Today, my training plan called for a parkrun PB attempt and told me to pick my parkrun accordingly. After a little research, I plumped for Hull on the basis that it was flat, tarmac, likely to contain a familiar face and on the way home from Leeds to London*.
I arrived at half past eight and sidled up to a likely group of people in running kit and hi-viz to ask my standard two questions, “Is there a loo?” and “Where is the start?”
“Yes, by the cafe” and “Right here” came the swift responses, at which point a very friendly chap offered to show me the way, taking care to point out the cafe, or as he phrased it, “the heart and soul of the parkrun”.
At which point my core parkrun territory** became one parkrun (and many square miles) bigger.
By the time 9 o’clock came, I’d spotted my familiar face (a tourist I first chatted to in the cafe after Southwick Country Park parkrun) and even established that she would probably be running a similar time to me (she’s usually much faster, but returning from injury), and by the time I eventually left, I’d confirmed that the cafe really is the social centre of the parkrun, and found out how the parkrun came to exist in the first place***.
As for that PB, I tried. My friend gave me a marker to chase around the flat, tarmac course with its wide paths, sweeping turns, and accurately measured kilometre posts and I spent the best part of kilometres 3 and 4 running alongside another runner who pushed me step for step and breath for breath, but in the end it wasn’t enough. 25:17 at Amager Strandpark, 25:15 at Fulham Palace and 25:19 at Hull. Three hard efforts at three flat, tarmac parkruns in 15 days. I’m chuffed with the consistency, but have a long way to go before I knock any time off my increasingly dim and distant 24:28 all time best.
* If you ask Google maps for a route from Leeds to London via Hull.
** Wimbledon, Kingston, Fulham Palace, Banstead Woods, Queen Elizabeth, Cranleigh, Tring
*** Long story short: very friendly chap’s daughter lived in Middlesbrough, got hooked on Albert parkrun, came home and persuaded very friendly chap’s wife to set up Hull.