Sunday, 13 May 2012
Preston's Perfect Parkrun
I've been parkrunning for a while and, although I've had some memorable runs in wonderful locations across England I've never been inspired to write a post about a specific parkrun. Until now.
Let's get this out of the way up-front: Preston parkrun is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. If I were married to a parkrun I'd be anxiously fiddling with my parkrun wedding ring and wondering if I had time to slip it into my pocket before Preston parkrun noticed.
The arch - Preston parkrun starts under here
Most of the run is in Avenham Park, with the back corner of the route just creeping into the side of neighbouring Miller Park. It's a three lap affair with a small spur routing you down to the finishing chute. Terrain is 100% paths with some gravel patches, but footing is sure throughout. This route would be fine in the rain, no need for wellington boots (I'm looking at you, Nonsuch) or big knobbly tyres (and you, Riddlesdown). I'm not sure it would be so good in the ice or snow though thanks to the steepest parkrun hill I've ever run up. I'd need a steep-o-meter to confirm, but I think it is even steeper than the pointy bit in Lloyd Park I ran a couple of weeks ago - in any case, you need to go up this one three times rather than twice at Lloyd Park, so I'm giving this one the prize.
Tree-lined pathway at the start of the lap, river Ribble to the right, café to the left
I got up nice and early at 04:15 (yuck!) - ate a good breakfast and cycled to Euston to get the 06:05 to Glasgow, due in at Preston at 08:36. We were a couple of minutes behind schedule, but that doesn't matter as the park is no more than 5-10 mins stroll from the station - perfect for long-distance tourists. The sun had been out all the way up on the train, and it was bright and warm for the briefing. It looked like there were around 100 people there (a good estimate, the results show there were precisely 100 people :). A show of hands suggested about a third were tourists, and a third were first timers - seeing as this was an inaugural event I'm not sure what that leaves the other third as… I'm guessing "not paying attention" :)
The hill is significantly steeper than it looks in this photo
The route winds around the park with every turn giving something new and interesting to look at. It's clear there has been considerable investment recently, the main fixtures like the bandstand and fountain have been, or re in the process of being, renovated. Many of the flower beds and grass areas have that new look to them, and the cafe looks brand new (another award, best toilets I've ever used at a parkrun location - nicer than in my own house!). There's a stunning area that looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale illustration - I wouldn't have been surprised if it had a lemonade lake and footbridge made of chocolate.
The route is made up of these beautiful winding pathways
I walked a lap of the route afterwards to take these photos - apologies for the quality, the camera on my old iPhone 3GS is a little the worse for wear. As I completed my lap it started to rain - the sun had come out specially for Preston parkrunday.
Straight out of a fairy tale!
I have been doing a lot of parkrun tourism lately, and this is the first time I've got up and commuted by train specifically for a parkrun. I'm going to try not to do it too often - it's expensive, takes a large chunk of your Saturday, and gets in the way of training - but I'm so pleased I made the effort today.
Route out goes across the top, the Earl of Derby surveying all from his plinth
Thank you PSH and parkrun, thank you event director Michael, and thank you marshals - you all made my parkrunday wonderful.
All parkrun'd out - finishing chute and brand new café