parkrun tourism: Highbury Fields

parkrun #319 event #88

Reason for visit – Jemima starring at Sadlers Wells! Oh, and I got to see Hamilton while I was there also….

Access:

Normally when I’m visiting Jem we sit on Friday nights trying to match nearby parkruns with route maps, and they can be quite lengthy and complicated. This time I was staying in the Travelodge Royal Scot, where I could see St Pancras out my hotel window.

Highbury and Islington is one stop on the Victoria line, and the course is only 200m from the station! Definitely one of the easiest London ones to get to by public transport.

Course:

No gonna lie, it’s 5 laps. Mostly on tarmac footpaths, with any obstacles such as “mud corner” marshalled or coloured coned. Starts and finishes on grass, and there’s a designated baggage area. It does go up a slight hill (I was tempted to do a Crocodile Dundee-esque “Call that a hill?”), before a slight meandering path at the top of the park, (no short cuts across the grass!) and then a delightful gentle downhill section. For those at the back of the pack like me, you will be lapped a few times, but the last couple of laps will be quieter and less crowded.

Facilities:

Start and finish is at the same spot, so there’s always someone around near the bag drop. There is a 20p public loo, I asked politely and was allowed to use the ones in the little leisure centre. Plenty of cafes around for parkfaffing – I had to get back and changed as I had a whole day of theatre-going ahead of me. And a snigger-worthy pub.

Gear:

It was just after the death of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, so I wore my black 100 volunteer shirt. (I did see someone in a rarely spotted 250 vol one). Skirty leggings, cow cowl, and zippy belt. Sadly, when I got back to the tube station, my debit card was missing, must have fallen out of the zippy belt while I was taking photos. I was quite glad of the short lap, as I retraced my steps, but to no avail. I wore my Saucony shoes – the What Shoes spreadsheet does suggest road shoes, though the wet grass bits can be slippy.

Crowd:

Having beaten the slugs at (S)Limefield and Knockbraken, this time the slugs beat me!

A few tourists chatted to me having spotted the cowl, and there plenty of cheery volunteers.

Time:

My reported time was 38 minutes, which frankly I don’t believe. But the official result is the official one, so I’ll take it! I wasn’t wearing a sports watch so I can’t corroborate, but it would be the first sub 40 in quite some time if it’s correct.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

I wasn’t listening to any music or podcasts- running on busy public footpaths I like to be fully aware of my surroundings. Over the weekend, though, we had several renditions of God Save The King, which we are all trying to get used to.

And the Rest:

Jemima was – of course – amazing! And I got to meet up with my best friend and her husband, and my cousin and his wife, so we had quite a fan club for her.

Hamilton was just mind blowing, so much happens on stage that it’s hard to take it all in.

All my parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

parkrun tourism: Lymington Woodside

parkrun #317 event #87

Reason for visit – meeting my new grand-dog, the bestest boy, Apollo!

Access:

In the lovely village of Lymington, Woodside Gardens in a short walk from the centre. Nearest train station is 2km away. I was staying in the New Wheel Inn, about 3 km away, and took a taxi. There are a couple of car parks, though they fill up quickly, and one has a height barrier.

Facilities:

Runners meet at the pavilion, where there are loos, and also a café that opens at 9.

Course:

The terrain is quite mixed, partly grass, partly tarmac. around the playing fields and the gorgeous gardens. It’s one small and two larger laps, and a bit confusing, but well signposted and marshalled at all corners. My only problem was that after getting scanned, the faster runners congregate on the path in front of the pavilion…..while slower runners are still trying to get through on their last lap.

Crowd:

I saw a couple of other cow cowls, but didn’t get a chance to say Hi. The tail-walker caught up with me after the previous slowest person dropped out, and he and I just chatted as we walked the last wee bit. But of course the most important for me was my son, who I rarely get a chance to run with, and newest family addition, Apollo. He’s too young to run just yet, but I’ve no doubt he will be a great canine competitor in time.

