parkrun tourism: faelledparken, Denmark

Event #65, and parkrun #263, country#5

Reason for visit – supporting a mate doing the Copenhagen half-marathon.

After falling at Sixmilewater at the end of July, I knew I had 2 trips already planned, with flights and accommodation booked.  So as I was sat in A&E, I set myself what I thought was a realistic target of being able to WALK at both those parkruns.  It hadn’t been my intention to be the official tailwalker for both, but that’s how it turned out. In Danish “Gående bagtrop”

I was making this visit, to a new to me country and capital city, with my husband, to support a friend doing the half-marathon.  Same friend who’d done the Paris marathon earlier, when I did Bois du Boulogne

Would it be Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen?

Access:

For the second week in a row I headed to Sprucefield to get the great value bus to Dublin airport.  Ryanair fly to CPH, so we had the usual charges for extras, such as sitting together, and prayed that our hand lugagge would meet the size scrutiny.  We knew that Denmark is expensive, so we stocked up on booze before we boarded.  We got a taxi into Hotel Nora, in the Norrebro district, which was a pricey way to get the 6 miles into town.  But I always get frustrated at the end of a journey to a new city if I have to do the “Where’s the metro? How much is it? How do I buy a ticket? Do I have to change?  Oh no I’ve gone the wrong direction!  Is it this stop? Now where’s the hotel? Oh no I’ve gone the wrong way! ” opera.

I’d chosen Hotel Nora for its proximity to the start and end of the half marathon, which is also where faelledparken parkrun takes place.  It was a pleasant 20 minute walk from the hotel.

This way to parkrun!

We met up with fellow parkrunners en route, who had been here last year, so they kept us right.  There are public transport routes detailed on the parkrun page.

 

 

It’s Denmark, most people arrive by bike.

Crowd:

I’d been communicating via Facebook with world tourist Gert, who told me that he was hoping that the influx of marathon visitors might get to the Danish attendance record of 181!

There were LOTS of serious runners from all around the world.  The couple we met en route were from Scotland, and I got chatting to a South African wearing a 100 runs cap!

They don’t always have a tailwalker, so I was pleased to be able to encourage a couple of locals, nursing various injuries, to walk with me.

178 runners – so a new record for this event!!

 

 

Course:

It’s a flat, fast course – 3 laps, starting and ending at the same point by the see-saw.

 

Course record is 15.32.  Markers are set out in flour.

The course runs past a lovely fountain in a lake, and a dome roofed cafe.

 

Facilities:

There are clean loos in the park. Start and end are at the same place, so you can leave coats and bags there. I didn’t manage to stay for the post run coffee, but there are plenty of lovely cafes nearby.

 

 

Time:

I was walking rather briskly, and getting lots of “thank yous” from runners overtaking.  You do need good working thumbs in this role.  I did it in 55 minutes which I was impressed with!

And the rest:

Oh Copenhagen, you have stolen my heart!

Effortlessly cool and stylish, warm and family friendly, colourful and bathed in light reflecting from water, easy to get around, wide streets and cobblestones, blankets and heaters, open sandwiches and pastries, street parties and canal boats.

We witnessed the world record being broken at the half marathon.  And I’m sorely tempted to have a go next year.  (At the half, not the WR!)

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Jersey parkrun

Event #64, and parkrun #262

Reason for visit – elusive letter  J at a dancing weekend.

Having fallen at Sixmilewater 6 weeks ago, my parkrun activity has been restricted to volunteering at juniors.  Including a memorable time with my “brunch bunch” chums where we ended up with a flat tyre! But that’s another story.

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Anyhoo, I’d been planning this trip for months.  It was to attend the Jersey Scottish dance weekend, I’d booked flights and accommodation, and spent every Wednesday night with my dancing travelling companions going through the rather tricksy dance program.  So I was dammed sure I wasn’t going to let a lousy broken metatarsal stand in my way of alphabeteering my letter J.

