If you are not familiar with the parkrun tourist term, a Cowell is 100 different events. The Pastures was my 75th, so I am 3/4 of the way there now. This seems crazy to me. Yes, I do love parkrun, and I do love going to a new one if we are away for the weekend, but still, 75 different ones- it seems like a lot. I have not even got my 250 shirt yet, and I have been to my local ones (St Albans, Panshanger, Ellenbrook Fields, and more recently Jersey Farm) regularly. But then, when I start to think about it, I’ve been doing lots of little challenges – completing all of the parkruns in Herts, doing things like the Compass Club (parkrun names containing North, South, East and West), the alphabet challenge, the name challenge (all the letters in my name), Pirates (7 C’s and one R). All of that adds up!
So this was on our way back home from Scotland- we drove from Edinburgh on the Friday, stopping at a few Northumberland beaches on the way, and having a nice wander around the town in the evening.
Our hotel was less than a mile from the start (the start is just outside the castle) so it was a leisurely start for me. It isn’t a big parkrun (100 people did it on that morning) and it had such a lovely feel with people catching up with each other. The field did have a “beware of the bull” sign on the gate, but I didn’t see it- hopefully the sign is there all the time but the bull isn’t. There were lots of cows in the adjacent field, and plenty of cow pats to dodge during the run! Just before the run brief, someone dressed in a kilt stood near the sign and began playing bagpipes. He played Chariots of Fire and the theme tune of Star Wars, which answered a question that Andy and I had had in Edinburgh- are there other tunes that you can play on the bagpipes?
When he finished playing, everyone clapped, and then the RD did the briefing (no explanation of the bagpiper though). This course was the kind that I love- totally simple (2 and a bit laps of the field) with easy instructions- run to the tree, then turn right and run to the river, then back up to the start.
The marshal by the tree was trying to keep count, saying to everyone “One lap to go/ I think it’s your last lap now?”. The people manning the finish funnel were so enthusiastic, cheering us on each lap, commenting on the dog that was running, or the big smiles of the runners, or encouraging you to do a final sprint at the end.
It really felt as if this parkrun had minimum impact on the surroundings – not many cones or flags or signs to put out, the use of one field, a few cars parked in the street next to it but most people seemed to walk over from the town. In a good way, you could have walked to the field just after 10 and seen no evidence of parkrun being there- they went to a café in town to process the results.
My legs were feeling quite heavy, and the uneven ground (mole hills, tussocks of grass) meant I took my time. This was not a course for a pb, but it was my 75th different parkrun course so I was going to enjoy it. I took a few photos as I ran around, and just enjoyed looking at the castle, the river and the cows in the field next door.
I finished in 31:07, and took a few photos at the finish but then the drizzle got harder so I didn’t hang about. I did briefly chat to someone heading back to her car, but it was time for a quick shower and breakfast before the long drive home. So there we go, 3/4 of the way to a Cowell!
(One thing that did throw me a bit was as I was coming in to the finish I could hear some people charging up behind me. I was speeding up at this point, and never mind a sort of race to the finish, but these 2 guys ran past me literally at the finish line- they were going so fast they carried on straight through the funnel without getting a token. When the person handing out the tokens looked confused at them, pointing at me with the tokens and looking at them (maybe they thought we knew each other?). I pointed to the 2 guys and asked if they needed one, and the volunteers were trying to sort it out, counting out the tokens for the missing people, but then the guys came back again and grabbed some tokens. I do not at all mind which token I get, but this sort of thing makes it harder for the volunteers. I am not quite sure why they had to sprint by right at the end and confuse everyone. When I looked at the results, there are two unknown runners, one just before me and one after me, so maybe they were new to parkrun?)
How many parkrun courses have you visited? Are you working through any challenges at the moment?