For a while I’d been reading rumours about a parkrun starting up near where my parent live in Cornwall. The nearest parkrun for a long time was Lanhydrock, and that was realistically too far, at just over an hour’s drive. So I was overjoyed when I was pottering about online and came across a reference to Penrose parkrun: within hours I’d arranged a trip down to visit my family! (I do love them really…)
As seems to be a trend in my reports, my preparation was not ideal. It was my birthday on Thursday, so we had massive takeaway pizza, and red wine. On Friday, at my parents, I had two takeaway meals from the Chinese, and a huge slice of triple-layer chocolate birthday cake, and red wine. On Saturday morning, the last thing my body was up for was running.
Penrose is a lovely area between Helston and Porthleven on the south coast of Cornwall. People might suggest I’m biased, coming from there, but it is actually a fact that nowhere else in the world is as nice. Seriously, ask those people on QI or something! The Penrose estate is managed by the National Trust, and is mostly woodland around a lake, Loe Pool, and along the coast. So it isn’t really a surprise that the scenery on this run was pretty stunning. Even being familiar with the area, my breath was somewhat taken away when we turned the corner to run on the clifftop above the sea for a short stretch. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Although the course info advised parking in a big car park at the bottom of Helston and running a couple of kilometres to the start, we opted to take the other option, and squeeze our car into the much smaller car park only a few hundred metres from the start. I do feel sorry for any holiday makers who had decided to pop out for an early morning walk and found the car park overflowing, but never mind! Next time, now that I know where everything is and what’s going on, we’ll probably run there, but I preferred being nice and close first time around.
The start was reasonably well organised, the estates old stables provided the meeting point, and after a typically friendly welcome and briefing, we were shepherded to the start line, and after a 3-2-1-GO, we were off!
Knowing that there were a few hills, and that my body probably wasn’t in peak condition, I had decided to take it easy for the first mile, and then see what I had. Or, as actually happened, sprint off like a gazelle, and hope that the cheetah tired before I did. Yeah – my pacing is AWFUL. If you ever want to run consistent splits, and you’re near me… just do whatever I’m not!! The first mile ran mostly alongside Loe Pool, but in all honesty, I don’t recall seeing the lake much. It might well have been visible and pretty, but I was mostly watching the feet of the two runners just ahead of me, and not really concentrating on the gorgeous scenery I was raving about earlier. At least, not until I rounded that corner and joined the south west coast path.
The views around Mount’s Bay were simply stunning. Unfortunately, while parkrun is a run, not a race, I wasn’t about to hang around lollygagging. After a reasonable stretch running along the coast above Porthleven Sands, we turned away from the sea, and up hill. This is more or less where my lack of preparation kicked in – the climb isn’t that severe, about 150 ft, but in trying to stay with the people around me, I pretty much destroyed my legs, so when the course flattened off at the top, I had nothing left for the final three-quarters of a mile. This second half of the course is predominantly on smaller tracks around fields, and the footing is a little bit trickier than the paths at the start, but still nothing too serious. A final dash around a field of spectating cows led to the finish line.
For a relatively new parkrun, it was very well organised, particularly given the distance between the start and finish lines. There was even one of the core team offering to laminate barcodes for the runners to make it easier on the scanners – if that isn’t service, I don’t know what is! All in all, a brilliant parkrun, and I would highly recommend it to anyone in west Cornwall on a Saturday.