…is not flat. I mention this now, in case I forget to mention it later. It’s picturesque, it’s friendly, it’s well marshalled and it’s far from dull, but it isn’t flat.
Having been unable to make the Tilgate inaugural in early June, I’d persuaded Plustenner to tear herself away from Banstead Woods and join me in Crawley for Tilgate parkrun number five. She turned out not to be the only familiar face, as three other parkrun tourists had had the same idea.
To begin with, it seemed as though the parkrun weather gods had overslept their alarm, and we huddled around under the trees watching the rain. But as nine o’clock approached, the rain cleared, and we emerged from our shelters for the pre-run briefing.
As well as providing a tail-runner to make sure that no-one gets left behind, the volunteers had also thrown in a 25min pacer. I did consider seeing how long I could keep up with him, but sanity prevailed and I opted for the sociable option instead. A wise choice indeed.
You start with a lap around the lake. This is flat. Enjoy it. Because once you’ve completed it, you head up a path that leads straight to the hitherto undiscovered Tilgate Mountain Range.
This section features three climbs. I’d describe them to you in graphic detail, but I decided to use them for training, so pushed up them as strongly as I could. Which means that all I really noticed was the red haze in front of my eyes and a slight slipperiness underfoot caused by the mildly moist conditions. They do have nice runnable downhills though to reward you for your efforts, and at the end of the mountain loop, you can relax safe in the knowledge that the final section is flat.
Though not as flat as I remembered from the first time around. If I ever find the evil pixie who trails behind me adding in little uphill sections where none existed before, I shall have his guts for garters. Or feed him to the cat. One or the other.
Someone on twitter asked me if this course was better than Brighton’s. It’s an interesting question. If you want fast, paved and gently undulating, then the answer is no. But if you’re after beauty, variety and challenge, then it’s a resounding yes.
Personally, I can’t wait to go back!