On the Run: Carl Marston is caught on the hop at the Colchester Castle Parkrun
PUBLISHED: 13:04 15 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:19 15 September 2017
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region, running various Parkruns.
I was one of 32 ‘first timers’ at the 233rd staging of the Colchester Castle Parkrun, staged on a sun-blessed last Saturday morning.
Like nearly all Parkruns, up and down the country, the Colchester event has grown hugely in terms of popularity. From relative humble beginnings, it now regularly attracts fields in excess of 300 and sometimes 400 runners.
Although a ‘first timer,’ who had never run the event, I was very familiar with the course, with all of its testing inclines in Castle Park – going all the way back to my schooldays, in the late 1970s/early 1980s, when I often used to watch legendary Essex cricketers such as Graham Gooch and Ken McEwan hit the ball to all corners of the boundary at the adjacent cricket ground during the week of the Colchester Cricket Festival.
But last weekend was the first time I had run a 5K in the park, in the shadow of Colchester Castle and within a stone’s throw of the town centre.
Although the route is along tarmac paths – unlike most Parkruns which feature tracks, trails, playing fields and sometimes stretches of woodland – this is not an easy course.
It has several ups and downs, and a few twists and turns, so it is a good challenge.
The event starts next to the bandstand, circles the castle and descends to East gate before dropping into the Lower Park via West gate. There is a section along the River Colne, before an about-turn and a climb back up into the Upper Park.
Lap two is slightly shorter, but with the same inclines.
Last Saturday’s Results
Ben Gibson, of Haywards Heath Harriers, was away and clear, and on his way to a personal best for the Colchester event of 17mins 15secs. He has actually run faster Parkruns, most notably at Worthing (16:22) and Preston Park in Brighton (16:22).
Jason Gunn, of Riverside Runners, was second with 17:41, just four seconds adrift of his PB for the course. All of his 48 Parkruns have been at Colchester.
Others to finish high up included Alex Gladley, of Colchester & Tendring. He was fourth (18:36), followed by the Colchester Harriers duo of John Fryer (18:38) and teenager Alexander Williamson (18:57). The latter clocked the same time as fellow 15-17 year-old runner Adam Wood, of Ipswich Harriers.
Young Milly Presland was the first female finisher. A member of Colchester Harriers, Presland (11-14 age group) was 19th overall in 20:45, not far off her Parkrun PB of 20:38. Over-40 veteran Lisa Kingdon was second in 21:40, followed by Hannah Gibson, of Haywards Heath Harriers (21:55).
It comes as no surprise that Adrian Mussett, a former international runner from Colchester Harriers, has the course record. This over-45 veteran, who is still a regular winner on the regional road and cross country circuit, clocked a best of 15mins 41secs back on August 22, 2015.
David Gibbon, of Southend AC, has the second quickest time (16:01), set on February 1, 2014, just one second quicker than Chelmsford AC’s Mark Woodley.
Billericay Striders’ Crispian Bloomfield (16:22) is fourth on the all-time list, one second faster than Colchester Harriers’ teenager Ramadan Osman.
The ladies’ course record has stood for more than three years, ever since Nicola Rogers, of Shaftsbury Barnet, registered a swift 18:22 in August, 2014.
Another Colchester Harrier, Sarah Stradling, is second on the list (18:32), while Colchester & Tendring’s Margaret Deasy is third best (18:34) as well as being an age group record. She is now an over-50 veteran.
A biggest field of 484 was assembled on May 20 of this year, for the 218th event.
I was caught on the hop, focusing my camera to take a picture of runners at the start, by the bandstand, when suddenly they were off!
No time to start my watch, no time to hitch up my long socks (to ward off calf strains), and no time to take that cracking picture.
But it was a fine experience.
Unlike at the recent Brandon event, I was not beaten by a one-and-a-half-year-old Beagle – mainly because dogs aren’t allowed in the Upper Park and so can’t ‘compete’ – and no runners pushing buggies came past me.
Time-wise, I have rediscovered my knack of getting slower (20:28) after temporarily bucking the trend at Ipswich the previous weekend.
Perhaps I need to work on my start?