Two Saturdays, two very different parkrun experiences.
Buckingham parkrun – 17 May 2014
After two weeks of recovery, it was time to see whether I could run again. My training plan called for a very easy parkrun, my Saturday was clear, and there was an inaugural parkrun in Buckingham. I persuaded Vanessa (@neferpuss) that she wanted nothing better than to get up at stupid o’clock to join me and we were off.
Before the run we stood around chatting to the many, many familiar parkrun faces, catching up with friends and generally milling. We then listened to the briefing, moved back along the path to the start line and were off.
The route itself is 100% tarmac, gently undulating and very pretty. There are trees, a river and meandering paths, and the double-lollipop route means that you see everything twice to give you the chance to appreciate it in all its glory.
But. At the end. After the cheering and the chatting and the scanning. That is where this parkrun comes into its own. Because the café is superb. Ice cream cones, strawberry waffles, cooked breakfast… whatever your tastes you will find something to match. Just make sure that you take along your appetite, because the serving sizes, for the waffle at least, are far from dinky.
This was one of those parkrundays that remind me of why I love parkrun. A lovely course, fantastic people and the chance to catch up with friends. Who wouldn’t want to set the alarm for that?
Highbury Fields – 24 May 2014
After a week of short test runs, it was time to try my legs out with something a little bit longer. But on parkrunday, that inevitably means extending a parkrun. I prefer to parkrun and then add a bit as the timings are easier to sort out, but I had to be somewhere at 10am so the only option was to add in a bit of a run before parkrun.
The 10am commitment limited my parkrun choices to two: Finsbury Park and Highbury Fields. The Arctic Monkeys concert ruled out Finsbury (which was cancelled), and so off to Highbury it was.
The last (and only time) I was at Highbury Fields there were a grand total of 10 runners. This time, there were nearly 100. The first time, I knew six people to talk to. This time, I recognised no one.
The course at Highbury Fields is all tarmac, simple to follow and only slightly undulating. The real challenge is remembering which of the five and a bit laps you are on. I tend to use the “My Aunt went to Paris” technique to help me keep track. (On Lap 1, I gave my bag to the lovely marshal at the finish. On Lap 2, I said hello. On Lap 3, there was a woman taking photographs. On Lap 4, the first finisher had just finished. On Lap 5, there were loads of people waiting to be scanned.) This has the added benefit of giving me something to think about as I plod around and around and around and around and around.
As I had to dash off at the end, I didn’t have the chance to find out about the café, which may well sell ice creams and strawberry waffles to die for.
What I can say is that this Saturday was definitely a box-ticking exercise. It moved me one run closer to the 250-club, but that was pretty much it. Next year, if the same situation arises, I may just skip the parkrun and go for an early morning trail run instead.