Bedford Twilight 10k 2023

The race was at 5:30pm, so after volunteering at parkrun in the morning, I had a fairly relaxed day before Dad picked us up to head up in the evening. The event HQ had parking close by, and you could pick up your number from the event village before it started- all the relaxed vibes that I like.

Thankfully, although it was warm, it wasn’t the hottest day (that came the following weekend) so it was pretty good running weather. We had a “before” photo and then headed off.

The route was really good- very flat apart from a few bridges, out along the river, around a big park and lake, and then back along the river. It was pretty congested for the first mile or so, and it took a while for us to get into our stride- you know when you are behind people who are just slightly slower than you, so you spend time overtaking and trying to find a gap?

As it was still so sunny we did enjoy each time we headed into some shade, and I really enjoyed all the views too. I don’t know Bedford very well, but there was loads going on- several kayak clubs, camping, all sorts of activities.

The before picture, scenes during the run, and the race essentials- race clips, parkrun wristband with my ICE number on it, buff, lip balm, face wipes and a hoodie for after.
The “after” pic with medals, a ginger and peach mocktail in the pub, sunset views as we walked back to the car.

Dad had 3 goals- to complete it, to run it all, and to finish in under an hour. We came in just over the hour in the end, but managed the other two and enjoyed it. Mum and Andy were in the event village, listening to the band that were playing, so we hung around there for a bit, but decided to go to a pub for some dinner. We’d passed one on the drive in, and then run past the same one during the race, so we went and had dinner there, sitting outside by the river.

An evening race is a bit strange to prep for, but it does mean you can shower and go straight to bed once home!

I really enjoyed the event- Active Training World do lots of local events and they have the same vibe- well organised but relaxed.

Recovery on the Sunday looked like this- a walk around Panshanger with a lovely iced matcha, and then chilling out on the sofa.

Medal Monday! It’s a really nice medal too, with various landmarks on the ribbon.

On the Monday I did a short run (check out the amazing sunbeams seen in the woods), some yoga, and walked to the tip and back via the shops.

Jersey Farm- running one week, volunteering the next

After being in Florida for nearly 4 weeks (and being happy to make it to one parkrun while I was out there) it was lovely to be home and back to a parkrun routine. It was Jersey Farm parkrun for two weeks in a row- the first one was a lovely run with Dad.

We ended up being in matching outfits unintentionally (250 tops and blue shorts/crops) so had to get a picture of course. Jersey Farm is obviously a tourist magnet for those alphabet hunters as J is a rare letter, so there is always someone by the sign who you can ask to take a photo for you (and take one for them in return).

It was quite a warm day and I was still struggling to sleep with the jet lag, so we took it easy and chatted (as we so often do) and it was very enjoyable. I couldn’t decide whether to wear sunglasses or regular glasses, and I’m so glad that Dad persuaded me to opt for sunglasses as it got very bright not long after we had left.

After breakfast at my parents, I had some jobs to do in town, and treated myself to a matcha latte from a cafe- it was so good (and so pretty).

The following Saturday we were both back at Jersey Farm again, this time as marshals. For the last couple of years, I’ve got Dad a 10K race entry for his birthday, and this year we were doing the Bedford 10k. It started at 5:30pm on the Saturday, so not a good idea to run parkrun the same day. We both decided to volunteer, and ended up being at a marshal point together. (I had mentioned this in the email as I knew a few of the points had more than one marshal, but of course said we were fine to be at other points if needed).

We ended up being at one end of the park, where there is a track that leads to a house. The “Caution Runners” sign was to warn motorists of the runners, but we were instructed to stop runners and let any vehicles pass. They were only expecting the post van, but we had a couple of vans drive up and back, but when it was quiet. The summer route (that we are on) has an outer and then inner lap, and so the marshal point has to cover both paths during the run. There were 3 of us (we had a lovely D of E volunteer with us too), so after the first runners went through on the outer lap, I stayed with the D of E volunteer, and Dad moved to the inner loop ready for the front runners. They were passing by before the tail walker was at the outer loop, but once they had gone through we were all back together on the inner loop.

I do love cheering on the runners and walkers (even saw some vegan runners- yay). So many of them say thank you (we always do when we run, but you don’t always hear others around you), but a lot of the walkers apologised for being slow- they are not by us for long but I kept saying that they were all welcome to walk the whole way. I really wish this message was out there more because people should not be feeling guilty for walking at these events.

I commented on the parkrun adventurers post about marshalling, and so got a surprise on Tuesday morning when I saw they had chosen my photo for the cover of their podcast that week! Fame at last!

Mum made us a delicious breakfast once home (vegan pancakes with apple compote- made with apples from their friend’s garden) and we met up later for the race (but I’ll post that another time).

