I have another parkrun review for you today. This time brought to you from one of my running friends, Michelle, who, by the way, is RIDICULOUSLY speedy. We’re talking 3:15 marathoner, sub 19 minute 5k’er, sub 40 min 10k’er… I could go on, but basically any distance she can smash. She’s also very modest about it as well 🙂 And she’s kindly done a review of the Newcastle parkrun. Though I’m all for some parkrun tourism, Newcastle is a little bit tricky for me to get to living on the South Coast. Happily she’s studying to be a doctor ‘up North’ (brainy and speedy). So, without further ado, onto Michelle’s review…
That’s Michelle in the green t-shirt storming along
Location: Newcastle parkrun is found on Town Moor, an area of common just outside of the city centre. Apparently it is larger than New York’s Central Park and also Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath combined! On the corner of Town Moor is Exhibition Park which has a small lake, children’s play area and café. Other than a few hills and lots of green space there isn’t much in the way of scenery but this means it is easy to spot the runners towards the front and towards the back. It’s easy to find and if you get lost once your near there are always plenty of people heading that way!
Parking: Town Moor itself doesn’t have a dedicated car park however there are plenty of pay & display places to park which are only a very short walk away! For on road parking I would suggest Claremont Road, Clayton Road and Brandling Park Road. There is also a large pay & display on Claremont Road which costs £1.30 for an hour. Be careful as a lot of the surrounding roads are permit parking!
The best and easiest way to get to Newcastle parkrun is on public transport! Jesmond metro station is probably the closest at about a 5-minute walk from the start but Haymarket and West Jesmond metro stations are also about a 10-minute walk from the start. There are plenty of buses stop along Great North Road, Claremont Road and Haymarket bus station.
Amenities: Unfortunately, there are no toilets at Newcastle parkrun unless you buy something in the café in Exhibition Park to get a code. The café itself though is great! It serves hot drinks, snacks, breakfasts, sandwiches, homemade food, cakes and Dalinos ice cream (some amazing flavours!). You also get 10% student and OAP discount 😉
Course: The course itself is one big loop along the paths which cross the moor and along the outside of it.
You start close to Exhibition Park and then head onto the main path which crosses the moor. The first turn is a right hander shortly after passing through the first (of 3) gates to run alongside the moor on the footpath of Grandstand Road. After 250m you turn right again through gate 2 and back onto the moor. The next section is on gravel paths (whereas the rest of the course is tarmac paths) and can be a bit muddy in the rain! You head back across the moor towards the top of exhibition park before a left turn towards the eastern edge of the moor. From here you run in a ‘u’ shape before turning left back onto tarmac paths and through the final gate. This is the only point on the course where you pass other runners who are about to head onto the ‘u’ shaped section. The final stretch takes you to a crossroads where you turn left onto the main path across the moor you joined shortly after starting and then left again back towards the start line. The finish line is 100m further on and after a slight right turn just past the start. All the gates are held open for you by marshals but running single file is required as they aren’t the widest of gates!
Oh there is one final thing…during the summer months you share the moor with cows! Yes, you read that correctly! There are cows that live on the moor.They are generally very friendly and will move out the way for runners but just watch where you’re putting your feet!
Elevation: Overall the course is pretty flat. As you head towards the first gate it is a slight incline but there are definitely no hills on the course.
Over the whole course the elevation gain is just 19m. This means that it can be a very fast one…although with Town Moor being very exposed any amount of wind can be a battle!
Number of participants: Being a city parkrun it is a big, busy one! The record attendance is 701 with average attendance being over 600! Despite this number of participants there are never really any problems. The design of the course means you’re not going to collide with other runners and the parkrun volunteers have developed a multiple finish funnel system to ensure finishing and getting your token is a smooth process. With this number of participants it means there is a wide range of times, from the quickest finishing in around 16 minutes and the slowest just under 50 minutes, so everyone is more than welcome! The course is ideal for runners with buggies due to it being mostly tarmac and dogs are also welcome on short leads.
Other: On the 2nd Saturday of every month Newcastle parkrun hosts a paced run with volunteers pacing times from around 19 minutes up to about 40 minutes.
Pretty much every week there are volunteers there taking photos at different points on the course which are available on their Facebook page!
Due to the moor being very exposed and well it being in the north east the course does get very icy (and sometimes snowy) in the winter. This does mean it can get cancelled at short notice but this is always well publicised on Facebook and Twitter so I recommend checking before you head out!
Town Moor is also home to a Junior parkrun on a Sunday morning!
Have you ever been to Newcastle parkrun?
Would you prefer hilly and no wind, or flat and windy?
Wildlife and livestock on your runs, are you fan?