Top seven parkruns on the ‘B’ list, and five more on a ‘B’ wish-list

Runners assemble for the start of the 359th Burgess parkrun, which had 466 finishers. Picture: CARL

Runners assemble for the start of the 359th Burgess parkrun, which had 466 finishers. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. Here he heads to Burgess Park, in Camberwell, and lists a top seven ‘B’ list

Runners approach the finish to last weekend's Burgess parkrun, held at Camberwell. in South London.

Runners approach the finish to last weekend's Burgess parkrun, held at Camberwell. in South London. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

There is nothing under-par, or below-best, with regards this 'B' list of parkruns.

No, these 'B' events are not the poorer cousins of those on the 'A' list. They are not less admired, less desired, or necessarily less well-known.

They just happen to begin with the letter 'B'.

Last weekend, a planned trip to North London backfired, due to the warning of congestion on the M25, so instead I nipped into Central London, crossed Tower Bridge and headed the short distance on to Camberwell, to take part in the Burgess parkrun.

Runners enjoy the bright sunshine during the Burgess parkrun, held over a fast, flat course in Burge

Runners enjoy the bright sunshine during the Burgess parkrun, held over a fast, flat course in Burgess Park. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

- Top seven 'M' listed parkruns, and five more on an 'M wish-list

Hence the idea that germinated, to reveal my own personal top seven 'B' parkruns, from seven different counties (naturally).

Burgess Park in the Borough of Southwark, the home of the weekly Burgess parkrun

Burgess Park in the Borough of Southwark, the home of the weekly Burgess parkrun - Credit: Archant

I think I have visited more 'B' parkruns than any other letter of the alphabet. That's not a Boast - it's just the way it is. Baffling, Barmy....

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1 Burgess (Greater London)

One of the few de-urbanised areas of the City, in that it is newly-established parkland reclaimed from housing and industry (even a ginger beer factory!), Burgess Park is a welcome green lung for South London.

Runners and sheep: Nowton Park, the setting for the Bury St Edmunds parkrun. Picture: BURY ST EDMUND

Runners and sheep: Nowton Park, the setting for the Bury St Edmunds parkrun. Picture: BURY ST EDMUNDS PARKRUN FACEBOOK - Credit: Archant

And it is also home to a super-quick parkrun, with some long, flat, straight stretches on good tarmac paths which follow the course of the old Surrey Canal.

The only real inclines of any note are either side of the under-pass, more a chance to shorten the stride than to blow a gasket.

The landmarks include the 'Bridge to Nowhere' (which used to span the old canal), the lake and a few fishermen's umbrellas.

Fields of 400 to 600 are the norm these days - they are blessed with a bustling, friendly parkrun.

Braunstone Park, the home of the Braunstone parkrun on the edge of Leicester. Pictue: CARL MARSTON

Braunstone Park, the home of the Braunstone parkrun on the edge of Leicester. Pictue: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Reason: fresh in the mind and a fast course

2 Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk)

I could not compile a 'B' list without including my local parkrun, two glorious laps of Nowton Park on the edge of Bury St Edmunds, less than two miles from my house.

Blickling parkrun, in North Norfolk. Picture: LEE ANDERTON

Blickling parkrun, in North Norfolk. Picture: LEE ANDERTON - Credit: Lee Anderton

The course is deceptive, with a steady drag up from the avenue of lime trees (planted back in the 1880s) at the start of each lap, and it can be very muddy during the winter months.

It is a regular training venue for me, and where I used to help to organise many local cross country races. My dog also likes it - guess I am a bit biased.

Reason: A guaranteed lie-in.

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

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

3 Braunstone (Leics)

I love this parkrun, a handy stop-off from East Anglia on the way up to Derbyshire or beyond, if you are that way inclined.

There was a big field touching 600, when I visited, due to the cancellation of the nearby Leicester Victoria and Market Harborough events.

Two laps, mostly on good concrete paths, from Braunstone Hall, taking in a couple of lakes, it is no wonder the local parkrun has gone from strength to strength since its inception, nine years ago.

Reason: a good stop-off point, and a good mobile coffee van

4 Blickling (Norfolk)

Blickling Hall, an idyllic stately pile in the country, in North Norfolk, is the perfect backdrop for any parkrun.

Throw in an impressive 4,777 acres of woodland, parkland and farmland, and you have all the ingredients for an exhilarating 5K.

Blickling was No. 99 on my parkrun list, and I will certainly return for another two laps of the Mausoleum Walk, starting close to the well-named Great Wood.

Reason: I do like a stately home.

5 Boston (Lincs)

I have still not run the Boston Marathon in the US, the world's oldest annual marathon, but at least I have taken part in the Boston parkrun, in the UK.

When I visited, in April of 2018, the 122nd Boston Marathon had just been held, in torrential rain and strong winds, over the ups and downs of Massachusetts. I mention that, because there were no such adversities when I did the parkrun, 'across the pond' in the small Lincolnshire port town.

Just a regulation three laps of Witham Way Country Park, close to the home of Boston Town FC (nicknamed the Poachers) with a stretch along the banks of the River Witham.

Reason: it's not a marathon, it's a sprint.

6 Basildon (Essex)

I will always remember this particular Saturday, in June, not just because of the 5K morning jaunt around three laps of Northlands Park, but also because of an afternoon spectating a Naked Bike Ride event in Cambridge.

I ran the parkrun, but didn't do the cycle ride. My step-son did the opposite!

Reason: no need to get naked.

7 Barclay (Herts)

I visited the Barclay parkrun, in Hoddesdon, before Christmas of 2017 after a few days of heavy rain.

This had left Barclay Park in less-than-prime condition, which meant a switch to the winter course, which included four laps and so four steep ascents, after an initial two circuits of the lake.

Boy, did I feel unfit after that 5K!

Lap one was pleasant; lap two was not too unpleasant; laps three was getting tiresome; lap four, to be honest, was a struggle.

It was 'B'loody hard, and so deserves its place on this 'B' list.

Reason: legs can feel like jelly

My 'B' list wish-list

And finally, five 'B' parkruns I would like to visit.

- Bakewell parkrun (Derbyshire): I like the idea of starting by a railway station (Hassop), and bounding up and down the Monsal Trail

- Bethlem Royal Hospital parkrun (London): The name alone is enough for a visit

- Blyth Links parkrun (Northumberland); I love any parkrun on the seafront

- Burnage parkrun (Greater Manchester): I have never run along the River Mersey, ever

- Bressay parkrun (Shetland): A must for any serious UK parkrunner, surely.

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