Preston Parkrun (04/09/2021)

Preston is a city in Lancashire. Avenham and Miller parks are 2 of Preston’s parks and are the ones that Preston parkrun is in (mainly Avenham park). The city and the park are very accessible on lots of different modes of transport. If you drive there is a carpark next to the station at Fishergate shopping centre (think you have to pay), Preston station is pretty much next to the top of the park although is still a few minutes walk so allow time, I believe there are 2 exits from the station, one has Fishergate shopping centre infront of it and the other just a road- if you come out of this one turn right then right again. However if you come out in front of Fishergate then turn right and walk up some stairs. Then left at the top and it is either the first or second right turning. You’ll come in at the top of the park however a walk down the steep hill towards the café/ toilets and river will be the meeting point. On that note toilets are next to the meeting point and near the start along with a café which is only serving through a window.

When I visited I arrived pretty early at around 8.15 so after having a little chat to the volunteers and run director who made me feel very welcome, I decided to go for a 1 mile lap warmup around the course where I also had a chat with someone after about halfway round and was asking me about my home parkrun (Harrow Lodge) and chatting about various parkruns in the area.

When I got back it wasn’t long to go before the start, so I did some stretching until the volunteer doing the briefing rang the bell. At most parkruns I’ve been to it’s the run director who does the briefing, however here one of the runners did it, he explained the course for first timers and the usual safety notes. After which we made our way to the start which was just in front of the bridge that trains go over.

The course is 3 anti clockwise laps and all on tarmac (3rd lap turn left onto path for finish line), it has a bit of a hill at one end however lots of downhill and long flat paths so overall it’s still a pretty fast course in my opinion. So from the start with the river on your right, head straight down until you reach a marshal where you have a slight left then right and (yes) up the hill which is like a spiral, take it easy as the course is 3 laps.

At the top of that you go straight and then a steep downhill (mind the humps) and straight towards a tunnel,

After going through that it’s a lovely straight path until you get to another tunnel on your right and through that, (marshal was there), left then back under another bridge and slight right through a gate. This brings you back to the river on your right and shortly after that you’ll be back to where you started. As the course is 3 laps you then have another 2 laps to complete. After 3 laps turn left onto another path and it’s around 100 metres to the finish. Like usual timers will be there and at the end someone will give you a token. Barcode scanners are on the field all spread out.

After helping to put the equipment away I then had a couple of teas from the café window and sat on the bench and chatted to some volunteers, before heading back to my hotel to check out on time and then headed to Sandcastle waterpark in Blackpool to do the waterslides, I’d like to mention also I went to Blackpool pleasure beach the night before and watched the illuminations turn on too! Great little night away and change of scenery!

Dartford parkrun

Dartford is a town and a borough which is in Kent and East to London borough of Bexley.

Central park is located near to Dartford town centre, and is where Dartford parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9am. It is also only a short drive away from Dartford crossing (which costs £2.50 per cross so £5 return).

The bridge

There is some parking at Central park however from what I can see there is not that many spaces. You can probably find parking on the street- I believe there is parking a few streets away which is free at weekends. There is also parking at Fairfield leisure centre however I believe it’s only for 3 hours maximum (handy if you enjoy a post run swim or gym). If you park in the athletics club I understand that they lock it up at around 11am so make sure your car is out at that time or it could be locked in for the weekend!

Toilets are nearby as well and in the park or athletics club house!

I have never been to the train station before however from research I can see it’s a 1 kilometre walk/jog from the station however if approaching from that direction allow yourself some time to find the start, it’s not a massive park. You simply just follow the path into the centre of the park, it looked very well sign posted and since it’s near the athletics track and Fairfield leisure centre that should help you find your way.

What reminds me of a ladder on the incline, seriously watch out for them!

The parkrun gets various numbers of people every week and it’s tricky to put an average number of people for this one however it’s very popular with over 200 people running it most weeks. The course is largely flat however there are some short inclines and you get a mixture of terrain (surface underfoot) however I would say it’s more tarmac.

My friends from Harrow Lodge parkrun I went with- Harrow Lodge parkrun (located in Hornchurch) was cancelled due to another event in the park.

To describe the course briefly it’s 1 small lap followed by 2 large laps ( you could say 2 1/2 laps if you wish) and its on a mixture of surfaces and largely flat.

