On the Run: Carl Marston tackles the Kesgrave Parkrun

Runners taking part in last Saturday's Kesgrave Parkrun, under clear cloudless skies

Runners taking part in last Saturday's Kesgrave Parkrun, under clear cloudless skies - Credit: Archant

Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond!), running in different Parkruns.

You will struggle to find a faster course, on the Parkrun circuit, than the one starting from the Millennium Field in Kesgrave.

The Great Cornard Parkrun is flat and quick,, and I recall marvelling at the simplicity of the there-and-back course on Hackney Marshes, near the Olympic Stadium, which was obviously as flat as a pancake.

But the Kesgrave Parkrun takes some beating, an ideal way to blow away the cob-webs on a Saturday morning.


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Last weekend was the 164th staging of the Kesgrave Parkrun, which has come a long way since a field of 164 congregated outside the Millennium Jubilee Hall for the inaugural event on September 20, 2014.

In fact, fields have rarely dipped under 300 throughout this year, and 337 enjoyed the spectacular autumnal sunshine last Saturday.

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The route begins with two laps of a playing field, before following a straight line along grass paths past a school, doing an about-turn and returning the same way before finishing with a short loop in Dobbs Woods, near the finish.

Saturday’s Results

Teenagers dominated at the front of the field.

Thomas Abbott, of Ipswich Harriers, was first home in 17mins 47secs, just two days after finishing third in the senior boys’ race at the Suffolk Schools Area Cross Country Championships, staged at Royal Hospital School, Holbrook. A pupil at Northgate, Abbott has a personal best of 16:42 at Kesgrave.

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Runner-up Freddy Richardson, like Abbott, is in the 15-17 year-old age group. A member of Colchester & Tendring AC, Richardson posted a PB of 17:59.

Ipswich JAFFA’s Tom Wake, a senior runner, was third in 18:12, which was also a PB, a fine way to mark his 89th Parkrun.

Jayne Chappels celebrated her 100th Kesgrave Parkrun by finishing first lady in 21:27. Katie Payne (21:50) and Hannah Stephenson (21:54) were second and third female finishers respectively.


Four runners have clocked sub-16 minute times, and in fact record holder Kieran Clements has covered the 5K distance nearly a minute quicker than anyone else.

One of the best athletes in the country during his schooldays, Clements ran for Great Britain and rattled up many top-three finishes in regional and national competitions.

In 2011, he was crowned English National champion at Alton Towers, in addition to winning the prestigious English Schools title in Nottingham and the South of England Championships on Parliament Hill, London.

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A year later, Clements, running for Ipswich Harriers, rattled up second places at the South of England (Brighton), English Schools (Ilton) and at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country.

Most notably of all, he finished third in the junior men’s race at the European Cross Country Championships, held in Budapest.

Clements has since spent four years at Iona College in New York, but closer to home he clocked a scorching 14:34 at the 151st staging of the Kesgrave Parkrun on July 15 of this year.

Andrew Rooke, a regular winner on the county circuit, had previously held the course record of 15:26, set at the start of this summer on May 6.

Tom Fairbrother, a Communications Executive at Parkrun (in London), registered 15:56 in July, 2015, while Bradley Wattleworth ran 15:57 back in September, 2014. Wattleworth was a talented Ipswich Harrier before going on to Birmingham University. He now competes for Woodford Green.

A total of 23 women have ducked under 20 minutes at Kesgrave. Among them are the Hadleigh Hares duo of Elisa Bostick (third fastest with 18:35) and Victoria Kenny, Ipswich Harriers’ Alice Goodwin, JAFFA’s Laura Thomas and Colchester Harriers’ Laura Shewbridge.

Carl’s Experience

Three weeks earlier, I had run the March Parkrun on a mission to collect a chest of drawers for my stepson Jack, at nearby Littleport. I failed in that mission.

Ironically, I hit the jackpot at Kesgrave the following weekend, in terms of a good piece of furniture, but felt too ill to run the nearby Parkrun.

I wasn’t feeling too chipper last Saturday, if I’m being honest, but there are no hills to catch you out at Kesgrave. I loved the course, finished just a few seconds the wrong side of 20 minutes, but will return another day, I’m sure.

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