It must have been somewhat of a surprise for Middleton Woods parkrun regulars when they arrived in a packed carpark and wandered down to the start for the run briefing at ten to nine as it would have seemed that most parkrunners this week had worn the same outfit and in APRICOT!
It wasn't by chance that such a happening of apricot occurred but much planning. Middleton Woods parkrun had been chosen as the venue of a gathering of UK parkrun tourist aka COWFEST2. The team involved and café had been contacted by Nicola TARRENT, the organiser as 100 extra runners suddenly descending upon a parkrun could be a bit of a shock even for a long established parkrun let alone one that had only been running for 9 previous weeks. However the team and the café did amazingly well with the extra number.
Before I continue with my run report it is perhaps pertinent to give some background information that explains why my daughter and I set off as soon as school finished on Friday to travel 140 miles, past many perfectly good parkruns, as did so many other visitors to Middleton Woods parkrun this week.
I fell into parkrun tourism by accident! Trying to keep my six year old son motivated to run each week so I could enjoy a parkrun meant bribes... a nice breakfast or a cake at 9:45 in the morning only last so long. So it was that I took him and my daughter to different venues; Leamington, Brueton, Kingsbury Water – which he loved. So with different things to see we kept running as a family. Then I made the fatal error of picking a new venue from the parkrun website with him watching!
After discovering we lived in the West Midlands region he decided that we must do them all!
And so it was that we slowly added to our tally of venues by getting up increasingly early to drive an hour or more to run 5km, have a breakfast before returning home. It was our secret. My wife thought it was daft that we would travel 50 miles to run 3 when we had three perfectly good parkruns less than 8 miles away! So what would others think?
My secret came out in 2016, when one of my running friends found out I was on the most events part of the parkrun website (having run 20 different UK events) so invited me to join a virtual running group on Facebook – UK parkrun tourist. I realised I wasn't alone! There were others that would travel for parkrun – some even more dedicated and determined than me!
Rather than having a t-shirt like other running groups or clubs – we love our parkrun shirts too much to wear something that covers these up – we wear a Cow Cowl (or multifunctional headwear - nb can be worn on wrist as well) so we can spot each other at different events across the world. This item isn't a free item given out by parkrun but purchased by group members.
These random meetings at parkrun by spotting the Cowls are great fun. However, a bigger deliberate gathering was planned in 2017 at Rugby. It was a great success so a future COWFEST was planned. Middleton Woods being a new venue (so unvisited by most), on good transport links (road and rail) and in the centre of the country it was a perfect choice. So members of the tourist group arranged transport, booked hotels and sorted an evening meal and parkrun quiz for Friday; COWFEST was on.
After the fun and festivities of Friday, parkrunday arrived. Having stayed over at a hotel there were no worries about oversleeping and a perfect postcode for the carparking meant an early arrival before the herds or other tourists.
The slight chill in the air of the morning soon passed and before long the sun beating down from the azure blue sky meant that it was going to be a tough parkrun in the hot weather. After the customary new runners briefing – this week very busy with 173 first timers :O – 7 totally new to doing parkrun as they registered their first parkrun ever. So a huge WELCOME to :- Jason PRAILL, Ian RODLEY, Christopher MAYFIELD, Lee WILLOUGHBY, Sarah LOWERY, Mark BRADDICK & Naomi INWOOD I hope you enjoyed your run and parkrun will see you run that second run soon.
Both the new runners briefing and the main briefing covered the undulating nature of the course – but having been to a few parkruns myself what is hilly to one parkrun is flat to another. However Charlee RONEY & today's RD Josh DIXON didn't lie... Middleton Woods definitely had a decent hill – which you get to enjoy twice!
The start of a parkrun is as much heralded with a shouted 'Go' from the RD as it is with the beeping of GPS watches. With a long sharp downhill I was off, greatly enjoying the shade provided by the trees from the growing brightness of the sun's rays!
