Now that I’ve had to time to recover after my hilly excursions over the past weekend, here’s a bit about my Gibside double. It started with the the inaugural Gibside parkrun on Saturday. I’d never been to this beautiful National Trust property until I started doing the Great Run Local 5k there a month ago. I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing. It’s not only a great place to run around but the Derwent Walk along the Derwent River back to Newcastle is a stunning route for a long Sunday run; a nice change from my usual monotonous trips to the coast along the motorway.
Inaugural parkruns usually get a huge turnout and Gibside would be no different. 270 people, including a lot of regulars from all the Tyne & Wear parkruns, turned up on a gorgeous sunny day when Newcastle had 450! Having done the GRL, which is a lot easier, I knew the out and back course would be hilly but this is just something else! The first two kilometres are a steady climb and once the path flattens out you think the pain is over but no, it dips and rises again to the turnaround point. Once you’ve turned around, it’s another kilometre of misery before you can let loose on the downhill to the finish. Barnsley parkrun is considered to be one of the toughest in the country but someone from there who has done both reckons Gibside is even worse. The people at the Potting Shed cafe opened early and did a fanstastic job of serving us with hot drink and delicious cake but I don’t think they were expecting the numbers that showed up!
Sunday was a complete contrast; it was a lot milder but overcast and nineteen people showed up for the GRL. Brendan Foster must be seething. I was still sore after the parkrun and run back to town so I wanted to take it easy but couldn’t help myself once we set off. I had “won” the previous couple of runs here so it would have been nice to keep the streak going but I had no hope of keeping up with a friend from Tyne Bridge Harriers so I had to settle for second. Mungai was not far behind in third on his first run there and Robert “won” the 2k in a reasonable time considering he was running there and back! Here’s their attempt at matching parkrun’s group photo:
Now, being a parkrun fanatic, I would definitely recommend the Gibside parkrun over the GRL not least because I think it’s pretty pathetic of Brendan Foster to try and compete with parkrun. However, having two runs every weekend in such a spectacular location is always a good thing and I wish them both the best of luck. I’ll still be doing the GRL just because it’s ideal for a long Sunday run.
You can find more of Eric Hall’s amazing photos on the Gibside parkrun Facebook page. He’s the regular photographer at Riverside parkrun.