The best parkrun?

My dad turned 60 in February and for his present I bought him a Taste of Thai cookery course at the Waitrose Cookery School in Salisbury. I decided to get myself one too so I could do it with him.

Salisbury isn’t that far from my parent’s house and the cooking course didn’t start until 10am so I floated the idea of doing Salisbury parkrun beforehand. My dad honestly loves supporting my running so was happy with this plan.

We left at 6.30am to get there with enough time to find it and park/faff about. Actually we made such good time and got there and parked at 7.40am. With some time to kill we decided to walk to find a coffee spot and some breakfast for my dad (I don’t eat breakfast before parkrun).

We settled on a McDonald’s as Starbucks wasn’t open yet (seriously). My dad had a bacon roll thing which in the great scheme of McDonald’s was actually that bad in terms of being healthy. I think it was around 400 calories. I had a black coffee.

Then we walked to the parkrun. We could have parked in the actually park but to be honest the walk was nice as the morning was so sunny and, as my dad commented, we were getting our steps in.The parkrun area was easy to find and the park (Churchill Gardens) was beautiful. Lots of winding paths, a pretty river, and a skate park and play area for kids.It was a really good set-up. The parkrun area was already fairly busy (it was about 8.45am) and suddenly an elaborate warm-up began.At first I thought maybe a boot camp class had randomly started near us but no it was actually a person leading a proper dynamic warm-up – all high knees, squats and lunges going on! I was rather impressed. There were quite a lot of people as well – and most of them doing the warm-up.I noticed a box of clappers next to the volunteer table which I thought was brilliant. It meant volunteers could grab one and enthusiastically cheer people on. There was also a guest book to sign for tourists, which I did of course.I quite liked the sign for returning the barcodes as well, the parkrunosaurus! It’s a cuddly toy dinosaur mascot!

The course was four laps around the park, which at first I thought sounded a bit, well, repetitive. But actually it was a really lovely course. It was very flat, apart from a slight incline and then decline at one point, but really nothing horrendous.

Photo Credit: James Ballard

It was very busy at the start and the path was fairly narrow but it kept me from doing anything crazy like going off too fast. Along the course there were some signs which I thought were such a lovely touch, such as “Lizzie’s Corner” and the toilet one below was right next to the public loos.I loved the motivational ones as well and had to whip out my phone to take a photo. There were probably 4-5 of them, saying motivational things as well as humorous ones. Unfortunately after taking the photo I didn’t put my phone back in my FlipBelt securely and it fell out, luckily on the grass. So I had to race back to pick it up quickly.

What was also a nice touch was the fact that they have paces every week. I thought I was just lucky enough to be there for a pacing event but apparently it happens regularly. Which made sense that one guy had his very own personalised pacing top on. I tried to stay in front of Mr 24 Minutes as I was aiming to dip below that.As the parkrun continued on I felt myself getting stronger and more confident. It was good to see my dad three times as well.It was also nice coming back past the main marshal area as the noise of so many clappers was really encouraging. As well as this, there was a stereo playing music in one section which was great. Honestly, this parkrun was just fantastic. It was like they’d thought of everything! And it was only their 99th parkrun (I was sad to not be there for their 100th as it sounded like they were going to have a good event with fancy dress and cakes). Though there was a dinosaur running (I imagine he was rather hot!).Basically it was such a fantastic parkrun – one of the best I’ve done. The volunteers were just super. I mean, seriously this guy high-fived pretty much everyone!

