The day before my ultra, my training plan called for Total Rest.
Total Rest. On parkrunday. Hmmm.
I visited Newport parkrun instead, vowing to take it VERY easy.
Newport parkrun is in the grounds of Tredegar House, which is just off Junction 28 of the M4 and signposted from the motorway. You can’t possibly go wrong*.
As I was walking from my car in the general direction of the start, I saw a group of likely looking bods in lycra and stopped to ask if I was heading the right way. It turned out that they were all first timers who had just completed a walk to run programme. Newport parkrun was to be their graduation. A nicer venue it would be hard to find.
The general gathering point is in the grounds of the house, and there is plenty of room for runners to spread out and chat. A not-long-until-I-get-my-100-t-shirter, Nick Davies, spotting my top but not recognising my face, asked me where I was from. After explaining that I was a Londoner** in Wales to run the Cardiff Ultra, he said he thought there were a couple of other serious athletes*** also running, and that he’d introduce us later.
All of which brought us nicely up to 9 o’clock, when we set off. The course itself is flat (compared to a hill, though possibly not compared to a pancake) and run on a mixture of hard packed path and tree bark. It’s two laps, with a little extra bit at the start and at the end, and features trees, a lake, and of course Tredegar House itself.
For once, as I was taking it VERY easy, I was able to fully appreciate the scenery, and could also take the opportunity to chat to a few people on the way round. Surprisingly, given the quality of the paths and lack of inclines, there were no buggy runners, but there were oodles of children and a smattering of dogs.
As I ran past the finish at the end of my first lap, a speedy 100-clubber who had already finished came running up to ask whether I was the one running Cardiff tomorrow because if so he’d see me there.
Afterwards, I caught up with Nicola and Angela’s graduating class (all of whom had finished and most of whom had beaming grins), chatted to Ivor and Keith (the serious athletes) and then went to the rather nice cafe with Nick to sample the coffee and cakes.
All of which beat Total Rest hands down!
*I went wrong.
**Not strictly speaking true, but close enough in the circumstances
***he may have used the term mad fools