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parkrun picked in advance, course reviewed, checked for cancellation or course change, appropriate footwear selected, directions & parking set, and previous results checked to get an idea on depth of field. These are all the things that me and Other Dan should do. These are all the things that me and Other Dan never do.

I’m starting to think that we have an unsaid game going on, the ‘who can leave it as late as possible to message the other and start a conversation about parkrun’ game. I’ll have to work on the game title I think. Not very catchy. As usual we finally exchanged messages on Friday night.

Running Dan: parkrun tomorrow?

Other Dan: Yeah, where do you fancy?

Running Dan: Dunno… St Albans? Stevenage? Walthamstow?

Other Dan: Stevenage sounds good. 8am meet?

Running Dan: [annoying Facebook thumbs up]

Neither of us checked for a cancellation (thankfully all good), neither looked at the course, and I remembered to grab the car park location info as I was scrambling to find my Garmin on Saturday morning. ‘Six Hills Way’ and a postcode scribbled on an old envelope and off I went to meet Other Dan.

Cue the usual discussions on-route as we had no idea what to expect other than we would run 5k. We even mentioned ‘Six Hills Way’ numerous times without realising that this might not be a flat course. We rocked up to the car park and then it clicked that there was a link between the site and the name of the road.

We parked in the first car park listed on the event page. It’s next to the lake with a 5 minute walk to the start & finish areas. The second car park is closer to the start line but you walk past the café when you use the main car park. We went to the finish area first (missing the new runners briefing) to leave our tops and water bottles then trotted across to the start line. I noticed that there was someone kind enough to take runners tops at the start line and then carry them to the finish once the run started. If you’re visiting then I recommend jogging around to the finish funnel and dumping your stuff (there are people there).

The start area is fairly wide but it does narrow down once you get going and the path curves around the lake. You also have to run through a lot of goose poo when the course goes near the lake. Which is most of the time. Be aware that you’re going to wipe the bottom of your shoes on the grass at the end.

Other Dan went steaming off ahead. I stuck in the middle of the pack, wary that I hadn’t run all week (family break in Berlin) and not sure where my general fitness lay. I surprised myself by keeping a steady pace and finish sub-28. It’s a lovely rolling course, not as hilly as the road name suggests, and there’s plenty to see as you complete two laps of the park. There is a spiteful slope at the end, leading up to the finish funnel. On grass. With more goose poo.

We didn’t have time to stick around for a café visit so it was straight home again today. My result came through to my phone later followed by a message from Other Dan. He had been given a result 10 seconds ahead of me when he’d actually finished a good 4 minutes ahead. We checked the results page and it was littered with unknowns. Clearly something wrong with the scanner(s). The event team posted on their Facebook & News Page to confirm there was a scanning problem and they’ve been busy manually correcting results as runners email in their details. A nightmare for the event team but thanks for dealing with it so professionally.