Me: I don’t suppose you’re feeling decisive are you? If so, feel free to tell me where I’m parkrunning this Saturday.
V: Harcourt Hill? Didcot Parkway? Somewhere in Essex?
Me: Harcourt Hill is a possibility. Didcot is cancelled due to path renovations. Brentwood is the nearest new-to-us one in Essex.
V: What’s the course like?
Me: A mixture of gravel, woodland trail and grass according to their course description.
V: That sounds great. I wonder how mucky it is.
Me: Don’t read their latest run report!
Me: And don’t read Chris’s tweet about his visit a couple of weeks ago!
Me: And ignore Dan when he says it’s harder than Tring!
V: Can I focus only on awesome?
As it turned out, Chris’ assessment of Brentwood was only partly applicable. After taking last week down to the wire (it stopped raining in Melton Country Park at 8:59 am), the parkrun weather fairies arranged for a whole week of sunshine at Brentwood, so the course had largely dried out and the mud was confined to a few small quagmires. As the run featured in my training plan as an easy effort the “hilly” merely added interest and neither “brutal” nor “unrelenting” featured. Which left “awesome” front and centre.
As for “harder than Tring”, it’s hard to say. Tring certainly has steeper ups but features a gloriously runnable down.
Brentwood has more runnable ups (I only dropped into a power-hike once) but the downs are more technical with their mixture of molehills and tree roots.
What I can say with certainty is that the company was fabulous, the café is lovely, the locals were welcoming and I thoroughly enjoyed kilometres 996 to 1000 of my parkrun journey. 1000 kilometres which could have taken me all the way from The Windmill Café to 1 Sinclair Terrace, but which have instead taken me from Wimbledon to Brentwood via Iceland, Inverness, Ireland, Poland and Plymouth, and from flat trail to hilly trail via pretty much every profile and surface imaginable. And which have resulted in some really rather wonderful friendships with people I might otherwise never have met.
Thank you to PSH, the parkrun weather fairies, and to every parkrun volunteer ever. You are, quite simply, fabulous.