Not a pork pie in sight at the Melton Mowbray parkrun

Runners contend with an uphill slog, after negotiating a wooden bridge and going under a railway arc

Runners contend with an uphill slog, after negotiating a wooden bridge and going under a railway arch . Picture: MELTON MOWBRAY PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGE - Credit: Archant

Athletics correspondent Carl Marston istravelling around the region (and beyond), running in different parkruns. This week he heads to Melton Mowbray

The tranquil setting of Melton County Park, the home of the weekly Melton Mowbray parkrun, with runn

The tranquil setting of Melton County Park, the home of the weekly Melton Mowbray parkrun, with runners in the distance. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Melton Mowbray, the home of pork pies and Stilton cheese, is a culinary treasure in the county of Leicestershire.

The town is home to the famous Melton Mowbray pork pie, and also one of the six homes of Stilton cheese.

I love pork pies, and I love strong blue cheese.

They are two good reasons to visit Melton Mowbray, but I also had a third and fourth reason – namely, the Melton Mowbray parkrun, and also the fact that the town is situated only 20 miles south-east of the city of Nottingham.

Runners near the finish of last Saturday's Melton Mowbray parkrun, held over 5K at Melton Country Pa

Runners near the finish of last Saturday's Melton Mowbray parkrun, held over 5K at Melton Country Park. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant


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I had to be in Nottingham that afternoon, to report on Colchester United’s League Two opener at Notts County’s Meadow Lane, beside the River Trent.

The Magpies are the oldest surviving Football League club in the world, but I digress.

- There are no holes in the Pocket parkrun

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Taking part in the Melton Mowbray parkrun, with its close association with pork pies and cheese, would give sustenance to this current parkrun tour.

It would also mean only a short, leisurely drive along the A606 up to Nottingham for the footballing festivities of later that day.

Sometimes, these parkrun visits almost seem planned! (they are, in fact, usually decided the night before, after glancing at a map).

The run-down

Last Saturday was the 190th Melton Mowbray parkrun, held in Melton Country Park, which is only a 10-minute amble from the town centre.

It’s a two-lap route, and after my recent outings over dead-flat courses at the likes of Swaffham, Littleport, Bishop’s Stortford and St Neots, and along the promenades at Felixstowe and Hastings, it gave me a rude awakening – there was a short climb to negotiate!

True, this 5K test did begin with a fast downhill section from the Visitors Centre to the lake, across a wooden bridge and then under a disused railway arch. Having not studied the route in any detail, I began dreaming of recording a season’s best (still modest) time.

- parkrun tour heads to Castle Park

But then the trail path shot uphill, only for a distance of about 70 metres, but it was enough to remind my legs that they had spent the previous couple of hours cooped up in the Archant pool car.

That short section took the sting out of me, although it was followed by a downhill sweep around some allotments, onto some playing fields and over another wooden bridge back to the lake, to start lap two.

This was no mundane route around schools fields – it had a little to offer for everyone.

Saturday’s results

Mark Parker, of Ivanhoe Runners, a club based in nearby Ashby-de-la-Zouch, led home a field of 144 in 18mins 37secs. It was a personal best for the course.

Nicola Taylor, of the wonderfully named Stilton Striders, was the first female finisher in 23:18, some way off her PB of 21:31.

The usual parkrun mix of young, not-so-young, fairly old, and very old, was reflected in Zoe Nicholls, a member of the 11-14 year-old age bracket, finishing second female in 23:50.

Records

The first event, held on January 10, 2015, attracted a bumper field of 262, and that remains the biggest entry to date.

Thomas Stevens, of Cambridge & Coleridge, holds the course best of 16:26, set at the 156th event last December.

The ladies’ course record has been around a lot longer, Birchfield Harriers’ Chloe Richardson posting a rapid 18:24 at event No. 15 in April, 2015.

Carl’s experience

Although driving 96 miles to reach my destination, and having another five hours to cover only a mere 20 miles to Nottingham, I’m glad I persevered up the A1 to visit Melton Country Park.

My dog, Oscar, is nursing a broken paw at the moment, which has required most of the household to sleep downstairs with him in recent weeks, so it wasn’t much of an effort to rise from the “comforts” of my lounge floor to hit the road before 7am.

- Fast times and great views at Felixstowe parkrun

The run was good. Thanks to the warm weather, I again managed to dip under 20 minutes, but the closest I got to a Melton Mowbray pork pie or some strong-scented cheese was finishing just behind the fifth-placed runner, who happened to be a member of Stilton Striders.

But at least I can say that, just over 10 years since the European Union awarded Melton Mowbray pork pie the much sought-after ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ status, I successfully completed the town’s parkrun!

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