Carl Marston's On the Run parkrun tour: Rickmansworth parkrun
PUBLISHED: 11:35 15 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:35 15 March 2019
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. This week he heads to the Rickmansworth parkrun
If you like water, then you’ll like the Rickmansworth parkrun.
The small town of Rickmansworth (sometimes nicknamed ‘Ricky’), in the south-west corner of Hertfordshire, is at the confluence of three rivers – Colne, Chess and Gade (the latter I came across at the Gadebridge parkrun earlier in the year) – with the Grand Union Canal to the south.
The weekly parkrun, appropriately, takes place at Rickmansworth Aquadrome, which is spread over 100 acres of a nature reserve. There are two big lakes – Batchworth Lake and Bury Lake – in addition to the River Colne bordering the north, and the Grand Union Canal to the east and south.
I could have gone fishing, canoeing, sailing, water-skiing, bird-watching …. but it was 9am on a Saturday morning, which could mean only one thing – it was time for parkrunning.
I have generally enjoyed my jaunts into Hertfordshire on this parkrun tour.
Over the last year or so, I have encountered deep snow at the Panshanger parkrun in Hertford, slippery ice at the Ellenbrooks parkrun in Hatfield, mud at the Barclay parkrun in Hoddesdon, and a lot of rain at the Stevenage parkrun.
It was the turn of a blustery wind to greet me at last Saturday’s Rickmansworth parkrun, easily accessible within the perimeter of the M25 and just five miles from Watford.
The start is near The Café, close to the lakes, which are basically flooded gravel pits. Apparently, and I know that I digress here, some of the gravel from this area was used to build the old Wembley Stadium in 1923.
The parkrun course is a little gem – fast and flat, just the job.
It is a two-lapper, initially following the edge of Bury Lake and then turning onto a trail path running alongside the River Colne before looping back along Batchworth Lake to start lap two.
Not a hill, or even a shallow gradient, in sight.
Last Saturday’s results
Teenager Oliver Howells led home a big field of 456 runners, joggers and walkers in a time of 18mins 05secs, some way adrift of his personal best of 17:35. Chris Jacobs was a distant second in 18:42.
Fellow teenager Jane Williamson, a member of Chiltern Harriers, was the first female finisher in 20:49, just seven seconds slower than her PB.
The inaugural event was held on March 4, 2017, when 456 turned up.
And at last Saturday’s 106th event – the previous weekend was the second anniversary – ironically 456 also toed the start-line, though not the same 456, obviously.
In fact, I was one of 55 ‘Ricky’ parkrun first-timers.
The record field of 605 joined in the celebrations of the 100th event, just six weeks earlier on January 10.
Thomas Beedell, of Woodford Green, holds the course best, thanks to his 15:57 in early November, 2017.
I’d also like to mention James Dunn, who has the second quickest time (16:11) at ‘Ricky,’ solely because of his club – Hunters Bog Trotters.
I know all about the gloriously-named Hunters Bog Trotters (HBT) from my four years at Edinburgh University back in the 1980s, and their famed drinking as well as athletic exploits.
The club takes its name from Hunters Bog, a flat marshy area of Holyrood Park between Arthurs Seat and the Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh, a place I used to run around most days,
There were, and still are, two main club rules:
No. 1, no elitism. No. 2, no lager drinkers!
To this day, I can recognise a member of Hunters Bog Trotters by their distinctive brown vests, and their fondness for beer.
It is perhaps no coincidence that HBT is also an acronym for Home Brew Talk!
There were no brown-vested Hunters Bog Trotters in evidence last Saturday morning – for the record, I wore a pale green vest.
I haven’t been able to train at all during the week in recent months, due to niggles, and have confined myself just to this weekly 5K!
So to duck under 21 minutes for the first time since last September (pre-Great East Run) was a personal high. I will therefore raise a glass, but not filled with lager of course! Hunters Bog Trotters would not approve.