He threw away anyone’s water bottles, named and shamed those with no barcode, and asked questions at the end of the brief!

IMG_1984

I was most impressed by the support outside the cafe, calling out cheery encouragement to many runners by name, and reminding us that we were “living the dream! Scotland’s Bondi beach!”

IMG_1977

There were a couple of 250 shirt wearers.

IMG_1995

And as I’m spelling my way through the word DANCER, I’m trying to get someone with the correct inital to affix the letter to my tracker.  I asked around at the first timers brief, and found a willing Emily (who only went on to be 2nd lady!)

IMG_1981

Strangely Approrpirate Song On Shuffle:

Music I had none, so I just had to listen to my breathing.  Which I reckoned was in jig time, (as opposed to jog time) and the tune going through my head was Brian the Laundry Boy, by Maureen Rutherford, which Adam Brady had played most beautifully during the demonstration team performance earlier in the week.  The tune starts at 2:57.

Dancing

Time:

33.31

Well, I had no Minnie, no music, kept stopping to take photos, and hadn’t run all week.  Yes, I’d been dancing morning, noon, nad night, but that’s different muscles and different breathing. And anyway, as I’m fond of saying, don’t knock yourself out on a first visit – leave yourself room to grab a PB on a return visit.  Of which I truly hope there will be, some day.

IMG_1978

 

All my parkruns

 

 

parkrun tourism: Elusive Letter I at Inverness

Not that I take this parkrun tourism malarkay seriously or anything, you understand, but there’s an alphabet to be completed and I’m on a mission to conquer it!

IMG_1719

 

There’s no X at time of writing, and the nearest Z is in Poland.  Someone on the UK parkrun tourists Facebook page shared a link to a tracker, monitoring progress towards various targets, which includes an alphabet table, minus the X and Z.  I modified the tracker slightly by adding an admittedly amateurish outline of Ireland, and a COWELL countdown which will take me to 50 different events.  Oh and I colour coded it (well of course I did….)

IMG_1776

So.  Inverness.  I managed to be doing this one by dint of having a meeting in Edinburgh on the Monday, and travelling to Bonnie Scotland a few days early.  I’d never been in Inverness before, and I like nothing more than a new city to explore at my own pace.  I found Inverness to be utterly charming – the River Ness is big and fast flowing, and the various bridges crossing it each have their own, often wobbly, personalities.

IMG_1714It’s a small enough town to get your bearings quite quickly, and is heaving with kilt, shortbread and whisky purveyors. I was staying in an Air BnB close to the parkrun site, but even that was only a 20 minute walk from the city centre, along a glorious riverside and island hopping path.

Access:

I flew into Inverness airport, and a fairly regular bus service takes you to the city entre for £4.20 in 20 minutes.  The parkrun used to be in Bught Park, but its alternative (and probably permanent new) home is a few minutes away in Whin Park.  Easily reachable by car, and the number 2 bus passes close by as well. If you’re a tourist, the Hop On Hop Off Bus stops nearby too!

Facilities:

There’s a reasonably sized car park, and some decent loos, intriguingly financed by the delightful sounding Common Good Fund.

IMG_1712Coffee and post-run analysis talkes place in Cobbs cafe in the botanical park a few minutes away.

IMG_1739This is a really sweet cafe, but they do ask that runners remove their muddy shoes before entering.

IMG_1734  They do bacon and egg rolls, scones and snandwiches, but I was overawed by the selection of traybakes, opting eventually for a pistachio and cranberry slice.

IMG_1738

Course:

The Whin Park course starts at the playpark, and uses the duck pond as a gravitational focal point.

One lap of it, and then onto 3 larger laps, passing the plastic hippos 3 times.

IMG_1726It’s by the river, so it’s a fairly flat course, but can get a bit mucky.

Most of the pathway is gravel or trail or grass (or puddle) , so trail shoes are a good idea. Start and finish are in the same area, so you can find a tree or picnic table or bit of helter-skelter to leave your coat and keys at.

IMG_1721

Crowd:

Average attendance is a nice manageable 150 – there can be a bit of overtaking round the duckpond, but there’s no big bottleneck problems. I found the regulars really welcoming and chatty, and was quickly laughing and comparing stories with a few of them.  Billy was lovely – a pretty speedy guy, he shared the profound thought that some runners find it hard to just run, and not compete.

IMG_1732 I’ve never had this problem, I must admit, but we both agreed that the success of parkrun was dependent on it being a run, not a race.

Strangely Appropriate Song On Shuffle:

The parkrun weather fairy was having a bit of a lie-in, I think, and it was decidedly dreich as we set off, although the rain did stop after a while.  But yeah, the Dave Mathews band intoning

“These fickle fuddled words confuse me
Like will it rain today”

brought a wry smile to my face.  And then a softer heart-tugging moment when “Calum’s Road” came on, geographically apt, and I’d also been dancing to it the night before thanks to Nicol McLaren’s Band at the Dingwall Rally in Culbokie.

Gear:

Oh, my Garmin really is starting to worry me! You think you’ve located satellites, and then when lined up at the start it loses contact! My 150 shirt and tartan leggings were commented on,and I was using my arm pouch instead of my waist belt for my phone.

IMG_1729

Time:

Nope, my times are not getting any better at all, and I sauntered in around 34 minutes.  This is close to my first ever parkrun time, which makes me wonder if I’m getting any better at running at all.  But I try not to focus on those negative views.  I’m running every week.  And meeting new people.

 

IMG_1730And setting myself targets that I can acheive, and get excited about.

IMG_1722

And The Rest:

I adored Inverness, and I hope to revisit again soon.  There were lots of lovely eating places to chose from, many with menus offering 2 courses for £9.95, or even 3 courses for a tenner!

