I’m a big fan of parkrun. Not that you’d know it given how infrequently I do them nowadays. Especially in the North East where we’re spoilt for choice. Probably something about Saturday mornings and 9AM, and running something short and fast and early. But whenever I’m away on holiday or for a short break, it’s the first thing I look for. There’s something great about parkrun tourism; turning up in a park, looking for the flags, and having a run with a bunch of others in a new place.
We were up in Peebles for the Tour of the Borders, a nicely sized closed-road sportive with great routes that’s become a favourite of mine. Although I grew up in Edinburgh I was born in Peebles and spent tons of weekends exploring Hay Lodge park as my grandparents lived in the cottage over the road. It’s a great park and it was inevitable that one day it’d have a parkrun. The parkrun wasn’t there in 2018 when I was up for the Tour of the Borders, but when I checked the parkrun website for nearby parkruns this time I was thrilled to see that it was going strong and on its 40th week while we were there.
In Scotland it’s a 0930AM start, and the park was only a short walk from the hotel. It was a misty morning but the rain was holding off and the start area was pleasantly atmospheric. Like many parkruns it suffered from lack of space, so the route had to do 3 laps of the park to get the distance in. It was also a bit hilly, both up and a pleasantly iffy descent on wet, autumnal paths that suited my sense of fun though perhaps not for everyone.
The quirkiness of parkruns always appeals to me. From the 2500 parkrunners in the Durban parkrun, to the 80 we had here today. Different crowds, different weather, different routes. It’s all good. I’ve never met a parkrun I didn’t like.
Despite the small field I was intrigued to see some seeding suggestions at the start. Sub 28 sounded fine with me and I slotted in to the huddle waiting to go. And away we went. The usual unavoidably tortuous route to string people out. Along a bit. Round a bit. Back a bit. Then three laps. Quite interesting ones. I liked especially running alongside the wall at the top of the path, then the fast descent to return close to the river.
My time, as I expected, was continuing its inexorably journey towards the thirties, but I wasn’t worried. I find it very hard to race parkruns, so to enjoy them I need to treat them as a threshold run or a exploratory jog. It shapes the day and the weekend to come.