South Shields parkrun review

So I’m continuing on with the parkrun reviews (check out more reviews HERE). I’m very grateful for people having sent me reviews as there are obviously so many that I wouldn’t be able to get to (and would likely only visit once so wouldn’t have as thorough a view of it as someone who’s been more often). So thank you once again to Michelle for providing this great review of South Shields parkrun.

Photo credit: Facebook page

Location: South Shields parkrun takes place along the coast at The Leas, South Shields about 13 miles east of Newcastle and 8 miles north of Sunderland. You might have heard of South Shields before and have probably seen it on the TV as it’s where the Great North Run finishes! In fact, the last mile of South Shields parkrun is the same as the last mile of the Great North Run! It is slightly outside South Shields town centre but close to a park with play area and a short coastal walk from Souter Lighthouse (worth a visit!) in one direction and Ocean Beach Pleasure Park in the other.

Parking: There is plenty of free roadside parking available along the A183 Coast Road and further parking in the seafront car parks.

If you fancy taking public transport South Shields metro station is about 1 mile away (perfect warm up!) – just follow signs towards “The Coast” or “Seaside”. Numerous buses also run along the South Shields coast and are operated by Stagecoach.

Amenities: Toilets are available at the clubhouse inside Gypsies Green Stadium (close to the start and finish) and during summer months’ public toilets under the bandstand (a little closer to the start) are open.

Post parkrun coffee is at The Bamburgh which is on the Coast Road and almost opposite the finish. Alternatives on the coast itself include Sand Dancer which is opposite the start and just slightly further along Minchella & Co which do some of the best ice cream in the North East!

Photo credit: Facebook page

Course: I will admit now that the course has been reversed since I ran it! This means it is now overall uphill as compared to downhill!The start is on the seafront promenade outside the Sandancer pub and heads in a southerly direction. Depending upon the weather the first short stretch along the promenade can be covered in a good layer of sand! The course then joins the coastal path at a gate at the end of the promenade which it follows along the cliff tops until it turns slightly inland and you reach a tarmac path at Minchella & Co ice cream hut. It is a bit up and down but overall a gradual up!

Once you reach the ice cream hut you turn right onto the pavement along Coast Road for the final mile (and the Great North Run final mile). This mile is again slightly uphill making for a tough last mile! The finish itself is opposite the Bamburgh pub (notice a theme here :P).

Photo credit: Facebook page

The coastal path itself is a mix of gravel, rough ground and grassy paths which can be puddly when it’s been wet and is bumpy in places so watch your footing. Being a costal parkrun you are well and truly exposed to the elements so maybe one to visit on a sunny summers day!

Elevation: As mentioned about the reversal of the route means it is basically an uphill parkrun!You get some relief whilst along the coast path as it has short stints of up and down but the last mile is a slow, gradual uphill unfortunately!

Number of participants: South Shields is one of the North East’s slightly smaller parkruns with an average number of 130 runners but a record attendance of 329. The point to point run means there is no passing other parkrunners on laps to cheer each other on but the small field means no tripping over each other although you need to choose your moment to overtake other runners due to the rough nature of the coastal path.

As you would expect from any parkrun there is a wide range of finish times from just under 17 minutes at the fastest to around 55 minutes for the final runner so as always it’s one for everyone!

Thanks, Michelle! For more information, check out their Facebook page and Twitter account.

Please do send me any parkrun reviews and I’ll post them or if you have any comments or additional points on existing ones, let me know! The more information the better 🙂

Does your parkrun ever reverse its course?

What’s your favourite surface to run on?

Newcastle parkrun Review

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…

newcastle-parkrun-07-may-2016-1That’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!newcastle-parkrun-6-december-2014

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 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.

newcastle-parkrun-elevationOver 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?