Time:

Since I’d stopped to take photos, and then walked with the tail, I knew it would be slow, and I was happy enough with a 46 mins.

Gear:

Sauconys, skirty leggings, WMN top, cow cowl and headband. Cracker came with me for the ride.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

I was listening to the With Me Now podcast, which was describing the idyllic sounding North Yorkshire Waterpark – definitely one for the bucket list!

And the rest:

I had a great time catching up with family, Lymington is a lovely sport with a busy harbour, and a market on on Saturdays. We had really nice coffee and brunch the dog-friendly Bohemia cafe. Later we visited Bournemouth and took a boat trip, I went on the helter skelter, we had ice creams and then went to Poole for fish and chips.

All my parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

parkrun tourism: Limepark Playing Fields

parkrun #316 event #86

Reason for visit = regionnaire status regained, and calling in with parents on the north coast where my sister was visiting.

The Dark Hedges, a popular tourist site a few miles from the parkrun.

Access:

Situated just outside Armoy, it’s on a pretty good road between the Frosses roundabout and Ballycastle. I drove, public transport options are not great.

Facilities:

Plenty of car parking, and there are even loos! No cafe on site, but there are options in Armoy, or if you’re touristing in the area, try the Dark Hedges.

Course:

It’s 3 laps, though they loop and switch back and forth quite a bit. Mostly flat, one sharp hill.

Mixed terrain, slippy grass and loose gravel. First time ever I’ve heard “slugs on the path” as a course hazard – definitely a merch opportunity there, “I beat the slugs at Limepark”. (I thought I’d taken some photos of the slugs, but somehow they are not there!)

Crowd:

It’s a bit out of the way – I’d expected a few more regionnaire chasers there at event 3, but there were just 65 runners. I did bump into some Wallace parkrun chums, and there was the full range from speedy gonzales to slower jog-walkers. Might pick up some Ballycastle holiday makers, or Portrush wans looking for a change.

Gear:

Blue hokkas, shirty capris, WMN top, cow cowl, and zippy belt for phone and keys. Wraparound sunglasses and black headband, sweat wristband in matching grey. Apple watch behaved itself!

Appropriate Song On Shuffle:

I’d actually chosen my start song on Spotify, given that this was my 316th run: The country boy’s trifecta of “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3-16” by Keith Urban started me off, and then Spotify threw me a selection of self recriminating, joy of drinking, she used to be mine type ballads. My brain winced at lyrics that talked about dancing under the stars in the September rain……..

Time:

I’d just hot-footed it (geddit?) from the podiatrists, but was still struggling with plantar in my heel, so I was jog-walking around, and stopping to take photos of slugs, which didn’t work, so a time of bang on 46 mins was OK.

We were really lucky with the weather, the early morning rain dried off and we had plenty of sunshine. Other parkruns in the East were less fortunate.

All my parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

parkrun tourism: Holyrood

parkrun #315 location#85

Reason for visit: en route to St Andrews Scottish Country Dance summer school

I’m sure other parkrun tourists do the same when booking accommodation – have the parkrun events page open on one browser, with a map searching for BnBs on another, trying to find a close match. When I’d booked my Edinburgh Air BnB a few months back, I’d thought it was close to Portobello. But when I arrived it was going to be a bit of a journey to get there, and anyway, the new kid on the block had started just 3 weeks previously in Holyrood. And it was a simpler option.

Must get me one of these! You can decide whether I mean the tartan skort or the big dog.

Access:

The course takes place in Holyrood park, which is very close (walking distance) to the city centre and the foot of Royal Mile. A number of buses have stops nearby, all set out on the event’s course page. Buses take contactless payments, and I found the range and frequency of routes to be very user friendly.

Course:

The course is just one lap, starting and finishing near the same point close to St Margaret’s Loch. It is all on tarmac roads. The first 2 km is a steady uphill climb, before it levels off round the far side of the hill, and then a glorious 2 km downhill. You could be quite canny about your racing line here if chasing a PB – stick close the the inner side of the circuit, but take the shorter straight line when the path curves.

