Stewart parkrun Review

Happy Monday! Can you believe its just two weeks until Christmas? Crazy! I’ve got those two weeks at work so in my head I’m counting down 10 days until I’m off. Pushing through!!

Today I have yet another parkrun review for you. Another one kindly sent in by my friend Michelle (the super speedy one). As she’s currently studying to be a doctor her home parkrun isn’t really Netley or Southampton as she spends more time “up North”, where she’s based for university. Anyway, I’ll leave her to it!

Since moving down to Teesside for the last year of my uni course Stewart parkrun has become my new ‘uni home parkrun’. I felt very welcomed the first time I attended and is popular with members of several of the local running clubs.

Location: As the name suggests Stewart parkrun takes place in Stewart Park which is located in Marton, a suburb approximately 3 miles south of Middlesbrough. The park itself is about 120 acres made up of mature woodland, an arboretum, open parkland and two lakes. There are facilities for the whole family with a play area, outdoor table tennis, mini golf, a trim trail and pets corner which is home to llamas, goats and deer.

Stewart Park is also home to the Captain Cook Museum; located on the site of the cottage where Captain James Cook was born and the start of the Captain Cook country tour. Northern Dales Farmers Markets have partnered the park to hold a monthly Farmers Market and Craft Fair on the fourth Sunday of each month – I thoroughly recommend a visit to treat yourself to some yummy handmade bread, pies and of course sweet treats!

Parking: The park is well signposted and easy to find! There is a free car park with approximately 180 spaces available but it can get pretty busy so overflow parking is close by within Middlesbrough Sports Village (an amazing sports complex with a gym, sports hall, athletics track, sports pitches, cycle track, outdoor velodrome and indoor children’s play area!).

Amenities: Within the park is Henry’s Café which is open before parkrun and perfect for grabbing a post parkrun ice cream in the summer or hot chocolate in the winter! The finish is conveniently located right outside the café so there are no excuses for not staying for a post parkrun drink and natter ;). Bike racks and the all-important toilets are located within the park’s visitors centre area.

Course: Starting on the hill and outside the Captain Cook Museum (making it easy to find!) the course is two anti-clockwise laps of the park taking in the open parkland, woodland and both lakes. It is run entirely on tarmac paths but these can be slippy at times when wet and due to the leaves. Also watch out for conkers the paths during the Autumn!

The start is very fast due to the first 100m being downhill! From here it goes across the world map and past the play area towards the car park. There are a few corners as you run around the edge of the car park and onto the open parkland at the north of the park. This area is quite exposed so can be tough on a windy day!! You turn 180 degrees just past the lower lake to head south towards the woodland area. Once you’ve run up the long incline to the woodland area the course becomes twisty with lots of turns, a few of which are quite tight! In this area it is important to also watch your footing as there are a few bumps in the tarmac path and just be careful of your ankles on the edges of the path. Towards the end of the part of the course in the woodland area you run around the edge of the upper lakes before heading downhill and turning 180 degrees to finish your first lap at the bottom of the hill which was shortly after the start.

After following the course around for your second lap you take a right just before the world map and play area to run along the northern edge of the Henry Bolckow visitor’s centre before a sharp right through an archway and across the quadrant to the finish line.

Once you have collected your finish token the funnel is well organised to snake around the outdoor table tennis tables to reduce funnel congestion and into the courtyard seating area of Henry’s Café.

The course has km markers, arrows at the corners with multiple paths and friendly marshals at key turns so there is little chance of going wrong 😛

Elevation: Stewart parkrun is defiantly undulating!!

The start is straight into a downhill followed by a fairly flat section across the bottom of the park and then what feels like a long incline into the woodland. Once in with woodland area there are a few short inclines and declines mixed in with the twists and turns. The finish is very slightly uphill as you pass through the arch into the visitor’s centre area but when you are trying to give it that last push and sprint finish feels more uphill than it actually is!!

Number of participants: The record number of participants is 330 but on average there are usually around 300 runners each week. The number of runners doesn’t usually cause a problem, even on a lapped course due to each lap being quite large. When nearing the end of their second lap (particularly in the woodland area) the faster runners do pass those completing their first lap but by this point the field is spread out and paths are more than wide enough for runners to pass each other. I’ve also found that those runners still completing their first lap are very considerate and tend to keep to one side.

As with all parkruns there is a wide variety of finish times, with the speediest varying from around 16 to 18 minutes and the final runners finish in about 50 to 55 minutes. There are often a number of children taking part with their parents (or playing in the park) making Stewart parkrun a truly family parkrun!

Check out their Facebook and Twitter page for more information!

Have you ever done this parkrun?

What’s your favourite parkrun terrain to run on?

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