Starting near the athletics track in-between 2 trees on grass, you head off for a roughly (but just under) 1km lap in an anticlockwise direction which is on tarmac, however you turn left onto grass where you started and then go in the same direction however this time you turn right over the bridge (the marshal will be there to direct you, thanks Tess for marshalling and congratulations on 250 volunteering). Then up the incline and turn right onto a narrower trail path, it only goes one way so follow it and then up the incline (mind the tree routes which makes the slope look like a ladder and be careful of low hanging branches). Out of the woods section and along a long grass section on the football fields which were being used to watch for the cones- loads of space so no issue. Then the marshal will turn you left (my friend Bruce was marshalling that one when I did it) and back down the long slope, over the bridge and straight on, turning right when you see the sign (2nd and 3rd laps turn right). Follow that path and through a narrow pinch point and round some gardens and back out. Turn right onto the path you turned left onto on your first lap and follow it back to the start/ finish. If you have only done the large lap once then you’ll have one more of those to do, however if you have done it twice then you’ll see the finish funnel on your right so go through, take your finish token and then you can scan that with your personal barcode to get your time later in the day.

There are some narrow points on the course but they are quite short and most of the course I found there was plenty of room

In terms of café there is one however when I went it was shut. However the club house for the athletics track serve drinks and food ( I had a few teas and toast). There is seating outside next to the track and tables were stacked up inside. That shuts at around 11 am but that is plenty of time I find.

On this trip after I finished I got in the car and drove to Bluewater shopping centre (roughly 2 miles away or so), for a quick visit, before making my way back home as I was going out in the evening for a carvery down the road from where I live to celebrate my dad’s birthday.

Chalkwell Beach parkrun

Chalkwell is a seaside town located in the borough of Southend On Sea in Essex, it next to Westcliffe on Sea.

On 29th February 2020 the beach became home to Chalkwell Beach parkrun. So the week after which was the 7th March 2020 I decided to go and visit the event on its 2nd running as I was in the Southend area anyway.

There is loads of parking along the seafront which costs different prices depending the duration that you are parking for- 9 pounds for the whole day. Alternatively Chalkwell station is a couple of minutes jog to the start line. Head east from the station- I’ve never been to that station so I dont know if you’d turn left or right (I think it’s right but do try and check before hand as you dont want to head the wrong way!)

The start line is along the seafront of Chalkwell. The event at the moment gets 200-300 on a average at the time of writing so you will not miss where it is. Plus it will have the parkrun flags.

There are toilets galore along the seafront and lots of them and I didnt have to queue for anymore than 2 minutes on the day I went.

The run is a very simple route to follow. I like how you can see the pier from the start which is the turn around point. It makes the out part feel quick. It is all on tarmac paths apart from the finish funnel. It is 1 out and back very flat. The day I visited the back part is where the wind was and being by the sea you’ll notice it most weeks.

You simply head East from the start for 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometres) then you’ll see a cone and a Marshall. Run around the cone (between the marshall and cone) then follow your way back again. On the day I visited the finish was on the right hand side with the barcode scanners right in front of the end of the funnel.

Another beautiful event that I’ll be visiting again in the year. Kudos to the Event director and volunteers who got the event up and running!

I felt like a dip in the sea but with it being March it just wasn’t warm enough! Maybe next time!

Felixstowe parkrun

Felixstowe parkrun takes place along the Felixstowe promenade outside Felixstowe leisure centre. The parkrun started in April 2018I stayed in a Premier Inn which is 400 metres from the start line, and the station is just over 2 miles away I believe although I didnt see the station on my trip- I drove up Friday night.The run takes place on tarmac and right by the sea, the course can be looked at in afew ways such as: 1 lap, 2 out and backs. The start and finish are in the middle of the course, check the course page to see what I meanYou head west first for just over 1km then turn around (it has a cone and a marshal so you cant miss it!) And then you head back past the start and up to the east turn around point and back on yourself.The finish funnel is just passed the pier on your right hand side where the run started.Scanning takes place on a table where the volunteers meet at the beginning down the steps.Another event that I’d return to in the future and you are exposed to the wind being by the sea but it’s still a fast course!

Cyclopark parkrun

Cyclopark is a cycling park located in Gravesend, Kent. It is located just off the A2.

