Colchester Castle parkrun #347

Our run report this week has been gifted to us by the parkrun poet. Thanks Tim!

The Poetry Dungeon – parkrun #347, 23 November 2019

I returned to Castle Park with my son Joseph, a little nervous about how he’d handle the hill. It was his 21st different event so I needn't have worried. A critical mass of 308 parkrunners assembled despite the drizzly, overcast weather. Colchester Castle seemed like the typical 'flash' parkrun with hardly anyone around at 8:45, only for an influx of athletes to digest Meera's run briefing 10 minutes later. I should have heeded her warning about the slippery nature of the paths...

Usually, my son and me couldn’t pace a corridor, but this morning we were quite sedate in the first mile, enjoying the relative comfort of the first downhill section. All seemed good in the world of Corner Cutter Gardiner and son. Approaching the turnaround with genuine hope, it was dashed as I skidded on some wet leaves and onto the damp grass, slide tackle style. The concern and encouragement of my fellow parkrunners (not my son I might add!) got me underway again, but the momentum had been lost. Streaked with dirt, I hauled my frame up the hill for the initial lung buster in the style of the Marshmallow Man.

Near the café, a lovely marshal quipped ‘oh, a poet!’ pleased that one had been released from their straitjacket! The best thing about the parkrun is passing around the Castle, before enjoying a well-earned downhill sprint. The hill on the second lap felt like the north face of the Eiger; cheered on by some of the 35 fabulous volunteers who made the parkrun possible. Soundly beaten in the sprint finish by my son, I was left to roll into the finish funnel in around 27 minutes, my stomach muscles aching like John Hurt’s in Alien. Interestingly, Sigourney Weaver’s mum, Elizabeth Inglis, was born in Colchester in 1913 before moving to Hollywood in the 1930s and starring in Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Herein lies the Hitchcock link to my previous run reports for Maldon Prom (#327) and Newark (#335) which had references to the famous movie director (my favourite)!

A total of 139 runners ‘beat the poet’ this morning, the wordsmith waning after the tumble. There were over 30 pbs, 13 lucky first-timers (including the wintry Lewis Snowball) and Darren Manners joined the 50 Club. Well done to all parkrun achievers!

We now enter the artistic portion of the run report. On my last visit to Castle Park, I had some haiku poems featured in the report, with the run director suggesting the creation of a Poetry Corner. I feel a Poetry Dungeon is more appropriate given the historic location and infamy of Colchester Castle’s prison! The Dungeon should be the home for good, bad and downright ugly poetry. So here is the first effort and a game for poetic parkrunners. It’s something called a renga; a sequence of three and two line poems, each linking to the one before, and then shifting to a different subject.

The Poetry Dungeon

castle hill
now I know what
made Boudica mad

running Romans
charge as a turtle-shell

downhill sprint
runners shimmy
through the gate

marshmallow man
his cadence needs work

And so the sequence has been started by Joseph (2 and 4) and me (1 and 3), with others free to add alternate three and two line haiku poems (forget the syllables!) in future.

Tim Gardiner
aka the parkrun poet
twitter: @parkrunpoetry