On the Run: Nothing to complain about at Harwich parkrun

Runners, joggers and walkers prepare for the start of the 130th Harwich parkrun in Cliff Park last S

Runners, joggers and walkers prepare for the start of the 130th Harwich parkrun in Cliff Park last Saturday. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

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

A festive scene: a runner with a Santa hat climbs up the slope from the seafront promenade to Doverc

A festive scene: a runner with a Santa hat climbs up the slope from the seafront promenade to Dovercourt Cliff Park. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Runners are often guilty of complaining about even the slightest inconvenience, like a mildly sore big toe, the remnants of a two-month-old cold, a course with too many slight gradients, or a route with a few too many twists and turns.

Looking back over recent columns, I fear that I have often fallen into that whinging bracket,

I tweaked a hamstring inside the first 100 metres of the Great Notley parkrun, toiled through too much mud at the Wimpole Estate parkrun, had a bad cold in the days leading up to the Kesgrave parkrun, and managed to miss the start of last Saturday week’s Swindon parkrun by an impressive seven minutes.

Well, I have no excuses from last Saturday’s visit to the Harwich parkrun.

The view towards Harwich Container Port from near the start of the Harwich parkrun. Picture: CARL MA

The view towards Harwich Container Port from near the start of the Harwich parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

- On the Run: off-and-on at the Swindon parkrun


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I had no injury, no illness, the course was great, the weather behaved itself, and I wasn’t still tying up my shoelaces when everyone else zoomed off.

Runners negotiate a turn at the Harwich parkrun last Saturday. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Runners negotiate a turn at the Harwich parkrun last Saturday. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

In short, it was an unmitigated success – apart, of course, from my finishing time, which is to be expected.

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The Run-down

The Harwich parkrun starts from Cliff Park, Dovercourt, and usually amounts to a lap-and-a-bit of the park before an out-and-back run along the seafront promenade, heading towards the historic lighthouses.

Leading lady Claudine Tisbury, approaching the finish of the Harwich parkrun last Saturday. She was

Leading lady Claudine Tisbury, approaching the finish of the Harwich parkrun last Saturday. She was eighth overall. - Credit: Archant

Last Saturday, however, the 130th staging of this event was marked by a switch to the alternative route, which basically ignored the park section and instead had two laps of the promenade.

Times can be greatly affected by the strength and direction of the wind on this exposed course, but there was hardly even a breeze last weekend, so a small field of 95 eager runners, joggers and walkers, congregating at the start by the bandstand, made the most of the almost ideal conditions.

Saturday’s results

Claudine Tisbury, a stalwart member of local club Harwich Runners – every week’s Harwich parkrun is peppered with athletes from this club (founded in 1982) – is regularly the first lady home, and that was the case last Saturday.

Over-55 veteran Tisbury, who has a personal best of 20mins 45secs for this swift 5K course, clocked 21:17, leading home club-mates Nicola Flatt (23:58) and Alison Evans (24:24) for a Harwich Runners one-two-three.

- Freezing temperatures at the Clacton Seafront parkrun

Doug McGillivray, an over-40 veteran, led home the field in a new best of 17:55, followed by Ipswich JAFFA’s Alexander Hosking (18:45).

Tom Brand, representing Lochaber AC, was third in 19:32, with teenager Archie Barrington just three seconds behind.

There was just the one parkrun ‘first timer,’ in Louise Leeks (60-64 year-old age group), while junior category first finishers included Jamie Carter (10), Harry Pitham (11-14), Barrington (15-17) and Isabella McCreadie (11-14).

Those to run Harwich PBs included Patrick Vickers (20:53), Paul Newman (25:53), Lauren Heath (31:18), Sarah Webb (47:18) and Jack Gould (47:18).

Records

Northampton Road Runners’ David Green holds the course best, at 16mins 07secs, a mere 10 seconds faster than Crispian Bloomfield (16:17), of Billericay Striders.

Woodford Green’s Angus Holford, who runs second claim for Colchester Harriers, is third on the ‘leader board’ with 16:40, while the Harwich Runners duo of Robert Reason (16:43) and Graeme Knott (17:31) have the fourth and fifth fastest times.

Hayley Mann, of Kettering Town Harriers, set her female course record of 17:42 back in August, 2016.

Kiera-Jayne Atkinson (Colchester & Tendring) has the second fastest female time of 19:07, with Laura Shewbridge (19:24), of Colchester Harriers, in third.

Carl’s experience

A super course, with just a short slope from the promenade up to the Cliff Park to negotiate (twice), the Harwich parkrun is designed for fast times, if you so desire.

I desired one, but had to make do with a modest 20:23.

This was more than seven minutes inside my effort from the previous weekend’s Swindon parkrun, although I did start more than seven minutes later in Wiltshire!

Footnote

Harwich parkrun, like many other venues around Suffolk and Essex, also hosted a Christmas Day event.

Ian Duggan, of Felixstowe Road Runners, made light of a strong headwind on the outward journey to finish first in 20:09. Tisbury was second overall and the first lady in 21:37.

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