View from a tourist
I must confess to having a soft spot for this parkrun. I grew up in the area & have happy childhood memories of playing on the beach (long since gone) below the weir, fishing with my grandad & getting ice creams at the marina so whenever I am back in the area visiting family I try to attend to get my Saturday parkrun fix. It was surprisingly warm when my husband & myself set off from home and it was with the usual feeling of trepidation that we braved the humpback bridge to make our way to the car park. We were met, of course, by the bracing wind that always seems to be blowing across the weirfields but the warm welcome from the volunteers & Beeston regulars took the edge off that. One of the things I really love about parkrun is that, no matter where you go, you are guaranteed to meet some lovely people (both participants and volunteers) and Beeston is certainly no exception to that.
I’m very much a “back of the pack” runner so found my place & set off at a steady trundle around the lovely course. My home parkrun is rather hilly so I always expect Beeston to feel easy, but it never does. The first km was spent looking at the barges moored on the canal, having a sneaky look at people’s gardens & wondering about the naming of the “new” bridge all to stop me thinking about how tough I was finding it. The lovely marshals at the bridge & the corner marked the start of the second km which was spent daydreaming about how peaceful it was even though I could see traffic away in the distance on the Clifton side of the river.
As I turned right to follow the riverbank path and do battle with the headwind, I could see people along most of the route ahead and as I got to the 2km marker I looked across the fields to see people already at the finish. It is a lovely sight to see so many people all around the edge of the fields that early on a Saturday morning and to know you are a part of something even though at that moment you are on your own. There is also something quite special about being out by the river with only the noise of the wildlife and the weir in the background and without wanting to sound too trite it is moments like this that bring happiness and joy.
The third km was marked by the fishermen who had set up their camp across the path & seemed slightly bemused to have nearly 300 people running between their tents and their breakfast barbeque. As I climbed the path up to the embankment and turned again so the wind was at my back those who had already finished were offering encouragement as they made their way home. Slightly bizarrely I saw my parents next door neighbour at this point so gave him a wave. With the finish in sight (not to actually finish at but to run past for the out & back section) I managed to summon up the “pretend to be a runner & not walk while people are watching” burst, at least until I had made it past my already finished and now watching husband anyway.
A bit more looking at boats & gardens and I had made it to the 4km marker (BTW I love the markers on this route & wish my local council would let us have them at my home parkrun). One last little bit of towpath and a U turn into the wind and I was on the home straight. So far, the path had been pretty good and although I had worn trail shoes they were not essential. I was however glad of them on this little section though as I could just plod through the muddy puddles with no worries. One last crossing of the cobbles on the bridge and the finish was almost in reach, no looking at boats on the way back was needed and after the surprisingly nasty little dip in the path an almost sprint (for me) finish was managed.
Beeston parkrun #247 (my 93rd overall and my 14th at Beeston) was brought to you by 285 participants, including 35 first timers to the event (13 of whom were doing their first ever parkrun) and tourists from Leeds, Edinburgh, Coventry, Brazil (yes, you read that right) and other places I have forgotten. 21 participants recorded a new PB and the event was made possible by the 21 fabulous volunteers.
And in another one of those strange coincidences that follow us around it turns out that the guy from Brazil was someone I used to babysit when I was at school!!
Also worth noting, don’t try to get to the carpark over the humpback bridge if you have low suspension but park responsibly on the road. Oh, and if you do use the carpark be prepared for the outward journey over the bridge to be scarier than the inward trip.
Jan. (volunteer coordinator at Roundhay & Potternewton parkruns)