COVID-19 Framework

News from parkrun

Earlier this week we announced we had completed our COVID-19 Framework, describing how events will operate in countries where an underlying level of community infection still remains.

We’d also like to stress that as part of our strategy to return we took the decision to separate defining the way events should be reopened, from deciding the date when that process would be considered safe.

Today we are announcing the process not the date, and as such there is no immediate obligation or impact on any parkrun community. However, by publishing our COVID-19 Framework we are better able to progress conversations around when and where our events may be able to return safely.

At the front of our minds has been the importance of not over-burdening volunteers, not presenting significant barriers to participation, not creating precedents we cannot maintain, and not setting unrealistic expectations. Our vision for parkrun events as they reopen is also that, whilst proximity and interaction will be significantly reduced, the essence of parkrun is very much there. Because of this, it may take longer for our events to return in some places, however we have always believed in being patient and protecting the parkrun ethos.

We also wish to clarify that whilst we consider this Framework to be complete, it is very much provisional and as such we welcome feedback from both within and outside of the parkrun community. Aspects or details may still change, and we will continue to provide weekly updates through each parkrun country’s blog page.

We understand that this is a significant moment for parkrun, with longer-term implications for many millions of parkrunners. We are also mindful of the responsibility we have in guiding the parkrun family through these challenging times.

We therefore remain committed to transparency around the decisions we make and why we make them. As such, we are publishing our Framework alongside an in-depth discussion on the Free Weekly Timed podcast that will explain the rationale of the framework in detail. We will also be creating a number of opportunities for members of the parkrun community to ask questions and challenge decisions, starting next week with a further question and answer session on the Free Weekly Timed podcast.

Please do listen to our COVID-19 Framework discussion, available now in this week’s episode of Free Weekly Timed.

And you can find our COVID-19 Framework in the Volunteer Hub.

Many thanks for your continued patience, understanding, and support.

Tom Williams
Chief Operating Officer
parkrun Global

 

International Women’s Day

Looking forward to the International Women's Day parkrun on Saturday 7th March! See you there!

#thisgirlcan

 

Festive parkruns

This year, we're holding a parkrun on Christmas Day (9am) and New Year's Day (10:30am)

 

This week’s trial course – 24 March 2018

We are getting closer to the end of our trial routes with another different one for this week (24th March 2018). We are doing these trials to future proof against our continuing growth and the congestion that this can cause on the narrow section of the lake when overtaking is in full swing in the mid part of the run. We had lots of positive feedback about the trial route last week although the two way congestion up the hill to King Harry Lane and our domination of the four way junction could prove to be a sticking point!

No automatic alt text available.This week we will do another adaptation of the original lake course.

The route:
We will gather in and around the basketball court just beyond the playground for the start. Marshals will usher you there from the normal starting point so don't worry! From there, we will head to the junction and round the lake once anti-clockwise as normal, before coming back up from the lake and back up the yellow brick road to the old start/finish. Then you'll head left and left again, following the tree line and staying off the football pitches before rejoining the path and heading back to the lake via the carriage way behind the toilets, then round the lake anti-clockwise again before heading back to the hold finish near the Museum car park.

We hope you like it. Be sure to thank all the volunteers, particularly those who've spent a while staking out another potential route, and we look forward to your feedback!

#loveparkrun

 

St Albans Park Run 221, 19 March 2016

St Albans Park Run 221, 19 March 2016, took place in grey and drizzly conditions but that did not stop 318 runners, of whom 25 were first timers from lining up. The sassy new start seemed to work well.

Our 25 volunteers: three cheers were:
Alice CLILVERD • Amy HEAP • Amy MCALISTER • Andrew VAN HEININGEN • David GREEN • Edric WILLIAMS • Gino GOLLUCCIO • Howard BULL • Kate TETTMAR • Kate WEBB • Katie BUNTING • Linda CASSIDY • Lindsay OREJAS • Mark CLEG...G • Martin CRISP • Nicola DALE • Noran MCGOVERN • Phyllida JONES • Richard SVED • Richard TODD • Richard UNDERWOOD • Robbie RICHARDS • Sarah-Beth GREEN • Simon RICKETTS • Wai Meng AU-YEONG

That’s one for every thirteen runners. All of these guys have done it before. Here’s an idea for those who have not tried volunteering: run 12 times and volunteer once. You’ll be sure to enjoy it.