Photo Credit: James Ballard

I finished 41st with 22:36 which I’m happy with (actually looking at my previous parkrun times I’ve slowly sped up from 22:43, 22:39 to 22:36 which feels quite nice!).Then my dad and I had to head sharpish back towards the car. I walked to Starbucks, ordered another coffee (decaf this time) and got changed in the toilets. My dad picked me up and we got to the cookery class with 5 minutes to spare. Honestly, this was such a military operation that was carried out with such perfect precision! Unfortunately what we didn’t realise was that breakfast (well, yogurt, fruit and bacon rolls) had been provided of which we missed! I wasn’t too bothered though. Food wasn’t going to be an issue that day!The course was great. It’s run by Waitrose and is actually in the Waitrose supermarket, but in a little side area in a professional kitchen.We first watched the chef run through the recipe, while giving us good little tips and tricks (such as leaving meat out a good time before cooking so the fibres relax so stops the meat becoming tough, and using a spoon to peel ginger, and lots more!). The first recipe was chilli caramel chicken with hot and sour salad.We then tried it out for ourselves. We had lots of help if we got stuck or forgot what to do but it was fairly easy (and fun!).This was so tasty! A little hot but not too spicy. More aromatic and warming – lots of ginger, garlic, lime, sweetness from palm sugar, saltiness from fish sauce and freshness from coriander.We worked in pairs (me with my dad obviously) and had a portion each. Some people decided to portion up one on a plate and then put the other portion in a container to take back home. As I hadn’t had breakfast and it was almost midday my dad and me agreed to eat our portions there and then. Everyone sat back down at the table (there were 12 of us in total), which had now been relaid and had wine and soft drinks available. It was lovely! The meal was very tasty.

Then we saw prawn pad Thai being made and then tried it out ourselves.Though the flavours were still delicious, I was less a fan of this as I’m really not a noodle lover. There was a lot of noodles in comparison to how many king prawns there were. We potted one portion and shared, though didn’t finish, this portion (it was quite large!).

The next recipe was a duck curry.This was really tasty. A coconut milk-based sauce, and more aromatic than hot or spicy.This was SO good. We had the curry with white rice, deep-fried shallot slices and another fresh salad. The colours were amazing and the flavours just popped. We both ate our portions of this!

I chose a Thai cookery course for my dad because I know he loves the food and I thought it might be a fun one to do because of all the flavours – plus it’s not very “everyday style cooking”, you know? I’m not a big Thai food fan but I really enjoyed this and loved the food we made. It’s definitely changed my mind a bit!

I now have a good few recipes to take away and try myself at some point. I fully recommend the Waitrose Cookery School – very thorough, professional, FUN, and a great way to learn general cooking skills as well as specific recipes and cuisines. (This isn’t a sponsored post, I bought both places for the course.)

My dad and me went home very satisfied and my dad said he loved the present 🙂

Have you ever done a cookery class before?

What’s your favourite cuisine?

What makes a good parkrun?

5 thoughts on “The best parkrun?

  1. I love thai food especially prawn pad thai. My Mum’s starting an Indian cookery course next week- I’m looking forward to seeing what she makes.
    That parkrun sounds great, they’ve definitely though of everything. I don’t think any of the ones I’ve been to have had that level of attention to detail.

  2. That parkrun sounds fab! At Ellenbrook we have clackers and mini tambourines so that the marshals can make noise- it means i don’t need to borrow instruments from work! I’ve seen signs for new to parkrun, and a pb bell. I think vocal marshals really help with the atmosphere, although four laps sounds tough. I did Harrogate this weekend which is three laps so i was being overtaken during my second lap, I’d imagine that with four laps it starts sooner.parkrunasaurus is a genius idea! We seem to lose a few tokens each week as people don’t always go to the scanners even though you have to walk past them to leave.
    That cookery school sounds like a great way to spend a day, a lot of food too! I’ve done cake decorating classes which isn’t cooking but it’s very enjoyable.

  3. Happy birthday to your dad!
    The parkrun sounds so fun and the cookery school looks great. I really like buying experience birthday presents rather than more possessions as think it makes for great memories. I’ve done a couple of cookery classes – I enjoy them even if I’m terrible at them as I don’t really cook much so find even simple tasks quite challenging (pretty embarrassing at nearly 30!). The only Thai food I’ve ever had before is Pad Thai, I need to be more adventurous next time I go to a Thai restaurant! x

  4. Salisbury Parkrun community is brilliant and the whole running community is so supportive. Make sure you run Salisbury 10 next year. A fab course, brilliant support and one of the best goody bags ever! I regularly run with CoSARC and Salisbury Trail Runners and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to local routes.

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