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Sunday, 1 January 2012

Leamington parkrun

Yesterday, with the core of the Coventry parkrun team unavailable, Coventry parkrun was called off.

This gave myself and a few other Coventry parkrun regulars the perfect excuse to try out Leamington parkrun for the first time. A group of 3 of us travelled together, only to find that 4 others had made the same journey. So in total 7 Coventry parkrun regulars lined up at the start line.

The course at Leamington is quite different to the course at Coventry. The start line is at the side of an area of several football pitches. The route takes you around the edge of these pitches for at least a couple of minutes, before heading onto a rough gravel pathway.

The pathway is pitted with dents and larger holes, all of which were turned into large puddles after recent heavy rainfall. A couple of these large puddles traversed the entire pathway leaving you with a long jump or a quick paddle as the only way past.

I did witness one runner who seemed to time his splashes perfectly to soak the same rival runner at least two or three times in the space of a minute. Nice work I thought!

The route then headed around Newbold Comyn golf course. A notable tough point being a steady uphill gradient which suddenly turns 90 to the right and probably at least 30 degrees upwards. This steepest of inclines only lasts a minute or so, but by the top, with your thighs feeling the burn, you feel as though you can only just top walking pace. The gradient then decreases but remains uphill for a few more minutes.

The relief of reaching the top of the hill at around half distance is incredible. And the view is superb, or at least i think it must be. My brain was so fatigued by the uphill effort that it was all I could manage to keep running.

Then the long gradual downhill starts and you can allow your legs to run freely, your breathing slowly returning after the preceding uphill struggle.

Although probbaly a good couple of km, the downhill is over all too fast and you return to the flat to wind your way around the lower section of the golf course and back to the football pitch finish area.

The football pitch area is a little bit slippy at this time of year and given the rough pathways for the majority of the route, this parkrun course would be well suited to trail shoes rather than standard running trainers.

That said, even with the right footware, I wouldn't think of this as a fast course, but it's certainly an attractive, challenging and fun one.

The Leamington parkrun volunteer team were a very welcoming bunch. Although there were under a hundred runners, the community spirit was present in abundance. I'm sure I'll return to Leamington parkrun again in the future, it's a lovely location for a parkrun and very well run, but I may wait for drier course conditions.

As for the Coventry parkrunners, well we did Coventry parkrun proud, by taking 4 of the top 10 places and 3 of the top 6! A great effort. I suspect a group of us may try another local parkrun or two in the coming months.

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