On the run: a jaunt through the woods at Linford Wood parkrun
PUBLISHED: 17:18 19 January 2018
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond!), running in different parkruns. This week he tackles Linford Wood parkrun
Milton Keynes, designated a ‘new town’ in the 1960s, has loads of grid roads, roundabouts, underpasses, footpaths and cycle routes, plus warehouses galore.
It is also home to the UK headquarters of several giant companies, like Red Bull Racing, Mercedes-Benz, Network Rail and even Dominio’s Pizza.
But it also has a slightly less well-known claim to fame – it hosts a couple of parkruns!
This Saturday sees the eighth anniversary of the Milton Keynes parkrun, established in January, 2010, where regular fields of 500 and sometimes 600-plus congregate every Saturday at Willen Lake.
But just 1.7 miles away, the smaller of Milton Keynes’ two parkruns, the ‘younger brother’ of the family, takes place at Linford Wood.
Always being a fan of the ‘less fancied’ underdog (well, I do report on Colchester United FC every week!), I headed off to run the 82nd Linford Wood parkrun last Saturday, in Milton Keynes, north Buckinghamshire, before heading down into South Buckinghamshire to catch up with the aforementioned Colchester United at Wycombe Wanderers.
The first was a success; the second not so much so.
The Linford Wood parkrun is a single lap course, mainly along tarmac surfaces and gravel paths through Bradwell Common and Linford Wood.
It is relatively flat, but is not the quickest of courses – I was nearly a minute down on my time from the Norwich parkrun the previous weekend when, although granted I was seven days younger, I was not feeling that much better.
There are several underpasses to negotiate, with testing little slopes to break the rhythm, and it is also a very twisty last kilometre through the woods, along the so-called ‘wobbly path.’ (very aptly-named).
Elliot Hind, of Leighton Buzzard AC, is a regular ‘winner’ at this event, and he was first home again in 18mins 58secs last weekend, although that was some way off his personal best of 16:24. It was his 143rd parkrun.
Ed Vout, another to regularly lead home the field in Lindford Wood, was second in 19:11, at his 141st parkrun, while Rachel Emery, of Prestwich AC, was first lady in 22:52.
I have come across the name of Paul Martelletti at more than one parkrun, during my current mini-tour. In fact, he is a name that keeps propping up all over the place.
When I did a ‘double header’ in East London, on New Years Day, at the Wanstead Flats and Valentines parkruns, Martelletti was the man who held both the course records.
And the New Zealander, I noted, can also the boast the fastest time over the Linford Wood course, thanks to a scorching time of 15:13 at the 75th event, which was held only last month.
Elle Roche’s time of 18:32, set back on September 10, 2016 at the ninth meeting, remains the quickest by a female.
The record field stands at 449 from the New Year’s Day event of this year – numbers are usually between 150 and 250, unless the nearby Milton Keynes parkrun is not being held, in which case numbers tend to shoot up.
I had only ever run once at Milton Keynes, back in the depths of time at a South of England Road Relays event, long before parkruns were even thought about.
But it’s a fantastic place to run.
It’s easy to get to, having been deliberately sited equidistant from London, Birmingham, Leicester, Cambridge and Oxford, and is easy to find your way around, with the clearly marked grid roads and those never-ending roundabout junctions.
The ‘Redways’ –basically 125 miles of cycle and pedestrian routes in and around Milton Keynes – are a godsend for runners, walkers and cyclists, and there are vast stretches of parkland plus several big lakes.
The Linford Wood parkrun is worth a visit.
A good field of 182 rolled up last Saturday, all in good spirits, and although my time of 20:40 had its usual modest ring to it, I was not overtaken by a dog or a buggy this week.
And, that, in my book, represents a success.
What was not such a success also took place in Buckinghamshire, a few hours later - Colchester United were thumped 3-1 at Wycombe.
Well, you can’t have everything”!