On the run: a birthday run at Rutland Water parkrun

The distinctive Normanton Church, jutting out into the reservoir, near the start of the weekly Rutla

The distinctive Normanton Church, jutting out into the reservoir, near the start of the weekly Rutland Water parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

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

Some of the younger runners nearing the finish of last Saturday's Rutland Water parkrun, staged by t

Some of the younger runners nearing the finish of last Saturday's Rutland Water parkrun, staged by the edge of the reservoir. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Like around four-fifths of the total number of parkruns in the UK, the Rutland Water parkrun had succumbed to the ‘East from the Beast’ and been cancelled last Saturday week.

But there were only a handful of call-offs last weekend as parkruns across the country returned with a vengeance, including four new ones boosting the tally to 510 – Haverhill (Suffolk), Witney (Oxfordshire), South Woodham Ferrers (Essex) and Hogmoor Inclosure (Hampshire) .

Rutland Water, the largest reservoir (by surface area) in England, and just a stone’s throw from the A1 (well, about five miles), was well placed on my journey up to Nottinghamshire for another football match, this time at Mansfield.

It boasts one of the fastest 5K parkrun courses, basically an out-and-back route on the edge of the reservoir and along a dam.

A man and his dog in action at last weekend's Rutland Water parkrun, which atttracted a field of 126

A man and his dog in action at last weekend's Rutland Water parkrun, which atttracted a field of 126. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

I liked the sound of that, no hills, no twists-and-turns, no mud, and no snow.

The run-down

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This has to be one of the most scenic parkruns in the country, a 2.5km stretch along a good tarmac path along the reservoir’s south shore edge, starting from near the picturesque Normanton Church and heading out to two-thirds of the way across the dam.

Then it’s a 360 degrees turn around a strategically placed cone on the dam, and a swift 2.5km return to the finish, back near the church.

What’s not to like?

Normanton (St Matthew’s) Church, which juts out into the reservoir, is intriguing. The building was earmarked to be demolished, when the reservoir was constructed in the 1970s, but was saved by an embankment being built around it, to prevent flooding.

- On the run: braving snow and ice at Panshanger parkrun

The actual reservoir, which was officially opened in 1976, is a paradise for runners and walkers, with its 23-mile perimeter track, as well as fishermen and sailors.

Runners and fishermen were in abundance last Saturday, as I toed the line for the 118th staging of the Rutland Water parkrun.

The early morning rain had cleared, I was in a good mood on what was my 52nd birthday, and I was confident of not being beaten by a dog, for a change!.

Last Saturday’s results

Stamford Striders filled three of the first six runners home, led by Mark Popple, who stopped the clock at 17mins 27secs, just five seconds off his PB of 17:22.

Teenager Owen Wilkinson was second (18:38), and over-45 veteran Neil Martin, another Stamford club member, was third in 18:52.

Club-mate Sarah Sharp was the first female finisher in 22:28, on a morning when 216 runners, joggers and walkers mastered the 5K route.

Records

Two talented athletes, with strong Suffolk roots, are among those clocking the fastest times at Rutland Water.

Former-Woodbridge based marathon stalwart, Aaron Scott, a winner of the Woodbridge 10K on four previous occasions, has the record thanks to a cracking 15:34 in January, 2017.

Scott ran first-claim for the Shufflers until 2007, and now runs for Lincoln Wellington and Nene Valley Harriers, after a long stint with Notts AC. He has a fine marathon best of 2:17:46 from last year’s London Marathon.

- On the run: Beast from the East at Mersea Island parkrun

Meanwhile, former Suffolk-based Steve Robinson, who used to run for Saint Edmund Pacers, registered the seventh fastest time of 16:15 back in April, 2016. Robinson runs for Peterborough AC these days.

Looking down the list of quickest men, others with local connections include Thetford AC’s Kevin Vaughan (137th with 18:37) and Colchester Harriers’ Martyn Clarke (182nd with 19:05). Remarkably, Clarke has now run 188 parkruns, and 132 different ones, a notable achievement.

Fourteen ladies have eclipsed 20 minutes, led by Anne Holyland, of Wreake Runners, with 18:07 from October, 2016.

Carl’s experience

The early morning rain cleared and a watery sun appeared, the perfect way to celebrate what was my 52nd birthday.

The only obstacles were a few puddles, and a familiar tight Abductor muscle.

There were no super-quick canine entrants, and so I was never in danger of being shown a clean pair of heels by a dog (with owner in toe), unlike the previous weekend’s Panshanger event when I was positively trounced.

The Abductor (right leg) played up during the return leg (no pun intended) but I sneaked under 22 minutes by a couple of seconds.

The dubious delights of Mansfield then beckoned.

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