Cleethorpes parkrun Tourist Trophy, July 2019 – Mark Bower

I was in two minds about whether to write a report for this event – lots of runners have done a parkrun (some go every week in fact), as they’re free, weekly runs (not races!) and so aren’t really anything new or different to most of us.  That being said, Cleethorpes was the July event in the club’s parkrun Tourist Trophy, so this particular course was new to all of us and therefore I thought it merited a mention.

I picked up Nathaniel and Ben around 7am, which was ridiculously early for a parkrun as they don’t start until 9am.  We did have 60 miles to cover though, although my journey planning was over-generous as we arrived at 8:15am and got to watch the marshals set up!  It also gave us time to walk the course, which was 3 laps around a smallish lake, with a short out and back on laps 2 & 3 to bring the total distance to the required 5km.

As we waited for the throng to arrive, we wondered which (if any) other Harriers would be attending, contemplating the idea that it might just be the 3 of us!  In due course though Amanda and Fran arrived, followed shortly after by Laura and her two young boys Lucas and Mav, so that meant a grand total of 8 of us had made the journey.  Not the biggest turn out, but considering the mileage involved it was perhaps to be expected.  We still attracted several people’s attention however, with the ubiquitous question of “where is DAN-um then?” (always to be followed by the standard response “it’s DAY-num actually, from Doncaster”).  One person recognised our kit as he had seen several Harriers at the recent “Sting in the Tail” Caistor 10k, and we even met one gent who knew one of our members (as she had left his club to move over to Doncaster).  It’s a small world after all.

As 9am approached we had the usual pre-run (again, it’s not a race!) briefing.  These vary from parkrun to parkrun, always dictated by the character of the Run Director on the day.  We had already attracted enough attention to get a shout out during the “do we have any visitors?” section, although we weren’t the furthest travellers – at least one person had come from Australia.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume their visit was not solely for the chance to run Cleethorpes parkrun!  I found the briefing quite moving at one point when the Director talked about how parkrun was the only time some people saw or spoke to another person on a Saturday.  I know that personally I see parkrun as a fun event, something not too serious that I can do if I get chance, and I’d never thought about those members of society that really benefit from the opportunity to get out, keep fit and make new friends.

Anyway, the run itself.  The start was somewhat chaotic, as the path was narrow and around 250 of us were all crammed into one tiny area.  Ben managed to get near the front, as did Amanda, however Nathaniel and I had to scoot around the very edge of the path and try to weave our way towards the front.  This we duly did, and by 1km I think we’d all settled into our rhythm.  After we’d done the first whole lap of the lake and were 300m or so into our second we hit the first of the out and back sections.  This was a good opportunity to see your fellow Harriers, as by this point I was behind Nathaniel and Ben so I got to see them coming back up the short straight and we could give each other a friendly thumbs-up or wave.  As I rounded the cone that marked the end of this section it struck me how good the training sessions we do as a club are – you slowed to round the cone and had to accelerate away again, and that’s surprisingly draining when you were into your rhythm of a steady run!  As I ran back up I then got to see Fran, Amanda, Lucas and Laura (carrying Mav!), with a chance for us all to encourage each other again.

The rest of the run was much the same, we all rattled off decent times with no personal bests, but certainly no personal worsts!  Lucas came flying in in just over 30 minutes, an amazing time for a 9 year old, but apparently he’s run much faster!  Laura arrived at the end of her second lap walking with Mav, who’d decided he’d had enough so she took off on a final flying lap by herself.  She finished just shy of 42 minutes and wanted it recorded for posterity that she had walked the first two laps and that she was capable of going much faster on her own!

In true Harrier style we then headed off for refreshments – not cakes, butties or beer this time, but ice creams, coffees and fish and chips!  If you ever have the time and fancy a change, I can recommend “doing the tourist thing” and visiting a parkrun you’ve never tried before.  Maybe even as part of the Tourist Trophy series!

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Cleethorpes parkrun