Mid December found Sharon and I visiting her family in Leek, Staffordshire. As our visit included a Saturday then we had to consider a local parkrun – of which the two nearest are Bramhall and Woodbank, close to Stockport.
The weather had taken a turn for the worse with some recent snow and from weighing up both events and the likelihood of a last minute cancellation we opted for Woodbank – as they have an alternative 5k route for these kind of conditions.
So, after an early start we headed to Woodbank – found the car park close to the park and saw a growing number of lycra clad runners get out of there cars and head towards the running track.
Well, the location is perfect! There’s plenty of car parking (if you’re in a car – if it weren’t 30 miles away then I’d rather run/cycle there), then there’s a little club-house to shelter from the cold, and finally toilets literally 15 metres from the start line!
Today (well, the 18th) was the Woodbank pre-Christmas parkrun and almost everyone was wearing a santa hat or similar. Except Sharon and I who forgot to pack ours when we drove up the day before. Rest assured we’ll have our hats out on Christmas Day at Bushy parkrun.
Because of the snow a sensible decision was made to run the three lap flat course rather than the regular two lap ‘full’ course.
After a short briefing the 43 of us headed off onto the first of three laps. Looking at recent results I should be right up at the sharp end of things so headed off in close pursuit of the two chaps who raced off the front. One runner opened up a slight lead and in second place was a youngster in a ’10 club’ tee.
About two thirds of the way round the first lap I overtook the second place runner and then had probably a 10 second gap between myself and first place. The trouble is, I just couldn’t bring the gap down! The on course support from the marshalls was superb and very encouraging – but clearly every word of “you’re catching him up” to me was preceded a few seconds before by “keep pushing, the tall lanky one in the hundred club t-shirt is getting closer!”
Being a three lap course I lapped a few of the slower runners and we gave one another plenty of support. Everyone was super friendly. Must be a northern thing.
In the final km the leader extended his lead and by the finish beat me by 15 seconds. My time was 19:11. Considering the conditions (and the fact that my Garmin measured the course at 3.24 miles – however accurate that may be) I was happy with that time, although would have loved the victory!
At the finish line we were all given a goodie bag – leftovers from the Stockport 10 road race the week before and then ushered into the Stockport Harriers clubhouse for tea/coffee and cakes.
Everyone we spoke to was incredibly friendly, the number of runners was very manageable, the facilities were top-knotch and this event (of the 16 different parkruns that I’ve been to) had a lovely ‘feel’ to it.
Well done Woodbank parkrun.