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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

On the run: nice and icy at Ellenbrook Fields parkrun

PUBLISHED: 16:44 07 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:44 07 February 2019

Ellenbrook Fields, the home of the weekly Ellenbrook Fields parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Ellenbrook Fields, the home of the weekly Ellenbrook Fields parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Archant

Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. This week he heads off to Ellenbrook Fields parkrun

Runners congregate for the start of last Saturday's ice-cold Ellenbrook Fields parkrun, at Hatfield. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners congregate for the start of last Saturday's ice-cold Ellenbrook Fields parkrun, at Hatfield. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The best-laid plans (schemes) of mice and men often go awry, as Scottish poet Roberts Burns shrewdly observed towards the end of the 18th century, in his poem ‘To a Mouse.’

That phrase certainly applied to my own parkrun experience of last week, mouse or no mouse.

I was due to spend the day in Northampton, on a sporting double header, reporting on Suffolk’s top junior athletes representing Suffolk Schools at the Anglian Schools Cross Country Championships at Abington Park, and then nipping across town to watch Colchester United play the Cobblers at Sixfields Stadium.

Runners make their way along the icy route at Ellenbrook Fields, during last Saturday's parkrun, which survived the cold snap. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners make their way along the icy route at Ellenbrook Fields, during last Saturday's parkrun, which survived the cold snap. Picture: CARL MARSTON

- On the Run: how not to warm up for the Harrow parkrun

A great opportunity, then, to begin the morning at the Northampton parkrun, or perhaps the nearby Sixfields Upton parkrun.

That was my ‘best-laid plan,’ but even by Friday evening that had gone pear shaped.

Runners approach the finish along an icy path during last weekend's Ellenbrook Fields parkrun, staged at the University of Hertfordshire. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners approach the finish along an icy path during last weekend's Ellenbrook Fields parkrun, staged at the University of Hertfordshire. Picture: CARL MARSTON

While our region escaped the worst of the wintry weather, the ice-cold conditions caused the cancellation of more than 100 parkruns, up and down the country, including Northampton and Sixfields Upton, plus nearby events at Daventry, Kettering and Milton Keynes.

So this demanded a Friday night re-think, the upshot being a tactical switch into Hertfordshire, where a flurry of parkruns had survived the wintry blast, meaning that I could hedge my bets and hopefully find one that was still on at 9am.

And so I found myself driving into the car park of the University of Hertfordshire Sports Village, specifically the De Havilland Campus, in Hatfield, at 8.30am for the 144th edition of the Ellenbrook Fields parkrun.

One look at the course – dead flat and mainly on concrete and tarmac paths – suggested that caution would be my watchword.

The route was icy in parts, especially on the corners, so never was the proverb - ‘more haste less speed’ – more appropriate. This was no morning for personal bests, not that I have PB mornings anymore!

I didn’t want to end up driving up the M1 to Northampton, later that morning, with a sprained ankle or broken hip.

The run-down

The University of Hertfordshire, which is based mainly in Hatfield, started as the Hatfield Technical College (in 1952) and became Hatfield Polytechic before being granted university status in 1992.

As a side-issue, one of its notable alumni is rugby union player Owen Farrell, who just happened to inspire England to a terrific 32-20 victory in Ireland later in the day – I couldn’t resist that name-drop.

- On the Run: impromptu visit to Gadebridge parkrun

Naturally, England captain Farrell being in Dublin, he was nowhere to be seen on the De Havilland Campus, or at the adjoining Ellenbook Fields where the weekly 5K took place on what is the site of the old Hatfield Aerodrome.

On a good day, this is a fast course, featuring one inner loop and then one longer circuit into open countryside. But last Saturday was not a good day for speed merchants.

Saturday’s results

Pieter Vermeesch, an over-40 veteran, led home a field of 261 in 17mins 12secs. This was some way off his personal best of 16:24, hardly surprising given the dicey conditions underfoot.

Paul Davies (Barnet & District), was second in 18:33 on a morning when only five men beat 20 minutes – I was not one of them!

In fact, I was overtaken by the leading lady, Joanne Parker, in the last few strides to the finish funnel. She clocked 22:06, and has a PB of 19:52, so revealing that I was the wrong side of 22 minutes.

Records

Ian Kimpton, who holds several course records in the region, has conquered the Ellebrook Fields course in the quickest time, thanks to his 15:04 from late 2016.

- On the Run: Record field at Southend parkrun

Athletes from our region to feature highly include Ipswich JAFFA’s Geraint White (18:29), Colchester Harriers’ Martyn Clarke (19:01), and Newmarket Joggers’ James Thomson (20:07) and Henry Hamilton (20:30).

Annabel Gummow (Winchester) set the female course best of 17:11, last October.

Carl’s experience

Having nearly been tripped on the very first bend, by two runners vying for position, I watched my step and slithered around the course in conservative fashion.

Injury avoided, I was then ready for a sporting double-header in Northampton, before returning home to watch University of Hertfordshire old boy Farrell lead England to victory in Dublin.

The perfect day.

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