Female placings:
Keira STERN (JW11-14!) 20:21 Jenny MADDOCKS 20:44 Heather HANN 21:00

Male placings:
Paul ADAMS 16:34 Matt HANN 16:44 Robert SPENCER 18:05

Age Grade scores above 80%
Richard BLOOM (VM70-74) 82.40% time 21:24.
Colin SINGLETON (VM60-64) 81.79% time 20:19.
Christine MUTTITT (VW65-69) 80.16% time 26:28.

10 club welcomes Abhay GUPTA
25 club welcomes Maddy COX
50 club congratulations to Andrew GOODMAN
100 club congratulations to Michelle COOMBS

Personal bests amazingly for 66 people on what was, to be honest, not PB day. What on earth can you manage on a warm, dry day? We’ll see, good luck!

You were:

Robert Cooper, Simon Claridge, Gareth Tucker, Ben Cooper, Dylan Wendleken, Richard Beckwith, Jennifer Wilson, Anjuli Mistry, Kirsten Whitehouse, Kate Schlesinger, Sue Maxen, Dan Halloran, Catriona McInnes, Deborah Harris, Sarah Woodruff, Martin Wick, Neil Varshney, Richard Michael, Chris Barr, Lara Menzies, Niki Freedman, Nick Street, Monique Lesueur, Fran Stanyer, William Bagshaw, Oli Fenner, Rachel Mackie, Caroline Hughes, Theresa Hartill, Simon Armstrong, Penelope Seeger, Christina Ioakeimopoulou, Stephen McKee, Christine Muttitt, Matthew Gregory, Sophie Picton, Simon Hunt, Maria Larmer, Mark Hayward, Scott Thorogood, Louise Wynn, Gill Clayton, Paul Barron, Scout Newby, Alan Whitmore, Daniel Ridgewell, Michelle Coombs, Jessi Brunetti, Robert Spencer, Nicola Halloran, Zoe Makepeace, Ewan Hedge, Jim Hopkins, Annabel Hedge, Chris Dungate, Tanya Page, Katie Howells, Bill Harding, Tom Witchard, Hollie Wynn, Francesca Rae, Ben Wick, Allan Mackay, Paul Leslie Lawrence Cheek, Benjamin Jones, and Carl Jones.

Let’s not forget all the others who turned up and just ran. From 16:44 via 26:26, 45:52 to 58:27 we were in it together and there is something magical in that.

Edric Williams

 

RUN REPORT – 22/08/2015, event number 190

335 runners crossed the finishing line this week. 48 were first timers with 20 clubs represented.

Richard Townsend donned the orange jacket to lead this week's team of volunteers - huge thanks to everyone involved; Amy Heap, Andrew Coles, Andrew van Heiningen, Caroline Gillespie, Dawn Gamble, Hannah Morton-Hedges, Howard Bull, Ian Simpson, Immy Hedges, Isobel Todd, Jenna Pickering, Kate Tettmar, Ken Jude, Martin Medforth, Matthew Hunt, Nathan Sweeney, Peter Jones, Phyllida Jones, Richard Sved, Simon Ricketts and Wai Meng Au-Yeong respectively.

Congrats to Colin Singleton who completed his 50th parkrun with a time of 19:42 to reach the '50 club' milestone. Colin was also 1 of 4 runners who achieved an age graded score over 80%, the others being Andrew Leech, David Green and Andrew Holt. Caroline Gillespie was the most seasoned parkrunner at this week's event, completing 178 parkruns to date.