The views are nothing short of spectacular, and there was even a swirl of the bagpipes to be heard carried on the morning breeze.

Watch out for other users, particularly cyclists.

Crowd:

As a newcomer, situated in a capital city, this is going to be a big attraction for tourists. The inaugural attracted over 500, and there were 400 and something when I visited at their event number 4.

Despite this I saw no other cow cowls, and even though I was wearing a WMN top, I got no “Dolly or Bev?” “Arbitrary!” exchanges.

Good range of ages and run times, and plenty of dogs.

Gear:

Zippy run belt held my phone, keys, and emergency fiver.

I wore my grey “is it fancy dress” WMN top, and grey skirty capri pants. Cow cowl, headband and sunglasses. Saucony trainers – road shoes are fine for here, tarmac surface all the way.

Time:

I’m nursing a problem heel at the minute, and walked the uphill section, but was quite impressed with my time of 43-06, which was faster than I’d done Crystal Palace in a few weeks ago.

After:

I had a lovely cappuccino and croissant in the Holyrood Cafe, which has lovely clean loos, and a fresh water station. There is also a cafe in the Holyrood government building nearby.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

I was running without music, listening to the birdsong, and that bagpipe air drifting across from the town.

And the rest:

It was great to be back at Summer School after the Covid-pause, though my heel wasn’t improved by all that hopping and the long walks between venues.

All my parkruns:

Link NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

parkrun tourism: Eastbourne

event#84 parkrun#307 another compass point!

There are a number of recognised challenges that parkrunners try to tick off, one of which is the compass points. So far I’d only managed one point at Southampton parkrun, parkrun tourism: Southwark and Parkruns: South Manchester. So I was delighted to take up the offer of a visit from my best friend who now lives in Eastbourne!

Access:

I’d travelled by train from Gatwick airport, a relatively simple journey. The parkrun takes place in Shinewater Park, and I got a lift there. It is a residential area so runners are asked to park considerately if they’ve come by car. There’s a bus stop at the park entrance, and the nearest railway station is Hampden Park.

Course:

This was the first outing of the summer course when I attended. Quite a bit of the course is on uneven grass surface, so watch your step! One loop of the play park, then onto more solid paths, over bridges, under bridges, and round some lovely lakeside views. Back for one final loop of the playpark, which does mean you have an agonising run PAST the finish line before that last stretch.

Crowd:

There was a good mix of runners, and I certainly wasn’t alone in the jog-walking group at the back. I did worry a bit that the tail walker looked like he was dressed for a speedy run.

Some well behaved dogs, a few family groups, and I got chatting to an elderly couple who were making their 3rd parkrun, having only started as part of their 70th birthday celebrations. A lovely reminder of the inclusivity of parkrun. There were 331 participant when I attended, the average is in the mid 200s.

Facilities:

A cute coffee cart is onsite for post run faff. No loos. There’s a Premier Inn very nearby if you wanted to stay over. Start and finish is at the same point, so the traditional “hang it on a tree” method of leaving your jacket applies.

Gear:

I had travelled in my Sauconys, which were OK for this course. I wore my #isitfancydress With Me Now top, and of course had my cow cowl on, but saw no other parkrun tourists or WMNers! Darn it, I was looking forward to exchanging a “Dolly or Bev”/ “arbitrary” greeting.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

I have a choir concert coming up soon, so I have the songs we are singing downloaded onto a Spotify playlist. So I was working on the Irish Blessing ” May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rain fall soft upon your fields”. There were very few hills to contend with, the sun indeed did shine warm, and no rain, soft or otherwise, fell upon my fields. Which was nice.

Time:

I was jog walking, and stopping to take photos, so a just sub 45 minute time for me.