Access:

Flights to Jersey from Belfast only go once a week, but there’s a daily flight from Dublin.  I caught the X1 airport bus which picks up at Sprucefield and drops you to the door of the the shiny glass terminal for £17 return.  On the island, the Liberty bus service is superb, and the number 15 picks up right outside the airport door.  £2.30 cash fare, £2 if you use contactless, other day and 3 day fares are available, but make sure you’d actually use them.

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It’s the same bus you need to take you to the parkrun site at Les Quennevais (rhymes with kennedy) Sports centre.  Don Farm is the bus stop you need.

There’s ample car parking – although on the day I was there a hockey tournament was taking place, so parking places were a bit more scarce.

Crowd:

Understandably, a letter J is a huge draw for alphabeteer tourists, and I got chatting to quite a few cow cowls, AND a world tourist cap wearer!

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There were 414 this day – I know that cos I was tailwalker, so I was that number.

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As I set off, there was a granny, mum and daughter trio in front of me.  The daughter was in flip flops, and the granny in her 80s, so they only did one lap (and well done to them!)

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There’s a lead bike, a few prams and dogs, and LOTS of tourists. Biggest problem at the start line is keeping people QUIET!

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Course:

2 laps of the cycle track, and then breaks off onto a trail spur, with 2 turnaround points.  Well marshalled throughout, and I loved the cute umbrella hats that the volunteers wore.

I have to say, even with the glimpses of the sea at various points, it’s not the most dramatically scenic course, but it’s relatively flat (until that final uphill section), and either tarmac or packed sand/gravel underfoot.

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Facilities:

If you’re catching the bus from St Helier, there are loos there.

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Toilets also in the sports centre.  And the cafe does 10% off on presentation of your barcode.  So a mug of tea and a toasted teackae was less than £3.  And of course the cafe was packed full of chatty parkrunners, playing their Top Trumps and generally enjoying the post run adrenalin.

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Time:

I’ was walking, it took me just over an hour.  And oh, it’s good to be back!

And the rest:

My weekend in Jersey.

A dance weekend in Jersey

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

parkrun tourism: Sixmilewater

Now Updated! See below

Shoulda been event #64, and parkrun #262, but read on….

Reason for visit – attempting to regain regionnaire status.

 

Update – revisited in September and acheived regionnaire.  Event number 66 at 6 mile water.  Now called SixMileWalker in my book.

No parkrun last week as I’d been dancing in Scotland, and so missed the inaugural of Norn Irn’s latest, held in Sixmilewater Park, Ballyclare.  So I set off to complete my set.

Access:

Its about a 30 minute trip from Belfast, mostly motorway, with an Applegreen stop available en route.  Minnie was delighted to be back in her running harness, having missed out the past few weeks.

I’d used the sat nav co-ordinates given for parking, which took me to the War Memorial park, with nowhere obvious to park. I drove back around where I knew the run starts, and followed a “P” sign to try to find a car park, but to no avail.  In the end I parked at the Park’n’ride spaces at the bus station, and used the time-honoured method of “look for other parkrunners and follow them”.

Others parked at the Leisure Centre, where there are loos.  But no cafe.

Update: parked at the leisure centre this time, and used the clean well maintained loos.

It’s about 10 miles from the International Airport, which might tempt a few toruists, but with no public transport options you’d be relying on hire car, taxi or lift.

Crowd:

A number of parkrun toruists had the same idea as me, and there was a goodly collection of us for a photo.  Also, well done to Davy on reaching his 50th different event!

 

Numbers are still quite high (306 this week, 490 at the inaugural), but I’d expect those to drop off in the coming weeks.  It’s a dog friendly course, there were buggies, and a good few walkers.

Update: 180 at event number 10, and that seems to be the settled figure.

Course:

There#s one big lap, then 3 small ones.  Lollipop shaped, so out a stem from the start and then all the lopps, signposted, before returning to the start.  Start and finish are in the same place, so you can leave coats and stuff there, though it’s all outdoors.  It’s pretty flat and all on tarmac path.  Though it’s quite bunchy at the start, and the multiple laps does mean you’ll be overtaken quite a lot by the speedy front runners.