First female finishers:
1. Wendy Walsh, 20:00, St Albans Striders
2. Jenny Maddocks, 20:13, St Albans Striders
3. Helen Cartlidge, 20:15, St Albans Striders

First male finishers:
1. Andrew Leach, 16:34, North Herts RRC
2. Derek Fowler, 17:17, East London Triathletes
3. Joshua Andrew van Heiningen, 17:42, Dacorum & Tring AC

First finishers in each age category were:
• JM10: Adam Paul Pierce Smith, 24:06
• JM11-14: Euan Turner, 21:57
• JM15-17: Joshua Andrew van Heiningen, 17:42
• JW10: Hannah Barker, 24:52
• JW11-14: Beth Barker, 23:49
• SM18-19: Matthew Hearn, 24:22
• SM20-24: Junaid Khan, 22:34
• SM25-29: Alex Smith, 17:59
• SM30-34: James Chasen, 17:54
• SW18-19: Alice Cook, 29:23
• SW20-24: Sofia Aatkar, 27:34
• SW25-29: Genevieve Cox, 22:33
• SW30-34: Amy Lam, 21:31
• VM35-39: Derek Fowler, 17:17
• VM40-44: Edward Bailey, 17:45
• VM45-49: Paul G Davies, 18:09
• VM50-54: Andrew Leach, 16:34
• VM55-59: David Green, 18:14
• VM60-64: Colin Singleton, 19:42
• VM65-69: Bill Harding, 26:17
• VM70-74: Thomas Reynolds, 24:50
• VW35-39: Jenny Maddocks, 20:13
• VW40-44: Victoria Brandon, 25:56
• VW45-49: Wendy Walsh, 20:00
• VW50-54: Caroline Gilby, 21:24
• VW55-59: Romaine Sheila Byers, 27:44
• VW60-64: Eileen Sindole, 26:47

47 runners earned new PBs: Well done to Derek Fowler, Martyn Rothwell, Daniel Poulton, Lee Mcivor, Colin Merritt, Matt Richardson, Darren Matussa, Marcus Hooper, Darren Herbert, Robin Keat, Andy Cook, Scott Clarke, Matthew Childs, Ben Holgado, Sarah Mccoy, Junaid Khan, Michael Jack, Andrew Jeffreys, Sophie Weaver, Matthew Hearn, Hannah Barker, Monty Chivers, Michal Kowalik, Victoria Brandon, Tom Flett, Rebecca Sanderson, Anthony Claudius, Will Antcliffe, Mark Antcliffe, Dylan Hilton, James Hilton, Stephanie Hanna, David Hanna, Sofia Aatkar, Cendrine Manceau-Ward, Enqin Chan, Rachael Blok, Dawn Fleming, Anita Marshall, Emma Bean, Holly Wright, Dan Bailey, Elizabeth Jordan, Jon Housley, Carolyn Cliffe, and Matthew James Ray Willis.

St Albans parkrun is a community event run entirely by volunteers. If you're thinking of helping out, check out our volunteer page.

- Rob O'Sullivan

St Albans parkrun's photo.
 

Run Report 15 August 2015

9am Saturday: 317 runners toed the line at the 189th parkrun in Verulamium Park, including 28 first timers.

 

St Albans parkrun's photo.

Thanks to the superb bunch of volunteers, ably led by run director Richard Vaughan: Andrew Coles, Andrew Van Heiningen, Anna Parsons, Ben Scott, Caroline Gillespie, David Thomas Byers, Gino Golluccio, Helen Merrills, Ian Laws, Joaquin Orejas, Jonathan Poole, Kate Burn, Kate Tettmar, Kate Webb, Linda Cassidy, Matthew Hunt, Richard Derrick, Richard Sved, Sarah Walker, Simon Ricketts, and Tony Barr.

 

Helen Cartlidge (VW35-39), of St Albans Striders, was first woman over the line in 20:10 – the 6th time she has done so in 38 appearances. Amy Lam (SW30-34) was second over the line in 20:18 – she was first to finish once before. Jenny Maddocks (VW35-39), of St Albans Striders, was third woman over the line in 20:26 – she has been the first woman to finish on 54 previous occasions.

