Having spent the week in Newcastle and then Friday night at a gig in Bury, my Saturday morning plans were to stay in bed and do nothing. When you are a member of the parkrun family though, your body does tend to wake up very early to remind you that it’s parkrun day, the best day of the week.
The easy option would be to walk the 500m to my home parkrun at Stretford but I’ve got the travelling bug at the moment and after being away from home all week, going on another parkrun adventure seemed like the best option. With all the options on the parkrun map, Woodbank parkrun jumped out and ticked all the boxes.
It has easy parking, toilets provided by the nice people at Stockport Harriers, and a lovely friendly welcome. Usually, “fairly flat” is part of my criteria but having not read the manual, Run Director Alan reminded all of us that “Woodbank is a proper parkrun” It's a proper park with a proper history, presented to the town of Stockport by Sir Thomas Rowbotham in 1921 to honour those Stockport men who made the ultimate sacrifice doing the Great War. A total of 90 acres a short walk from Stockport town centre which is a fitting tribute to the fallen but also a real jewel in the crown of the town too.
It just feels fitting that a park, a memorial park, still brings people together to enjoy its beauty and those hills, which a fellow parkrunner told me about on the start line, as a "Welcome to Woodbank parkrun" sort of thing.
Today, 161 people ran, walked, jogged and participated in their own way around Woodbank parkrun with Andes and Sofia being today’s first finishers. Today’s top age-grade finishers were Alan (72.04%) and Melanie (69.82%) with 13 personal bests on, what is, a really interesting, beautiful and challenging parkrun course. Well done to everyone taking part today on, what was a beautiful morning, which Alan notes as being part in the sunshine and part in the shade.
Event #525 saw 8 people completing their very first parkruns and 22 people, like me, visiting Woodbank parkrun for the first time.
And then there were the two milestones. Malik completed parkrun #50 today. Welcome to the club Malik and congratulations with 48 parkruns completed at Woodbank and the other two at Burnage and Bramhall.
It was an honour and a privilege to chat very briefly with the other park runner achieving a milestone today. Huge congratulations to Rachel on the completion of your parkrun #300 with 288 at Woodbank. It takes dedication and commitment to run that many parkruns and I’d like to say a massive well done to you Rachel and it was lovely talking to you. You were generous and humble, a real advert for all that is good about parkrun and your home parkrun.
And that’s what I love about visiting a new parkrun now and then, one I haven’t run before. The people, the friendliness and the conversation with people you’ve never met before. The thing connecting us being that it is free, weekly and timed. Woodbank was tough for me. It was a real challenge getting up those hills but it was worth it because it is such a beautiful course that has ups and downs, a bit of trail with trees around you and a pretty little bridge on the hill as you pass the villa. I’m sure I’m like most people, questioning why I’m running up a steep hill on a Saturday morning when I could be in bed but after it’s all done, it’s always such a joy and the hills are forgotten, even celebrated.
Going back to the car, I spoke to a regular at Woodbank called Roberto who told me all about the park and how great the parkrun is. He also sold the idea of the alternative course to me so I will have to return. Woodbank parkrun must be doing something right when regulars like Roberto talk so passionately about what the volunteers and parkrunners who make every Saturday.
Thank you to all the volunteers this morning for making Woodbank parkrun happen and thank you to RD Alan for a proper parkrun and a proper run briefing. All parkruns are weekly, timed and 5km and they all offer something unique. Woodbank is no different to that and the best bit? The finish in the trees closely followed by those ascents up that hill with that little bridge above. With days like today - the weather, the 300 milestone - it’s good to be thankful that Sir Thomas gifted the park to Stockport. Thank you again Woodbank volunteers and parkrunners for another great parkrun morning.