I’d done my first 10k of the year the previous night, and was just getting into the first lap and thinking, Wow, I’ve missed running!  when I missed my footing and went over my left foot.  My sunglasses went flying (but survived), and lots of runners stopped to make sure I was OK.  I had a grazed palm and elbow, but was finding it hard to put weight on my left foot.  After a brief sit down to catch my breath, my plan was to take it easy and walk the rest of the course.

As I ploughed on with Lap 2, it became obvious that I was going to have to abandon any plans to complete.  Rosie Ryan, who I’d met at Strabane, was voluntering, and she walked  back with me, telling me aboout her marathon experiences (at my request, as a distraction technique).  She also found the first aid kit and bandaged my ankle.

The voyage home:

I don’t know how I managed to drive home, using as few gears as possible.  I wrapped and iced and elevated my foot, but as the afternoon wore on it got more swollen and and more painful.  My first instinct was to reassure myself it would be fine, but then I reluctantly admitted that if it WAS broken, then ice and rest were not going to be enough.

So at 4pm I allowed R to drive me to A&E, where I settled in for an interesting few hours.  Saturday afternoon is obviously peak Sports Injury time, and the X-Ray machine was doing a roraing trade.  Some arrivals were accompanied by police officers, I suspect as Saturday evening wore on the picture would get messier and noisier.  As it was, I was discharged just before 8, with a fracture of my 5th metatarsel.  I have a big chunky boot to wear, and a pair of crutches to hobble on.  And it’s over to the fratcure clinic for rehab.

Future plans:

I’d hoped to do Buncrana next week, but that is clearly a re-schedule. I have flights and accommodation booked for Jersey and Copenhagen in September, so my best aim is to be able to walk gently round those.  Hey, at least they were able to save my leg!

 

Update: I tailwalked at both Jersey and Fælledparken!

And Sixmilewater will have to be graced with my presence at some future date.

Update: It was!  On a glorious September morning, where I briskly marched around to a sub-50 minute time, laughing aloud to the WithMeNow podcast.  Regionnaire Regained!

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

parkrun tourism: Holy Cross, Strabane

parkrun#257 event#63

Reason for visit: tagging on a Fathers Day lunch.

Latest addition to the NI stable, and much to the delight of alphabeteers, it begins with a haitch!

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Access:

The postcode given on the parkrun page takes you right there.  From Omagh, through the delightfully pretty village of Sion Mills, and at the roundabout as you enter Strabane go straight ahead, past the Fir Trees hotel.

Facilities:

There is plenty of car parking, but even though the course takes place in the College grounds, there is no access to the building itself.  ie NO TOILETS!  Remember the Fir Trees Hotel you passed on the way?  Time to pay it a closer look.  There was tea, coffee and biscuits on this occasion, and there is a Mace shop across the road which does hot deli food if you fancy something more substantial.

Course:

The start is a little way from the finish, on a wide tarmac path.

Round a cone and onto the running track, which is mostly gravel.

Up a gentle (!) slope behind the school, and back around to the front.

On the 4th lap you finish here.

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The running track is quite wide, so make sure you hug the inner path if possible, or you’ll be running more than 5k.  There’s one wee stretch where runners are travelling in both directions, so keep to the right at this section.

Crowd:

Inaugurals attract crowds, but the just under 200 runners today were very well managed by the volunteer team.  I was one of at least 4 people wearing 250 shirts, and I recognised a few other familiar faces.  There were a couple of buggies, but this is a NO DOGS course, due to school rules.

The best surprise was when Dame Kelly Holmes turned up with a film crew.  She gave a short talk during the pre-run brief about the programme she’s making, which looks at the benefits of exercise like parkrun, not just physical but also for good mental health and stress management.  She then started at the back of the pack with her go-pro, gradually overtook the field, giving encouragement as she went, finished as first lady and then headed back out onto the course to give high fives and words of support to those still running.  And then she happily stayed chatting and posing for photos afterwards.  What a wonderful inspiring woman!