Clermont parkrun- alternative course

This summer we were off to Florida with Andy’s family- there were ten of us in total (including 3 kids) and it was a fantastic, but very different holiday to usual. We were away for several Saturdays, but only had a car for a couple of them. Andy had agreed to drive me to the parkrun once, and so I got to return to Clermont Waterfront parkrun (as I had been there last summer too).

Their facebook page said they would be on the alternative course for that Saturday, but it started in the same place, Lake Hiawatha Preserve which is to the west of Lake Minneola. They start at 7:30am (sensible due to the heat and humidity) and it was around a 45 minute drive away, so we were in the car at 6:30. The main course is an out and back along the waterfront by the lake, on fantastic foot and cycle paths. As we drove alongside there at around 7:10, there were loads of runners out. I had an absolute panic that I had missed the start, worried that they had changed to 7am rather than 7:30, and worried that we had got up early and driven all that way for nothing. Andy noticed that they had bibs on, as I frantically googled the course to confirm the 7:30am start time. It turned out that I did not need to panic, because there was a triathlon taking place on their normal route (hence the alternative course) and so all the runners we could see were doing the triathlon. Panic over. I had time once we had parked to run over to the toilet block, before heading to the start area. They even had helpful signs at the normal start/finish place, directing you over the road, back through the car park and to the alternative start/finish area. (You could see this from the car park, but it was very helpful nonetheless).

Views of the waterfront at sunrise, the park map and the helpful sign showing parkrunners where to go.

The alternative course was two (and a little bit) laps under trees and on trails. You had to watch out for tree roots as they were plentiful, but the route was fairly flat and the paths were packed firmly so it was a nice surface to run on. The shade was very much appreciated- Orlando was having it’s hottest week since records began, being in the low thirties as soon as the sun was up and with the crazy high humidity it was pretty tough to be outside.

Before running, after the panic! And the walk to the lake.

They only had two marshals out on the course- both near the start/finish area making sure people didn’t trip on the edges of the paths. The rest of the course was marked with little flags (the small flags on little wires that are often used on building sites), and it was fairly busy with 143 runners that day. It’s well established (and had celebrated it’s 10th birthday a few weeks prior to my visit), so I thought I could keep the person ahead in sight and be OK. The first lap went fine, and then partway through the second route I realised that I hadn’t seen any of the little flags for a while. The person up ahead had pulled away from me and was not in my view, so I stopped and started to retrace my steps. Two people who were behind me (using my tactic of following the person in front) asked me what I was doing, so I explained that I’d not seen the flags and thought I’d gone wrong. They retraced their steps with me, but another runner ran past in our original direction, indicating that we were on the right track. We then followed him for a bit, before deciding to go back to the last place we’d seen the flags. Thankfully it wasn’t far before I could see runners looping around, but in looking at my Strava after, had I continued I am not sure I would have rejoined the route.

With the flag at the start area, and all the flags in the finish funnel and my token.

As I was coming towards the finish, another runner asked me where to go- she was a bit confused by them telling us to pass the finish line 3 times (as it was two full loops and a bit, and you started a bit further back from the finish, passing it after a few minutes- see the map below). I explained to her to run to the marshal, follow the path around and then go through the finish, and she then put on an amazing sprint to speed ahead of me at the finish funnel! Looking on the results it was her first ever parkrun so I hope she enjoyed it and returns. As I ran through the finish funnel, the lady giving out the tokens asked me where Ellenbrook Fields was (I was wearing my EF vest) and I said Hertfordshire. “Ooh, posh” she replied in a Yorkshire accent, and I realised that I’d spoken to her last year too! I mentioned it to her and she laughed (last year she had asked me and I’d said near London, which usually seems to be enough info for Americans, but she was an ex pat and wanted more info). A bit of a coincidence but also lovely to see that it is a proper community and not just full of tourists.

Even with the getting lost, I somehow managed a course pb of 32:47 (vs 33:58 in 2022). I think the shade really helped! Also, this was a couple of weeks into our holiday and I’d been running regularly around the hotel grounds, so was a bit more acclimatised to running in the humidity, as opposed to last year where it was our first Saturday and I’d not run at all there.

My full up wrist with Garmin, parkrun barcode and Magic Band (needed to unlock the hotel room), flags at the finish funnel and a sweaty face after running!

After finishing, I took a few photos and then walked back to the car to find Andy. I cannot convey how sweaty I got running in that humidity- even my legs were pouring with sweat! Thankfully we had brought a towel for me to sit on (last year I sat on my buff in the car on the way back which didn’t do much!). We always pack little rehydration tabs to take with us to Florida, and I’d added one to some water to take with me, so as Andy drove back I drank it up and gradually cooled down.

