One of the joys of parkrun is the opportunity to take somewhere old and familiar and see it new. Back home the park I run parkrun in I used to use for the occasional walk, most usually when I was going somewhere else, or because it has a ping pong table and we’re amenable to the occasional game. We even have spare bats in case visitors want to join us.
So it was that Saturday came round and I was in a familiar park, Colchester’s Castle Park awaiting the start of their parkrun. I was with a familiar face, one of my best friends who I’ve known for almost 25 years.
At home, our parkrun is at Hilly Fields, so you know what to expect. Among three laps there are two hills run three times each. Short sharp shocks.
Castle Park is also on a hill and you run three laps. Well, sort of. You run one large circuit, then a medium circuit and finally a small circuit. And in that time you run the whole hill two-and-a-half-times.
We started near the back, my friend and I, agreeing that it was a social run. He was new to parkrun. I’m converted. The first mile was run in around 9:30. And soon after that we picked up speed and as we did so we got a little more competitive. Not overly so, we just made it be known to each other that we’d like to run harder. We began overtaking people. Regularly.
Towards the end my companion let it be known that he’d like a sprint finish. But he said so quite early. I was going to suggest it, but not until the final bend. So on the final lap of the castle keep (the biggest built in the UK and the largest surviving example in Europe) we began the sprint up the hill, across the top and down again.
We turned into the final straight, along a beautiful avenue of trees with a large bandstand to the side. The sun was shining bright and the crowd roared. It was the loudest finish to a parkrun that I’ve ever experienced. (Those who have already finished are queuing to scan their codes right by the finish line.) We crossed the line, one-after-the-other. My friend was converted. He’ll run again.
Janathon stats: 5.6km; 3,941 steps walked.