The scenery was stunning, and I took a trip on LochNess and to Urquart Castle.  And I even managed an evening’s Scottish Country Dancing with some more hospitable and charming locals. We danced till midnight, and when we left the hall it was still light outside…

All My parkruns

 

 

 

 

parkrun Bushy Tails: With added Bushy!

Well now.  Every parkrunner knows the story of how it all began, all those years ago with 13 runners in Bushy Park, London.

Bushy Park London

Not many people know that there are other Bushy Parks.  Including one in Dublin.  Which only recently began a parkrun there!

IMG_1590 - Copy - Copy

So along with quarter/half/full-cowelling, alphabeteering, regionairing, and spelling out words like “parkruncornetto”, parkrun tourists now have new challenge: Double Bushy.  Appropriately in Doublin.

IMG_1609

Last year I’d attended the Dublin Scottish Dance Club’s 50th anniversary celebrations, and used the weekend to visit Marlay Park.

Marlay Dublin

This year, I wanted to try a different parkrun, and was thrilled to discover that Bushy Dublin was a short drive away from where I was staying.

IMG_1608

Access:

The park is in Rathfarnham, and in fact the recommended car parking is at Rathfarnham Shopping Centre, which is what I plugged into my sat-nav.  It got me there, roadworks notwithsatanding, and I parked as requested in the middle, rather than encoraching on the space where the car washing folks are plying their trade.

IMG_1588 - Copy

After crossing the road, and a wee bridge into the park, I turned right, and was a bit misled by a bootcamp group that were setting up by a shelter.

IMG_1601

But I had an inkling they were not parkun, and continued my usual “wander until you see recognisable signs” meander.  I must have looked particularly puzzled, as a cyclist stopped me and asked if I was looking for the parkrun start.  Yes! I answered enthusiastically, and he replied that so was he.  We set off in search together, allowing me to utter the phrase “Follow that bike!”

IMG_1605

If I’d turned left instead of right at the bridge, I’d have been there in 100m.  But hey, made it in time!

IMG_1596

Crowd:

There were a lot of people arriving by bike, and my new friend offered to let me use his to hold my bag of post run essentials (coat, car keys, water).  A fellow 100 shirt wearer came and chatted to me, he was doing his 170th run and was quite emotional about the journey it has taken him on.  Ther were a good smattering of younger runners too.  I’d had a bit of banter with them on Facebook beforehand, and they were really friendly and chatty afterwards, and even gave me a name check in the run report!

Lots of parkruns have Duke of Edinburgh award folk doing their bit as volunteers – here it was some great chaps from Terenure Mens Sheds – thanks lads!

Facilities:

IMG_1612

There isn’t anything in the park itself.  Parking as mentioned is in the nearby shopping centre, which is also where the loos are ( I couldn’t find many of these) and also post run coffee in Partners (where customers can use the loos.  Well, Partner’s (sic) customers can use them, it’s 2 yoyos for others).

Course:

IMG_1604

There’s about a km along the side of the Dodder river, which can be quite slippy and has a few water channels to watch out for.  Then it’s into the park itself with 2 laps around the pond, and a little extra leg.  There’s a small bit of this extra leg which has runners going in both directions, and the turnaround point is well indicated with cones. Back out onto the riverside walk, and you know you’re 1 km from the finish line. There’s no real inclines to worry about, and the paths are wide enough to accommodate the current 100ish crowd.  The park allows dogs to be off-lead until 10-00 am, so that’s a factor to be aware of.

IMG_1597

Gear:

My Garmin is starting to really play up, may need to start looking at replacements.  My 100 shirt was a talking point. No other cow cowls sighted. Although the paths are all tarmc, they were slippy, and trail shoes would be a good option. As the morning had dawned mizzly I hadn’t bothered with sunglasses.  So of course the sun came out!  But the mostly tree-lined course made sure this was not a problem.

IMG_1598

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

It’s Eurovision Day – I know, what am I doing away dancing and so missing the show! But I’ve been watching the semi-finals, suitably attired, and me and my running chums really enjoyed “Running On Air”.

IMG_1600

Time:

This is a pretty fast course, so run times are good.  Mine not so good, still suffering from some foot niggles, so I had to be content with a sub-32 result.  First in my age-cat, though!

And the rest:

IMG_1586

I was staying in a lovely wee Air Bnb place on Ballinteer Ave.  I enjoyed a super supper on the Friday night at the gastro-pub across the way – fish platter supreme with proper baby Guinness!

IMG_1587

I’d tried and failed to make these during my Euroviz party, to enjoy during Ireland’s performance.  But they wouldn’t stay separated.  Which may be a political prophecy.

IMG_1583 - Copy - Copy

After my parkrun I explored Dundrum Town Centre, which is not the same as the town centre of Dundrum. I had the most lovely pasta dish

IMG_1613in Dunne e Crescenzi overlooking the dancing fountains.

This place ( ie shopping centre) fancies itself somewhat, and is proud of having a branch of Harvey Nicks.  Shame they can’t spell confectionary, though.

IMG_1616

I took a trip to Airfield, a sort of open farm / formal gardens place, and was most impressed by the stunning colours of the flowers.

The evening was taken up with the Dublin dance – 20 well chosen dances, and a fabulous supper, a truly wonderful evening.  I arrived back at my lodgings just before midnight to enjoy…..

Celebrations:

Consensus has it that the suitable celebration for running a Double Bushy is to have a double Bush – a large measure of Bushmills whiskey, from the oldest distillery in the world, and near where I grew up on the North Coast.

IMG_1619  I couldn’t find any Bush, so being in Dublin I settled for local tipple, Jamesons.

Slainte!

All My parkruns