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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

On the run: flat out at the Boston parkrun

PUBLISHED: 16:10 28 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:10 28 April 2018

The River Witham, which is the back-drop for the weekly Boston parkrun in Lincolnshire. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The River Witham, which is the back-drop for the weekly Boston parkrun in Lincolnshire. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Archant

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

The welcome sign for Witham Way Country Park, the venue of the weekly Boston parkrun.The welcome sign for Witham Way Country Park, the venue of the weekly Boston parkrun.

I have still not run the Boston Marathon, in the U.S, the world’s oldest annual marathon, but at least I can now say that I have taken part in the Boston parkrun, UK.

I know it’s a poor second, or even third, but you have to start somewhere.

The 122nd staging of the Boston Marathon, in New England, took place on Monday, April 16, held over the traditional 26.2 miles between Hopkinton and Copley Square.

First held back in 1897, the latest event attracted a bumper entry of 30,000.

Runners taking part in last Saturday's Boston parkrun, close to the River Witham. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners taking part in last Saturday's Boston parkrun, close to the River Witham. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The race was plagued by awful weather, with torrential rain and strong winds forcing even some of the elite athletes to don lightweight coats.

These were some of the worst conditions I have seen in a marathon, making the hilly roads of Massachusetts an even tougher proposition.

The day before, back in Lincolnshire, the third Boston Marathon took place in the small east coast port, boasting the flattest marathon course in England. A total of 533 reached the finish, at Boston College.

Which brings me to the Boston parkrun, in a roundabout way!

A runner receives his finisher's token from a young volunteer at the end of last weekend's Boston parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONA runner receives his finisher's token from a young volunteer at the end of last weekend's Boston parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

- On the run: a jaunt to East London for the Beckton parkrun

By contrast to the U.S challenge, the course was 5K rather than 26 miles; the event was blessed with warm, calm conditions rather than driving rain; the route was as flat-as-a-pancake, mainly on river paths rather than roads; and I was one of 162 finishers, not one of 30,000!

A runner passes a model of Boston's main local attraction, St Botolph's Church, during last Saturday's parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONA runner passes a model of Boston's main local attraction, St Botolph's Church, during last Saturday's parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

It was also a more convenient stop-off point, on my way to Lincoln City Football Club for yet another Colchester United away-day.

The run-down

Last weekend was the 131st Boston parkrun, which all began with an inaugural event on October 24, 2015, when 107 turned up to master three clockwise laps of a fast, flat course in Witham Way Country Park.

The park is close to Boston Town FC, on Tattershall Road, which is not to be confused with the slightly more ‘famous’ Boston United in the town centre.

United are nicknamed ‘The Pilgrims,’ and Town ‘The Poachers’ – proper footballing nicknames!

A record field of 171 had been set only three weeks earlier, on March 31, and last weekend an amazing 42 of the 162-strong field registered personal bests.

Last Saturday’s results

The wonderfully-named Vitas Gapsevicius led home the field in a PB of 18mins 32secs, in what was only his third-ever parkrun.

Sam Marshall, running only his fifth parkrun, was second in 19:54, having the audacity to overtake this columnist on lap three.

Jenny Williams, an over-45 veteran, was the first female finisher in 24:40 at her 61st parkrun, and her 57th at Boston.

Records

Adam Holland, a name that will be familiar to marathon and ultra running gurus, holds the course record.

Holland blitzed the 5K route in 16:29, back at event No. 46 on September 3, 2016.

The Devon-based athlete has won more marathons/ultras than anyone else in the UK, and is a regular visitor to the Barrow Challenge in West Suffolk.

In fact, Holland has won all four of the ‘Great Barrow 10 in 10 Challenges’ (10 marathons in 10 days) and has never been beaten in this event.

- Local runners at the London Marathon

Ironically, his second fastest marathon time to date was set at last year’s Boston Marathon (UK, not U.S), when he won in 2:29:35.

Gemma Holloway, of Lincoln Wellington, set the fastest time for a woman of 18:28, warming up for her roast turkey or nut-roast on Christmas Day, 2017, at the 115th event. Holloway is one of only four women to have ducked under 20 minutes at Boston.

Carl’s Experience

I had visited Boston on a few occasions in the past, usually stuck behind an assortment of farm vehicles on the approach along the A17 and A16, many of them carrying trailer-loads of potatoes or vegetables.

The most prominent landmark is St Botolph’s Church, known as ‘The Stump’ and believed to be the largest parish church in England.

You couldn’t actually see the church from the start of the parkrun, close to Boston Town FC’s modest home, but it was easily visible if you happened to run backwards on the path along the River Witham (not to be recommended). This happened to be the best stretch of the 5K route.

For the second week running, after my near miss at the Beckton parkrun, I again finished a few seconds outside 20 minute mark.

Next stop the Boston Marathon, U.S .... or, on second thoughts, maybe just another parkrun!

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