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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

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

PUBLISHED: 12:15 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:11 17 October 2019

The welcome sign for the Manor Field, Whittlesey parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The welcome sign for the Manor Field, Whittlesey parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. Here he lists his Top Seven 'M' parkruns after last Saturday's visit to Manor Field, Whittlesey, and reveals five others he would like to visit

Manor Field was saturated, but the course stood up well during last weekend's parkrun at Whittlesey. Picture: CARL MARSTONManor Field was saturated, but the course stood up well during last weekend's parkrun at Whittlesey. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Try avoiding the 'M' word, when the task is compiling a personal list of Top Seven 'M' parkruns. It's iMpossible.

I dodged the tractors and their heavy-laden trailers last Saturday morning, to pay a long-awaited visit to the Manor Field parkrun, in Whittlesley, deep into the Fenland District of Cambridgeshire.

As I suspected, it was a little treat, a wonderfully low-key but superbly friendly parkrun of just over a year old - established on September 8, 2018.

A record field of 173 toed the line for the 50th event, in August, but more often than not the numbers are double-figures, not treble-figures.

One of the many helpful signs that adorn parkrun routes, up and down the country. This one is on the banks of the River Nene at the Manor Field, Whittlesey parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONOne of the many helpful signs that adorn parkrun routes, up and down the country. This one is on the banks of the River Nene at the Manor Field, Whittlesey parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

But more of Manor Field later. Here's a top seven of the 'M' parkruns I have so far visited (in no particular order, not even alphabetical). Sorry for those I have over-looked - M's the word.

1 Mile End (London)

Any parkrun that can provide a bird's eye view of central London gets my vote, hence the inclusion of Mile End parkrun, sited in the Borough of Tower Hamlets and in the shadow of Canary Wharf.

Runners taking part in last Saturday's Manor Field, Whittlesey parkrun, in Cambridgeshire. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners taking part in last Saturday's Manor Field, Whittlesey parkrun, in Cambridgeshire. Picture: CARL MARSTON

I visited in August. Half-an-hour before the start, on a drizzly Saturday morning, virtually no one was about. A sea of tranquillity. But then hundreds of people appeared from all corners, converging on Mile End Athletics Stadium. Time for parkrun!

Reason: Skyscrapers in view.

2 Melton Mowbray (Leics)

The view of Canary Wharf from Mile End Stadium, the home of the Mile End parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONThe view of Canary Wharf from Mile End Stadium, the home of the Mile End parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

I stopped off en route to Nottingham to run this gem. I love a few steep inclines, and this one has a stiff 70-metre climb to conquer, beginning from the foot of a disused railway arch.

It blows away the cobwebs, and leaves the legs feeling a trifle heavy. A good recipe after two hours in the car.

Reason: a proximity to pork pies and Stilton cheese.

Runners contend with an uphill slog, after going under a railway arch at the Melton Mowbray parkrun . Picture: MELTON MOWBRAY PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGERunners contend with an uphill slog, after going under a railway arch at the Melton Mowbray parkrun . Picture: MELTON MOWBRAY PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGE

3 Maldon Prom (Essex)

The Blackwater Estuary is a great backdrop for any parkrun, and the varied course from Promenade Park is a blinder, with the locals sipping cups of coffee in the cafe while watching the multicoloured 5K action unfold before their eyes.

I like route descriptions that reveal 'a turn at the last bench,' and this is key on the promontory at Maldon, otherwise you will bypass the statue of Brythnoth (an Anglo Saxon earl) and end up in the estuary.

Reason: Edwardian promenade

Runners spash through the puddles at the Mulbarton parkrun. Picture: IAN EDWARDS PHOTOGRAPHYRunners spash through the puddles at the Mulbarton parkrun. Picture: IAN EDWARDS PHOTOGRAPHY

4 Mulbarton (Norfolk)

I slipped into this small Norfolk village, five miles to the south of Norwich, after a sun-kissed week in Lanzarote, intent on showing off my sun-tan around three-and-three-quarter laps of the Common.

Fat chance. It rained, and rained, and rained.

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Reason: puddles.

5 March (Cambs)

The March parkrun is squeezed into a four-lap route around West End Park. Impossible to get lost, and never very far from the car. There's also a pleasant stretch along the River Nene.

Reason: feeling dizzy

6 Millennium Country (Beds)

The Millennium Country parkrun, Forest of Marston Vale, was only three weeks old when I visited.

It's a classic out-and-back course, on good trail and tarmac paths, with views across the wide expanse of Stewartby Lake, a former home to an old brickworks.

I like parkrun names which give no clear indication of where they are located - this one is in Bedfordshire - and it's conducive to fast times as well.

Reason: my surname in title!

7 Manor Field, Whittlesey (Cambs)

The incessant rain of the previous 24 hours cleared, last Saturday morning, and although Manor Field was saturated (under water in parts), the actual course was remarkably dry-ish.

Small is beautiful, and there is an intimate feel to this event.

I always love an initial lap of a playing field, to get the legs working after a stint in the car, and Manor Field has just that as a prelude to three bigger loops, including a stretch alongside the River Nene, past Ashline Lock.

I am not a native in these parts, but I received an e-mail later in the day, from one of the marshals (note the letter 'm'), who said that he recognised me from my days as an Ipswich Town correspondent for the newspaper - clear proof that it's a small, intimate but delightful world at the Manor Field, Whittlesey parkrun!

The aforementioned marshal's young son (Shay Markham, another 'M!') finished just behind me - it won't be long before he is showing me a clean pair of heels.

Reason: wonderfully low-key

Five I'd like to visit

- Market Rasen (Lincs): I have a passion for running on racecourse tracks

- Macclesfield (Cheshire): Promise of good views of the hills, and there's something reassuring about starting and finishing near a bandstand.

- Millom (Cumbria): Mud, glorious mud. A must. And small numbers.

- Margate (Kent): seafood, seaside, seafront.

- Mount Edgcumbe (Cornwall): I do like a stately home.

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