Lyme Park parkrun report 12th July 2014

This was my first visit to Lyme Park parkrun but as a serious parkrun tourist I've now had 79 "first visits". Whenever the Run Director says "Give a cheer to today's volunteers" my cheer is also to that parkrun's regulars, because without both of those groups I wouldn't be able to pursue my hobby. Early last year I completed an odd parkrun record. My first 50 UK parkruns were all at different parkrun venues. That was a unique achievement, or it was until Saturday 5th July when Gregory Bailey matched my achievement with his 50th parkrun at his 50th different parkrun venue. I contacted Gregory and we agreed to run the same park today as he broke my record and we chose Lyme Park because it was a run neither us had done and is sited between our respective bases of West London and Leeds. And so today Gregory ran his 51st different parkrun out of 51 run finishing in 23rd place in a time of 25:42 and I finished my 79th different parkrun out of 118 run in a time of 29:26. Gregory now holds the record of the most consecutive different UK parkruns done from his first parkrun…although I'll always be the person who did 50 first!

But as serious tourists the question Gregory and I are always asked is how does "today's" parkrun compare with all the others that we have done? And between us we have done 116 different parkruns across the world so there are plenty of comparisons possible. My view remains that every parkrun is different and that every parkrun is the same. They are the same because the welcome is the same, the principles are the same and the process is the same - from Abingdon to Wycombe Rye. They are different in that they are all unique - every park and every parkrun team. I maintain an album of photographs on my facebook page, one photograph from each parkrun I've done, and I use these to bring back the memories of each one - the course, the crowd, the café and everything else. I need to choose a photograph for Lyme Park - now will it be one of the Cage or perhaps looking up the course from the Start?

There are parkruns that I have really good memories of and some of those nearer to where I live I've now run several times. And if you summarised those you'd get a two lap course on a firm tarmac path and with gentle undulations {you will recognise that as NOT a description of Lyme Park!}.

I'm also asked which are the parkruns I've disliked. It is true that there are some that have not been my cup-of-tea. But it would be most unfair for me to name them because each of those parks is the favourite park and parkrun venue for all of its regulars and volunteers - those who make my hobby possible - and just because the park didn't meet my preferred criteria, or because I simply had a bad run on a bad day, gives me no right to cast judgement. So I say nothing.

But skip the political politeness you say "What of Lyme Park?" Well, I can honestly say that the scenery on the circuit is fabulous - I've not done a parkrun with better vistas - of the house, of the park, of the Cage and of Manchester and the hills beyond. And yes, it is a tough one with gradients and footing hazards. The climb up at Queen Elizabeth Park is a tougher climb but there is a net downhill on that course of 30 metres. The downhill stretch at Havant, taken twice, is perhaps more treacherous than the downhill stretch at Lyme Park - but the rest of that course isn't so bad. The tree roots of Osterley Park have to be carefully stepped over three times but the rest of that course is flat and easy. On a good weather day like today I'll say that Lyme Park is more pleasurable than those other tough courses - but on a bad weather day I think that I'll be a long way away (so good luck to you, loyal locals!). Talking with Gregory after the run he adds that "People who like Lyme Park will also like…", Killerton in Devon – so check it out if you are down that way.

Some facts and figures from today's run…

Andrew Lamont was the first finisher in 17:51 and the first lady was Rachael Lawrence in 23:28. Andrew is a tourist first timer at Lyme park like Gregory and myself and in total there were 11 such visitors. Rachael is a parkrun first timer and there were two other first timers - each could turn into home park regulars or a wondering tourists. There were 52 regulars (or repeat tourists!) and impressively 13 of these, that is exactly 25%, achieved PB times. Robert Hasler finished his 50th run so now has the challenging question of which of his regular parkrun venues will he go to pick up his 50 shirt?

So thank you again to the 52 regulars and to all of the volunteers and organisers for making my run possible - including Katie who volunteered me to write this report - normally it's me nagging the event director to mention me in the report so it makes a change for me to have to do the work!

I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to run at Lyme Park again. Unfortunately for me it may not be for some while - with over 200 parkruns in the UK I've yet to run it could be a long, long time before I'm able to return. But I AM looking forward to that day.

Roderick Hoffman