 

The current standings in the Women's annual points competition are:
1) Jenny Maddocks (St Albans Striders) 2041 pts.
2) Lindsay Orejas (Unattached) 1706 pts.
3) Helen Cartlidge (St Albans Striders) 1676 pts.

 

Alex Juggins (SM25-29) of Holland Sports AC, was the first man to finish, in 16:57. An unknown runner was second, and Joe Dunn (VM35-39) of St Albans Striders, was third over the line in 17:31.

 

The current standings in the Men's annual points competition are:
1) Mike MARTIN (St Albans Striders) 2336 pts.
2) Sebastian ROWE (St Albans Striders) 2022 pts.
3) Adam DUNAJKO (St Albans Striders) 1886 pts.

 

Well done to the following runners who recorded the best Age Grade scores: Brenda Fee (VW65-69) was graded 83.15% for the time 25:55 (158th overall); Paul Greaves (VM50-54) was graded 83.02% for the time 17:46 (8th overall); Colin Singleton (VM60-64) was graded 82.96% for the time 19:51 (30th overall).

 

And there were 62 new PBS: Congratulations to Alex Juggins, Alexander Hunt, Edward Bailey, Luke Hine, Colin Merritt, Matthew Ashby, Matt Richardson, Darren Herbert, Craig Learoyd, Taras Huzar, Colin Perry, Lee Scragg, Jamie Willing, Morgan Hume, Iain Brown, Callum Sweeney, Aaron Paul, Alastair Roeder, David Jeffreys, Barry Heath, Matthew Cook, Nick Bailey, Jonny Cliffe, Robbie Ferguson, Rasmi Nanda, Lawrence Evans, Rod Hewson, Tim Dale, Sophie Weaver, George Turner, Alison Newberry, David Stacey, Doug Munro, Lauren Coupe, Rebecca Mcshane, Louise Newton, Tichaonezvi J. Ruredzo, Brenda Fee, Sarah Woodward, Carly Simmons, Victoria Johns, Tom Flett, Jo Cummings, Ann Rabinowitz, William Poulain, Alex Halliday, Martin Gore, Caroline Emmerson, Monique Lesueur, Harrison Elizabeth, Ashirwad Merve, Peter Dollman, Sarah Elizabeth Wallace, Joshua Wood, Helen Merrills, Marshall Donaghey, Dawn Fleming, Catherine Jones, Holly Wright, Elizabeth Jordan, Jon Housley, and Jill Griffiths.

 

St Albans parkrun started on 14th January 2012, and since then 7,052 different runners, including participants from 437 athletics clubs, have completed 41,603 runs covering a total distance of 208,015 km, and there have been 8,808 new Personal Bests.

 

Our parkrun is a community event run entirely by volunteers – got a question? Check out the FAQs here:http://www.parkrun.org.uk/stalbans/volunteer/

 

Same time same place next week – don’t forget your barcode!

 

Kate W.

 

RUN REPORT – St Albans Parkrun, 8/8/2015, event number 188‏

A beautiful sunny morning greeted 303 runners for the 188nd St Albans parkrun. This week there were 40 first timers with 62 runners belonging to 1 of 23 clubs represented.

Our event couldn't be held without our dedicated volunteers, thank you to Amina Hatia, Andrew Coles, Andrew Good, Andrew van Heiningen, Edric Williams, Harriett Johnson, Helen Merrills, Ian Ralph, Jennifer Marie Conway, Kate Burn, Kimberley Harper, Martin Medforth, Michelle Coombs, Noran Mcgovern, Olusola Akinola, Richard Sved, Stuart Middleton, and Tony Barr respectively.

Special mention for Annette Howard who completed her 50th parkrun, thereby joining the '50 club'. Kudos to those running their 10th parkrun today too; Luke Hine, Magdalena Bobon, Chris Russ, Amulya Jena, Jessi Brunetti and Elizabeth Jordan. Paul Hearn was the most seasoned parkrunner this week, 142 runs and counting.

