By Jeremy Smith
I was staying at my parents in Burnley over the weekend and thought I would try out the Burnley parkrun which is now in its third year. The run takes place in the grounds of Towneley Hall, home to the Towneley family for over 500 years and now owned by the local council and a place that is very familiar to me because, as a child, I would often visit it at weekends.
The course consists of one small (triangular) lap and two longer (rectangular) laps – I’m not very keen on runs involving laps but it does have the attraction when it is run for the first time, that you know what to expect when you reach the final lap!
The first lap starts with a short run (maybe 300m) along the northern boundary of Towneley Hall and then a long drag up (what is known as) the Avenue towards the hall itself (and which would be the finish in two laps’ time) – by this time I found myself (rather surprisingly) in third position, maybe 10 seconds behind the leading two runners.
The run continues downhill along the side of a municipal golf course (where I used to play when I came home from university) and back to the start. It then continues along the northern boundary again, but instead of running up the Avenue, passes the playing fields, where I used to play cricket, along the eastern boundary of the park, over a small stream, past the changing rooms, and then up the Avenue again. At this stage I was still in third place, albeit about 25 seconds behind the two leaders.
I managed to maintain my position for the third lap (I know it’s a run not a race but when you’re in third place you treat it as a race!) – my best ever position (albeit that the competition is considerably less intense than at Newcastle parkrun) – and finished around 45 seconds behind the winner and 30 seconds behind the second-placed runner, both of whom ran for Clayton-le-Harriers, the club for whom the female runner with an age percentage of over 92% and whom I had finished immediately behind the previous week at Pollok parkrun (Glasgow) also ran! After my parkrun tour, it’s back to Newcastle and my 100th run on Saturday!