This morning I have another parkrun review for you, this time from one of my favourite running bloggers, Mary, from A Healthier Moo. She’s an ultra running superstar and basically my running idol. She’s practically unbreakable and such a lovely person (who I’ve actually met in real life so I fully attest to this!). Mary and her husband, Dan, have recently had an adorable little baby boy as well so check out her current journey back to running on her blog. Over to Mary now and her write-up of Northampton parkrun.
Location: Northampton parkrun takes place at the Racecourse on the edge of Northampton each Saturday morning. It’s super easy to find, and you usually spot the streams of runners jogging in long before you reach the Racecourse itself.
Parking: Parking at the Racecourse is rubbish! Although parking at the Racecourse is free, it’s incredibly limited so if you plan on driving to Northampton parkrun I suggest you leave early, and arrange to share cars. I’ve arrived many times before 8:30am only to discover that there are no spaces left and I need to trawl the side streets looking for somewhere to leave my car. There is a fair amount of parking available on side streets, but it helps if you know the area and which streets you can park on. Several of our club members tend to park a little way out from the Racecourse and then jog up to the park as a warm up.
Amenities: The changing room toilets at the Racecourse are open for parkrunners from 8:45am and as there are so many changing rooms, there is never a queue.
With regards to post-run drinks, several runners seem to have now discovered Magees, and this is where I normally head for a post-run hot chocolate (with homemade marshmallow) and salted caramel tart! The alternative coffee shop is The Good Loaf, – a coffee shop which aims to provide employment opportunities to local vulnerable women.Course: Northampton is a one and a half lap course run entirely on tarmac paths around the edge of the park, other than the finishing funnel where runners are fed off onto the grass.There is a mad rush at the start as runners spread out wide across the grass alongside the start line before filing into their positions on the pavement. It can take several minutes before the pack begins to widen out after the start.As the park is fairly open, with trees just around the edges – you can make out the majority of the pathways from the startline. Really handy when trying to show the course to runners who have not been out on it before.
You really can’t go wrong with the route, as the first lap takes in the whole park, with the second (half) lap cutting across the centre. The cut-through is lined with family members and supporters so it’s very clear where you need to turn. There are no tight turns to navigate – just corners as you come to each of the edges of the park. The field has always spread out enough by the time the front runners lap the back runners, so overtaking lapped runners does not become an issue.
The very slight ‘hill’ at the end
Elevation: I would describe Northampton as a pancake-flat PB course, although some would argue that there is a hill at the far end of the loop, which you hit both times round the course. It’s nothing too taxing though. (I just checked and apparently there is 61ft of elevation gain in total over the course.)Number of participants: Having started out with a fairly small amount of runners, the Northampton course now regularly sees more than 400 sets of barcodes scanned each Saturday morning, with 479 being the highest number of recorded participants. There are quite a few running clubs and jog groups in the area and only a limited number of parkruns, although Kettering parkrun has just started up nearby, which should hopefully begin to ease some of the numbers at the Northampton course.
Other: The course record is 14:52 for men, set by Andrew Baddeley and 16:58 for women, set by Hayley Munn. Andrew’s parkrun PB incidentally is a staggering 13:48!
There is often a photographer at Northampton parkrun, – something which I thought was standard at most parkruns until we took friends that were visiting one Saturday morning and they commented on how nice it was to be able to look through photographs after the event, as their parkrun didn’t ever have anything similar. However, it seems no ‘good’ pictures of me not red-faced/heel striking/arm flapping exist!
Mary running strong!
A great course for when you really want to stretch your legs out a little and go for a fast time.
Have you done the Northampton parkrun before?
What’s your perfect post parkrun treat?