We’re back on the Lon-done parkrun trail with a visit to Peckham Rye parkrun. Other Dan met me at Hanger Lane and I drove us through London to Peckham Rye Park. We didn’t really know what to expect from this one other than we knew it was flat and run on tarmac.
There was ample free parking close to the Colyton Road entrance of the park and from there you can see the event team putting together the start & finish area. We joined them on a cold day with the wind sweeping across the open sections of the park. We both decided to keep our layers firmly on and jogged round the three lap course together.
We knew the drive back would take longer than the journey there thanks to the joys of driving through the Olympia area so we didn’t hang about after the run. Probably a nice place to run in the summer but not fun when you misjudge the weather and run when you’re unfit (me) or coming back from injury (Other Dan).
We had planned to visit Peckham Rye parkrun this week but Other Dan dropped me a message on Saturday morning to say that his foot still wasn’t 100% so I was on my own again. I wasn’t going to visit a Lon-done parkrun by myself so looked around the outside of the M25 for a venue that I could drive to within 60 minutes, trying to pick one on the edge so it wouldn’t put a significant impact on me and Other Dan reaching 100 different parkruns.
I plumped for Milton Keynes parkrun and plotted out my route and parking, using the information on their website. The drive was uneventful although it took me on the route I now drive along to work during the week, which isn’t necessarily a good thing on a Saturday – too much like I was going to work. I plumped for parking at the Newlands carpark, which is situated near to the café for post-parkrun drinks. However, I thought it was odd that the car park was empty for an event that attracts over 400 runners on a consistent basis. The warm-up jog to the start area took me past the second car park and that was fairly empty as well.
Hmmmmmmm. What was going on? I arrived at the start/finish area and found out that all the regulars park at the Gulliver’s Land Theme Park, which is right next to the parkrun start & finish. Their web site suggests that parking is free here rather than the official paid car parks that serve the Willen Lake area. I can understand why the parkrun page doesn’t mention the Gulliver’s Land car park since the land owners don’t want their parking taken up by non-visitors but if you’re heading to Milton Keynes parkrun then be aware that this is also an option.
The course is a single all tarmac lap that starts in the parkland, includes a small hill where the path zigzags up, and then finishes with a large loop of the lake until you’re back to the start area and through to the finish funnel that’s located slightly further up the park. I’m not in the best shape at the moment so I found the run tough going thanks to the rain for the first section and then the combined wind & rain sweeping across the lake. In the end I was thankful for the sight of the finish funnel and had no energy to challenge the runners overtaking me on the finishing straight.
I slunk back to my car in the drizzle and headed back due to family commitments at home. I’ve marked this one down as a venue to visit again when Other Dan is back running, preferably in the summer on a non-windy day so I can enjoy the run around the lake.
Time to test the legs again following Country to Capital and I picked Rushmere parkrun out of the virtual hat for somewhere to visit while Other Dan recovers from a foot injury. Rushmere Country Park is located at Leighton Buzzard and is managed by the Greensand Trust on a not for profit basis. The Greensand Trust manages this area comprising Rushmere (200 acres), Stockgrove (80 acres), Oak Wood (100 acres) and Rammamere and parts of Kings Wood. Stockgrove was opened to the public in 1972 and Rushmere is the newest addition to the Estate, opened in 2011.
I drove to Rushmere Country Park and there is ample parking near the start/finish area with a standard £2 payment that covers all day, which is paid on exit at the barrier machines. The parkrun course page indicates that the nearest train station is Leighton Buzzard, which is a three-mile walk from Rushmere Country Park. Leighton Buzzard station is served by National Rail services from London Euston and Birmingham/Northampton. The majority of runners were car sharing but there were also cyclists who were leaving their bikes around the start/finish area. I didn’t specifically check for bike racks but the the site itself has plenty of off-road cycle trails so I am sure there are plenty of facilities to secure bikes.
It’s a two lap course consisting of woodland trails that were extremely muddy when I visited in January. The run starts along a firmer section that bunches up the runners and because of the wet conditions the start of the course was narrower because most of the runners were circumnavigating the puddles by sticking to the edges. I steamed through the puddles in the middle although did not consider the splashes this would cause for the runners around me so I generated a few *ahem* comments from the people nearby. I’m sure they saw the karma as we moved onto the first sections of deep mud and had the chance to laugh as one of my shoes was swallowed by the quagmire, which left me striding along with a sock sinking into the mess. Thankfully one of the runners behind was kind enough to rescue my shoe and hand it to me as he passed so I wasn’t caught hopping back through the crowd.
Next up (or actually down) was a steep hill that necessitated it’s own sign to warn runners of the steep descent. It’s a shame that my legs were still feeling tired from Country to Capital because I love a good eyeballs out steam down a muddy hill. I gave it my best but my quads were not happy with the slope and I know that my next visit is going to require a daring sprint down the hill.
The bottom of the hill takes you past a lovely looking pond, well, I am sure that it will look lovely in the summer, and then the gradual up slopes that take you back to the start/finish area. I was happy enough taking stops for photo opportunities and was in no rush to record any particular time. Some runners passed me, I caught them back up, and we repeated our leap-frog around the second lap.
