Yes, we do still exist! It’s fair to say that the last few months have been a bit up and down. There’s been a few things I’d have loved to have written about but haven’t managed (my 100th parkrun, progress towards PB pace, on and off training plans, etc). But we’ve come to the conclusion that the best cure for all of this is more tourism. Cue Teignmouth Promenade parkrun.
Our eternal quest to conquer the South West region has suffered greatly from the amazing growth the region has experienced in the last couple of years. We’re still managing to hover at about 50% complete though, and are particularly targeting any that would make a good family trip. So something by the seaside works quite well.
Teignmouth Promenade parkrun started just over a month ago, and as the name suggests takes place on the promenade in Teignmouth. For those of you not familiar with Devon, it’s actually pronounced “Tin-muth”, so make sure you’re saying it correctly in your head! Like other promenade runs (hi Seaton, Minehead and Exmouth) this involves running out and back, in this case 3 times.
The course starts near the pier, goes along to the Yacht Club, back (past the pier) to near the lighthouse. One more complete loop, and then the last time you finish before the lighthouse end (roughly level with the start). Having read the description before we went, my main worry running with the buggy was the prospect of several 180 degree turns. As it turned out though, that wasn’t the tricky part.
We arrived and parked up in good time, and having set up both buggies we even had time to head to the toilets near the pier. Uncharacteristically for us, we were at the gathering point around quarter to 9. Enough time to worry about the number of clothes we were in (the horror of de-layering in cold wind before a run) and that the kids were in (why wouldn’t the little man keep his hat on?!).
At the Run Director’s call we made our way over to the sea-side of the promenade path, and then picked our way through the gathering crowd to get to the back, where we discovered we were 2 of 4 buggies taking part. After a little while, Ben, being significantly taller than me, noticed that the briefing had started. Unfortunately being at the back I didn’t hear a thing, which is a fairly common occurrence for buggy-runners.
The next thing I missed was the start, again with Ben commenting that people had started moving. And so we were off. And almost immediately stopped again as we crashed buggies. Slightly embarrassing, but there are far worse crashes for each of us to have! I had been expecting a standard flat prom-run, but very quickly there was a short-sharp up then down for the pier entrance. The path also zig-zagged a few times, which was slightly testing with a buggy in the initial crowd of people.
The path got narrow, and my next worry became how on earth this would work as an out-and-back, let alone once people started lapping as well. This was answered when runners started coming the other way – on a higher path to our left. The joining point for the two paths required a sharp turn, and my timing meant that there were 3 runners side-by-side going the other way when I had to make the turn. Note to self, practice sharp turns with the buggy!
There was then the expected 180 degree turn round the cone, which actually after the zig-zagging path didn’t seem all that bad. The (marginally) inland of the two paths was much better surface, albeit still with one zig-zag, and before I knew it we were rounding an ice-cream hut and passing the gathering area, where the finish funnel was set up. This just left a nice wide path near the lighthouse, an even wider turn round the end, and another easy path to get back to the start.
The second lap was much the same, with the added excitement of being lapped. It was pretty tricky on some of the narrower sections, having to run with one wheel consistently close to the wall, but the faster runners generally seemed appreciative of my efforts. As we passed the finish funnel for the second time I noticed how narrow it was, but hoped that (as is often the case) it would be wider by the time I finished.
The third lap was hard. I hadn’t run for 4 weeks, and I was pushing a buggy containing a 5 year old. Slowing down slightly also meant ending up in a bigger group of people, which meant more pressure to get the corners right! Despite being tired, and struggling to answer the many questions my daughter was asking, it didn’t go too badly and I was soon speeding up towards the finish. Which, by the way, was still the same width.
Finish token in hand, I carried on following the line of cones and was a bit confused not to find a barcode scanner. I asked a nearby marshal, who said they were in the Lemon Tree cafe and pointed me in the right direction. On the way I met up with Ben, and we decided to put the buggies in the car first. Because the barcode scanning was actually significantly further away than where we’d parked, as it involved crossing the road, walking past some shops, and then identifying the cafe by the line of people outside waiting to be scanned. As with Exeter Riverside, I imagine they will have a fair few tokens disappear as people fail to make it that far.
By the time we actually made it to the cafe to have our barcodes scanned it was fairly full, so we headed to an alternative nearby cafe (Coasters) instead – testing our children’s patience when we ordered just after a large group of South West Road Runners.
Afterwards we had a lovely hour or so admiring the sea view, visiting the section of pier that was open, and enjoying the amazing play park. Definitely a great one to take kids to.
While the route wasn’t entirely what I expected, it was still a very enjoyable run. Being by the sea was great, although it’s fair to say my passenger had more chance to admire the views than I did. Definitely a great location for an extended visit. I’d love to visit again when the event has had a bit more chance to bed down (and our daughter wants to go to the park again), but there are so many places left to visit that who knows!