Over the last few months I have really embraced my parkrun tourism bug and headed far and wide from Coventry. So today my 6am start (Well a runner needs a breakfast!) led me up the M6 to Congleton.
A check of the Congleton parkrun website and Facebook page before I left gain me the postcode for my SatNav and the indication that I could / should park at Nobanno restaurant. Arriving early I was the only car – not always the most promising of sights, but the website said walk clockwise around the lake to the start so I followed!
Checking with a few dog walkers on the way and was told in the most friendly way not to worry I was very early as it started at 9 and I couldn't fail to miss all the brightly coloured runners. So I kept on walking.
I arrived as the set-up was being finished off and hiviz tabards and lanyards were being given out to the volunteers that make my weekly timed runs a real highlight. A quick chat to the RD and I offered to write a run report for the news section of the website as I have done for the last few runs I have visited.
I am not sure if the Sandbach Strider was an official pacer but seeing his laminated 25 card getting pinned onto his back at the start gave me a target – A sub 25 has been my aim since Easter – maybe this was to be my run especially as the website says the 3 lap course is flat on hard core and tarmac and should be suitable for fast times...
Walking down to the start as always at tourist events I was unsure where to start – I haven't got my regular targets or finish time markers and judging how fast someone might be by looking at them – is never very accurate. So I took the pragmatic approach – 25 minutes is slightly ahead of the middle so I positioned myself accordingly.
The usual prerun briefing was supplemented with a filmed, 'Get well Geordie' for a regular volunteer who wasn't able to be there today. Touches like this make you realise how the people you meet and interact with at parkrun become part of your weekend and you miss them when they aren't there. So if you read this Geordie, 'I hope you get well soon, and return to Congleton parkrun as they are missing you.'
After that a quick 3...2...1... and the usual beeps of Garmins signalled the start of the weekly run.
From the off the 25 minute pacer standing at the side was quickly away – I was going to need to hunt him down to be near my dream time. Giving myself ½ mile to safely work my way through the field I slowly clawed him back in sight.
By the end of the first lap I had just over taken him... 8:04 spot on 25 minute pace (Good work pacer, but could I maintain it?). Laps are never my favourite but a huge advantage of a 25minute runner on a fastish 3 lap course is the first finisher will be close to crossing the line just as you start. So the desire not to be lapped kicks in. Hearing, 'Go on Coventry!' from the finish funnel and token marshals I knew that at least entering lap 3 I hadn't been lapped – today could still be my day.
Whoever wrote that the course was fast and flat wasn't lying! Over the whole 5km my total ascent was 10m! And after the initial bunching had spread out the only tight spot was around a gate but by this point the 200 runners had spread nicely.
The course around the lake was beautiful in the cool gloomy summer morning perfect for going for a time, but my focus at this point was on the path or my pace, it was only on my cool down I realised what great views across the lake the route offers.
As the Sandy Bear came into view I knew my time was more than possible – two runners panted passed me as I strode on up the cheeky little undulation towards the finish. I had paced myself well – or that is my excuse for not having a sprint finish left in me and being pipped on the line.
After a few moments to gather my breath back and slow down my heart rate I glanced down at my watch... The figures I longed to see shown back at me... but even though it is on my watch until I get that parkrun text later it doesn't count!
I must take this moment in my report to thank all those parkrun heroes, those volunteers that make these weekly events across the country possible. In particular I would like to thank: - Andrew COTTON • Andrew KIRK • Andy BILLINGSLEY • Ben LAXTON • Graeme BURNS • James ANDERTON • Karen Jane LOVATT • Karen MACKINTOSH • Kaya PEAKE • Peter John RUSHTON • Rose CLARKE • Stephen MCLEAN • Steve EVANS who all made this weeks Congleton parkrun possible. I am sorry I couldn't thank all / probably any of you as I was running but I had to keep on breathing!
Without people sacrificing their runs occasionally parkrun can't happen so if you fancy giving any of the roles a go contact firstname.lastname@example.org who will gladly add you to the roster.
As always a full list of all the results is on the park run website. http://www.parkrun.org.uk/congleton/results/weeklyresults/?runSeqNumber=185
Sitting now at the services part the down the M6 drinking a Costa writing this report, confirmation text on my phone, results clear on my Athlete page – I have finally done it. But does it count if it isn't at my home parkrun?
Many thanks for making me so welcome at you picturesque parkrun.
Daniel - Coventry