Church Mead parkrun for my 300th!

Over Christmas I realised that my total number of parkruns was creeping up, and my first one in January was going to be my 300th. I have an agreement with my dad that we’ll celebrate all the arbitrary milestones (as it’s going to be at least 5 years until the next official one between us now), and so I requested a new event. Church Mead started up last year, in Amersham, around a 45 min drive from St Albans, so doable in a morning, and it was finally time for us to head there.

The weather was not very inviting- pouring rain and strong winds- we were quite pleased that the start sign was visible from the car park. We had to walk along a very short path from the car park to where everyone was assembling. It actually wasn’t too bad once we got out- we sheltered from the rain under a tree before the new runners welcome took place (along with very enthusiastic volunteer children rounding us all up).

The course is two laps, muddy and very hilly. We were warned of so called chicken sh*t corner being particularly muddy that week. It does make me chuckle when event teams have names for various parts of the course.

You start off right by the car park, so we walked back to the start together once the run briefing had been carried out. After a shortish flat part we were soon heading up the hill, and my, this is some hill. It just kept on coming- after a mile we were still not at the highest point of the course! After most of the hill was done, the runners headed into the woods- this was also tricky ground as there were big flint rocks half covered by mud and leaves, so it was hard to see where best to place your feet.

Once out of the woods you headed back down the hill on the other side of the field, along the bottom and then back up the hill for the second lap. If I had not been trying to keep up with my dad I definitely would have walked on the second time going up that hill, but somehow we kept on going.

As we headed downhill it felt like we were running into the wind and rain, but then on the uphill of course you can’t feel the wind helping at all.

I was surprised to get token 24 when I finished as it felt as though there were more runners ahead of us. I think we did overtake a few people on the way up the hill the second time around, and I suppose the rain kept a few regulars away.

We had to head back quickly as my parents were having some of their friends around, so we head to speedily get back, shower and change before breakfast. We did have time to thank the RD and also have a quick chat with someone who went to parkrun for the first time that morning- in that weather and with that course it was not an easy first visit!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day parkruns!

It’s always a bonus at this time of year when we get more than one parkrun each week. As Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, it meant that we could do two in a row if teams put them on.

My chosen pair of parkruns was Jersey Farm on Christmas Eve, and then Panshanger on Christmas Day. Panshanger feels like a tradition for Christmas Day for me now- it’s the only one I’ve been to on Christmas, both running and volunteering. I can run there from home so it’s perfect to not have to worry about busy car parks, traffic or things like that.

The weather played ball on both days, with sunshine on Christmas Eve. I forgot to take a photo of my finish token, something which is a bit of a habit/superstition with me (for example, if they have an issue with results I can then at least know whereabouts I finished). The text came through though so I needn’t have worried.
After breakfast at my parents, I headed off to pick up Andy as we had ordered some buns from the amazing vegan cafe in Letchworth (Vutie Beets), and they were shutting at 3. A gingerbread bun was enjoyed in front of some classic Christmas movies (Home Alone).
The three of us trying to do a selfie, running through the woods on the way, at the end, and my barcode pic.
I wore my Christmas hat on Christmas day but it was really mild and I was too hot- I basically carried it and then put it on for a photo at the end! It marked the end of the Run Up 2 Christmas challenge. I managed 140km in the end, which included some walks (I started tracking walks in the snow as I couldn’t run). Our team did really well as we didn’t have a huge number of members. I really enjoyed this, as sometimes at this time of year going out for a run isn’t that appealing, but you know you will feel better for it.
Back to parkrun, my Dad and brother met me at Panshanger which was lovely- nice to run around with them and enjoy the bonus parkrun. I’d run there through the woods, listening to my Christmas Spotify playlist and generally feeling very cheerful.
Once home and showered I had a Christmas Day bun while watching the With Me Now, including an appearance of PSH!

I also had a look on the app and appear to have achieved single-ton (100 visits to a single parkrun) but in fact this includes volunteer visits, so I have 13 runs to go before I officially achieve this. (The app is great but the running achievement chrome extension is the only one with “official” challenges that I will count).

After all the runs leading up to Christmas, I had a few days off running. We had a lovely walk another day with my parents and were lucky enough to see a kingfisher for ages (diving into the water, sitting on reeds and even on the fence). My mum took this amazing photo of it- the colours are just so beautiful.
We watched Glass Onion (thoroughly enjoyed it) and generally chilled out. Plus the final bun (chocolate orange). It’s probably a good thing that the cafe is not closer to home!

We were off to DLP for New Year, so no parkrun double (or even single) for me over that weekend, so that marked the end of 2022 parkruns for me, and what a great way to finish the year.

Junior parkrun marshalling and Totoro in London!

After heading to Bury Fields parkrun for Dad’s 250th, I had to head off home and get ready as we were off to London to see Totoro! It’s one of my favourite films, and the RSC had been putting on a performance at the Barbican. We had booked an early dinner and had a bit of a wander around London first, before heading to see it.

About to see Totoro, iced tea with dinner, Christmas lights and the poster

London was looking quite festive, despite this being the start of November! I won’t go into details as they asked for the show not to be spoiled, but suffice to say that if you love the film then you would absolutely love this performance and I can highly recommend it.

In all the layers for marshalling at junior parkrun, a pretty mushroom, pumpkin spiced doughnut and my view from my marshal point.