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Gear:

I had remembered to charge my Garmin and earphones.  Sadly, my phone had failed to charge overnight, so I was limited as to what photos I could take, and couldn’t use the music/ headphones.  I had my new barcode water bottle, which kept my water refreshingly cool.  The weather was miserable in Belfast, but as I headed west it gradually brightened, and I needed my sunglasses during the run.  Road shoes would be fine for the surface.

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Time:

I was aiming for sub-35, and managed it.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

No music on my headphones, but I did enjoy singing along to the car radio and Birdhouse In Your Soul, which I haven’t heard in a while

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All My parkruns:

list of all parkruns completed

parkrun tourism: Poolbeg

parkrun #255 event #62

Reason for visit: Dublin Scottish Dance groups’s annual dance.

I’ve attended this dance every year for the past 4 years, and each time I’ve managed to tick off another Dublin parkrun.  This year I was staying at the Uni halls of residence, Trinity Hall, in Rathmines and the closest event not yet done was Poolbeg.

Access:

I knew there wasn’t much parking nearby, and wanted to be considerate of residents, but I set my Sat Nav for Seaforth Avenue (since it reminded me of Ser Davos Seaworth in GOT), and found a pay and display car park with plenty of spaces.  It was 1 euro per hour, so I popped in a 2 euro coin.

I’d passed a few other car parks on the sea front, which would give you a nice little warm up jog before the start.  As I walked towards the start (doing the ususal lookout for other parkrunners), a taxi was letting out a group of about 6 obvious runner types.  And I met some others who had walked from the city centre.  So it’s good one to aim for if you are staying centrally.

Course:

From the start point, it’s back towards the city centre, a lap of Sean Moore Park, and when you pass the start point again that’s 1.5 km done.  From there, it’s 1km out through the Nature Reserve, one sneaky wee hill at the turn point,

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back to the start/finish point and another lap of Sean Moore.  There are a few parts where runners are going in both directions, so keep left, and the surface is largely packed gravel or tarmac. All the pinch points are well marshalled, and how fab is the view enjoyed by the person at the turnaround point!

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I absolutely loved the scenery, the sights and smells of the various flora, and the sounds of birds. And of course being by the sea always makes my heart sing.

Gear:

I’m still loving the cheers I get when wearing my 250 shirt.  My Garmin and headphones all behaved impeccably, and my cow cowl allowed me to identify other tourists.

Strangely-appropriate-song-on-shuffle:

Most of my playlist is Eurovision songs, but there is the odd Scottish Dance tune, and I love the music to Red House.

Crowd:

I was enormously struck by the diversity and community spirit. I met Alison, another northern lass who’d come down to see The Spice Girls, and we discovered a number of friends in common.  The crowd getting out of the taxi were cast and crew from “The King and I”, in town for 2 weeks, and I chatted to them about how my son, on another touring show, enjoys getting out with a few colleagues to get their Saturdays off to the best possible good start.  There must be potential for a “theatre touring parkrunners” group surely!  Doing the “Top Trumps” of number of events, furtherest travelled etc, I was doing quite well on my 62nd event, until Colin revealed he’d done over 200!  Mucho impressedo.

 

But what struck a real chord with me was the   Sanctuary Runners.  For people receiving Direct Assistance, who may have little access to physical exercise, this group makes sure they have the opportunity to take part in a parkrun each week.  What a fabulous way to embody the community “for everyone” ethos of parkrun.  And I’m going to explore if such a thing exists or could happen here in Norn Irn.

Facilities:

The start and finish are at the same point, so you can leave coats and stuff by the bench.  There are no nearby loos.  Post-run coffees are at the very lovely Dunne and Crescenzi, which serendiptously turned out to be right beside where I’d parked!  I thoroughly enjoyed my avo and poached egg on toasted sourdough with pistachio crumb – yum!  And I made myself useful by helping with the token sorting, one of my favourite jobs.

All my parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

Toby Week 4: Meeting and greeting

This week we’ve really started to get a daily routine.  If we get up around 5.30 we can usually catch him before he needs to pee/poo, which is a big plus in toilet training.  Minnie usually gets a bit of a lie in before she gets up around 7, and which point we have mad half-hour, fighting over toys, growling and tumbling.  Out for pees, breakfast, out for pees, bit of play, out for pees, sleep bye-byes, out for pees……and repeat.

