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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Top seven tame excuses for running poorly at parkruns

PUBLISHED: 07:46 11 September 2019

Runners and walkers congregate for the start of last Saturday's 334th staging of the Harrow Lodge parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Runners and walkers congregate for the start of last Saturday's 334th staging of the Harrow Lodge 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 seven excuses for poor runs, after last weekend's visit to Harrow Lodge Park in Hornchurch

Runners sprint to the finish, with the lake in the background, during last Saturday's Harrow Lodge parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners sprint to the finish, with the lake in the background, during last Saturday's Harrow Lodge parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Pathetic as it might sound, I was cursing the misfortune to be nursing 'man flu,' ahead of last weekend's jaunt to Hornchurch to take part in the Harrow Lodge parkrun.

This sad state of affairs has prompted me to look back at all the previous lame excuses I have employed to explain below-par parkrun performances over the last few years.

And believe me, there have been many.

Starting with that most recent visit to Harrow Lodge Park, armed with a box of tissues and some throat lozenges, here's a top seven of lamentable excuses for me disappointing over the weekly free 5K distance.

Harrow Lodge Park, the home of the weekly Harrow Lodge parkrun in Hornchurch, East London. Picture: CARL MARSTONHarrow Lodge Park, the home of the weekly Harrow Lodge parkrun in Hornchurch, East London. Picture: CARL MARSTON

They range from nosebleeds to sore calves, and from hot weather to a snapped lace.

I know, pathetic!

1 Harrow Lodge

Runners, joggers and walkers congregate for the 174th staging of the Raphael parkrun, where Carl Marston picked up a hip injury.Runners, joggers and walkers congregate for the 174th staging of the Raphael parkrun, where Carl Marston picked up a hip injury.

Excuse: feeling under the weather.

Having dipped under 20 minutes for the first time in more than a year, at Sloughbottom in Norwich the previous weekend, hopes of a repeat dose were thwarted by a dose of cold.

At least that's what I told myself, as I toiled around the resplendent one-lap course of the Harrow Lodge parkrun, in Harrow Lodge Park, Hornchurch (in the London Borough of Havering), 80 seconds slower than seven days ago.

True, the legs did feel a little heavier, and the throat did tighten a little during the final kilometre, but 'man flu' is all in the mind, surely?

Runners follow the edge of the lake in Raphael Park, in East London. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners follow the edge of the lake in Raphael Park, in East London. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Excuses aside, I would recommend a visit to Harrow Lodge. One-lap routes always get my preference over the multi-lap affairs, and this one is a fast one along tarmac paths, trail paths and short sections on grass.

I arrived as hundreds of geese, ducks, swans and alike were being fed 'refreshments' by a charitable couple out of the boot of their car, a heart-warming sight enough to forget any sore throat.

Just as encouraging were the 263 runners and walkers who lined up for the 334th staging of the local parkrun. To any of these who contracted my germs, I apologise.

The frozen surface near the finish of the Swindon parkrun, when Carl Marston visited in December, 2017The frozen surface near the finish of the Swindon parkrun, when Carl Marston visited in December, 2017

2 Raphael

Excuse: crippled by a hip injury.

Just down the road from Harrow Lodge Park, a mere 2.1 miles to be precise in a northerly direction, lies Raphael Park, the home of the Raphael parkrun in Romford.

Now there must be something about the Borough of Havering that brings out the worst of luck for me.

Runners and joggers assemble in front of Harrow St Mary's Pavilion befoe the start of the 195th Harrow parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners and joggers assemble in front of Harrow St Mary's Pavilion befoe the start of the 195th Harrow parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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A week after struggling around the Great East Run, my first half-marathon for a decade, I took the first kilometre of the Raphael parkrun in my stride, before an intense pain in my hip saw me grind to a halt, and then resume with a painful hobble. Three laps of hell. Happy memories.

3 Swindon

Your columnist, Carl Marston, seen here fiddling with the camera on his iPhone before the start of the Harrow parkrun. His start was delayed by a snapped lace. Picture: MIKE LEPPS/HARROW PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGEYour columnist, Carl Marston, seen here fiddling with the camera on his iPhone before the start of the Harrow parkrun. His start was delayed by a snapped lace. Picture: MIKE LEPPS/HARROW PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGE

Excuse: missed the start.

Inexcusable to miss the 9am start for a parkrun, I hear you cry. Well, I was not really to blame for this lapse, which happened in late December, 2017.

The best laid plans .... work commitments had seen me book into a hotel just a mile from the start, at Lydiard Park. Alas, the event was called off at 8.45am, due to ice on the course, so I went off on a training run, only to later spot 200 or so runners setting off in the distance. The event took place after all, starting at 9.20am. I reached the start at 9.28am!

4 Pontefract

Excuse: one-legged running style, due to a sore calf.

I resembled a lame donkey, not thoroughbred, when tweaking a calf near the inside rail of the racecourse. I was not shot.

5 Highwoods

Excuse: too hot.

The combination of a couple of steep inclines, and some brutally hot June sunshine, conspired to ensure that I faded badly over the last kilometre. Happens to us all.

6 Harrow

Excuse: broken lace.

A good start is always important, and I was still coping with a snapped lace when the rest of the field scampered off at the start of the Harrow parkrun, in north London. I was stuck in the blocks.

7 Ally Pally

Excuse: the dreaded nosebleed.

I looked like someone who had gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, after two laps of Alexandra Park.

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