On the run: Grass skirts at the Brundall parkrun
PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 June 2018
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond!), running in different parkruns. This week he heads to Brundall in Norfolk
This was my first-ever visit to Brundall, a Broadland village just seven miles to the east of Norwich, and I could have been forgiven for thinking that the place was twinned with a village on the island of Hawaii!
A big field of 174 included many sporting the familiar multi-coloured Hawaiian shirts, alongside a sea of grass skirts and a number of other flamboyant flowery costumes.
This is not the weekly uniform for the Brundall parkrun – a pity really – but it made for one of the most colourful parkruns I have as yet experienced, over the last year or so.
Instead, organisers had arranged a Hawaiian-themed third anniversary for the event, complete with an impressive soundtrack as runners, joggers, and walkers progressed around a four-lap 5K route in the new Brundall Countryside Park.
Before the start, there was an ‘official’ cake-cutting ceremony to mark the occasion.
I will certainly have to return to this event, perhaps at next year’s fourth anniversary, when I will be sure to remember my own grass skirt.
The Brundall parkrun has come a long way since its inaugural event on June 20, 2015, when a field of 110 took part, with 12 volunteers.
It boasts a good venue specifically designed with parkrun in mind, covering five kilometres along wide grassy tracks within the Countryside Park, around and through a new plantation of trees.
Having run the previous week close to a city centre, at the Chelmsford Central parkrun, this couldn’t have been more different.
Each lap circles around the edge of an apple orchard, with several acres of allotments, and has a few sharp turns, particularly a 180-degree turn on The Ride. There is a stretch following the railway line, and then a short climb (really just a small incline) back up to the start-finish area, near the car park.
The only real test is trying to remember your lap-count!
Last Saturday’s results
Patrick Alderson, running only his second Brundall parkrun, was first home in a personal best of 19mins 30secs for the course. The over-50 veteran, a member of West End Runners, has rattled up 219 parkruns over the years.
Carl White, of Norwich Road Runners, was second in 19:44, and Paul Oakley third in 19:56, both making their Brundall debuts.
There was a familiar face finishing first lady. Rebecca (Bex) Pountain, of Coltishall Jaguars, registered her 24th first-place at Brundall in 21:48, and is now level with Ruth Steele (also 24 first places).
Anna Kirkham, of Norwich Road Runners, was second lady in 23:50 and Danielle Rackham ran her first Brundall parkrun with 23:52 in third.
City of Norwich AC athletes, perhaps not surprisingly, lead the way. Piers Arnold holds the course best, of 16:25, followed by club-mate James Senior (16:35).
Colleen Nicole Mukuya, of Great Yarmouth, ran a swift 18:27 in January of this year to set the female course best.
Bungay Black Dog’s Jo Andrews has the second fastest time (19:15), the second of only five ladies to have dipped under 20 minutes.
The record attendance was set only last month, when 217 lined up for event No. 142 on May 19. That eclipsed the 212 who congregated for the 100th event, just over a year ago.
It began drizzling, on my journey over the county border, reminding me of my previous excursion into Norfolk two weeks ago, which featured a heavy and incessant downpour during the Mulbarton parkrun.
But there were to be no damp grass skirts or bedraggled Hawaiian shirts at Brundall, because the showers gave way to warm and humid conditions.
The anniversary cake cut – more than £140 was raised in a post-event cakes sale, with funds going to the NHS Blood Bikes charity – it was time to head off around the trees, hedges and allotments, to the backdrop of some appropriate music.
Birthday tunes were blasted out via the loud speaker, the first time I had run a parkrun to the dulcet tones of The Beach Boys.
I don’t know whether it was hearing the theme tune to Hawaii Five-O, or the fear of being overtaken by any gentleman wearing a grass skirt, but I managed to nick under 20 minutes by just one second.
If I had donned a skirt myself, I would surely have gone quicker. Food for thought.