And the rest:

I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend in this part of the world, including a carousel ride in party town Brighton, and ice cream by the sea in Eastbourne, viewing the Seven Sisters, and seeing a big chalk man on a hillside.

All my parkruns:

List of them all NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Dunleath Playing Fields parkrun

run #306 event #83

Regionnaire status regained! For now, at least. But it takes me a bit closer to that full cowell of 100 different events.

Access:

The bustling town of Downpatrick is about 30 mins south of me, on decent roads. Actually, the bus terminus is just opposite the park, so if you wanted to make the best use of public transport, then this would be a good choice! I did try to offset my carbon footprint by collecting a “magic bag” of food from a local shop via the “Too Good To Go” app which gives out surplus food at a discount. But the contents were disappointing, sadly.

Facilities:

Plenty of parking and loos in the Leisure Centre, and also across the road in the retail park with its handy McDonalds. On my visit (their event number 3) there was tea and biscuits provided at the finish, but this might not always be available. There are plenty of cafes in the town for a bit of parkfaffing, and the cathedral is the location of St Patrick’s grave, should you need reason to linger longer.

Gear:

It was a frosty morning, so I wore my warmest black running leggings, a long sleeved T under my black 100 volunteer shirt, headband AND cow bobble, and gloves. Toby was my lil helper, and I put a warm jumper on him as he hates the cold. My old red hokkas, and a white sweat wristband. No timing watch or music – I like to keep my eyes and ears open when tailwalking to be able to respond quickly to any incidents. As the sun got higher and the temperature rose, I was able to remove the hat and gloves.

Course:

Start is behind the main playing fields, which are pretty lively on a Saturday morning. One small first lap, then turn right at the Covid test centre (!) for 2 larger laps. The town is nestled in between some drumlin hills, but the course itself is pretty flat, just the one small incline to manage, and it is followed by a nice downhill section. All on tarmac / gravel paths. On this beautiful blue-skied spring morning, the trees were starting to show their burgeoning buds and catkins.

Crowd:

Being a relative newbie on the block, it still attracts a few other tourists. I greeted Stephen and Niamh, who is the youngest person to be a Norn Irn regionnaire, and presented them with my regionnaire flag badge in recognition of their achievement. Frist Irish man to achieve a 500 milestone T, parkrun Jim was there, trying to work out where to put his next tattoo. Apparently there’s an at least 3 month waiting list for ink these days! There was a good bunch of walkers on the first lap, but after each one some of them dropped out, so I was left frequently doing the “tailwalker catch up canter” to keep the last lot in my sights.

Time:

My run times are still rubbish, so I’d volunteered to tailwalk. Time was 50-50, in position no 99, which was suitably mathematically pleasing. Toby was a wee dote, and while he did want to say Hi to all the other doggies we met, he kept with me on a slack lead and didn’t complain too much about the cold, or the long car journey. (The wee skitter had managed to regurgitate his dinner last night over a radiator, down in between many many curves and fins….)

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

I wasn’t listening to music, but the peal of church bells on such a beautiful morning brought joy to my soul.

All my parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Derrynoid Forest parkrun

Event #81 parkrun #303 Regionnaire status regained (for now…..)

After “The Great Pause” it’s heartening to see planned new parkruns getting up and running, so to speak. I attended the 4th outing of Norn Irn’s latest, in Derrynoyd Forest near Draperstown, pretty much bang in the centre of the province. Note, the forest is spelled with a Y, but the parkrun with an I. No, I haven’t managed to find out Y just yet, but if you know, do tell!

Getting There:

From my house it was just over 50 miles. Take the M2 and keep going, onto the lovely smooth new bit of the dualled A6 (my sat nav still doesn’t know this road exists, and goes into a minor panic telling me to turn left. No, right. No, straight on.) From the little town of Draperstown, follow the Derrynoyd Road and a mile along you’ll find the forest. There is some parking on the left and right hand sides of the road, but the main forest and parkrun is the one on the right.