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Friday was a big day – second injection! I was away, but Rog took him in the back of my car, where he squeaked and squawked all the way to the vets.  He has put on a whole 2 kilos in 2 weeks!  (previous weight was 5.4 kilos, so that’s a 37% increase). The vet was very impressed with how he is doing, and he was very well behaved getting jabs and flea treatment.  But he does need constant supervision, otherwise a bed may be destroyed….

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On Sunday he got to come with us to junior parkrun.  Minnie was coming too, and having them both in the back of the car seemed to calm and reassure him, and there was no squeaking or complaining.  Once there, he was very happy to be met and petted by his adoring public.  I was tail-walking with Mnnie, so Rog took Toby into the centre of the park, and did some off-lead recall work, which he excelled at.

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So now that he’s had his jabs, he’ll be able to go to doggy daycare, which will make working life a bit simpler for us both.

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parkrun tourism: pont y bala

parkrun# 254 event #61

Reason for visit: climbing Snowden with my son

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Harry is a keen climber/ hill-walker, and had already done Ben Nevis, Scafell and even been to base camp at Everest.  We had together climbed Slieve Donard and Carrauntoohil, the highest peaks in northern and southern Ireland, so I was delighted when he suggested we do Snowden together, to complete his set.

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Access:

We  stayed in ffestiniog, a tiny village in Snowdonia, a vast and rugged national park.  The tourist tool showed that the closest run was 15 miles away at pont y bala, which had just recently started.   I’d flown in to Liverpool John Lennon airport, which is 2 hours drive away. IMG_1142

The sat nav details on the course page took us via some tiny winding and gloriously empty roads to the large car park beside the fire station, which is now £3 for the required stay.

Facilities:

There are clean loos on site, start and finish are at the same spot right by the car park, so you can leave coats or bags there.  Coffee and chat post-run are in the Hub cafe nearby, and Bala has many other shops and restaurants should you wish to tarry a while.

Course:

Out and back, twice.  It’s a narrow path, and so no dogs are allowed (but a beautiful golden retreiver was inviting tummy rubs at the start). The surface is packed gravel, and all the turn points are well marshalled.

Crowd:

Numbers have been small to date, around 50-70, which gives a friendly welcoming feel.  I saw a few other cow cowls, and tourists were invited to sign the pb board.  A couple of buggies, and a few young people at arms length.  Visitors were encouraged to sign the pb board.

Gear:

I was debut-ing my 250 shirt, which is a very good quality technical fabric, and was lovely to run in.  My contra leggings – I’d had to send them back as the stitching was unravelling, so this replacement pair are performing better.  My Garmin found a signal easily, and my headphones were fine. I always travel in my second best trainers, and the Karrimors were perfect for this surface.

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Strangely-appropriate-song-on-shuffle:

It was Eurovision day, and I love running to some of my favourite songs from years gone by.  One of the most undermarked and overlooked UK entries is Joe and Jake with “You’re not alone”, which sums up parkrun to me.  My daughter had reminded me of Sheryl Crow “Every Day is a Winding Road” which was very much the soundtrack to driving around north Wales!  And I also reworked the lyrics to Alannis Morisset’s “Ironic” as follows….

It’s the post being late, with your milestone T

And your Garmin watch has a flat battery

The results are late, when you’ve got a PB

And do not forget your barcode

Isn’t it parkrun-ic….

Time:

I’d run 34 mins last week so was keen to replicate that.  Out and back twice meant divide target time by 4 and hit 8 to 9 minutes for each section.  Which I did.  Even with stopping for photos, I still made 34 something.  The first runner came home in 17 minutes, and was way ahead of the rest of the pack -much applause!

All My parkruns:

all my parkruns

And the rest:

Well, here’s a whole blog about  Climbing Snowden

But I loved my first visit to Liverpool, was really impressed by the friendliness of the people, and I got to sit next to Sir Ian McKellen!