Carl Marston's parkrun tour: visit to Lincoln, but not the prison
PUBLISHED: 10:27 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:27 09 May 2019
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. This week he heads to Lincoln
On one of my previous visits to Lincoln, my wife Helen and I had 'spent time' - as opposed to 'doing time' - at the old prison, within the castle, where the 'Separate System' of isolating prisoners was practised.
We sat in individual booths in the prison chapel (separately, of course), just wide enough to squeeze into, and recalled the 'good old days' (tongue-in-cheek) when the castle used to host public hangings
I was not in Lincoln last weekend to attend a public hanging - that practise has fortunately died out - or to sit in isolation in a cold chapel, within a Victorian prison, although in truth Colchester United did murder Lincoln City (3-0) in their final football match of the season that afternoon.
Instead, I was back in Lincoln for the latest stop-off on this parkrun tour, prompted by the aforementioned League Two contest at Sincil Bank.
It was not as windy as the previous weekend's Snowden Field parkrun in South Lincolnshire, when we were buffeted by the tail end of Storm Hannah.
But there was still a chilly breeze to contend with along a couple of sections of a three-lap course, within the confines of Boultham Park, in the south-west of Lincoln.
That said, it is a route conducive to fast times, with the majority of the 5K distance on flat, tarmac paths following the perimeter of the park, around a lake and over a small wooden bridge to the start-finish area by the bandstand.
The only exception is a small stint through the woods, when the route narrows and can be a bit bumpy. But that's no reason to grumble.
Last Saturday's results
The second biggest field ever assembled for last Saturday's event, with 593 of us congregating by the bandstand, near the start - the record field remains the 604 who turned up five weeks earlier for Event No. 268 on March 30.
Tom Marshall, of Lincoln Wellington, soon opened up a big gap over the three-lap challenge, posting a time of 16mins 59secs.
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This was 11 seconds slower than his Lincoln personal best of 16:48, but still brought him home more 85 seconds ahead of runner-up Lewis Richards (18:24).
Most of Marshall's 60 parkruns have been recorded at Newark, although he has visited the Colchester Castle parkrun, finishing a runner-up before Christmas, 2017.
There was a strong run from Sophie Wallis, who was the first female finisher in a swift 19:33.
Matthew Bowser holds the course best, a very impressive 14mins 54secs which he posted five years ago, at Event No, 26 in May, 2014.
Bowser has made eight appearances, and not surprisingly has won on all eight occasions.
There is a familiar name - at least to me, and no doubt many other veteran runners in Suffolk - at No. 26 in the all-time list.
Les Ball, a former club-mate of mine at Saint Edmund Pacers, is now a long-standing member of Lincoln Wellington, and still clocking very good times as an over-50 veteran.
Ball has a best for the course of 16:33, which he set at Event No. 4 in December, 2013. In fact, Ball also has the distinction of finishing first at the inaugural event, when he clocked 16:55 on November 16, 2013.
The female course best is held by another member of Lincoln Wellington, Abbie Donnelly, who blasted around the three laps in 16:59 last June.
A total of 46 women have beaten 20 minutes - a bigger total than at most parkruns I have so far visited - and one of these is Ipswich JAFFA's Laura Thomas, who ran 19:42, just over five years ago (Thomas clocked a fine 2:52:40 at the recent London Marathon).
There was a traditional kick-off time of 3pm for Colchester United's League Two clash at Lincoln City, and Sincil Bank, the home of the Imps, was less than two miles from Boultham Park.
That meant I was in no rush to cover the five kilometres of the parkrun - I had a full six hours to complete the event and make my way to the football ground.
As it happened, I had one of my 'better' runs. My time of 20:36 was my 'fastest' for a while, so I had time to amble up the appropriately-named 'Steep Hill' to the cathedral and adjacent castle, and also grab a coffee, before the footy.
But I steered clear of the prison!