Course:

Three laps through the forest, on pretty good paths, but watch out for stones and fallen twigs. It’s a tough enough course, with a chunky hill near the end of the lap. Start and finish are at the same point, but allow yourself time to get there from the car park. The forest is a lovely patch of old woodland, with plenty of birdsong to be heard. It was fantastic to listen to – some twitchers were able to identify a chiff-chaff, and I believe there’s even a woodpecker here.

Facilities:

No loos on site, so make sure you go before you get there! Parking as above, there are a few cafes in town for post parkrun coffee and faffing.

Crowd:

There were just under 50 when I attended, including a few familiar faces who like me were reclaiming the “regionnaire” status. Though I hear there are a few more NI events happening shortly, so this is only a “for now” badge. And also a few people making their parkrun debut, which is always lovely to hear.

Gear:

I wore my green 250 shirt, and there were a few of these on show! I’d also got my apple watch and aftershoks bone conducting headphones with me. Blue hokka trainers – trail shoes would be a good option here. And I managed to find my cow bobble hat, complete with its little flag badge indicating that “I’verunalltheNornIrnparkrunssoIhave”. I must dig out my T shirt and add some suitable buttons.

Time:

I’m really slow at the minute. I’d even offered to be tailwalker, but someone had beaten me to that! But I walk/jogged my way round in 44 minutes, taking time to stop for the odd photo of the beautiful Sperrin mountains.

Course record is at time of writing just under 18 minutes.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

I put the Hamilton soundtrack on as I was setting off- the tailwalker told me he’d been lucky enough to see the show live, that’s still on my bucket list of things to do. “Rise Up” is always appropriate for hills, and I was heading for Coleraine afterwards en route to see my parents, which is where Hercules Mulligan is from.

And the rest:

My Dad’s uncle Bob used to be head forester here, and the area around Tobermore and Draperstown was Dad’s “patch” when he was a sales rep, so he really enjoyed hearing all about my run when I called in for lunch afterwards.

All my parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Sligo parkrun

Run number 296, event 80, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary

One of my current challenges is to get on the Irish “most events” table, as well as a longer term goal to do all the runs on the Wild Atlantic Way, so we were spending a weekend in the Glasshouse, Sligo’s finest hotel, on a rather grey and overcast November.

Access

Sligo has a nightmarish one way system, comprising of various City Loops, that cause a visitor to be completely perplexed.  The sat-nav didn’t help, bringing us down a “no-through road” and requiring some rather worrying reversing in the dark near the fast flowing river.  But after about 3 circuits of the gyratory system, we finally found the hotel carpark.  I was concerned about getting trapped the following morning, so I facebook messenged the parkrun asking for directions, and got this very prompt and very helpful response:

“Hiya, if you are parked in The Glasshouse carpark, your best bet is to turn left at the exit, then left again at the traffic lights just past the main door of the hotel. Cross the bridge, then stick to the right hand lane as you go along the river. The road sweeps right, then up a hill, and sweeps right again & downhill. Go into the left lane as you come down the hill. The AIB will be on your right. Continue on Bridge Street, across the river again, then turn left along the river, keep going for about 1km and you’ll find us opposite Cleveragh Retail Park”

So I had no excuses!

Facilities

There is plenty of free parking by the play park, and more over the road in the retail park.  Toilets and coffees are also in the Westeroast coffee shop, which has a bit of Game of Thrones theming. Start and finish are in the same area, so you could leave any non-valuable belongings there.

Course

Don’t be deceived by the fact that it’s by a river, it’s much hillier than you might imagine!  Tarmac path all the way, just watch out for slippy leaves. An outward route for about 0.5km, then 2 laps around the playing fields before returning on the same path.  There wasn’t much of a view due to the low cloud, but I’m sure in brighter weather it is quite picturesque.  It is well marshalled at the junctions. 

