Happy 9th birthday to Panshanger parkrun!

After two weekends at Jersey Farm, it was Panshanger’s birthday so Dad and I headed there to join in with the celebrations.

Panshanger parkrun started on 11th October 2014, and back then it was quite well publicised (unlike now where it is discouraged to go to an inaugural to avoid swamping event teams)- Sweatshop had a poster advertising it for weeks in advance so we had planned it in advance. At that point I’d been to St Albans parkrun 21 times but no other event.

By the big birthday balloon (although I am not a fan of balloons as they are not good for the environment and especially bad when let go either deliberately or by mistake), the amazing almond croissant that was not too squashed, chai latte in my cup for the walk back, and finish token.

Panshanger was a huge contrast to St Albans, which back then had an even flatter route around the lake, with an out, three laps and then back. Panshanger is one lap, but fairly undulating and on mixed paths (some gravel, some hard dirt, some grass), and in those days a killer finish on a steep hill. However, from that first visit I loved it. I’d not even been to the park before, and could not believe how lucky we were to have such a huge and varied park so close to where we lived. Gradually more of the park is being opened up by the owners, and so since then I’ve got to see more of it. There are bluebells in the spring time, amazing ancient oak trees, grassland, woodland, lakes, a chalk stream (a real rarity)… it’s gorgeous there.

Once Panshanger started, I properly started going to parkrun more regularly. Before then, we tended to go around once a month, but once it started we got into more of a routine. I even celebrated my 50th parkrun at their first birthday and one month was voted as the volunteer of the month (when they used to do that) and claimed some trainers from Sweatshop as my prize.

Since coming back after the pause, it now starts in a different part of the park (much closer to Welwyn Garden City than Hertford), and whereas a few times I had cycled to Panshanger, I can run to the start now, but somehow I’ve been there less and less, and this was only my second visit of 2023. However I often either run there on long runs, or go for a walk around there, so I have been to the park plenty of times and very regularly, which is probably why I am so surprised about those two visits being my only parkrun ones, as I have been there on many more occasions just not for parkruns.

Happily the landowners (Tarmac) had paid Planted Coffee Co to provide free drinks and cakes to the parkrunners to celebrate, so after running together we joined the big queue. I had a chai latte and took my almond croissant home to enjoy, and Dad had a latte and rocky road which he said was delicious. It made me very happy to see everyone enjoying all of the plant based goodies.

I’ve got some touring coming up but it reminded me of how much I love it there. If only there were more Saturdays each week!

Happy 19th birthday to parkrun!

30th of September and 7th October saw me at Jersey Farm two weeks in a row. The first one was my 330th parkrun and I ran with Dad, enjoyed it, and found out that there is no such thing as too much green. (I had on new green leggings, my 250 top and various green accessories).

Tea at home with Mum after, and drinks from the OH Sunday run, green leggings and finish token.

I had also started getting back into going to the Sunday OH runs. These are relaxed affairs, a sort of “how far does everyone want to go?” attitude which I love. We have done a similar route a few times, out and back or a lollipop shape ending by Sustain Coffee in Hatfield, a vegan independent coffee roaster and cafe. Sadly no chai latte but they did do a hot chocolate which was frothy and creamy and delicious, perfect after a run.

The second weekend was parkrun’s birthday, but Jersey Farm didn’t seem to do anything to mark the occasion. I am sure the 20th will be a big event next year. Again, I ran with Dad, we enjoyed the summer route and the autumn sunshine- I was still in sunglasses for both weeks (a decision I have to make at home as I don’t want to leave my actual glasses in a bag and have the risk of them going missing by mistake or being squashed etc).

I enjoyed looking back on some of my parkrun memories- obviously I’ve not been a parkrunner since the beginning, but I did start in 2013 so that’s ten years now. I am so lucky that my dad enjoys it (and got me into parkrun) as I am sure we see each other more than we would do. It’s so varied in that we can pop along to Jersey Farm, walking there and back together, or we can tour and visit somewhere new, maybe with my mum in tow to join us in the cafe after. If I’m away I can visit a new parkrun and it won’t impact the weekend as I am back for breakfast, and of course we have all the fab milestone and arbitrary celebrations with friends and family.

Club parkrun celebrations at Westmill and St Albans

September brought with it lots of parkrun celebrations with my lovely running club. On the 9th September we had a fab club meet up at Westmill parkrun for a 50th and a 200th parkrun. It was my 6th visit there but I’d not been since before the pause (not since September 2019), so the route was a bit different, still being two laps but starting at the top of the hill (and finishing there) rather than part way down the hill.

It’s a very hilly route, with steep downhills as well as steep uphills, but it is so pretty as you have views across the countryside from the top, and then at the bottom you run alongside lakes. Definitely a course to take in the views and not worry about the times.

Check out the gorgeous flags at the start! You can see the start and finish views in the photos too.

Once everyone had finished, we headed to the cafe, my first visit there. It was a super hot day and we were very thankful for the water being supplied to everyone. I didn’t have anything to eat as from what I could see there were not any vegan options, but I enjoyed a catch up with loads of our club before coming home. A little bit of geekery- if I visit Westmill one more time my P-Index will go up to 7 (as I have been to 6 events 6 or more times so it’s currently on 6, but as 6 of those I have also been to over 7 times, once I’ve been to Westmill 7 times I will have been to 7 different parkruns 7 times or more).

We didn’t have much time before the start for the photos as some people only arrived at 5 to- I really wanted the pink and green vests spread out evenly because it just looked wonky! Someone amazing in the OH ladies had even made them custom tops but as it was so hot they had to wear them around their waists instead.

Of course another customised top!

The following weekend we were at St Albans parkrun, for a club mates 150th! (And yes that and 200 is not an official milestone but who needs an excuse to celebrate?) At 28:23 it was my fastest of the year so far- I ran with Dad and we enjoyed chatting and then pushing on a bit on the third lap. We couldn’t stay for the Waffle House celebrations but we did have a lovely time with everyone- as it is three laps we passed (and were passed) by lots of OH ladies (and hangers on as the partners/ Dads/kids are known as). These celebrations are just so great and a reminder of what my running club is. Yes it’s a running club, but it’s more social and so supportive.

Are you in a running club? If so, do you enjoy celebrating achievements together?