On the run: fast times and great views at the Felixstowe parkrun
PUBLISHED: 09:00 09 July 2018
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond!), running in different parkruns. Here he heads to Felixstowe
Hastings the previous Saturday; Felixstowe this latest Saturday. You might be beginning to spot a pattern.
A weekend break was the excuse for taking part in the Hastings parkrun, along the promenade from St Leonards to the pier, on the West Sussex coast.
And I couldn’t resist another brisk 5K test on the seafront on Saturday, encouraged by the continued unbroken sunshine and also the promise of a much shorter journey along the A14 to the familiar destination of Felixstowe.
The youngest of all the nine Suffolk-based parkruns, the Felixstowe event is the brainchild of main organiser Sarah Fitch, a member of Felixstowe Road Runners.
And having now taken part in eight of those nine, I can confirm that it is by far the most scenic, especially with the sun blazing down on a shimmering North Sea.
The weekly parkruns at Bury St Edmunds, Brandon Country Park, Gt Cornard, Haverhill, Ipswich, Kesgrave and Clare Castle all have their charms – I have yet to nip up to Lowestoft – but Felixstowe promenade trumps them all.
Maybe not on a cold, wet and windswept January morning, but certainly on a sun-drenched Saturday morning in July.
The event starts from the rear of Felixstowe Leisure Centre, near the pier, and heads out along the promenade towards the Martello Tower for 1.2K, before retracing its steps past the pier and on for another 1.3K.
Another about-turn at the seafront shelter and its back to the finish – impossible to go wrong, and dead-flat with the exception of one slight slope by the pier.
Last Saturday’s results
Jim Last, of Framingham Flyers, put a recent foot injury behind him to lead home a field of 218. One of the top over-40 veterans in the county, Last had been hampered by the injury in the build-up to April’s London Marathon, and so had to spend a few weeks on the sidelines.
But he has not lost much of his fitness. In fact, ‘fresh’ from a fourth spot at the Great Bentley Friday Five, only the previous evening, he surged up and down Felixstowe promenade in 17mins 07secs, just 13 seconds adrift of his personal best for the course (16:54), set three weeks earlier, and one second slower than his winning time from a fortnight ago.
Gary Taylor, running on his home course, was second in 18:19. Although a member of Felixstowe Road Runners, he has run 55 of his 58 parkruns at Ipswich.
Joe Watts, of East End Runners, whose home event is at Wanstead Flats, marked his 50th parkrun and his second at Felixstowe with an 18:33 clocking in third.
There was an excellent run from young Philippa Unthank. The teenager, who is in the 15-17 year-old age group, was first female and fourth overall in 18:39.
It was her third parkrun, all completed in the last three weeks, and Saturday’s time was her quickest yet, by two seconds.
Josie Hughes was second female in 21:29, just ahead of Natalie Johnston (21:50), while Felixstowe RR’s Victoria Breadman notched a PB of 22:27 for the course, at what was her 78th parkrun.
When the weather is kind, this is a course designed for red-hot times.
Danny Rock, of home club Felixstowe RR, has covered the 5K distance in the fastest time over these first 14 weeks, in 16:31.
Joshua Entwistle’s 16:42, from the inaugural event, is second on the list, with last Saturday’s first-placer, Last, in third.
Unthank’s 18:39 eclipsed her own course record, while Ipswich JAFFA’s Laura Thomas is second in the rankings with 18:47.
Sarah Fitch and her dedicated team of volunteers deserve great credit for getting this event up-and-running. The inaugural event was on April 7.
Fast times, sun-tans, cracking views, cafes, an inviting sea … no wonder the Felixstowe parkrun is already proving a big hit.
Maybe I will return for a different experience in January, when the wind is howling.