Monday, 19 September 2011

Racereport 2011-12: parkrun Falkirk, Scotland


A walk in the park
a step in the dark
a walk in the park
a trip in the dark
I'm getting away
escaping today
a walk in the park

Not only the Nick Straker Band knows how to rave about parks. There is much more to do than walk...

The parkrun idea caught my interest quite a while ago. Since that I am fascinated by the movement that is scattering from corner to corner of the united kingdom.

The idea is plain simple - free timed 5k races in a public park.

What sounds basic and straight forward is the authentic case. Even Athletic greats such as Mo Farah or Craig Mottram (Male record holder: 14:00) have taken part.

At the moment there are 89 individual parkrun events around the world. Nearly every major town in the UK has their run and runners across the island are not shy to show up each Saturday morning. Even the british troops at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan have their own race.

Our planned parkrun in Pollok park, Glasgow is the first and the oldest one in Scotland. The event runs on every weekend of the year. There are only two Saturdays where the park cannot be used. Last Saturday was one of those days. The Highland Cattle show was on - no german sausages allowed. Bad luck for us.

Seb and I had to alter the plan of action. To find an alternative race is not really hard. One does not have to travel far from Glasgow to attend a run. I was in contact with Richard Leyton, Glasgow Event Director and head of Scottish parkrun. Richard directed us towards a relatively new run. Callendar park in Falkirk was supposed to be the scene of our maiden parkrun.

From Glasgow’s Queen street station it was a handy 25 minutes train ride and a final 2 mile walk to the Callendar park. It didn’t take the Falkirk crew long to identify who we are. "The Germans are here!" was the initial sentence that we listened to. News in the parkrun scene are spreading fast. Richard Leyton already announced us.

We chatted along with the friendly and welcoming crowd that was gathering in front of the picturesque Callendar House. We also met Richard who was travelling down from Glasgow for the run and together with him we made our way to the start line.

I did not expect anything from the run. I just wanted to experience a parkrun. Looking at several parkrun results it is not rare that a competitive field lines up. Not so in Falkirk on Saturday. It was the events 10th birthday so it is just on its way up to greater and faster crowds.

Callendar park is not flat at all. The route made its way on tarmac and then straight on solid paths up a lengthy uphill stretch. I ran "by sound". That means I was running hard until I couldn’t take notice of anyone breathing behind me. Then cruised on.

It was great fun to run the course. All turns were marked and directed by volunteers. Not an option to run the wrong way. Derek Carswell warned us previous to the race. The park was supposed to have is exclusive “heartbreak hill". I faced the hill with fresh enough legs and had no problems with the steep section.

My “winning time” of 18:44 demonstrates that this was not an effortless course. I loved it as it was challenging and the mix of terrain made it really enjoyable. The “german top 10 sandwich” was concluded by Seb who came in in 10th place. Good day out!

The parkrun initiative is a truly great one. I enjoyed the simple style organisation and the community feeling. If you travel the UK make sure you get a free parkrun in. Probably better organised as a pricey road race.

Thanks very much for having us and well done to parkrun and the Falkirk crew! Also thanks to nice guy ali for the picture!

 Offical Report 
 Results
"The parkrun show" (you might skip to 6:25...)





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