Edge Hill (Ormskirk) parkrun

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”

— William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

The weather was calm, the first time for weeks, and the quote was for the benefit of PB hunters who might like to consider, contrary to most advice, actually going off a bit fast at the start. Interesting advice, and on another day I might have given it a go, but today I settled in at the back of the runners and waited to see how I’d get on in my first parkrun since January. I’d been quite encouraged by the Pier to Pier and decided to see how I got on with something short and fast.

A bit of Shakespeare at Ormskirk parkrun – 23 May 2015

This is my second time at the Ormskirk parkrun and it might just be my favourite parkrun. It’s set in the campus of Edge Hill University and it’s great to see it promoted so positively. It’s warm and welcoming, with changing rooms, toilets, tea and coffee, a nice course, and best of all, you get some culture on the start line. The usual briefing also included the reminder that under 11s must be accompanied by an adult. “Why must under 11s be accompanied by an adult?”, we were asked. “To slow them down!”, came the instant reply.

How we laughed, but it was no joke. It was great seeing so many young children out today; it wasn’t so great being convincingly beaten by so many of them. You’d think they’d at least have the decency to look as if they were struggling or trying. No respect, kids of today.

Ormskirk parkrun – 23 May 2015

I wouldn’t say it’s a fast course, given that it has hills and circuits; two little ones and two big ones. I think. It didn’t matter as the marshalls seemed to know exactly where to send us, or maybe I just have that ‘still on his first lap’ look about me. I got round all the laps and up the hills and finished in under 26 minutes; when I say ‘under’ I mean in much the same way as £3.99 is under £4.00.

Still, the year is young, and perhaps next time, with some suitable cultural inspiration pep-talk, I can get that down a bit more.

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South Shields parkrun

A week after my gusty Ormskirk parkrun I decided to give South Shields a try. In sharp contrast to last week there was no shelter or toilets although you could park about 5 yards from the start line. I could imagine that on a windy day this exposed location could be a bit bleak but the morning had dawned fine, fair and frosty with clear views out over the sea.

I listened to the briefing and thought I’d misheard. It wasn’t what he said, it was what he didn’t say that caught my attention. I whispered to a nearby volunteer, “you mean, there are no laps?”. With so many parkruns having to squeeze their 5km into a small space laps are often inevitable, but the South Shields parkrun course is just one large anti-clockwise loop that starts at the top of a hill and finishes outside the Sanddancer.

Off we went heading south along the pavement before turning left after a mile to head down to the sea. There’s a bit of GNR, Pier to Pier, and Sanddancer 10K all rolled into one here. The descent was fast and fun with a few frozen puddles to watch out for before a long wide tempo section to the finish flag.

It was a calm day on a course with an overall drop so I should’ve expected a better time than last weeek. Even so I was pleasantly surprised to get just under 24 minutes – three minutes faster than last week! It’s a good event, about £49 cheaper than the GNR and no problems with the traffic getting home from South Shields afterwards.

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Ormskirk parkrun

Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

The decision to read Shelley instead of TS Eliot had been a controversial one given that the timing of the parkrun was so close to the 50th anniversary of the passing of TS Eliot. However the wild and squally wind sweeping over the campus at Edge Hill University for the Ormskirk parkrun had necessitated a change of text for the run briefing. It was certainly one of the more unusual parkrun briefings I’ve listened to. Apart from the usual stuff about the route there was the poetry and some up and coming announcements about the next parkrun where the 19 minute pacer wasn’t sure if they could get round in 19 minutes, and was there a pacer for the pacer? The wonderful thing about parkrun is that no two are alike. You can turn up, as I did, at an unfamiliar venue, locate the familiar flag, and that’s all there is to it. The Ormskirk parkrun I like. Heated changing rooms, toilets and coffee just yards from the start/finish and plenty of parking. The course was tough though; one of those multi-dimensioned lap-type parkruns that always seem far further than 5km. The wind, hills and stairs(!) resulted in a very sluggish 26minute+ parkrun, but it got me out of bed on Saturday morning and I learned a bit of Shelley.

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