Another enjoyable parkrun morning, and with the early start it meant being back super early for a shower and breakfast.

Canons Park parkrun

Not to be confused with Cannon Hill in Birmingham (which I went to earlier this year), Canons Park is close to Stanmore, so when it was suggested by a club mate as a little road trip I decided to join in.

It was also Christmas in July, as celebrated by the parkrun adventurers pod, and a time to wear my ugly (not ugly) Christmas singlet. Normally I wear it in the winter over long sleeves, but it was actually OK wearing it on its own. I did suggest Christmas running gear but no-one else joined in- ah well!

Seriously- how cute is the koala design? It’s hugging a pineapple and even has on a little Santa hat. Adorable.

We arrived nice and early- one of our club members (Mel) was keen to run here as it was close to where she used to work, so she knew where there would be parking. We parked in the road right by the park entrance, but others parked in the tube car park and walked through, so I think there are lots of options. There was one toilet open before the start which a few people queued at.

There didn’t seem to be many people there even a quarter to, but by the time we’d taken photos by the sign and then listened to the wonderful new runners welcome (so very welcoming) there were more- around 150 I think.

The course was three laps, and lots of it was through woods so it would be good on a hotter day too, although a few roots to look out for as you came out (maybe harder to spot going into the glare of the sun). Three of us ended up running together which was lovely- it’s always nice to chat and run.

There wasn’t a cafe (it’s being renovated according to the course page) but the volunteers had tea and coffee at the finish, which was such a nice touch and meant that lots of people hung around at the end. We had chatted to a few tourists at the start (one of them had Panhanger as his NENDY so he was asking about it), and we chatted to more at the end. One person was very confused by my Christmas top- when I said it was Christmas in July, he said something about the football in Australia (women’s world cup) so I don’t think it was quite clear the link.

So that was my 103rd location and a very enjoyable one at that. After finishing it was time to head home and watch England’s first match, so a good start to the weekend all round.

Local parkruns including my first visit to Panshanger in 2023!

Handily Panshanger parkrun is around 2 miles from home, so if I do go there I can run/walk from home for a parkrun sandwich. I did get into doing this fairly regularly, but if Dad is around we tend to do Jersey Farm as it is less than a mile from theirs, and we’ve also been enjoying some tourism. Somehow I managed to go 6 months of 2023 without going to Panshanger at all.

I also went to Jersey Farm two weeks in a row (as Dad was around)- it’s on their summer course which I think technically is easier with less elevation, but I always find harder, maybe because I just run slower in the heat. It does look so pretty there with all the wildflowers at the moment.

Jersey Farm scenes- you can see the longer grass in the photo, and they had even mown around the flowers to leave them.

And another weekend at Jersey Farm- you can tell this was a while ago as I had on shorts so it was when we had the very hot spell around the end of June.

Once Dad was at Wimbledon I was back to deciding where I would go, and as I had to be home promptly, Panshanger seemed the best choice. Some of my club mates were running there too, so we met up at the start for a little catch up.

These are some photos of Panshanger park (and bottom left the view on my run there). It’s just such a beautiful park. When I arrived after running there, the start was slightly further down which meant the cow course. When the longhorn cattle as in one of the fields, they divert the course around the field, which means another hill (and a steep one at that). As I was running up the hill, a lady next to me was tripped over by a dog. The dog was on a lead and the owner was holding it, but the dog was running erratically and she really took a tumble. The guy with the dog was very friendly and apologetic (which dog owners often are after a dog had jumped up at you/ chased you etc I find), and luckily the lady seemed OK. I hope that she reported it as an incident, as I know parkrun are still looking into the impact of dogs at their events. I don’t mind dogs, but I am nervous of them off their leads, and it does surprise me that parkrun still allows them when their events are so busy.

Rain was forecast, but it stayed away during parkrun. I had to head home quickly as I needed to pick up my mum later on in the morning, and as I was around halfway home I got absolutely drenched in a sudden downpour, that ended as quickly as it started.

Then for some non-running news, I went to get my haircut. Now I don’t work on Mondays anymore I can get this sort of thing done in the week rather than the weekend, so it felt much more relaxed. I went for a cup of tea after in a little cafe (Herts Coffee Lab), did a few errands and then had time to chill in the garden.

(My hair will only look like this straight after the hairdresser has dried it- I cannot make it look that nice, so good to have a photo to prove that it can look good!)

My next post will be touring again, but this is the joy of parkrun to me- it can be whatever you want it to be- a solo run before heading back home, a social run with friends, a run exploring new places or a run in a familiar local park.

What do you like most about your local parkrun?