Male placing:
1. Adam Dunajko, 16:52:00, St Albans Striders
2. Alex Smith, 17:54:00, Harpenden Arrows Running Club
3. Jacob Hine, 17:54:00, St Albans Striders

Female placing:
1. Sophie O'Sullivan, 19:44:00, Unattached
2. Lydia Louw, 19:54:00, Ranelagh Harriers
3. Indira Patel, 19:59:00, Dacorum & Tring AC

14 finishers achieved an age grade score of over 75% this week:

• Adam Dunajko, SM30-34, 77.08%

• David Green, VM50-54, 82.34%

• Kevin Harris, VM60-64, 85.51%

• Alec Campbell, VM50-54, 77.43%

• Brian James, VM65-69, 88.61%

• Freddie Truman-Williams, JM11-14, 76.24%

• Sophie O'Sullivan, SW18-19, 75.84%

• Michael Barbosa, VM50-54, 76.41%

• Colin Singleton, VM60-64, 82.89%

• Lydia Louw, JW10, 85.76%

• Andy Piper, VM50-54, 75.04%

• Indira Patel, JW11-14, 79.9%

• Keith Mclellan, VM55-59, 78.44%

• Brenda Fee, VW65-69, 81.63%

First finishers in each age category were:

• JM10: Arthur Louw, 23:32:00

• JM11-14: Freddie Truman-Williams, 19:30:00

• JM15-17: Joe Dolphin, 21:53:00

• JW10: Lydia Louw, 19:54:00

• JW11-14: Indira Patel, 19:59:00

• JW15-17: Alys Mccarthy, 27:42:00

• SM18-19: Jacob Hine, 17:54:00

• SM20-24: Mark Dellora, 19:39:00

• SM25-29: Alex Smith, 17:54:00

• SM30-34: Adam Dunajko, 16:52:00

• SW18-19: Sophie O'Sullivan, 19:44:00

• SW20-24: Grace Smyth, 27:22:00

• SW25-29: Jessica Yelland, 23:15:00

• SW30-34: Natalie Simpson, 20:09:00

• VM35-39: Derek Fowler, 18:25:00

• VM40-44: Shane Seagreen, 18:17:00

• VM45-49: Andy Wilkins, 19:40:00

• VM50-54: David Green, 18:30:00

• VM55-59: Keith Mclellan, 20:06:00

• VM60-64: Kevin Harris, 18:45:00

• VM65-69: Brian James, 19:28:00

• VM70-74: David Thomas Byers, 26:17:00

• VW35-39: Anna Gillham, 23:20:00

• VW40-44: Kate Tettmar, 25:21:00

• VW45-49: Sarah Benson, 22:06:00

• VW50-54: Pauline Michael, 22:42:00

• VW55-59: Romaine Sheila Byers, 27:51:00

• VW60-64: Bernadette Byrne, 28:11:00

• VW65-69: Brenda Fee, 26:24:00

 

50 runners earned themselves new personal bests; Alex Smith, Jacob Hine, Derek Fowler, Kevin Harris, Luke Hine, Shaun Messenger, Freddie Truman-Williams, Matt Richardson, Lydia Louw, Indira Patel, James Nicholas Thomson, Natalie Simpson, Gary Neal, Nigel Aston, Iain Brown, Oliver Arnott, Nick Lemon, Tom Forster, Jessica Yelland, Stephen Hand, Matthew Cook, Magdalena Bobon, Robert Cooper, Sarah Truman-Williams, Trevor Beaumont, Paul Quinn, Alison Newberry, Dan Bright, Joel Gill, David Williams, Katy Andrews, Andy Evans, Brenda Fee, Monty Chivers, Martin Gore, Natalie D'Ambrosio, Isobel Michie, Connor Mcshannon, Teddy Carr, Derek Brown, Sally Mccarthy, Rocco Rahho, Isla Hopkins, Emma Bean, Charlene Billins, Dan Bailey, Holly Wright, Rhydian Toley, Jill Griffiths and Fatima Rauf.

