What goes down…
February 8, 2014
Stuart and I decided that as we were in Cornwall today and a parkrun has finally started, we ought to go and try it out. It’s at Lanhydrock, a lovely National Trust property that is about 40 miles away from where my mum lives and not very far at all from Eden Project.
We had to get up early and the weather here has been horrendous, so I wasn’t really looking forward to the run, but at 7:30am, there wasn’t much traffic on the road, so it was an easy drive. We arrived just after 8am, so there weren’t many people around. Initially, I had thought that I might be able to do a few kms before the run and a few kms after the run and magically it would turn into 13 miles of marathon training (or I would manage to do about 10km and could do the other 10-12km later on today), but we realised on arrival that we wanted to find the toilets!
It was quite a long walk from the car park to Lanhydrock House and it was quite chilly. We passed the Run Director on the way down and said hello.
Lanhydrock is a beautiful house, although somewhat compact in comparison with some of the grander National Trust properties. I was proud to see the Cornish flag flying:
We then headed back up towards the start where a few people had started to gather. We’ve been to fairly small parkruns before and enjoy the local atmosphere, but as this was only the 4th event, there hasn’t really been enough time for the community atmosphere to form. Lanhydrock parkrun isn’t associated with any particular running club (no club has had more than 16 runners there so far) and a lot of the runners were unaffiliated.
On our back to the start, we passed the finish funnel, and I started to wonder about what the route would be like. Would we have to run back up the hill to the finish? …and would we then have to walk even further up the hill to the start where I was going to leave my bag with money for refreshments?
Stuart and I decided to do a little warm up jog as it was still quite cold and breezy and there wasn’t a lot of shelter. We ran a few hundred metres down a path and then back. The Run Director then started her briefing, but it was difficult to hear as some people were enjoying a raucous conversation just behind us. We were warned that the only signs on the course were 3-2-1 Run England marker posts and I assumed that it was a one lap course. There was also mention of a fallen tree and a part of the course where we would get our feet wet… and then it started to rain a little…
We headed off down the path towards the manor house and then turned left through a gateway, where we encountered a cobbled path. It turned uphill and I couldn’t see how far up we had to run, so I decided not to push too hard. Stu had decided to run with me. We hadn’t gone far when the path started sloping downwards again. Although the rain had stopped, it was very slippery with a lot of mud and loose stones, as well as there being quite a few turns. I enjoy running downhill, but as the title of this post alludes, I kept reminding myself that in a circular run route, what goes down, must come back up!
After about 1.5km we came across a fallen tree that we skirted around. It wasn’t very large, but I assumed that it was what we had been warned about. We continued on and saw the first runner go past, at great speed. Then at 2km, we reached an enormous tree that had been felled by the horrendous weather. It makes me so sad to see something like that as I wonder how many trees that are saplings now will live to such a great age. At this point, I was feeling rather warm, so I removed my gloves and jacket whilst running.
At about 2.5km, Stu and I arrived at the ‘water feature’. I was expecting a rather large puddle, but was totally unprepared for having to run in a river for about 500m. It was quite cold, but my feet were feeling warm, thanks to my lovely Salomon Speedcross shoes.
We came out of the water and onto the path where we had seen the first placed runner earlier. I knew that as we were nearly 3km into the run then it was going to be a couple of kilometres of uphill running. Ahead, I could see some people were walking and I did wonder whether it would be faster, but I didn’t want to let myself down, so I pushed on. We passed a cheery marshal by another fallen tree and then crossed a field. At times, there are sheep and cows on the course, but we were fortunate enough not to encounter any today. Finally, Stu pointed out that we were on the path where we had done a warm up earlier – yes – we were going to have a downhill finish.
The final 200m was downhill all the way. Stu ran ahead to pick up my shoebag and then we charged down the hill to the finish. I finished in 32:45, which is one of my slowest runs ever, but I really enjoyed it. I was 37th out of 56 runners and was 12th out of 22 female runners. I was also first in my age category (out of two!) The first finisher managed to complete it in 17:52, which is a new course record.
After we finished running, Stu and I stopped to cheer on some of the other runners, as well as chatting to some of the volunteers, before heading back down to the house for some refreshments.
Part of me was tempted to look around the house, as it’s about 20 years since I was last here, but I also wanted to warm up and have a drink.
I had thought about offering to help with the kit, but looking back, I could see the team had it covered…
As I walked into the courtyard, the sun came out, which helped to show off the beautifully manicured garden. Then the parkrun volunteer team arrived. I am so jealous of the little truck to carry their kit about – it would be fab if we could have one in Southampton!
I think that if I had seen the course profile before we did the run, then I may not have been brave enough to get out of bed. It definitely felt as challenging as any of the cross country races that I’ve done, even if it was shorter than most of them.
In short, I would describe it as 2.5km of steep, twisty, turny, slippery, rocky downhill trails, followed by 500m of running IN a river and then 1.98m of uphill slog, with the last 2oom being a lovely downhill run. It is the toughest parkrun that I have ever done, even when compared with Alice Holt!