There is plenty of parking with a small charge and plenty of bike racks. Nearest station is Gravesend which I believe is a 2 mile walk or jog roughly.

Toilets can be found in the building.

The parkrun takes place on the cycle network 177 and can be looked at in a few ways such as a 2 lap course or a double out and back loop completed twice. There are 2 turn around points on the course and its 2 laps, you’re running in a straight line and the turns are signposted and marshalled.

The course is all on tarmac. You start by the building of cyclopark and run to the east of the park for roughly 200 metres before making a turn and heading back the other way past the start and out to the other end of the path to the West End. Theres a little bend where you use to turn at the West End and it is marshalled and signposted. You head back up to the start and first turn around point and complete the lap once more. However the 2nd lap you’ll see the finish funnel marshalled just before the start line. You can turn left into it. Scanning is taken care of up where the briefing was at the beggining.

The course is really simple to follow. I must say that going West to East there is an elevation change so whilst it may look pancake flat it’s not however it is still a fast course. Dont forget what goes up must go down so enjoy the downhill!

The only other thing I’d say be aware of is that there is a pinch point at the East so be aware you may have to wait afew moments to get past but generally theres plenty of room. Not a problem though.

The runners meet and hangout in the cafe in the cyclopark building however there is also a Toby Carvery nearby. And a travelodge if you were coming from further away you only have a roughly 200 metre walk to the start line.

Have fun if you go!

Preston parkrun (freedom run)

Preston is a city in Lancashire, and on Friday 17th January 2020 I made my way up to it from London Euston station.

The parkrun is at Avenham park. I stayed at a Premier Inn at Preston central which is half a mile from the park.

I got down there on the morning, arriving at half 8. The toilets were open and there is a cafe in the park for after the run. Everything was all set up and ready to go.

The run director made me feel very welcome and explained the course. Unfortunately at 5 minutes to 9 the run director announced that the run was cancelled due to black ice on the course. Health and safety come first, the nearest parkrun is 3 miles away so knew I weren’t gonna be able to make it in time. But they left the signs up so o thought I’d run the course anyway. I will go back to do the official run at some point but anyway:

The course is 3 anti-clockwise laps on tarmac, I believe you start under the bridge. It is pretty flat however there is a steep hill that you run up 3 times! If you do your pacing right it is still a pretty fast course!

It is simple to follow and you go under 2 bridges on the lap and after 3 laps you would turn left into the finish funnel but I dont know where the funnel is normally located due to the fact that the official run was cancelled

Very friendly people though who made me welcome and I will certainly go back in the future to run the official run.

Lowestoft parkrun

Lowestoft parkrun is a 5 kilometre run that takes place on the promenade, starting next to the South Pier in Lowestoft which is right on the edge of Suffolk. It is a great seaside resort if you are looking for somewhere to go for a little break.

There are toilets galore along the seafront, Hatfield hotel (where I stayed) has accessible toilets and is 200 metres from the start however there are toilets the whole way down the prom (didn’t check if they were open. Some don’t open til after the run)

Just be aware that the finish is 200-300 metres from down from the start and so participants leave their bags at the finish (at your own risk). Don’t do what I did of putting it at the start as I had to jog back and get it after ha ha-actually it was a nice little cool down!

The course can be looked at in 2 ways. 1 and 3 quarter laps (which is how they describe it) or 200 metres then 2 clockwise laps as you do go round twice on an identical lap. It is flat apart from the hill that gets you from the bottom part of the prom to the top that you climb twice.

Anyway here’s a description of the full course: from the South Pier you run down past Claremont Pier (on your left) and then slight left down an incline past the beach huts which will be on your right.

At 1 mile you run up a sharp steep incline (marshalled) that takes you from the bottom part of the prom to the top, now you travel in the opposite direction until you get to the gardens opposite Claremont Pier, you do a lap of the gardens and then you come out of there and go and run another lap from the slope at Claremont Pier.

You come back round the gardens like the first lap but continue straight for the finish. Scanning takes place next to the pier.

I had to rush off to get back to the hotel for breakfast which I paid for however beofre that I had a slow jog back to the start to get my jumper then jogged to our hotel which is on the seafront where the parkrun is.

