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Running for three and a new PB at parkrun

Running for three and a new PB at parkrun

parkrun is a wonderful institution. Runners can run it. Walkers can walk it. Dogs can come along for the fun. Children can participate. And, for those children that still need to be in a buggy to get round the 5k course, they get to enjoy it too!

We started pushing our toddler round as soon as he hit six months, which is the typical minimum age (principally to ensure enough neck muscle strength). We’ve been extremely happy with the Out’n’About Nipper Sport which is light, agile and easy to transport. It has proper tyres on it too, which I ‘slimed’ early on to avoid any puncture drama.


parkrun etiquette with a buggy is to start at the back, which I always do, and then the challenge is to see how many people I can overtake!

In the early days, at Guildford parkrun, I was hitting times of about 28 minutes. Just taking it easy and not really pushing it. Guildford is also an undulating course, with a fair amount of grass, which can be really punishing if there has been a lot of rain and it has become muddy. If it turns into the wrong sort of mud (claggy) it starts jamming up the front wheel of the Nipper Sport, and increases the effort required to keep moving!

About a year later, also at Guildford, I set a PB of 24:08. Considering the todder had obviously grown in size over this time, I was very happy with that!

Then, not much progress. A combination of tending to take it easier with the buggy (recovery run-style) and losing some fitness.

With the recent return to working on fitness again, this has given potential to the buggy running again. However, offset by two factors:

  1. Continued toddler growing in size.
  2. A new addition to the family!
Role reversal!

Yes, with the baby on the scene, we needed to pick up the Nipper Sport Double! I thought this would be a unwieldy prior to getting it, but it is surprisingly agile and it never really feels much different to the Single when I am running with it. It also feels a little bit more planted.

As with the toddler, we needed to wait until the six months point until it was safe for the baby to join in. Then, the first couple of runs were very tentative to ensure both children remained safe and happy throughout.

We visited Brooklands parkrun at the weekend. This is pretty flat, and handily for buggy running, has a significant straight down a disused runway which allows for overtaking (This is naturally difficult with the buggy when narrow paths are involved). As a result, it was engage the afterburners time!

This resulted in a Buggy PB of 23:37 – 30 seconds faster than my previous best. It was a day for success, with fellow blogger Julie hitting a parkrun target and my wife recording her fastest run since the birth of child #2 !

It’s wonderful to be able to keep enjoying parkrun with the two children involved. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts: We are in a bit of a sweet spot with their enjoyment of it, I’m sure. Perhaps Junior parkrun after that?

parkrun at Lanhydrock, the Clay Trail and the beautiful coast of Cornwall

parkrun at Lanhydrock, the Clay Trail and the beautiful coast of Cornwall

A family holiday in Cornwall gave the perfect opportunity to check out some of the local places to get running!

Naturally, parkrun needed to feature, by way of a visit to National Trust property Lanhydrock. It was a beautiful day and the grounds there are stunning. Although I have now done 38 unique parkrun events, this is the first one where cows have been present at the briefing!

Cows moo-ving in
Cows marking the back of the running field…

It was my turn to walk this one (toddler in running buggy, baby in carrier!), and even that was a challenge given the elevation on offer. According to the unofficial stats over at parkrun Elevation Rankings UK, Lanhydrock is the 2nd most challenging out of 519 events! The particularly punishing uphills are near the end, although there is a beautiful descent right before the finish. It is also a one lap course which is how I prefer things, and the scenery throughout is excellent, featuring open views, forest views, running water, bridges and more.

It took me 50:36 to walk round. I can do my ‘standard parkrun’ in about 40 minutes with the same child load!

Bugle and the Clay Trails

As well as some speed training during the week I wanted to do some ‘normal’ running as well. Research revealed the Clay Trails. The most local one for me was the Eden Project / Bugle route, so I did that one, albeit starting at Bugle.

Clay Trail: Starting at Bugle

Running to the Eden Project and back again added up to just over 10 km. The route was a little weird though. Only about half of it was actually what I would call a trail run. The other half directed me onto roads which you stayed on until hooking up with the next bit of the real bit of trail. Somewhat bizarre. The local roads are quiet but also do not have the best visibility so I did feel a bit exposed at times.

The lake that is mentioned (‘Great view of the lake!’) is a little over-egged, as it was surrounded by heavy amounts of metal fencing, which made it feel more like a military installation than a tourist attraction. There were some other natural views though:

Why the long face?

The coast at Perranporth

Finally, to the beach! Perranporth was perfect for this (very family friendly) with the added bonus of coastal trails being readily available.

Family commitments meant I could only fit in just over 5 km, but the terrain made this great fun and the views were outstanding:

Straight out of one of those old Dr Who episodes that always seemed to be set in quarries?
Getting as high as possible…

This was heading along the south west path. Very well sign-posted, with the option of going slightly ‘off piste’ for variation or extra challenge.

Overall, I’m happy that I did a variety of activities during the week to explore as well as enjoying the holiday. The coastal running has inspired me to try and find similar beautiful and challenging routes nearer to home. I’m pretty sure the Surrey Hills have all sorts of options here – I just need to get familiar with them!