Written by Val Brockwell
Bevendean Down parkrun
As a fairly regular parkrun tourist, I have a mental list of “scenic parkruns I want to visit”. These are mainly very rural, hilly, and lacking in tarmac – and very often a long way from home (Brighton). Luckily, our holiday in Cornwall this year provided an opportunity to head to Parke (near the top of my list!) on our way home.
I’d offered to tail walk as a knee injury prevented me from running it properly, and run director Angela kindly added me as sidekick to this week’s official tail walker, Ken Dyer. After a very clear and helpful first timers’ briefing from Mary under a beautiful canopy of trees, we were off. We started with a few hundred yards of gentle downhill slope, then we took a left and were confronted with an impressively steep incline, up through the trees. Maybe it was a good thing I was just walking today. It was an excellent route though – I love woodland running – and Ken and I chatted about keeping fit and healthy as we get older (having discovered we are a few months apart in age).
As we progressed along the ‘undulating’ figure-of-eight route, Ken was collecting up some of the many parkrun arrows marking out the course. It made me reflect on the differences between this course and my home run at Bevendean Down. According to one list I’ve seen, Bevendean Down is the 6th hilliest parkrun in the country, while Parke is the 26th hilliest. Both seem equally hilly to me! The biggest contrast is the trees – Parke has thousands and Bevendean Down has none, being on open chalk downland (equally gorgeous in its own way – we do have views down to the sea with the Isle of Wight visible on a good day). Bevendean Down doesn’t need much in the way of course markings as the one path makes it fairly obvious which way to go, while Ken seemed to be collecting armfuls of arrows, which must make setting out the course correctly a really important and fairly time-consuming part of the event set-up. Well done to all the volunteers! (Including the friendly marshals out on the course who were supplementing the arrows by pointing out the correct path).
We got talking to parkrun newbie Bridget Fairbrother who was walking at a good pace just ahead of us. She was also enjoying the beautiful scenery (already familiar from dog walking) and the fine weather. She has decided to take on the “if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them!” mindset, and plans to walk the route fast every Saturday while husband Dean runs it. [Will she stick to that plan when the winter mud that Ken told me about arrives…?] She claims that she won’t be tempted to break into a jog over the coming weeks as she gets fitter, as she doesn’t like getting sweaty. However, she mentioned that she enjoys the feel-good factor you get from a brisk walk, so we suggested that running gives you that x 10. And she did jog down that slope just before the final incline, and then broke into another jog to the finish line – well done First Timer!
After the finish funnel, I got scanned, handed back my hi-viz, and thanked Ken for his company. He said we really should visit again in winter if we enjoy running through mud and puddles. By the way, the less said about my partner Stewart’s run the better. His thigh seized up en-route and he was reduced to a slow painful hobble (he was described to us by Mary Cornish as “walking wounded” when she passed us by the bridge – Ken said he’d check him out when he reached him). He was okay to get to the finish but didn’t go through the funnel, so there’s no record of him having been there!
We headed for the café with all its lovely outdoor seating and chatting parkrunners. We had very delicious scones and strawberry jam for breakfast, sharing the enjoyment of the jam with about 10 wasps. After that we had to head on home. Thanks to everyone at Parke for making us feel welcome and for embodying that wonderful parkrun spirit of enjoyment, encouragement and inclusivity. Your beautiful parkrun fully warrants its place on the “most scenic rural parkruns” list.
In addition to Bridget, there were six other people brand new to parkrun: well done to Isla Zalman, Karen Murray, Ann Donnelly, Simon Oliver, Rebecca Thorne and Becci Thomson. Hopefully you all enjoyed it so much you’ll be parkrunning again next Saturday!
Well done also to the 38 people who got PBs – too many to mention them all by name. I guess most PBs on this course happen in balmy summer weather when it’s dry underfoot. Congratulations to first finishers Tim Pratt (new PB) and Melanie Brooks (new PB), and to top age-grader Vaughan Lindsay (74.66%). And grateful thanks to all the volunteers:
Thomas ALLAN – Val BROCKWELL – Mary CORNISH – John CORNISH – Oliver DRINKWATER – Ken DYER – Thuza EDWORTHY – Angela EVANS – Alison HYDON – Ian MORTIMER – Martha NEAL – Sally SHOOLBRAID – Colin SHOOLBRAID – Jenny SPENCER – Ewan WALTON