St Albans parkrun is a community event run entirely by volunteers. Runners are encouraged to check out our volunteer page (http://www.parkrun.org.uk/stalbans/futureroster/) to see how they can contribute to their parkrun.

- Rob O'Sullivan

 

Run Report – 15 November 2014

316 runners braved the fog to complete the 149th St Albans parkrun. 46 of these runners (14.6% of total) were First Timers to St Albans, and 75 runners (23.7%) earned New PBs. One runner was so keen that he even completed 4 laps of the lake this week!

This week’s first male finishers were:

  1. Paul Adams, St Albans Striders, 16:30
  2. Stephen Buckle, St Albans Striders, 16:49
  3. Adam Dunajko, St Albans Striders, 17:19

The first female finishers were:

  1. Lisa Newing, Bristol and West AC, 20:02
  2. Jenny Maddocks, St Albans Striders, 20:03
  3. Helen Cartlidge, St Albans Striders, 20:18

12 runners achieved Age Grade Scores above 75%:

  • Colin Singleton (VM60-64; 82.75%)
  • Richard Charles Hoar (VM60-64; 80.64%)
  • Stuart Wright (VM45-49; 80.51%)
  • Paul Adams (SM30-34; 79.09%)
  • Keira Stern (JW11-14; 78.92%)
  • Joshua Andrew van Heiningen (JM11-14; 78.72%)
  • Neil Hume (VM40-44; 78.07%)
  • Stephen Buckle (SM30-34; 77.60%)
  • Joshua Edwards (JM11-14; 77.26%)
  • Edward Bailey (VM40-44; 77.17%)
  • Alec Campbell (VM45-49; 76.61%)
  • Rhys Rowlands (JM15-17; 76.12%)

Special congratulations goes to Ann Quinn (PB 27:45) who completed  her 50th parkrun today. The most seasoned parkrunner at this week’s event was First Timer Peter Fordham from Ranelagh Harriers who has completed 174 events to date.

This week’s volunteers included: Daniel Boylan (Number Checker), Andrew Coles (Barcode Scanning), Martin Crisp (Marshal), Jo Cummings (Marshal), Tom Gosling (New Runners Briefing), Charlotte Holloway (Barcode Scanning), Matthew Hunt (Timekeeper), Martin Loose (Barcode Scanning), Ruth Martin (Marshal), Marc Phillips (Run Director), Zackary Rowe (Finish Token Support),  Adrian Spender (Marshal), Nick Street (Finish Tokens), and Richard Sved (Volunteer Co-ordinator).

Runners are encouraged to check out the donation page (http://www.parkrun.org.uk/stalbans/aboutus/) or the volunteer page (http://www.parkrun.org.uk/stalbans/futureroster/) to see how they can contribute.

-S. Coomes

 

A parkrun tourist comes to St Albans from Poole

From: Nigel Harding, 10, Steepdene, Parkstone, Poole, BH14 8TE
harding272@btinternet.com

23rd August 2014
I’m running across what was Britain’s third largest city, but it’s definitely parkrun, not parkour. I had to look that word up, but you know the sort of thing - rapid movement through cityscape, so beloved of advertisers, who portray the young and supple bounding up steps and vaulting walls with ease.

Here in the park there’s little city left, but there’s plenty just across the river on the north-east skyline. This is a tale of two cities...

* * *

29. St. Albans parkrun #137. Verulamium Park, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, AL3 4SW

The Museum’s red, ridged, roof tiles set the scene with Roman style before I even park my car. It is a fine day, ideal for running. After four weeks of timekeeping – Blandford inaugural and three at Poole - I really need a parkrun.

Everyone else in the South has enjoyed the sticky two month summer. I’m relieved it’s now more bearable. Some time yet before icy conditions bring the alternative cross-country course into play.

