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Kings of Anglia Issue 9 Magazine Offer

On the Run: there’s nothing ‘common’ about Coldham’s Common parkrun

PUBLISHED: 17:40 02 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:40 02 November 2018

Runners in silhouette at last Saturday's Coldham's Common parkun, held in cold but bright conditions in Cambridge. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Runners in silhouette at last Saturday's Coldham's Common parkun, held in cold but bright conditions in Cambridge. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Archant

Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. This week he is at Coldham’s Common, in Cambridge

Runners congregate for the start of the fifth Coldham's Common parkrun in Cambridge last Saturday. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners congregate for the start of the fifth Coldham's Common parkrun in Cambridge last Saturday. Picture: CARL MARSTON

I had always bypassed Coldham’s Common, on my way to reporting on either Colchester United or Ipswich Town taking on hosts Cambridge United at the nearby Abbey Stadium.

You can see the floodlights from the Common, but it was only last Saturday that I veered off the beaten track to visit the wide expanses of open grassland and sports pitches that make up present-day Coldham’s Common.

- On the run: Past stop-offs at Huntingdon parkrun

Runners in action at last Saturday's Coldham's Common parkrun, which attracted a field of more than 300. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners in action at last Saturday's Coldham's Common parkrun, which attracted a field of more than 300. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Dating back to at least the 14th century, the Common used to be a place where peasants were allowed to graze their cattle and sheep, dig peat for fuel, cut down trees for house maintenance, keep horses, and even fish in Coldham’s brook.

Nowadays, peat-digging has been replaced by dog-walking, and grazing cattle have given way to footballers gracing one of the many full-sized pitches.

And every Saturday morning, for the last five weeks at least, Coldham’s Common has been home to one of the latest additions to the parkrun community.

Dogs are welcome to take part in the Coldham's Common parkrun, and last Saturday was no exception. Picture: CARL MARSTONDogs are welcome to take part in the Coldham's Common parkrun, and last Saturday was no exception. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Cambridge has played host to a parkrun since January, 2010, on the edge of the city at Milton Country Park.

Last weekend was the 446th staging of this well-attended 5K bonanza, with an impressive 499 toeing the line. It is not usual for fields in excess of 500 or even 600 to roll up each Saturday morning.

With such high numbers each week, negotiating a tight and twisty course, Cambridge was naturally crying out for a second parkrun to provide another option for local parkrunners.

Cue Coldham’s Common!

The run-down

Runners, joggers, walkers, dogs and volunteers converged on Coldham’s Common from all directions, to take part in last Saturday’s parkrun.

Some crossed the bridge spanning the Cambridge-to-Ipswich railway, which splits the common in two, while others, like me, emerged from the Abbey Leisure Centre car park.

We were all shivering. The early morning sunshine was almost blinding, but it was a morning for gloves and hats.

While the Cambridge parkrun sticks to gravel paths, Coldham’s Common, its new younger sibling, is wholly on grass.

The route skirts a series of football pitches before entering a separate area of wilder grassland, through a narrow gate-way.

It is two laps and, in true Cambridgeshire tradition, is dead-flat.

Last Saturday’s results

Robert Perry, of Blackheath & Bromley, was away and clear at the head of a bumper field of 328 runners, joggers and walkers.

Teenager Perry covered the flat five kilometres in 17mins 04secs, at what was his first visit to Coldham’s Common, although this was his 218th parkrun, with more than half of them run at Bromley.

Robert Mahen, of Cambridge & Coleridge was more than a minute adrift in second (18:10), followed by John Robertson (18:13).

Chloe Moss ducked under 20 minutes to finish first female, and 21st overall, in 19:55. Cambridge & Coleridge’s Maria Buczak was second in 20:37, and club-mate Maija Kozlova third (20:45).

Records

Two athletes from Worcester AC top the early ‘leader-board,’ after just five events. Josh Carr posted a swift 16mins 00secs on his way to first place at the inaugural event, on September 29, followed by club-mate Ben Jones (16:35).

Zoe MacDonald, of Cambridge & Coleridge, was the first female finisher on week one, and her time of 18:46 remains the one to beat.

Carl’s experience

I warmed up for my first parkrun in five weeks – due to a hip injury that remains stubborn – with a short mid-week break in Milan with my wife, who was celebrating a ‘big’ birthday (I forget the exact number).

It was touching 30 degrees in Milan, as we ambled through the parks (packed with runners), along the canals (blessed with great cafes) and along the busy streets (lined with fashion and designer shops).

It was therefore something of a cultural shock to end up in Coldham’s Common, a day after our Italian experience, with the temperature gauge on the car reading three degrees.

I had not trained for a few weeks, due to my injury, although striding around Milan in late October sunshine, eating up the miles, and sipping the coffee, did surprisingly help with the rehabilitation.

Anyway, I jogged around the Common to blow away the cob-webs, and loved every minute.

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