Pros and cons of visiting a new parkrun

This morning I decided to visit a new to me parkrun, Barclay parkrun in Hoddesdon. I decided for a few reasons really; I wasn’t volunteering so wasn’t tied to Panshanger, my dad and brother weren’t running so I could choose myself, and our new parkrun is coming to Hatfield in the next few weeks so soon I will be sharing my parkrun visits between Panshanger and Ellenbrook.

Barclay has been on my list for a while as it isn’t too much further away- another 5 miles beyond Panshanger. It is a lapped route, but it doesn’t seem to get big crowds (they average 53 runners) so I thought it would be a better bet than St Albans with the crazy numbers of runners.

On Friday night I duly read the course notes, noted down the postcode for my satnav, then realised the car park they recommend had a different post code, so wrote that down.

In the morning I knew I had to leave earlier, and managed to leave at about 8.10- it was around a 30 minute journey so that should be OK. When I put in the postcode, the road name did not come up, so I selected a different road, and it was only when I was driving along a dual carriageway that I realised I had put in the park postcode and not the car park postcode! Whoops! Luckily I drove right past Panshanger, so pulled into a side road to change the directions. I don’t think I would have found it otherwise.

You park (for free) in a civic centre car park, and the park is a 5 minute walk away. I parked at about 8.40, and as my sense of direction is not great I was about to look at maps on my phone, but I saw 3 people in Ware Joggers tops, so I followed them around the corner to the park.

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It was such a beautiful morning, and there were still some bluebells to be seen.

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The start was marked with a sign, but most people were congregating a little further up the hill so I headed there.

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I was wearing my apricot tribesports parkrun top (they went on sale again yesterday by the way), and so a few people chatted to me about it- they are hard to come by! One guy tended to go to Panshanger half the time too, so we discussed how beautiful it is there.

The RD asked for anyone new to parkrun, and I walked over but he told me that the course was different so it was new to everyone there. It turned out that the pond was being dredged so that their usual route had to be changed this morning. They walked everyone back down to the start, mentioned that Ware Joggers were pacing, and tried to describe the course (3 and a bit laps, after your final lap go up the hill again, we know how you all love the hill, then go left instead of going in the field- it will be obvious). At least I know I won’t be near the front!

Then we were off- my it was tough! Starting on a hill, and it was a fairly big one. It then looped fairly steeply down, around a field, down into a little car park, steeply up past a playground, along the way I had walked in, before being back at the start and doing it all again. Two and a bit more times! In the first lap I managed to overtake the 32 minute pacer, and in the second lap I went past the 31 minute pacer. In the final lap I could see the 30 minute pacer (and spent time trying to work out if I knew her as I think she looked like someone I have seen at Panshanger before) but I just could not catch her. Going up the hill for the fourth time was so tough- it was so hot and I was boiling in my t-shirt and wishing I had worn a visor. Β After doing half of the fourth lap, you turned left (just as they had said- there was a marshal there) and joy of joys, got to run uphill to the finish line! I could see the 30 minute pacer ahead of me and as she reached the finish line she started jogging on the spot- I crossed the line in the end just before her (I heard her tell someone else she was a bit ahead so waited there).

At the finish line were some lovely Ware Joggers handing out leaflets about their 10K and 10 Mile races- through my gasps I managed to tell the lady I was already signed up to the 10, and someone brought over a cup of water for me- I had forgotten how alarmingly red my face goes in the summer!

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Mmm, cake! Someone else asked me about my parkrun top, and then I was offered a top up on my water. This was very much needed as I had left my water bottle in the car, not knowing what it would be like here (at Panshanger there is a fence I hang my bag on). I had a little piece of walnut brownie and then walked back to the car.

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So- pros:

A new parkrun visited

Cake

A high placing (40/88 runners)

An attempt at a negative split with the laps- as each lap was not quite a mile it didn’t work because of the two final hills- I did manage my second mile being faster than my first, but then the heat and hills slowed me down for the end.

Cons:

Navigation is stressful!

Laps- especially laps with hills are not my favourite I don’t think

I missed beautiful Panshanger…

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I had to stop off in town to get some bit for dinner, and as the drive home took longer I was very hungry. I had to walk right past a Starbucks so I bought an almond croissant and had it for breakfast (well, nearly lunch as it was nearly midday by the time I got home) with a nuun tab- so so tasty.

Official time 30.00 (on the dot!), 40th place, 4th in my (new) age category.

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10 thoughts on “Pros and cons of visiting a new parkrun

  1. 30 minute, 31 minute and 32 minute pacers? That’s good service! Our local parkrun hardly ever has pacers, and when they do it always seems like they’re just out of my limits!
    I do love trying new parkruns. Despite the hills, at least it is a course PB! πŸ˜‰ When I visit Sheringham parkrun close to my parents’ house that finishes on a really steep hill and it is a killer at the end!

    • Yes- I didn’t see all of them but they had quite a few from around 20 minutes I think. They were promoting their summer races and did the same thing at my local one a few weeks ago. I don’t think they had one for every minute but it was very good.
      I know- the benefits of going to a new parkrun is a course pb!

  2. I need to get back into parkrun again, haven’t been in a few months due to work, hopefully will get there next week. One of the ones I go to Hilly Fields, is 3 laps and it has an ungodly hill in it. I think pretty much every parkrun I’ve done in London is 3-5 laps.

  3. Oh I do love a bit of parkrun tourism! But yes it is stressful. I’m the worst at driving to different places at the best of time and also terrible at arriving at places on time… so learning from that I now leave ridiculously early to make sure I do manage to arrive! I like to go to other parkruns with other people and then drive with them but I’ve done a few on my own when I go to different places like seeing friends etc. In fact, I’ll be going to the Bath one this weekend as I’m on a hen do there and I’m nervous about finding it.
    I do love my normal parkrun as well and will miss the people. But then everyone is so friendly at parkruns you never feel out of place or lonely.
    That course does sound tough with the hills. But how cool they had so many pacers! And water and cake at the end – like a proper race πŸ˜‰

    • Yes- the doing something that scares you each day includes me driving somewhere new! I did consider just going to my normal one but it was good to try something else.
      Enjoy Bath! I am sure once you get near it you’ll see loads of people in running gear and just follow them πŸ™‚

  4. I like trying new parkruns out but I haven’t been to any new ones this year. Last year my highlights were Penrhyn parkrun (in a castle!) and Pollok parkrun in Glasgow (although that was very hilly too). Sometimes the navigation can be difficult and especially not knowing what facilities, how far to the start line, etc. But it is fun seeing more new parkruns get added to your profile! You’re now inspiring me to go and try some new parkruns over the summer πŸ™‚ there is one started now in Crosby that is actually along the beach so that is next on my to try list.

    • Wow along the beach sounds brilliant! As does a castle! I do love looking at the parkrun UK photos that pop up each week as some of the venues are so stunning.

  5. I’ve only ever made it to my nearest parkrun which involves running three laps of Walsall Arboretum. I’ve got a list of parkruns I want to try once I’ve got my own car. Now that my apricot t-shirt has arrived, I might be brave and travel across Birmingham to the super speedy (the other runners, not me!) Cannon Hill parkrun. I’ve seen pictures of some absolutely stunning looking parkrun locations and always feel a little envious.

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