[Thanks to Kate Ryan for this great run report.]
In the week that saw the 15th anniversary of the parkrun movement, Stratford Park’s 6th parkrun was blessed with another mild and dry morning. It was starting to feel autumnal though, with some trees in the park already changing to gorgeous shades of red – another week or two and the scenery at Stratford park will be spectacular.
140 runners turned out for the event, along with 3 (very well behaved) 4-legged runners, and one runner pushing a little one in a buggy (he overtook me on the first hill – I checked for any sign of motorisation on the buggy, but have to admit it was all down to his own power so total respect to him!). An incredible 15 of these were first timers. A special congratulations to Laura White on completing her 100th parkrun.
This was my 19th parkrun having run my first parkrun about 5 years ago at Cheltenham. So up until recently, despite good intentions, I only occasionally dipped in to taking part. However, this was my 5th consecutive Saturday at Stratford Park – my best ‘run’ of attendance at any parkrun yet!
So, what is it about Stratford Park that gets me out of bed on a Saturday morning where other runs have failed? (Bearing in mind that I live about equidistant from Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud).
First and foremost, I love the course. It’s not that I am some kind of masochist who loves running up hills (I’m really not!!) but I love the variety of scenery that you run through in Stroud. The course is challenging, with one significant hill and another smaller hill, but after the challenge of running (or walking) up the big hill, you are rewarded with wonderful views and a lovely long downhill stretch through woods. Despite the more difficult terrain, to me the varied landscape makes it feel less of a slog.
The hills add an extra personal goal to aim for – in addition to hoping for a PB, I try to run a bit more and walk a bit less on the hills each week. On the third lap it’s always a challenge to work out how much of the final hill I should walk and how much I should run to still be capable of going for a sprint finish after cresting the top of the hill.
Although it is a ‘young’ event compared to others in the area, the organisers have hit the ground running and put on a fabulously well organised and marshalled event. A big thank you to run director Nathanael Selman and his team today. Stroud may have waited nearly 15 years for its own parkrun, but has it been worth the wait? Hell yeah!!