Our parkrun tourism adventure motored up the M1 as Other Dan joined me to meet Simon and Alf at Luton Wardown parkrun. We brazenly laughed at our tendency to leave planning until Friday night by setting this one out last week when we bumped into the Eagles parkrun tourists at Raphael. I’m sure that we’ll be back to our normal Friday night “where we going?” routine before you know it.
The journey was punctuated by my satnav taking us on a magical mystery tour of Luton town centre. We knew navigation was going to fail when my satnav had no knowledge of the roads exiting the M1 into Luton and then it nearly led me the wrong way up a one way street as we battled past the shopping centre. On the way home the delightful satnav woman took us up a dead end street somewhere around the town bus terminal. Happy days.
Thankfully we had left early enough to deal with the traveling pains so there was no problem getting a parking space at the park. The course description states that there is a small car park at the site but there’s actually two reasonably sized free car parks. We used the one through the Old Bedford Road entrance but there’s another on the opposite side through New Bedford Road. We also spotted parkrunners using free off road parking along Old Bedford Road. Remember to car share though folks.
It’s a lovely park that sparkled as we were fortunate to visit on a sun drenched morning. Our warm-up jog took in a loop of the park where we spotted tennis courts, a children’s play area, a lake with water features, and a beautiful flower garden. The event team reliably informed us that there was a toilet somewhere around the museum area and also at the far end of the park by the kids play area.
The new runners briefing and the main run briefing took place next to the museum, which is where the event team setup the finish funnel and everyone leaves their bags and tops. This week there was a visitor from Australia that well and truly trumped our visit from West London. There was also a parkrun tourist completing his UK Cowell (an unofficial parkrun club for tourists who have run at 100 or more different events) and another tourist completing his half Cowell (50 different events). At least we could lay claim to matching these feats – Simon was running his 92nd event while me and Other Dan are nearing 60.
The course is a 3-and-a-bit laps with the event team leading the runners down to the bottom of the park once the run briefing finishes. If you’re making a visit to this one then go to the finish area first rather than hanging around by a start line with no-one around. Also, remember that you have to run the hill 4 times. It’s not really a hill though, just a small grass slope that leads up to the museum / finish funnel.
I’m still feeling the effects of a virus that struck me down and kept me off work through the week. I tried hard to pootle round the course but even sub-27 pace felt like I was going for a PB. We all enjoyed the varied nature of the course – the slope, the loop round the museum, darting through the gardens before making good use of the down slope to stretch the legs. Multi-lap courses have the potential to be boring but there was plenty to test you and admire on this one. That and the jubilant marshals sprinkled around the course with a clap and a cheer for all the runners.
Alf led us home this week with Other Dan and Simon not far behind. I gave them the luxury of five minutes to catch their breath before I trundled up the slope for the last time to cross the finish line.
I hung around with Other Dan at the nearby cricket clubhouse for a drink and biscuit while we chatted parkrun tourism with the newest member of the UK Cowell Club. I’m not parkrunning next week (boooooo!) as we’re off on a family holiday to Cornwall and it was made crystal clear that parkrun was off the table on the day we drive down (I do get to parkrun at Lanhydrock parkrun the week after). This gives Other Dan the opportunity to visit some of the Lon-Done events that I’ve already run before he then heads to Greece and I have to find somewhere new.