Christmas Parkruns

Christmas morning for most involves nursing a slight Christmas eve hangover, usually sorted with a cheeky glass of champagne in the morning and some bacon/smoked salmon to kick start a day of serious eating. Things were different for me this year, as I found myself feeling relatively fresh waiting to be picked up by my friend Paul so we could make the 30 minute journey from my parents house to the town of Hertford – where a relatively new Park Run, Panshanger, can be found.

Santa hat in tow, we parked up a couple of minutes walk from the park and meandered our way over to the start/finish area. The fact it was a crisp Christmas morning hadn’t put off the majority of the lycra clad runners gathered around for the pre-run briefing.

I’d had a look at some of the previous results and naively decided that I may have a chance of a top 3 finish, so put myself at the very front and promptly set off forgetting the race distance was 5 kilometres and not 50 metres. Unfortunately, Mo Farah and co. had decided they fancied a Christmas outing and despite early on finding myself in 3rd, I made my way back through the field and ended up in 9th with a time of 19.16.

Panshanger park is a lovely little venue for a run, and for any in the area I’d thoroughly recommend it. The 5k route takes you around fields and lakes before a tough little finish through a meadow – all uphill. 148 people had turned up to run – incredible how many people get permission to  ditch their family for a couple of hours at Christmas!


2 days later and I found myself lacing up my trainers yet again, this time in Harlow town park for the 8th Harlow Park Run. This is a fairly new event, situated just 20 minutes from my parents house, so perfectly located for a spot of Christmas park run tourism.

Torrential rain the night before ensured the course would be nice and slippery, so I dug out the trail shoes and me and my new park run buddy Paul set out for Harlow. It was still raining on arrival, so we decided the smart move would be to wait in the car until the last minute before making a dash for the start line.

Continuing on the theme of overconfidence, having seen results from previous weeks I thought I may be in contention somewhere near the front. Again placing myself on the first row of starters, I found myself surrounded by some more juniors runners who’d decided to commandeer the start line and get in everyone’s way – smart decision.

We were underway on the 2 and a half lap course, and much to my surprise, I found myself leading after the first kilometre! With this position completely alien to me, I just had to wait for something to go wrong. Through the first lap and I’m still in the lead – something must be seriously wrong here. I did have a couple of checks behind me to make sure I hadn’t gone in completely the wrong direction.

Soon enough, reality bit home as the fatigue in my legs over the past couple of weeks came back to hurt me. I was overtaken by 3 chaps at some point during the second lap and just couldn’t summon any strength to respond with. On the home straight I spotted Paul wrestling for position with an 11 year-old girl a lap behind us, and made sure I let him know he’d never hear the end of it if she beat him.

4th place and a time of 20.12 was my reward for getting out of bed early on a wet Saturday morning. I was pretty disappointed with this, considering that the winner ran 19.43, and my personal best is over a minute quicker than this. In fact two days ago in Panshanger (see earlier in this post), I ran 19.16.

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, as I’ve now the holder of the prestigious title of the age-group record for the SM25-29 category. I’m sure this new found fame won’t last too long, but forgive me if I take a little longer to respond in the next couple of weeks as I fulfil all the related press duties the accompany this huge achievement.

Tomorrow will be the 3rd run in 4 days as Katie and I take on the ‘Gut Buster’ 10 mile race. With freezing temperatures forecast, it shaping up to be a barrel of laughs.

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