Haylodge parkrun

River Tweed

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.

HayLodge parkrun

Mad Dog 10K – Live and Let Drool

Mad Dog 10K – Best viewed over a cuppa

I did the first ever Mad Dog and it was great. The thought of being a Mad Dog Ever Present appealed and for a few years it was all good, but holidays and diary clashes intervened, so now I have to settle for being a Nearly Ever Present. Still, it’s been great watching this fledgling event grow from nothing to one of the UK’s most popular 10Ks in just seven years.

My training lately has been lots of long and slow as trying to do the short and fast thing doesn’t really agree with me. It’s too much like hard work. So as I stood in the Dalmatian pen (not as fast as a Greyhound, but faster than a Husky) I knew running 10km wasn’t going to be a big problem. It was running it fast that would be the hard bit.

Mad Dog 10K – Live and Let Drool

Away we went into the fine morning. Conditions were good. Congestion was as expected and not too bad, and it thinned out pretty quickly anyway. I was in no rush and settled down into a comfortable groove. This is a good race for spectators with opportunities to catch the race in more than one place if you do your homework. I spied Roberta standing on the pier where she, along with many other spectators, were spellbound by the entertainer high-fiving runners as they past underneath. It was Elvis. Possibly the same Elvis you see at the bus-shelter towards the end of the GNR. Or a close relation. And my word, what a talent! A performance never to be forgotten. Music was a big theme this year. It always is for the Mad Dog but this year the performances were exceptional. You get to see the fantastic steel band twice, once on the way out, and again in the last few kms.

Mad Dog 10K – Live and Let Drool

At the half-way point I was feeling pretty comfy and stepped up the pace a little. The route now meandered around to pass back under the pier at a different point where the Merseyside Rock Choir brought some real class to the party. I was feeling pretty good and bounded on although I was tempted to stop, look and listen.

With about 3km to go I kept nudging the needle careful not to blow it and throttling back gently when I felt I was overdoing it. Passing runners steadily to the line I gave a well-judged push in the last few hundred metres, slightly alarmed that the Finish banner said Start, and hoping that the Finish wasn’t round the corner back at the school. It wasn’t and I was pretty pleased with running a text-book negative split. The last time I did this race I was pretty dismayed to be well over 50 minutes, and not having run a sub-25 parkrun for as long as I can remember I wasn’t expecting miracles today. So when the text came though of a chip-time of 48:35 I was a very happy dalmatian.

Mad Dog 10K – Merseyside Rock Choir

my route

Total distance: 10.04 km
Max elevation: 7 m
Min elevation: 4 m
Average speed: 4.51 min/km
Total time: 00:48:36
Download file: maddog10k - 2017-02-05_10 45 34.gpx