Often I was one of those people who rushed through Hertfordshire, keen to reach London, or equally eager to be quit of it. A Dacorum & Tring vest, green facings on grey, reminds me I once raced in the county. A long straight over Tring station was one of the faster sections of a 10.5 mile lead-off leg in The Ridgeway Relay. There are plenty of club vests here, yet very few football shirts. A brave fan wears Crystal Palace colours despite the club’s present distress.

* * *

There’s no danger of missing the start. The run director booms like a sergeant-major, or should that be a centurion? Though the path is very narrow, the runners fan out to the right. The wide expanse of grass ensures a good getaway. I gradually move sideways as well as forwards, a manoeuvre reminiscent of National cross-country races, where I was often drawn near one end of the start-line.

I slot neatly into a space on the path well before the narrow gap between the sports zone and the children’s fun-fair forces everyone onto the tarmac. Then I move left to track a very tall veteran in a black 100-Club T-shirt.

A lady in the maroon of Dunstable Road Runners moves past. Then there’s a second one, petite in pink, with determined arm movements. Suddenly this pace seems slow, but I’m boxed in. Like a track race. I must drop back until I’m free. Then I move out onto the grass and accelerate past. Several precious seconds lost.

My strategy doesn’t add up. It’s about half a mile to the lake and the same back. I call it eight minutes. Leaving six minutes each for three laps of the lake makes 26 minutes, yet somehow I’m hoping to finish sub-25.

Reaching the lake in 3:03 gives me some time in hand. Heron Island is quiet, maybe they’re having a lie in. I don’t see one till much later, when model power boats make sleep impossible. There’s plenty of other bird life – Canada geese, mallard, even mute swans. The coots are much larger than the moorhens here. A late brood of ducklings seems well advanced.

A dark-green sign points out we’re on the Hertfordshire Way. The south and east sides of the lake are part of the 166 mile circuit of the county.

The east bank forms a causeway. The little River Ver to our right is curiously higher than the lake, which hints at clever engineering.

Towards the top, the lake is crossed by a pretty red-brick bridge. With several trees weeping down to the ground, the landscaping reminds me of the willow pattern plate. The pond beyond the crossing seems like a paddling pool for geese. We take the long way round. The path back down the west side is comfortable only for two runners abreast. This takes some adjustment.

A 5:46 lap is very encouraging. A computer calls out reams of statistics. It’s attached to the upper arm of a tall, blonde lady, who strides past almost effortlessly. It’s probably monitoring her blood pressure at the same time. I also give place to a man harnessed to his dog.

At the end of the lap, I’m ejected from my comfort zone by a patter of feet. How frustrating! Just three strides short of safety, I become the fastest runner to be lapped. I can hardly believe my eyes. It’s a woman who turns right as I move left onto my final loop. A female outright leader is a rare event, indeed.

That lap took 5:58. If split times are going to drift, it’s usually mid-race. I try to raise my game. Soon enough, I’m lapping myself. I overtake two Asian lads with a dad before I reach the top end, and several ladies coming back down the west side for the final time. The rules of the road seem to have shifted. Now lapped runners keep right while quicker ones are passing on the left. My pacing pays off at last. The dog has run out of steam. I overtake its owner. If it’s the same petite pink lady her arms are less determined now. I pick up another place.

20:38. That lap took 5:41. Now for the hardest bit. It’s not far back to the long straight, but we’re climbing from lakeside to the top of the Roman vallum, the steep bank on which remnants of the city wall still remain. It’s only a short climb. I’m up, thanking the marshal and turning into the home straight almost before I know it.

“Well done! Keep going!” A lady in a kingfisher blue vest is calling to me. She’s jogged back down the course to encourage us. Her demeanour gives nothing away. She’s no triumphal gladiator. Did she win, or not?

Trying to maintain my pace, I become vaguely aware of a man in an azure T-shirt following the hedge-line unobtrusively. The long finishing straight has a distinct dog-leg. It wasn’t laid out by any Roman.

