On the Run: red wine does the trick for Carl Marston at Cheltenham Parkrun

Runners before the start of the 240th Cheltenham Parkrun in Pittville Park last Saturday. Picture: C

Runners before the start of the 240th Cheltenham Parkrun in Pittville Park last Saturday. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and further afield at times), running various Parkruns.

Runners in the finishing funnel at the end of the Cheltenham Parkrun last Saturday

Runners in the finishing funnel at the end of the Cheltenham Parkrun last Saturday - Credit: Archant

I took advantage of Colchester United’s League Two trip to Cheltenham Town last weekend, to take part in the 240th Cheltenham Parkrun.

And thanks to a combination of a visit to the chiropractors, and a couple of glasses of red wine, both on the previous day, I actually had a good run for a change.


The Cheltenham Parkrun used to be a three-lap challenge, with the increasing number of runners having to negotiate a small, narrow bridge over the lake, plus some bollards, in Pittville Park, to the north of the town and in the shadow of the Cotswolds.

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To avoid congestion, with average fields having grown from 100 to 400 (and more) over the last couple of years, a new course was devised, although still within the confines of Pittville Park.

It is now a two-lap route, as of two months ago.

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And it’s just as well, because fields continue to rise. Only last month, a bumper 575 toed the line for the 236th event.

Although he didn’t run last weekend, I noted from previous results, over the last few years, a certain Mike Ede occasionally turning up to run the Cheltenham Parkrun.

Local East Anglian runners of a ‘certain age’ might remember Ede, from his competitive racing days in Suffolk during the 1980s and early 1990s, before this schoolmaster (Head of Maths) left Old Buckenham Hall School in Brettenham for a new job and life in Cheltenham.

I recall interviewing Ede back in 1989, when the Bath-born long distance runner was crowned Suffolk County marathon champion thanks to a victory at the Ipswich Marathon in 2hrs 39mins 09secs. He was a stalwart member of Saint Edmund Pacers at the time, and a former member of Ipswich Harriers.

Ede, now aged 60, has run the Cheltenham Parkrun four times this year and 13 times last year, always winning his age group.

Last Saturday’s Results

Dan Owen was away and clear, leaving a field of 411 trailing in his wake on his way to victory in a very impressive 16mins 30secs, just nine seconds off his personal best for the event. Owen is a member of local club Cheltenham & County Harriers.

He was 93 seconds clear of runner-up Peter Woodward, of Forest of Dean AC (18:02).

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Interestingly, while Owen was running in only his third-ever Parkrun, Woodward was clocking up his 309th Parkrun.

One of the ever-growing band of Parkrun ‘tourists,’ Cheltenham was his 148th different Parkrun venue.

Liza Barry, of CLC Striders (Cheltenham Ladies’ College), was the first female in 20:53.


The appropriately named Graham Rush holds the course best, the only runner ever to duck under 15 minutes with a scorching 14mins 59secs over the old course in September, 2016.

Emily Smith, of Wells City Harriers, has the fastest time by woman, again from a year ago, thanks to a 17:15 clocking in her second of only two Parkruns.

Carl’s’ Experience

For the first time in more than three months, recording six 20-minute plus times on the trot, I finally managed to dip under the 20-minute barrier again.

I put this down to two main factors.

Firstly, a visit to my regular chiropractors in Norwich Road, Ipswich, less than 24 hours before the event, to loosen up a stiff lower back.

And secondly, a couple of glasses of red wine the night before, in an unlicensed Indian restaurant in Cheltenham, where you were encouraged to bring your own booze.

This also seemed to work wonders with my back!

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There was a third reason, and perhaps the most important of the lot. The event was so big that they even had designated ‘Pacers’ among the field, basically pace-makers aiming for set times.

I followed the bloke sporting ’20 minutes’ on his back, staying hot on his heels for virtually the whole of the five kilometres, and was rewarded with a finish time of 19mins 55secs.

I celebrated with another glass of red that evening after, alas, having reported on another Colchester United away defeat!

Well, you can’t have everything.

Other Parkruns

Junior runner Lewis Sullivan, competing in the 11-14 year-old age group, won the Bury St Edmunds Parkrun in 17:38 last Saturday, just two seconds ahead of Will Sutton, from West 4 Harriers. Stowmarket Striders’ teenage sisters Maddie and Millie Jordan-Lee were joint first female in PBs of 19:32.

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