Tag Archives: Yeovil Montacute parkrun

parkrun tourism: Yeovil Montacute – B course

As “parkrun tourism” goes, this is a bit different to usual. I actually first visited Yeovil Montacute parkrun back in October 2014, which you can read about here. I returned again in October 2016, when they reversed the course to celebrate the clocks going back an hour. (Or something like that). I meant to visit again last winter, when they moved to their B course, but I didn’t make it. I thought I’d missed my opportunity again this year, but then an opening sprung up, and off to Ham Hill we ventured…

Yeovil Montacute parkrun has suffered over the winter. They have managed just two runs in November, three in December, and only one in January. The “A” course winds it way around the grounds of Montacute House, a lovely National Trust property near Yeovil. Being a completely grass course, it can get waterlogged and chewed up through the winter, and so the parkrun moves to the nearby Ham Hill Country Park for January and February.

Ham Hill itself isn’t immune from waterlogging – a similar grassy terrain, the course can get pretty muddy, and on the morning there was a warning of mud on the event Facebook page. But who doesn’t like a bit of mud?

Walk to the start.

We arrived in plenty of time, and had no problem finding somewhere to park. The toilets were conveniently located on the walk to the start, which was signed from the car park. The path to the start was quite muddy in places, but once we got out onto the fields near the start, it firmed up a bit. Normally, I like to do a warm-up before parkrun, but we’d timed things such that there wasn’t really enough time. We either arrived too late for the new runners briefing, or there simply wasn’t one; I’m not sure which. Still, the main briefing was more than sufficient, and frankly, I know the main parkrun guidelines, and I’m not quick enough to have to worry about the route – I can just follow whoever is in front of me!

With little fanfare, we were sent on our way – and I made my first mistake of the morning. A wide start meant that I was in the second row, and I stupidly stayed on the shoulders of the front-runners. After a few hundred metres, I glanced at my watch and assumed it wasn’t tracking me properly, or maybe I had left my pace in kilometres – it was reading 5:50 – FAR too fast.

After about half a kilometre, I had managed to pull my pace back, letting what felt like half the field stream past me. Despite this, I recorded a 4:10 opening kilometre, which given the terrain, a slight incline, and my current fitness level, was still too fast. The second kilometre finished off the climb before dropping back down the other side, and I was still letting people past as I ran a more reasonable 4:27.

Despite the warnings, the course was firm underfoot throughout, and actually really nice to run on. The third kilometre finished off the lap, and as you dropped back down hill slightly, you had good visibility of the route ahead. By this point, I’d fallen to the right part of the field for my pace, and a 4:20 kilometre was about right. Climbing back up the hill for the entire fourth kilometre, I passed a runner – the only change of position I had for the entire second lap!

I glanced at my watch a short while later and was slightly confused by the distance it was showing – it didn’t quite add up to me. As I got closer and closer to the finish, it became more and more clear that the course was over-distance. Not uncommon for “B” courses, as if it was quicker than the “A” course, then you might set a PB that you couldn’t beat on the main course. That said, it soon became clear that this wasn’t a slight extension; in the end the course measured in on my Garmin as 5.5 km!

I’d intentionally “raced” this parkrun – due to my ankle injury, I haven’t raced since the start of August last year, and with a few coming up, I wanted some practice. The fast start was a reminder that it is easy to get carried away early on, and will definitely be something I keep in mind over the next few weeks. After that I was relatively happy with my “race craft”. I didn’t have much to do, and maybe I let myself get more isolated that was ideal, but generally after the quick start I kept a pretty even pace (considering the profile) and was able to push myself throughout. On a proper length course, I’d have got about 22:07, which isn’t unreasonable for that route with my current fitness, though it does show that I have a way to go yet before I have a shot at setting any new PBs.

I’d really recommend this course – while I love the main course at Montacute house, this is certainly no disappoint in comparison. The terrain and undulations are pretty similar between the two, giving the same feel. It clearly isn’t a course you’re likely to PB on, given the length, but given that it is a trail course anyway, that really doesn’t matter.

All done!

Lolly had a fabulous run, getting her fastest paced parkrun since child number two arrived, despite the course being harder than some of those we’ve run recently. We’re planning some flatter “road” courses over the next few weeks, so it’ll be exciting to see what she’s capable of! For me, I’m contemplating a slightly mad return to racing with a weekend double – the Minehead Running Club “Hills to Coast Relay” on the Saturday, followed by the Babcary 7.5 mile road race on Sunday (see last year’s blog post.)

parkrun tourism: Yeovil Montacute

This post originally appeared on Ben’s old blog, Running From the Physio.

We returned to visit Yeovil Montacute again in 2018 during the winter, when they were using their “B” course at Ham Hill, read about that here.

A couple of weeks ago, I headed out for a little more parkrun tourism. It came hot on the heels of a visit to Killerton, and was the last week in a five-week absence from my home parkrun (rest, illness, Killerton, rest, Yeovil). I was quite tempted to just head to my home run after so long away, but this bit of tourism had been planned for a while, so I stuck with the plan.

This is technically the next closest parkrun to me after Longrun Meadow, although the differing quality of the roads means that it takes more or less the same time to do the 22 mile drive to Yeovil Montacute as it does to drive 28 miles to Killerton. Like Killerton, the Yeovil Montacute run is located in the grounds of a National Trust property. Unlike Killerton, the route goes right past the house, with the east façade (pictured) providing a gorgeous backdrop to the run. Admittedly, despite the size and glamour of the building, my attention was elsewhere while running!

The stunning Montacute House (credit: Mike SearleCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Again, this varied completely from either of Longrun Meadow or Killerton. The route was entirely run on grass, and undulated throughout. The course was reasonably dry when I ran it, but I suspect that some of the ditches that I dropped down into would get quite tasty in the winter months. In fact, the ditch jumps, which Sarah (@mia79gbr) raved about so much in her blog post back in April, were the main reason I wanted to do this course so much. What I did forget reading in her post was that there was a “massive hill in the last kilometre”. This did catch me a little by surprise. It shouldn’t have done, but it did. Underfoot, the course is most similar to a cross-country course: my trail shoes performed admirably, but a set of XC spikes would probably be the most effective. Once it gets a bit wetter, this isn’t a course I’d recommend attempting in normal road shoes, I suspect you’d slip all over the place!
The route takes in one “little lap” and one “big lap”. At the end of the first lap, the little one, you are running directly towards the house, the finish and all the cheering supporters. This provides a similar boost to the traditional lap set-up at Longrun Meadow, although I didn’t see a similar boost in pace! The big lap then completes an entire circuit of the grounds.
Summarising, I really enjoyed the run. I ran a slower time than I’ve achieved at either Killerton or Longrun, although my pacing was pretty awful, so that will have played a part. It is less well-attended than either of those as well, which did make the latter part of the race a little uncompetitive: it was pretty clear that I would finish 17th, no higher and no lower, for the last mile of the run. That said, as with every parkrun I’ve attended, the support was great from all the volunteers and spectators, and I would love to go back when it’s a little bit wetter! Additionally, I’m really glad to have three such completely different courses as my three nearest parkrun events.