Gear

I was wearing my green 250 shirt, which attracted some attention (and I was the runniest runner that day).  I’d forgotten my gloves and my zippy belt, so my husband had to take on handbag-minding duties.  Saw no other cow cowls. No watch or phone, and I wore my second-best red Hokas.

Crowd

There were 95 runners when I visited in November.  Sligo is a very sporty town, so there were some super speedy youngsters, as well as some walkers, so all abilities are made welcome.

Time

I spent some time chatting to marshals and other runners, so I wasn’t pushing for a fast time, but I did my trademark skip-change over the finish line in 41 mins, which was faster than last week, and I came first in my age cat!

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle

I wasn’t listening to music while I ran, but I did join in with “Ireland’s Call” and “Fields of Athenry” during the rugby match that afternoon.

And the rest

We loved our visit to Sligo, lots of independent shops and old fashioned department stores to potter in.  We treated ourselves to buns from O’Hehirs bakery, which we enjoyed watching Ireland beat the All Blacks in the Rugby.  I can thoroughly recommend The Glasshouse, the food was excellent and the staff friendly and attentive.

lNI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Faskally Forest parkrun

Run number 295, event 79, attending the AGM in Perth

It was one of those days where “you don’t have to be mad to be a runner, but it helps!”

The weather was a bit dreich, but the parkrun weather fairy managed to keep the worst of it down to a light drizzle (I believe other events did not get off so lightly!)

Access

It’s about a mile outside Pitlochry itself.  I caught at 8.11 train from Perth which had me at the station just after 8.45, in plenty of time to warm-up brisk walk out to the entrance.

Facilities

There is (currently) a dedicated car park for runners, but it IS locked after the event close down, so make sure to move your vehicle afterwards.  A cute and clean toilet block is located just near the main entrance.  Start and finish are at the same point, so if you trust the “plastic bag by a tree” method, you could leave belongings there. At Your Own Risk, of course.

Course

It takes “undulating” to new levels!  The start is up a challenging hill, and then there are 3 sort of oblong laps, with a couple of uphill sections in each.  Lots of friendly and chatty marshalls at each station.  It is an extremely pretty course (if you can lift your eyes from swearing at the hills), but watch out for slippery leaves, mud, loose stones and tree roots.

Gear

Most Valuable Player award definitely went to my parkrun World Tourist rain jacket, in fetching aqua colour, which kept the rain off during my walk there, and also has a handy zipped pocket where I stored my valuables and tied the jacket round my waist. It even featured in the run report! 

I was wearing my new With Me Now T shirt, and the phrase “is it fancy dress?” on the back earned the response “well it was last week!” from fellow tourist Angus.  I wore my autumnal leggings, which matched the glorious colours of the forest.

Crowd

There were 47 runners when I visited in November.  It’s a relatively new event, so it’s still getting a bit of interest from keen tourists.  There’s a caravan site nearby so I’m sure it will attract visitors during the more inclement months.  As well as Angus from Inverness, I also got chatting to cow-cowl Colin originally from Crawfordsburn, though he now lives over the water.  There was a sizable turnout at the parkfaff café (held this week at the Pitclochry Dam visitor centre, but it’s not always there), where the results were processed at table extremely quickly.  My breakfast of smoked salmon draped over scrambled egg on a bed of spinach and potato cakes prompted much jealousy amongst those who’d only opted for a scone (they looked nice too, as did the bacon butties)

Time

I was taking it easy.  I’d been dancing for 3 hours the night before, with another 3 hours to do this evening, so I wasn’t going to risk a fall or stumble over those loose stones.  49 minutes, I think it was only the tail walking crew behind me.  But time is an illusion anyway.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle

I was running with no tech – neither music nor watch. “Naked” I believe that’s called. Anyhoo, I enjoyed the opportunity to chat with fellow runners and volunteers, and to hear the sounds of nature in the birdsong, the wind soughing in the branches, and the gentle ripple of water.

