Top seven list of 'L' parkruns, and a top five 'L' wish-list
PUBLISHED: 11:06 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:06 05 November 2019
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. Here he compiles a top seven 'L' list after a visit to Loch Neaton parkrun, Watton
It was one 'L' of a weekend for parkrunning last Saturday morning - you had to brave the elements and also forgo the start of the Rugby Union World Cup final, to toe the line at whatever venue at 9am.
I opted for my nearby Loch Neaton parkrun, Watton, in the Breckland district of Norfolk.
This had been my NENYD ('Nearest Event Not Yet Done,' in tourist parkrun parlance). A short drive over the border into Norfolk ensured that I would be home in time for the second half of what proved to be England's defeat to South Africa.
And as an added bonus, the heavy rain and strong winds that buffeted much of the country, did not stretch into Watton. The sun actually came out.
In recognition of my attendance at the 36th staging of the Loch Neaton parkrun - the rugby factor (I assume) meant a record low of 97 finishers - here is my top seven 'L' list of parkruns.
1 Loch Neaton (Norfolk)
From the name alone, you would probably assume that Loch Neaton parkrun was located in the heart of Scotland - perhaps a lesser-known cousin of Loch Lomond, Loch Lochy, Loch Shiel...
But no, it is actually sited in the Brecklands, and amounts to a freshwater fishing lake named after the Scottish navvies who originally excavated the earth to build a railway embankment, back in 1875.
These days parkrunners, rather than Scottish railway labourers, are the regular visitors on a Saturday morning, for a flat 5K route from Watton Sports Centre which includes three laps of the grass playing fields.
Slippery on the corners, but conducive to 'fast' times.
Reason: deceptive name
2 Littleport (Cambs)
This was the first of a very few 'inaugurals' that I have attended (June, 2018) and, as with most inaugurals, there was a heady mixture of trepidation, excitement and celebration in the East Cambridgeshire air.
Three laps (two big, one small)on and around Littleport Recreation Ground, with a bumpy stretch along a ditch - so another quick one.
Reason: one of the 'lowest' parkruns you will ever visit, in terms of altitude (or lack of it). The nearby village of Little Ouse has the lowest trig point in Great Britain, standing three feet below sea level.
3 Lincoln (Lincs)
Three laps of Boultham Park, in the south-west of Lincoln, with the trademark parkrun lake to circumnavigate - I find most good parkrun courses include a lake, pond or reservoir to skirt.
There's a great vibe. When I turned up, last May, the second-biggest field was assembled, with 593 of us congregating in front of the bandstand (another popular parkrun landmark).
Reason: you don't have to negotiate 'Steep Hill,' in the city centre. Save that for a post-run amble up to the cathedral/castle.
You may also want to watch:
4 Lowestoft (Suffolk)
I visited in August, 2018, when the sun was shining brightly across a wide, sandy beach, reflecting off the row of multicoloured beach huts, and a few hardy souls were already having a dip in the North Sea. A picture postcard scene.
The course is a cracker, a one-and-three-quarter lap challenge along the seafront, starting opposite East Point Pavilion and heading out beyond Claremont Pier.
My only regret was that I failed to pack a towel, for a post-parkrun swim. Maybe next time.
Reason: most easterly parkrun
5 Letchworth (Herts)
I was already carrying an injury when I ran this - a sin that many parkrun tourists commit - but the views of the East Hertfordshire countryside are fine, and there's a short, stiff climb on each of the two laps to keep you on your toes.
Reason: Letchworth was home to the first roundabout in the UK. Fortunately, it's not on the parkrun course.
6 Linford Wood (Bucks)
On the subject of roundabouts, Milton Keynes has enough of them, as well as underpasses, which feature highly in the Linford Wood parkrun, the smaller, younger, but by-no-means inferior brother of the Milton Keyens parkrun.
Reason: the 'wobbly path' during the last kilometre.
7 Lingwood (Norfolk)
Switchbacks, zig-zags, the smell of freshly-mown grass - what more can you want from a village-based parkrun?
Reason: more twists and turns than in an Agatha Christie plot.
My 'L' wish-list
1 Lyme Park (Cheshire) - promise of some good views
2 Lanark Moor (South Lanarkshire, Scotland) - a loch and a nearby racecourse
3 Lancing Beach (Sussex) - I do like a seafront
4 Llyn Llech OWain (Carmarthen, Wales) - a lake and bogs
5 Lochore Meadows (Fife, Scotland) - sound idyllic, around the loch