The climbing wall in the sports zone proclaims ‘impossible is nothing’. Taking encouragement, I continue to press. Suddenly I’m in a 400m race. Lactic acid overwhelms the will to win. It’s not a sprint finish, much more like one lap where both athletes started far too fast.

Each of us is tying up, but he’s slowing faster than I am. I sense I’m ahead. One yard, two yards... He tries again, but I’m not going to lose now. There’s no taper into the finish funnel. Two parallel bands just one person’s width apart could be hazardous if either of us had more energy left.

On the results we’re both timed at 24:12 - a personal best for him by 14 seconds. I’m four seconds down on my best, but I’ve had a birthday since then, so it’s my best age graded performance!

Beyond the kink and the fun-fair, we were almost running along Watling Street, the Roman equivalent of the M1. A stretch still exists as a modern street away to the south-west beyond the retail park. It continued across Verulamium Park before a sharp turn in the vicinity of parkrun’s start/finish area. It then skirted the corner of the basilica, now picked out in stones on the museum forecourt and ran on past the Roman Theatre.

* * *

A woman winning a race outright is quite unusual. Sarah Rowell’s victory in the 1986 Seven Sisters Marathon was perhaps the first and most famous occurrence in this country.

It’s not quite so rare for a woman to finish a parkrun first, but it’s still a career highlight. Amazingly, it’s the fourth time it’s happened in Sr. Albans. Claire Hallissey has emulated Rachel Felton (twice) and Hannah Walker, who set the 15:55 UK women’s parkrun record here. Three women finished in the top seven today.

Boudicca burned Verulamium to the ground about 60 A.D. and another pioneering woman did much to rediscover it in the 1930s. The Museum is dedicated to Tessa Verney Wheeler, who was equally involved in the archaeological explorations with her husband. It might have been staged, but there’s a fascinating picture of Mortimer Wheeler ‘digging’. He’s alongside a lady archaeologist in utterly impractical long coat and cloche hat. (They don’t look like that on ‘Time Team’.) Another lady looks on with the Mortimers’ bored son, who could be straight out of a ‘Just William’ story.

* * *

I jog along the tree line, a mixture of beeches and sycamores, and wait for the queue for scanning to subside. 336 today was a record turnout. Then I run up to see the mosaic, 16 geometric panels in a 4x4 matrix, with one end showing the hypocaust under-floor heating pipes. This is just one room in a large house. Verulamium’s walled city covered almost the entire northern section of the park and as much land again beyond the Roman Theatre.

As I return, I marvel at the Cathedral, silhouetted against cotton-wool clouds. Shame I was too focussed to notice it during my run. I realise for the first time that there’s a running track in the southern part of the park. A solitary hurdler goes through his paces.

Close to the south-east corner of the lake is the confluence of the Ver with a stream that seems to be coming down from St. Albans. Perhaps that’s the water supposed to have sprung from the ground where Alban, a Roman citizen who sheltered a proscribed Christian priest was executed. Death by beheading seems all the more gruesome after this week’s video of an American journalist being slain by a British-sounding jihadi.

The Mercian King Offa commissioned the abbey as a shrine to St. Alban. In the Middle Ages a new city grew around it on the hill, built with materials from the old. Verulamium lost its race with St. Albans. That’s why we can parkrun across its streets today.

* * *

Women:
1. Claire Hallissey (Bristol & West AC) 17:07; 2. Rebekah Gardiner (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) 17:33; 3. Rosie Keane (Dunstable Road Runners Club) 17:40

Men:
1. Ryan Faulkner (Herts Phoenix AC) 17:09; 2. Thomas Rayner (Watford Harriers AC) 17:24; 3. Joseph Dunn (St. Albans Striders) 17:29

Age Gradings:
1. Hallissey W30 17:07 86.56%; 2. Penny Jane Edwards (Norwich Road Runners) W55 21:58 85.89%; 3. Gardiner W20 17:33 84.33%

(C) 2014 Nigel Harding

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