Middleton Woods parkrun has a little bit of everything, a good tarmac downhill to enjoy – watch out for the 9 speed humps, a bandstand, small lake, a woodland path, formal gardens and beautiful viewing point. (Keep on MOOving admire them later)
I was thankful I decided to e-mail in to snaffle the run report writer's role – as not only does it keep a good record of my travels but as a way of properly thanking all the volunteer heroes in hi-viz, as today I failed miserably to even grunt a thanks to one at the top of the hill – even after I had taken a brief walking break to attempt to regain my breath! So on behalf of myself and the other 221 other runners I offer a huge thank you to :- Andy AIREY • Barry SHERWOOD • Charlee RONEY • Debbie BARKER • Elizabeth CONNOLLY • Graham HAWDEN • Helen CARR • Hugo WRIGHT • Ian WRIGHT • Josh DIXON • Katie JOHNSTON • Linda FEATHERSTONE • Mark PINNEY • Martin KAYE • Miranda APPS • Nichola MCVEY • Paula JOHNSTON • Phillip WALKER • Sam DOOLEY– who made this run possible this morning. As with parkruns around the world if you fancy giving scanning a go, fancy being the time keeper, marshalling and encouraging others or are happy to help out in any role please look on the roster and e-mail - email@example.com You might even fancy giving report writing a go!
As I puffed my way around the course for a second time – First timer to Middleton Woods, Ackworth Road Runners' Simon NEWTON (VM35-39) stormed home in a new course record for Middleton Wood of 17:40 – 45th different venue today. Team Derby Runner, Emily Alice CASELEY (SW25-29) set a new PB today of 24:23 to cross the line in 36 place and first lady home. Superb running.
Emily Alice CASELEY wasn't the only one to set a new PB today; 20 other runners will have seen those joyous words on their parkrun results text of NEW PB. So well done to :- Colin RENDER, Ruth HARTLEY, Matthew CRUMPTON, Andrew TAME, Kirsty JOHNSON, Andy JOHNSON, John FIELDING, Joanne LENTON, Polly MURPHY, Thomas LENTON, Adrian MURPHY, John OSBORNE, Gary ELLERBY, Jo MURPHY, Wendy MURGATROYD, Ken THOMAS, John CALVERT, Craig MAFFEY, Gary ROBINSON & Diane MAWER.
Proper parkrun tourism always involves a trip to the Café, bacon rolls and a slice of cake were the order of the day. But all is not over for parkrun; as I chatted to my fellow tourists the Core team processed the results and a couple of tourists sorted the tokens ready for next week.
Rather than head straight home we headed back into to Leeds to enjoy a visit to the Royal Armouries – parkrun tourism and cultural tourism in one day. If you make a special journey to Leeds for Middleton parkrun it is definitely worth combining the two – especially as both are free to enjoy!
Thank you to everyone at Middleton Woods parkrun for being so welcoming to me and my daughter, as well as all those tourists that arrived. Happy parkrunning.
Coventry? parkrun tourist.
As always a full set of today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Middleton Woods parkrun Results Page, but in honour of Elliott LINE who ran today and produces a whole raft of fascinating parkrun stats each week here are a few 'interesting' Stats highlights from today's run:-
14th finisher Ian GIGGS (VM35-39) from Reading Roadrunners set the quiz for the COWFEST but also claimed the honour of most experienced parkrunner (based on number of runs 447 not age!)
63rd finisher James DEIGHTON (VM40-44) from Marple Runners had the average number of parkruns of 126.
And this week as it is all about the Apricot... 182nd finisher Rosemary EGBE (VW50-54) (Striders of Croydon AC) can claim the most travelled parkrunner with 288 different venues worldwide!
83 people on this week's results have earned their V25 T-shirt – have volunteered at least 25 different days!
Barbara ROBERTS reached her 100th parkrun today at her 34th different venue.
Alison SYMONDS-TAYLER ran her 241st parkrun but ran her 100th different event today – Welcome to the Cowell Club!