My niece and nephew were not coming to juniors, so I had offered to marshal (as if they come I will run with them). The weather had decided to be utterly awful. I ran down there as it is less than a mile away, with a view to then do a longer run after. By the time I got there I was soaked- I think the trouble is that I didn’t want to wear loads as I knew I would get hot on my run, but of course standing around for half an hour needs many layers. As the kids started running it did stop raining at least, but by that point I was so cold. I did enjoy cheering them on, and when it finished I then did another 6 miles- I think after 2 miles my hands began to warm up!

What made it better though? A pumpkin spiced doughnut from Crosstown (we had popped in of course when we were in London!).

It reminded me of how grateful I am to all of those parkrun volunteers in these colder months- I much prefer marshalling in the summer when it’s too hot to run and nice to stand around and cheer- standing about in the cold and damp is much harder than running around in the same weather I think!

Do you like Totoro? What is your favourite show to see?

Leavesden Country parkrun to reclaim Queen of Herts

We’ve not had a new parkrun in Herts for ages, and there was much excitement when Leavesden popped up a few weeks ago.

I would of course be travelling there with Dad. We were in no rush to head to the first one, and anyway had plans (his 250th venue had already been chosen) so we were there for event 4 in November.

Listened to With Me Now in the week I heard that Danny, the presenter, would be heading there, which also meant lots of listeners were heading there too. We’d already arranged it so it was a happy coincidence and of course I had to wear my WMN cooldown hoodie.

I had seen a few posts on their facebook page regarding parking, and chose the main car park as the postcode for the satnav, but it turned out to be OK and not too busy when we arrived at 8:30. I think by then the tourists had died down a bit, meaning they didn’t have such huge numbers as in their first few weeks.

The starting field was full of With Me Now merch, and I got to say hi in real life to a few running insta friends (Hi Branka and Holly) which was lovely.  The venue has everything you could need- parking on site, a lovely looking cafe (plus toilets), a playground and lots of interesting sculptures linking back to the history of the park in aviation.

The course was three laps, going around playing fields and then through woods. There is one narrow part where you meet runners in the other direction (almost like the middle part of a figure of eight) so you were asked to not overtake in this section, but it was only a few metres long so it’s easy to wait until after if you were in that position. It isn’t flat, but not hilly either, just a bit undulating. I think trail shoes might be better in winter but at that time the ground was fairly firm and the muddiest part was the field in the start/finish area. I don’t always like lapped routes, but as each lap was varied I really enjoyed it and was quite surprised as we came into the finish.

At the finish, Danny was chatting to someone else about lovely Ellenbrook Fields, so we joined in with the chatting and I asked for a photo. Last time I met him (at Kingdom parkrun) I chatted to him but felt a bit awkward asking for a photo, and regretted that as he always says on the pod that he’s happy for photos. Of course, I am not looking at the camera in the photo, but at least my eyes are open!

Of course I got a picture with Dad too, to commemorate our visit and to celebrate Queen of Herts once again!

That was my 90th different parkrun venue- gradually chasing down the Cowell!

How many parkrun events have you been to? Does your region have any good names? I quite like Champshire for completing all the parkruns in Hampshire! 

Bury Fields parkrun for Dad’s 250th!

As is tradition with us, the person celebrating their milestone gets to choose where they go- as there is no Ellenbrook Fields we have tended to spread out celebrations a bit.

Dad chose Bury Fields as we loved it last time, and a bonus is that it is close to where Brian (his cousin) lives, so we could meet up with him too. My brother even came along!

Bury Fields is a gem of a parkrun- it’s one lap over flat fields, (well fairly flat), parking is right by the park and also right by the town centre (and it’s free), it has such a friendly feel with a small number of participants so you can chat to people. If it was closer it would probably always be my chosen one as it ticks so many boxes. It’s around a 45 min drive from my parents though so we are not doing that journey regularly when we have so many closer ones.

The four of us at the finish/ finish token/ new and old parkrun barcode band

We had arranged to meet in the car park at 8:30 and it was still raining at that point so we sat in the car and caught up for a bit . Brian had recently run the Great South Run in his goal time of under 2 hours- amazing! We then braved the rain and walked over to the field. It turned out it was their first birthday too- such a coincidence! Thankfully the rain stopped as there is no shelter on the fields.

We listened to the new runners welcome, and Brian mentioned to the RD that we had come to celebrate a 250th, so Dad got a clap in the main briefing too.

Then we were off. Dad, my brother and I ran together, with Brian wanting to set his own pace. (This was around a week or so before his 80th birthday so he is just so impressive). The one lap course keeps heading back to a central point before heading out, so it makes a pretty map (maybe like butterfly wings?), so there are a few points where you pass other runners. The three of us crossed the finish line in order of most to least parkruns, and then we scanned in and waited for Brian.

I’d given Dad a 250 barcode band to celebrate, so I was very relieved when the results came through and it scanned properly (I had the same worry the week before at Blickling when I tried my own band for the first time- even though I double and triple checked the barcode number I was still paranoid that somehow I’d typed them in incorrectly).

After scanning in, we headed to the high street and went for breakfast in a little cafe (we went there last time we went to Bury Fields too)- a toasted teacake and hot tea for me was perfect. The whole morning was just a great way to celebrate- it’s so nice to have a reason to all get together.

How do you like to celebrate milestones?