And the rest

It was such a joy to be back at an “in person” dancing event, even though the programme of dances was certainly challenging!  Meeting up with old friends, listening to live music, sharing in the joy of dance, it was all rather wonderful.

All my parkruns

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Oaklands parkrun

Event #78 run #293

Attending the With Me Now pow wow

With Me Now is a weekly podcast all about parkrun. It is presented by Danny Norman and Nicola Forward, with regular guest appearances from surrogate mum Bev, cat Dolly, various Ste and Steve’s, and many more. In jokes include “ Dolly or Bev”, describing things as “ arbitrary” when they are not official milestones or “things”, no context comments and random vegetable emojis. I’ve been a listener for a number of years, and have often had comments or emails read out on the show.  So when the get together ( or Pow-wow) was announced, for the weekend after my birthday, I did not hesitate to book my flights to Birmingham and a cheap hotel.

Access

The flight from Belfast to Birmingham is less than an hour, even though my car decided not to start as I was leaving the house, and I had to take a taxi instead. Birmingham airport is well connected to the main New Street station in the Bullring, and from there my Ibis budget hotel was a short 10 minute walk away.

I’d sussed out which bus stop I would need for the 60, X1or 2 the night before, but I was very happy when someone spotted my cow cowl at the stop and asked if I was heading for Oaklands. We gathered another pair of WMN hoody wearers, and our local guide made sure we got on the best bus and got off at the correct stop.  It’s very near the Swan shopping centre, where there is ample parking.

Facilities

The shopping centre has loos and coffee shops a plenty. For the post run parkfaff we took over the Costa, and I joined a breakaway group in the Subway right beside it, with Greggs also getting some of our business.

 Course

Three and a bit laps on wide tarmac paths, with a very slight undulation. I like 3 lappers, you can usually see where everyone is, and for slow runners like me you usually have the last lap in peace and quiet without being overtaken.

 Crowd

Well, what a crowd there was today! Normal attendance would be around 100, but the WMNers swelled that to 250. It was great to meet some of the names I’ve become so familiar with, as well as bump into old friends I’d met at previous tourism gatherings like Bushy Dublin. The volunteers did a fantastic job of keeping us all in order, with friendly cheery marshals and fast efficient results processing. Remember the days when you used to have to wait for an email about 5 pm to get your results? The virtual volunteer app is just brilliant, modern tech at its best.

Gear

I was wearing my apricot #parkrundancer top, but I was getting serious T shirt and hoody envy from all the delightfully personalised tops- Not Dolly, arbitrary, it’s a thing, cool down, warm down, fall down, lie down…. I need me one of those.  But what should my handle be? Good ole parkrun dancer? Wardrobe mistress? Potatoe? Hoedown?

I came bearing gifts- a moth cloak for “ forgetful moth” Nicola, which she absolutely loved and wore for most of the rest of the day. Danny had been specifically clear that he did not want any gifts, so I send him a picture of some Comber spuds to thank him for virtually volunteering at Comber ( his barcode number had been used in error a few times resulting in him being thanked for volunteering even though he’s never been over to Norn Irn). Oh, and a big thank you to the Master Baker, whose lemon hearts were just delicious!

Strangely appropriate song on shuffle

I didn’t have earphones in, it was much more fun to cheer and chat with fellow runners

Time

Having recently celebrated my 60th birthday this was my first time running in a new age cat. 37-34, faster even than Dulwich, and my best age grade in quite some time.

And the rest

I really enjoyed my short stay in the city, even though open top buses are not operating right now. But I was able to wander through Chinatown, along the trendy Gas street basin, visit the upmarket Mailbox, home to Harvey Nicks and the BBC, take a trip on a canal boat, and admire the beautiful library of Birmingham. And the super KittyCafe above the station concourse, which rescues cats and lets them roam around while you enjoy your coffee.

I’m still fundraising for the Smile Train, do please donate if you can, and let’s spread some smiles around the world

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/linda-harley6

All my parkruns

NI (and other) parkruns: summary lists