A few weeks ago… *ahem*
Okay, okay, we’ve got a bit behind, and it was a whole month ago!
A month ago, Lolly and I visited Skipton parkrun while we were on holiday in the Yorkshire Dales. We’d gone with Lolly’s parents to celebrate their anniversary, and when they were asking where we’d like to go, our only suggestion was that it should be somewhere near a parkrun. (Not that we’re obsessed or anything… much!) Once the location had been settled, we started to do a bit more research on the run; finding out where it was, and how the course was. One fact jumped out at us. Four laps. Neither of us much fancied the idea of four laps, and further investigation revealed that each of the laps involved a hill, and an out-and-back section. To be honest, the course sounded less and less appealing the more we read! But, all that said, we weren’t going to miss it just because of a few quibbles!
One benefit of visiting the course with family was that we could leave Leila with one of her grandparents, allowing both of us to run buggy-free – a bit of a rarity! After a slightly lengthy pre-run chat, in which the winners of the annual points competitions were announced, (it was their second anniversary run), we lined up and counted down for the start. I was immediately somewhat concerned about the fact that rather than lining up according to pace, as we do at Longrun Meadow, the start line was in fact full of children. Frankly, it was a mess. I appreciate that parkrun is a run not a race, but having lots of children starting in front of quick adults is a recipe for knees into children’s heads, and children under adult’s feet.
Thankfully, I managed to clear most of these children without any serious problems along the first straight, though Lolly continued to navigate them as we turned up a hill along a relatively narrow, slippery path into a wooded section of the course. It was while we were heading along this section that I noticed kilometre markers spray painted onto the floor. The first marker we passed was the 4k, then 3, then 2, and eventually we passed the 1k marker which was actually relevant on the first lap! By this stage, the course had wound its way up through the trees and turned back down a hill to the out-and-back section. After navigating this, we then headed along the straight for the second lap.
Being on holiday, and not knowing the course that well, I wasn’t pushing over hard, and settled in with another runner who seemed to be doing the right sort of pace. By the time we reached the out-and-back section for the second lap, we started lapping people, and from that stage on we were constantly passing other runners. This was part of the concern that I’d had about a four lap course, but actually it was really nice to constantly be around other runners. Being a “quicker” parkrunner, it can actually get a little lonely at times, but on a course like this that wasn’t an issue. Maybe if I was pushing for a PB, it could get annoying having to weave around people, but as a relaxed holiday parkrun I actually found it very enjoyable.
Coupled with that, the shorter laps helped to break up the run. (Weirdly, I can happily go and run 10 miles along a boring loop around town, but a 5k benefits from being broken up.) It certainly helped with pacing, though Lolly opted for the contra-strategy of pushing extremely hard on her third lap to prevent me from lapping her as I came around to complete my fourth!!
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I’d finished in 14th in a time of 20:56. While a fair way from being a PB, on a course that involved hill repeats, I was more than happy to come in sub-21. After eating the obligatory parkrun birthday cake, we cheered Lolly in to the finish, in 27:07, much quicker than she’d been expecting, and then ambled back through Skipton to enjoy the rest of our holiday! We did initially have concerns that the course might have been short, given that both of our Garmins had measured about 3 miles. However, on reflection, the tree cover, and the sharp corners, particularly the 180 degree turn on the out-and-back are not at all Garmin-friendly. Given how easily the course could be lengthened along that out-and-back stretch, we marked it down as a surprisingly good run for both of us!
Despite our preconceptions, we both really enjoyed the course, and would definitely run it again if we were back in the area – and being such a nice area, that’s certainly on the cards – though we might have to take a buggy around next time…