At the start of the year my friend and I vowed to complete some parkrun run tourism in 2016. However by mid June we were yet to venture from our home run of Lincoln – until this weekend. Gainsborough parkrun is not far from Lincoln at all, although going there still felt slightly strange and out of the usual Saturday morning parkrun routine. Despite it being nearly mid June you would never have guessed it from the weather. It was a grey, cool and miserable ‘summer’ morning, with only the florescent bibs of the parkrun volunteers brightening up the landscape. Gainsborough parkrun is a lot smaller than Lincoln, and from a quick bit of research I completed into the run I knew to expect the course to be very different – hilly was a word I kept coming across... It seemed my research was pretty accurate as my friend and I stood on the start line, huddled with a small group of fifty or so runners at the foot of a definite hill!
As the ‘go’ signal was given we began a steady ascent of this hill, which turning a corner became a gradual climb through long grass, and then merged into a still climbing grassy footpath alongside a field. A welcomed downhill section was next, and it felt good to finally get my legs going after a somewhat steadier start than I am used to at a parkrun. The route continued along a flat field side path for a while, and I naively thought I must have finished with the hills now. Turning a corner I was however met by another steep incline. Thankfully for my legs this was followed by a downhill stretch through a small section of woodland, and allowed for some much needed recovery. Again at this point I naively thought I must have beaten the worst of the hills by now, but no, another turn led to another hill! This hill was very long and eventually joined the bottom of the starting hill; which also indicated the end of the first of three laps. At this point I smiled and uttered a few curse words wryly to myself – I had to do this twice more!
With the course now in my head I concentrated the next two laps on running the best time I could. It was evident this was not going to be a run to challenge my parkrun PB and to be honest I was not really thinking about beating it. In fact I think I glanced at my watch twice merely out of curiosity to see what my pace was, once on a hill (around 10 min/mile) and again on a downhill section (roughly 7.30 min/mile). I have recently been struggling with hills, they seem to sap all energy from my legs and leave them with a heaviness I cannot recover from. So this course felt like a very personal challenge, and one that I was not going to let defeat me.
And it didn’t, I crossed the line in 26 minutes 39 seconds. This was a good 2 minutes slower than my recent parkrun times at Lincoln, but I was happy and especially pleased that my legs had made it. My friend also ran roughly two minutes slower than her usual Lincoln time (although still managed an impressive first female placing!), which gives you some indication of the test Gainsborough parkrun presents.
This was the second time I had ventured away from Lincoln parkrun (the first a slightly hungover fancy dress run at Old Deer Park) and on both occasions it has a felt a little odd not knowing what is to come. Having ran Lincoln parkrun so many times the course is almost second nature and it is very much a race between you and the clock each week. At Gainsborough it felt like I was racing the course, testing myself and my legs on each individual section. As I jokingly pointed out to one of the Gainsborough volunteers after puffing over a hill – ‘this is not like Lincoln!’ The two runs are very different and in fact should really not be compared, as both present an equally enjoyable challenge, just in different forms. I would definitely run Gainsborough parkrun again, where I will probably be on the hunt for a course PB, and I recommended others come and try the testing - and most definitely hilly - course!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...