This was a great parkrun location and course that I know will be revisited sometime in the future with Other Dan. It reminded me of Black Park parkrun & Alice Holt parkrun; woodland trails, muddy sections, and hills to conquer. I would enjoy this as a home parkrun and I’m envious of the fab area that surrounds the parkrun. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to hang around for food & drink but the event pages states that the team go to the Tree Tops Café for a post-parkrun coffee.
Janathon ended with a whimper rather than a bang. A couple of tired runs, a run in Hull with drivers shouting abuse and a drunk/addict trying to stop me so I could “borrow him some money”, a few more training runs, and then it was onto Country to Capital on the 16th January. So I made it onto 16 consecutive days of running and then… stopped to recover. Unfortunately the blogging stopped on day 5 but there’s always Juneathon to make things right :-)
A long day at work meant a long internal discussion on the merits of melting into the sofa versus stepping out into the dark for an easy 4 miles. Thankfully the thought of destroying my Janathon running streak won out and I threw my running clothes on before Sofa Dan had a chance to launch a counter argument. I may have been better staying home as the run disintegrated into a walk after the first mile and carried on alternating between a slow jog and a steady walk. My stomach was grumbling and I knew that dangerous gingerbread man territory lay ahead.
Thankfully I made it home to the safety of the amenities before any accident could embarrass me in front of the neighbours. Some people might like to tell you that there’s no such thing as a bad run, that getting out the door is better than staying home, but sometimes I’m not quite so sure about that.
That weird feeling when you’re back to work for the first working day of the year made stranger because I worked through the Christmas period but most of the office were back from an extended break. The customary exchange of “Happy New Year” with everyone, general chit-chat about Christmas celebrations, and wondering where all the time went.
I went for a run in the evening after work for a tired 5 miles.
Mrs Dan declared that I needed to be home, showered, and ready to go out for 10am. I calculated that a 10 mile run would get me home with 20 minutes to get changed and ready for shopping duties. I plumped for the same 10 mile route that I ran last week and off I went into the light drizzle that would later turn into heavy rain.
The weather was playing merry havoc with the worm population, with hundreds of them crawling out of the ground to sprawl across the tarmac paths in the various parks that I crisscrossed. I started off by gently skipping over the sheltering worms but there were so many in the end that I probably ended up inadvertently squashing a few of them.
I ran a circuit of Pitshanger Park where the junior parkrun team were starting to set up the finish area in preparation for the kids run. I had spotted a broken bottle on one of the paths so alerted them to the potential hazard. I would have stopped myself but I was already cutting my time limit to the bone. That’s until I got home and found that Mrs Dan had gone back to bed and our shopping trip moved to 11am.
Other Dan suggested Black Park parkrun this week because:
- It’s close enough to allow us extra time in bed.
- It was pacer day and he was going to try and help a friend go sub-20.
- We’ve run here before and we like the course.
At 8am The Son casually mentioned that he would like to parkrun with me. I ran to the window to see if hell had frozen over but the world seemed to be spinning on its normal axis. I wondered if checking his temperature for signs of sickness might spook him so decided to take him at face value and nonchalantly reply that it would be nice to run with him again.
Next thing I knew we were both on our way to meet Other Dan and then onto Black Park. It wasn’t my best day for giving directions. Neither of us could remember the way so I whacked Black Park into Google Maps on my phone and we were promptly taken to Pinewood Studios. Close but no cigar. I also managed to direct us the wrong way on the way home *sigh*.
I ran near the back with The Son while Other Dan cracked on with his sub-20 attempt. It rained a bit but that didn’t bother me as I was busy chatting away to The Son. These are fleeting moments, when your teenage son is in a chatty mood and not looking cynically at the world, so I’ve learned to embrace them and enjoy our time together. Around 3km he decided to put on a burst of speed so I followed him until he realised that he isn’t parkrun fit and then we walked for a while before running through to the finish.
Other Dan and his friend didn’t hit their sub-20 goal. The conditions weren’t great (mud & rain) and the pacer went out a bit fast for the first km.
It’s that time of the year again – Janathon. The month to jog, log, and blog my way through the month. The running part is easy, it’s the blogging that usually catches me out. Best intentions and all that.
New Year’s Day provides the opportunity to run at two parkrun events in the same day so we travelled across a sleeping London to run at Lloyd parkrun and Bromley parkrun. Two Lon-done parkrun events ticked off the list and six miles of running. One flap jack eaten.
The tarmac paths of the Bromley parkrun winter course were a welcome sight for the concluding leg of our parkrun New Year’s Day double. Parking was easy, finding the start & finish areas was easy, and the run felt easy compared to our muddy adventure at Lloyd parkrun. Again, we ran together for the two and a bit laps of Norman Park as we kept an eye on the first finisher to make sure that we (just) didn’t get lapped.
A bigger attendance for this run as Bromley parkrun typically brings in over 400 runners. I suspect parking becomes more of a problem on parkrunday proper. It’s a fairly unassuming park with a simple course (both summer and winter) but we enjoyed our jog around the park before heading back through the still quiet streets.