On the Run: 250th anniversary of the Maldon Prom parkrun

The early morning scene overlooking the River Blackwater before last Saturday's Maldon Prom parkrun.

The early morning scene overlooking the River Blackwater before last Saturday's Maldon Prom parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond!), running in different parkruns. This week he heads to Maldon Prom

Promenade Park is the ideal setting for the Maldon parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Promenade Park is the ideal setting for the Maldon parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

My first visit to the Maldon Prom parkrun, down by the Blackwater Estuary, coincided with the 250th anniversary of the event – as you can see, my parkrun itinerary is not just thrown together on a whim!

A combination of this landmark anniversary, and some early morning sunshine, ensured a record field for event No. 250 last Saturday.

As always, despite my 50-mile trek from Bury St Edmunds, there were many other participants who had come from much further afield, including Weymouth, on the Dorset coast, and Newtown in Powys, Wales.

We all congregated at the amphitheatre in Promenade Park, a delightful setting overlooking the River Blackwater.

Runners, joggers and walkers congregate around the amphitheatre before the start of last Saturday's

Runners, joggers and walkers congregate around the amphitheatre before the start of last Saturday's Maldon Prom parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant


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That’s ‘all’ 374 of us runners, joggers and walkers, plus 23 volunteers, a record surpassing the previous best of 366 who had turned up to both the 200th anniversary event in May, 2017, and also the 247th event just three weeks ago on April 21, 2018.

The run-down

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‘The Prom,’ as the locals call it, is over 100 years old – the Edwardian Promenade was officially opened in 1895.

The statue of Byrhtnoth, at the head of the promontory overlooking the River Blackwater. Runners do

The statue of Byrhtnoth, at the head of the promontory overlooking the River Blackwater. Runners do a U-turn just before they reach this landmark. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Promenade Park boasts several lakes, including a wildlife lake, model boating lake and a Splash Park, plus there are cafes, beach huts and the aforementioned amphitheatre.

The 5K course is a two-lap affair, starting with a loop of the wildlife lake and a section skirting the line of cafes before plunging into a wooded area, where there are some tree roots to be avoided.

From the shade of the trees, the route than heads out on the promontory towards the very striking statue of Byrhtnoth – a memorial to the Earl of Byrhtnoth, who died at the Battle of Maldon in 991 after leading his Anglo-Saxon forces against the Vikings.

Runners in the foreground and background make their way around the two-lap course at the Maldon Prom

Runners in the foreground and background make their way around the two-lap course at the Maldon Prom parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

- On the run: to Frimley Green, but not for darts

The personal ‘battle’ for modern-day parkrunners is to do a U-turn around the last bench, just before the Byrhtnoth statue, and head back along the sea-wall to the wildlife lake to begin lap two.

In short, it’s an excellent parkrun course, one of the best and the quickest I have yet to experience – although there are still about 500 parkrun venues I have yet to visit!

Runners alongside the River Blackwater at last Saturday's 250th staging on the Maldon Prom parkrun

Runners alongside the River Blackwater at last Saturday's 250th staging on the Maldon Prom parkrun - Credit: Archant

Last Saturday’s results

Two teenagers were away and clear, although both are ‘veterans’ when it comes to parkruns.

Henry (Harry) Clarke, a member of Chelmsford AC, led home the record field in a time of 18mins 30secs. Competing in the 15-17 year-old age group, this was his 77th parkrun, with a Maldon personal best of 17:48.

Fellow youngster Aaron Glover celebrated a PB of 19:16 in second, while Tony Faulkner notched his 116th parkrun, and 111th at Maldon Prom, with 19:33 in third.

- On the run: mad dash from Lee Valley to Oak Hill parkrun

Nicola Bredin, a first-time visitor to Maldon, was the first female finisher in 19:52. She is a member of Benfleet RC.

Closer to home, Colchester Harriers’ Heidi Steele was second in 21:07, with Springfield Striders’ Kerry Marsh third in 23:54.

Records

The first event, held back on August 31, 2013, attracted a field of 144 runners and 14 volunteers.

Malcolm Muir, of Ilford AC, was first home that summer’s day in 17:05, with Springfield Striders’ Nikki Brockbank first lady (19:13).

The 150th anniversary event, of June 25, 2016, was the first to feature a field of more than 300 (327 finishers).

Scott Cousins has the accolade of posting the quickest time to date, on the Maldon Prom course. The Southend-based runner clocked 15:48 back in March, 2016.

Dartford Harriers’ Sam Coombes is second quickest with his 15:58 from November, 2015.

In all, a dozen men have eclipsed the 17-minute mark, including Colchester Harriers’ teenager, Ramadan Osman, who is No. 11 on the list with 16:68 from early 2016.

Likewise, 18 women have beaten 20 minutes, led by Elizabeth Davies. The Springfield Strider notched a swift 17:49 in June, 2016.

Aiko Henington, of Colchester Harriers, is second with her 18:54 from November of last year, while Brockbank has improved on her winning time from the inaugural event with 18:59 (twice).

Carl’s Experience

As is true to form, I arrived early but was still taking pictures of the start when, ironically, the event got under-away.

Still, a conservative start usually means a strong finish, and that proved to be the case.

I don’t know whether I was inspired by the statue of Byrhtnoth, and his bravery in battle, or benefiting from a new pair of shorts (my ill-fitting ones are stashed away at the back of the wardrobe), but I actually ran under 20 minutes.

Makes a change.

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