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!