I had been meaning to try Pennington Flash for a while as it is the nearest parkrun to my Mum’s house and finally had my chance this weekend. Pennington Flash is a country park near Leigh in Lancashire, created many years ago from reclaimed mining land and now well established as a favourite for families and bird watchers alike.
Having parked in the car park by the lake, there is a 5 minute walk to start. Here I asked one of the friendly locals what the course was like and if it was, as I suspected, hilly. He told me that there were 2 hills – the first was short but steep enough “to get you puffing” whilst the second was a longer, gentle climb. When I said thanks and that it was good to know that IO could relax after the second hill, he replied “well you can on the last lap”. The course is entirely on gravel and compacted mud paths, with a lead in of about 400m before doing 3 laps of paths on the side of a hill. The first climb is short but I was more concerned about the down slope as the path was quite stony and I was watching where I put my feet. It was about this stage that I started to panic as I realised that I was in 4th place and, unused to being in such a position, decided that I must be going too fast. I don’t think that I eased off much but by the time I started the next uphill stretch, 3 other runners had passed me. From then on I didn’t overtake anybody and nobody overtook me, which in itself was a strange experience as I usually get left for dead in the closing stages at Newcastle.
Having finished the second climb, we were rewarded with nice views across the lake though I imagine this stretch could be quite exposed in winter. On the second lap I started to pass the back markers, many of whom were walking. On the third lap I was puffing by the top of the short climb and by now was starting to lap a lot of runners. In fact I was weaving in and out all the way around the third lap, something which I didn’t enjoy. Avoiding the slower runners also usually meant going through the puddles!
I came home in the hardly astounding time of 20:30 but in a staggeringly high 7th place out of 184 runners. Looking at the results online, I was struck by how few club runners there were in the field. This is probably testament to the strength of club running in the North East.
It is a nice park with a good course that has a bit of a cross-country feel, I just think it is a shame that the core of the course is 3 short loops. The terrain doesn’t lend itself to PBs, but it made a pleasant change and I will probably be back.