Good morning Blickling and greetings from Luton!
My local parkrun is Luton Wardown, but I am lucky enough to visit Norfolk from time to time. I first did Blickling parkrun back in October last year and I fell in love with it. I spent the whole day and left at about 5 p.m. when it was dark - getting value out of my fiver for parking! I loved it so much I rushed home, told my partner about it and brought him with me next time... and on that day we joined the National Trust for repeat visits to ensue. This Saturday, 11 May 2019, was my fifth parkrun at Blickling. Here's my take on your beautiful venue.
Parkrun tourists often ask each other what shoes they should wear. It's never an issue for me as I only have one type of trainers - but my first time at Blickling I was so focused on how to find my way there on my own, I forgot to pack them! I managed to find some deck shoes that were totally flat and very thin soled and picked my way gingerly round the course in those. It was the 250th event and I was just a face in the crowd, but still - next time I was there, several people remembered me and we had a laugh about my footwear. That's pretty special - to be recognised and greeted after just one visit! Thank you Blickling for making me feel so welcome.
Blicking is so different from home. Luton Wardown is one of those town centre parkruns where you run multiple times round the lake of a municipal park. Great community atmosphere and the most encouraging, clappingest, shoutiest volunteers you'll ever meet - but maybe unremarkable in terms of landscape. Blickling on the other hand, a National Trust stately home with eye poppingly beautiful open parkland. Stunning. I guess you knew that already
But a warning to tourists: get there early!
At Luton, the briefing may start at 9, with a short walk to the start and away at about 10 past. No such slacking at Blickling! The briefing starts early (bang on 0850), so ideally get there for 8:30, to allow time to queue for the parking meters and walk to the briefing point near the parkland entrance.
This week it was Mick who was at the helm as Run Director (RD). Just a quick note: Please everyone, keep quiet and listen to the briefing. The RD has important information we all need to know, and it's hard to hear if people are chatting. There's plenty of time for that on the way to the start
I enjoy the long but beautiful walk to the start (it's only 500 metres Kathy!), because by the start line, you're already halfway up the hill! At 9 a.m. Mick rang the bell and we were off. I love that he continued to ring it while we all passed, as a cheery encouragement to our run.
I'll be honest: I'm slow and although I love it, I find parkrun hard. This week I stumbled round in just under 42 minutes. But another thing I love about Blickling is it's in sections, so it's never far from a change of setting, and the one-and-a-half laps bring enough repetition to make the second time through each part feel quicker. Past the friendly marshals at the gate (saying hello of course), another push and then the uphill is over and we're turning into a lovely wooded stretch. Once emerged, past Alistair's marshal point and for me the most interesting part of the course. It may just seem like a grassy meadow but look over your left shoulder - the famous Blickling Mausoleum!
More woods and fields including a field of dandelion clocks - cos we all have a great 'time' at parkrun
And arriving at the glorious downhill section where we see the finish... It's usually about here that the first finishers are lapping me.
Passing by to complete the circuit, only this time we have to run the full length of the hill we walked up before... lucky there are the lovely marshals still there at the gate and a very welcome high-five from a junior marshal. Thank you!
And just as my poor legs are giving out, my spirits lift: the joy of seeing bluebells and my favourite tree in the park (this gnarled old oak) gets me to the top. From there it's just a matter of repeat - until that final headlong gallop through the funnel with a bursting heart and a huge grin on my face that I made it round without walking
I hope this captures a little of what I love about Blickling. It's just wonderful!
Congratulations to the 293 participants who ran, walked, jeffed or jogged it this week. There were 28 first-timers and 62 people achieved a PB, including first finisher James Lillistone who led the field at 18:53. Well done everyone!
Finally, a huge thank you to Mick and to all the wonderful volunteers who made this event happen: Neil ADAMS, Lee ANDERTON, Emma BLAKE, Carol BYE, Jonathan BYE, Matthew BYE, Diane CHALK, Ness DENT, Charlotte ENNALS, Linda HOMER, Alastair HOWE, Rosemary JACKSON, Andrew JOHNSON, Diane LAIN, Jason LAWSON, Stewart LIFE, Hetty LIFE, Jonah LIFE, Billy LIFE, Mick LISTON, Noel MEEKS, Diane Susan RENSHAW, Claire RICHES, Julian SMITH, Victoria TOVELL, Jenni VAN REE, Amelia WHITING
Thank you Blickling for a fabulous parkrun and your warm hospitality. See you very soon I hope. And if you're ever in Bedfordshire, do factor in a Saturday morning for Luton Wardown parkrun. We'd love to return the welcome
Good morning Blickling and greetings from Luton!