Shepton Mallet parkrun #144 – a Tourist’s view
This was my third visit to Shepton Mallet parkrun. The first time the circus was in town and I ran alongside an actual trapeze artist. The second time was New Year’s Day; it seemed like a good idea at the time, doing two parkruns in one day, but the other was Street and it all got a bit muddy. And this week I ran with family and friends and it was my best visit yet.
I like Shepton Mallet parkrun. Collett Park is really nice and, while I don’t have a problem with parkruns wherever they can find space (along the commons, seafront, across major motorway bridges etc.), its lovely to run in an actual park. A pretty Edwardian park with undulating paths and trees and a pond. This was my 74th parkrun. I’ve visited forty-nine different events, mostly in the south west, and Shepton Mallet is one of the few I’ve done more than once or twice. Why? Because its where I registered my dad, Ron Wood, when I set him up on parkrun, so this is his home run (this weekend was Dad’s birthday and running with him was the cheapest present I could think of!). While I am by no means the most travelled parkrunner around, I’ve seen enough to know that Shepton Mallet has more than its fair share of quirks and idiosyncrasies.
Let’s start with the obvious one first. Lots of parkruns have an out’n’back stretch, marked at one end by a post/cone/person that we have to run around to before heading back, but how many of them name the marker? I don’t mean the ones with a person, they’re all called Marshall anyway, but the cone itself. Shepton Mallet has Joan the Cone and with her regular chaperones she is part of the core team of volunteers.
We all know that the volunteers make the parkrun. But in Shepton Mallet there’s one who makes the run weird. Where else can you get that sudden onset of anatidaephobia (the fear that somehow, somewhere, a duck is watching you – look it up, it’s a thing!) than down by the pond in Collett Park? Not once, but on all three laps! You hear it but there is no duck to be seen…
And then there’s Shepton Mallet parkrun’s very own challenge. Many of us know the thrill of checking our results against such challenges as Stopwatch Bingo or Groundhog Day, or searching for a new parkrun by starting letter or event number, because it gets us closer to a virtual badge on a website (incidentally the S of Shepton Mallet counted towards my new game, getting parkruns to spell out ‘C O R O N A V I R U S’ before they get stopped for public health, but I still need a V and an I, as well as another O and an R). But Shepton Mallet’s thrill-seeking runners have the Cappuccino Challenge, for which the only reward is kudos from those in the know or (quite probably) third-degree burns to the hands and face.
As a tourist these things add to the appeal of this parkrun and so it was fun to be in Shepton Mallet with not just my Dad but some fellow travellers from Bristol, both of whom earn honourable mentions later on. But first let’s talk about the run. It was good.
You want more? Oh, alright. There were 195 finishers today, 13 of whom were anonymous – don’t forget those barcodes! There were six first time first timers, Mark Bailey, Owen Roberts, James Wylie, Nicholas Smith, Fran Gillard and Gemma Hand…welcome to the park, you picked a great one to start with. Caroline Hobbs was our Run Director today and was so efficient that we stood waiting at the start for a few moments so that we could set off at 09:00. The weather was kind, the ground was relatively dry, and the marshals were all in fine form and very encouraging. There were 39 PB’s recorded, Matt Daffurn beat his last week’s previous best time by 9 seconds and Jenni Connett took a whole second off her record, set in 2018. My friend Mel Gilbert got a course PB but also gets a mention for being most runniest runner, notching up her 342nd parkrun.
As this is my run report the only other PB I’ll mention is mine. The plan had been to run with my dad, but I set off fast and left him behind. So for the first time I beat my dad and it’s left me with a bittersweet feeling of celebrating an all-time PB, knocking 40 seconds off my best ever time from way back in 2012, while also regretting that Dad, who has run since getting his house tie for cross country at school, has finally been overtaken by his fat son.
There was only one entrant for the Cappuccino Challenge this week, Richard Aquilina, my friend from the late lamented Little Stoke parkrun in Bristol. The eternal tourist, he’s run Shepton Mallet before and fancied trying something different. On the first lap he ordered his drink at the Collett Park Café, on lap two he picked it up and then he discovered why most people make it a cappuccino…it’s all about the foam! Richard ordered an Americano which was hot liquid all the way up to the top! But despite a few minor facial scalds he finished in 27:03. Not his course PB but still a lot faster than me on my best day ever!
Did you think this was going to a run report that didn’t mention the volunteers? No chance. As we all know parkrun doesn’t happen with the high-viz heroes and this week’s team were Caroline Hobbs, Ollie Adams, Gwyneth Barber, Sandra Blakemore, Dan Blewitt, Oscar Blewitt, Lucy Brown, Mandie Bygrave, Joan the Cone, Sarah Daffurn, Sharon Dorling, John English, Ben Gait, Vicki Gait, Edric Hobbs, Deanne Hood, Simon Howell, Martin Kay, Gill “Duck Lady Gill’ King, Marilyn Lainton, Sue Nash, Janet Reilly, Tanya Robinson, Michael Rusca and Karen Woolford. They offered great support all the way round, as did another parkrun regular not wearing fluorescent yellow…Dan, who was cheering everyone on in his police uniform.
I will be looking forward to my next visit to Shepton Mallet, an event that really is everything a parkrun should be. Thank you for having me.
Martyn Wood (A323542)