Carl Marston's parkrun tour: inaugural event at Snowden Field visited by Storm Hannah
PUBLISHED: 14:21 02 May 2019
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. This week he heads to the Snowden Field parkrun in South Lincolnshire
From north London to south Lincolnshire; from the hustle-and-bustle of Haringey to the wilds of the windswept Fens; and from the 'People's Palace' to a derelict abbey.
Such is the life of a parkrun tourist!
Having visited the Ally Pally parkrun the previous weekend, with Alexandra Palace as its backdrop and its chequered history of initially being burnt down within 16 days of its opening in 1873, I headed in the other direction in search of a more low-key experience to the north-east of Peterborough last Saturday morning.
My destination was Crowland, a small town in the South Holland district of Lincolnshire, and my specific target was the inaugural Snowden (not Snowdon!) Field parkrun.
Staged in the shadow of the market town's ruined medieval abbey, the Crowland Abbey, this event is a million miles away from the congestion of north London and the infamous Ally Pally.
I timed my visit to perfection, for this was the first-ever staging of the Snowden Field parkrun, the second time I had joined the celebrations of an inaugural event on this whistle-stop parkrun tour.
In general, travelling parkrunners are encouraged to steer clear of inaugural events, and instead visit a week or two later, to allow the organisers to get to grips with the smooth running of their new parkrun.
Thus, I had only visited one inaugural event – the first Littleport parkrun, also in the Fens but over the county border in Cambridgeshire, last June – before last weekend's trek along the A142 and A141, mostly spent behind tractors pulling heavily-laden trailers and a succession of lorries.
Ally Pally may have had more urban intrigue, with better views of the City of London, but Snowden Field had more in the line of agricultural machinery.
Held over three laps of Snowden Field, starting and finishing near the pavilion, you are never far away from the abbey.
The area was an island in the Fens at the time when a monk called Guthlac chose to take up residence as a hermit, in 701. So often the plight of hermits, a monastic community soon built up and the town grew around the abbey – the importance of the town waned after the dissolution of the monastery in 1539.
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Hopefully, the new parkrun will not suffer a similar fate.
The course is quick – dead flat and all on grass – so, blessed with some good weather, this is a place to chase a good time.
It was a family affair at the head of the field, flying junior Dylan Tomaselli covering the three laps in a swift 18mins 55secs, followed by over-40 veteran Duane Tomaselli in 19:37. Both are members of Nene Valley Harriers.
No one else ducked under 20 minutes, including myself.
Juniors dominated the leading females, led by teenager Katie Tasker (22:33), also of Nene Valley.
It was an inauspicious start to the morning, after I had negotiated all the tractors and lorries rumbling through the Fens, under grey skies. There was wind, there was rain, and the team of organisers were sheltered under a rather exposed gazebo, near the pavilion.
When I struggled out of the car, with sore back and aching limbs, I was approached by a dog walker who asked me the question – “what's happening here then?”
Clearly, the imminent first staging of the Snowden Field parkrun had not spread like wildfire throughout the town.
As it happened, local dog walkers shared the playing field with parkrunners in perfect harmony, while a few dogs swelled the numbers at the start-line and covered the 5K with ease.
To describe the build-up to last Saturday's event, I merely have to quote a few paragraphs from the news section of the official website:
'Given that parkrun prides itself on being an inclusive event at which absolutely everyone is welcome, it was unusual that Snowden Field parkrun No. 1 featured an attendee who was anything but welcome.
'Our unwelcome guest for the inaugural event was named Hannah and she was the storm which has been battering the UK over the last day or two, with 80mph winds and heavy rain.
' She arrived at Snowden Field ... a couple of hours before our set-up team. And she hadn't even brought her barcode.'
True, Storm Hannah did make her presence felt, but at least I remembered my barcode!