Run report – parkrun #6

[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!!

 

 

run report parkrun #4

[Thanks to Dave Nelson for this great run report.]

Living just up the road in Cheltenham, I’d been keen to get to Stratford Park for the parkrun ever since I first heard about it. This was only compounded when friends of mine ran it last week and raved about it! So on Saturday morning, off I went on the short trip down the A46.

For anyone touring to Stratford Park, the good news is that the car park is easily found, and is absolutely massive, as well as being free! I got parked easily, then followed the other people clad in running gear to find the start line, chuckling to myself as I heard a little lad asking his dad why there were so many people there and getting the response of “there's a parkrun here now and these people all love it”. I found the start area, where the volunteers were still hard at work getting everything ready – as always, a massive thank you to them all as without them, parkrun just wouldn't happen! There were plenty of runners milling about chatting, then it was time for the first timer briefing – I think it was a bit of a surprise just how many were in attendance for it! An incredible 93 in total, including 19 doing their first ever parkrun. Welcome one & all to the fabulous parkrun family, I hope you all love it as much as the rest of us! Done & dusted, we all headed to the start line, where there was a shout out to the tourists, including one who was visiting all the way from Australia!
And then we were off, all 154 of us. I’d been warned before about the hilly nature of the course, and let me tell you, those warnings were justified! After looping around the Museum In The Park, we made our first climb up the hill to the playpark – it didn't look like much but I could certainly feel my legs burning, and I was glad for the flat stretch at the top and then the lovely downhill section through the woods. We then looped back up a shorter hill to the start, and repeated that a further two times, then it was time for the finish.
I have to say that, while the course is hilly and is a definite challenge, it’s also absolutely gorgeous. The views from the top of the hill are fantastic, and as I said, the wooded trail section is lovely. Don't be put off at all by the thought of the hills - I'm not one for climbs on a run, but I loved this parkrun thanks to the setting and I'm sure anyone who attends will say the same thing.
A big well done to Gary HUGHES for being first finisher in a brilliant time of 18:34, and to Libby MARCHANT for being first female in 23:27. No milestones this week, but a massive congratulations to all 32 runners who smashed it out of the park and got a new PB.
As I said, parkrun just wouldn't happen without the amazing volunteers, so a huge shout out to this week's High Viz Heroes - David MICHAEL • James DENNE • Gemma COLLIER • Rob CASE • Ange SMITH • Anna RYAN • Nicholas TANNER • Laura WHITE • Tina CUTLER • Gary WATLING • Andrew CASE • Rob WHETNALL • Rebecca OSBORNE • Lisa CHRISTEN • Mark HASLAM
If you've not done it before, please seriously consider volunteering at some point. It is incredibly rewarding and enjoyable, trust me!
Huge thanks to the incredibly friendly team at Stratford Park for a great event. I'll be back, and hopefully I'll encourage others to come along as well!

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