I did this event in December but I would love to come back here in summer time and run it and then go in the sea after!

Valentines parkrun

I have run Valentines parkrun quite afew times now. It was one of my first I did since I started parkrun but I’ve never wrote a blog about it.

Transport options are very good. There are loads of busses that pass the park, you could also get the train to Ilford or Gants Hill stations then it’s a 10-15 minute walk, the park is big so it may not be obvious where the area is for the parkrun but just look for the lake and cafe.

There are a couple of toilets in the park, the ones by the cafe have always been open when I’ve been.

The parkrun starts 100 metres from the bandstand on the north side of the boating lake next to the bandstand. The course is 2 anti-clockwise laps plus a 200 metre opening and finishing straight, the course is very flat with a slight uphill bit at the bridge but I highly dought you will notice it (at the time of writing this blog this course is where my fastest overall PB is for parkrun 20.22)

After the 200 metre opening section the lap goes past the lake but not round it as you continue right to the end of the straight path, left to the gate (marshalled), down the road to the cafe then turn right and first left, over the 2 bridges then first left, then you’ll see some houses where you take another left past the tennis courts and right, then left at the end (gate marshalled).

If you have done 1 lap you’ll go and do another identical lap but if you’ve done 2 you will turn left and make your final sprint to the funnel which is on the right hand side.

Scanning is taken care of abit further up the path.

The cafe does amazing food, not sure exactly what time it opens but it is during the run.

Thurrock parkrun, Oresett Heath

The decision to visit this venue was a last minute decision because my previous plan was to visit Brighton to do one of the five parkruns there, however my plans changed due to train delays and cancellations the day before so didn’t want to risk it and will go another week.

I knew this parkrun was pretty easy to get to so I set off early with the satnav and it worked a treat using the postcode on the official Thurrock parkrun website, just look for the big heath and you’ll see all the parkrun signs/volunteers/runners as you drive past. They meet on the northeast section of the heath.

There is a small carpark on site and I’m not sure about toilets. It does say there are some but I don’t know if they are always open. Whilst there is no propper cafe there is a popup cafe with a man serving drinks which is kind so take some money.

The run is 2 laps entirely on grass, it is flat with afew bumps. It is one of those follow the cones/signs/Marshall’s directions and you’ll be fine. It is mainly round the edge of the heath however there is 1 turn that’s in the middle but it was coned/signposted and even had a Marshall so you’ll know when to turn.

Once I finished my run (time was 21:13) I had a tea from the pop up cafe and then went to the Toby Carvery for breakfast on the way home.

Another parkrun that I will return to in the future. This was my first beginning with the letter T so another letter closer to the alphabet challenge! Also today was my 50th different venue!

Thank you to the run director and all the volunteers who made it happen!

Bedfont Lakes parkrun

It was 05:10 on a Saturday in November and it was still dark outside. I made a flask of tea to take with me and had a porridge bar for energy.

The reason I choose to visit this parkrun was because I was going to Thorpe park (which is a theme park in Chertsey) and there were a few parkruns that looked doable but of course I could only pick one so I thought I’d get this one completed.

The nearest station is Hatton Cross, it is still a little bit of a way to the venue (Bedfont Lakes country park) so do make sure you allow time. I got to the Hatton Cross station at about 7:45 am having left home early. You can take busses H25 or H26 from Hatton Cross station however it is still a 1.5 mile walk so allow time. I used google maps on walking mode to get me to the venue and it worked perfectly!

The start is over the west side of the country park and you can find toilets and cafe next to it. There is some parking next to the start however the recommended car park is 800 metres away so allow time.

The run takes place over 2 clockwise ever so slightly different laps. It’s kind of hard to explain the course however it is mainly on gravel and abit of trail. It is all signposted and marshalled and afew hundred metres into the run there is short slope then it goes flat again.

On the end of the second lap where you see the marshal you turn left for a very short loop and then left for the finish funnel which you’ll see and there’s a Marshall there. This is a trail path.

I wore my trail shoes and I feel that was the right choice however you may get away with road shoes however you may slide abit on the trail so just be careful.

I scanned my barcode then went over to the toilet to change because I had to leave quick to meet my friends at Thorpe park in Chertsey for the day.

All in all another event ticked off and I’ll be back again whenever I get the chance.