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Top seven list of battle-related, warmongering parkruns

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:00 19 November 2019

Runners and walkers congregate for the start of last Saturday's Luton Wardown parkrun, with the lake in the foreground. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Runners and walkers congregate for the start of last Saturday's Luton Wardown parkrun, with the lake in the foreground. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. Here he heads to Luton Wardown and compiles a top seven warmongering parkruns

Wardown Park, the home of the Wardown parkrun in Luton, BedfordshireWardown Park, the home of the Wardown parkrun in Luton, Bedfordshire

I was one of 332 like-minded souls who visited the Luton Wardown parkrun, in perfect tranquillity, on a sleepy Saturday morning in Bedfordshire last weekend.

I came in peace, not with sword, but covering the three-and-a-bit laps of the WARdown Luton parkrun has inspired me to unearth for more battle-related, warmongering parkrun names.

Remember, I am a strong advocator of peace, not war; of friendship, not hatred; of shaking hands, not shaking fists.

But even so .....

Runners negotiate the grassy uphill section at last Saturday's Luton Wardown parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners negotiate the grassy uphill section at last Saturday's Luton Wardown parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

1 Luton WARdown (Beds)

I guess Luton is most associated with its previous hat-making and motor car industries, plus its airport (made famous by Lorraine Chase) and its football club (nicknamed the Hatters).

But the parkrun has also been a mainstay of the town since April, 2015, with Wardown Lake as its focal point.

Action from last weekend's 235th Luton Wardown parkrun, held in bright, autumnal conditions. Picture: CARL MARSTONAction from last weekend's 235th Luton Wardown parkrun, held in bright, autumnal conditions. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The course is a quick one, albeit for an awkward climb up a grassy section to the museum, which you have to negotiate four times, and also a little congestion on the narrow tarmac paths during the last couple of circuits.

- parkrun top seven 'L' list

Runners snake through Gunpowder Park at the Gunpowder parkrun in Waltham Abbey. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners snake through Gunpowder Park at the Gunpowder parkrun in Waltham Abbey. Picture: CARL MARSTON

But it's all very friendly and the lake, created by widening the River Lea during the Victorian era, is a delight.

The lake used to accommodate open-air swimming, and even boating. Now it is merely home to geese, swans and ducks - a scene about as far-removed from warmongering as you could get.

Reason: 'War, what is good for? Absolutely nothin'!'

Runners set off at the start of the Hastings parkrun, on the East Sussex coastRunners set off at the start of the Hastings parkrun, on the East Sussex coast

2 GUNPOWDER (Essex)

This was one of the first 10 parkruns that I visited, and naturally I was anticipating an explosive run.

As always seems to be the case, though, my performance was more of a damp squib than a display of fireworks.

Situated at Waltham Abbey, handily placed just off junction 26 of the M25, Gunpowder Park used to be a home for testing munitions, stretching back more than 300 years ago. From the mid-1850s, the site was centred on developing new nitro-based explosives, while after World War II it became a defence research establishment.

Hastings pier, a welcome sight for participants in the Hastings parkrun. The pier is near the half-way mark. Picture: CARL MARSTONHastings pier, a welcome sight for participants in the Hastings parkrun. The pier is near the half-way mark. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The site closed in 1991, and now the main 'explosions' occur every Saturday morning, and have done since parkrun arrived in October, 2011. It's two laps on gravel tracks, simple but satisfying.

Reason: can be explosive

3 HASTINGS (Sussex)

Runners and walkers, in fancy-dress, set off at the start of the Clare Castle parkrun, held just three days before Christmas. The motte and bailey castle is in the background. Picture: CLARE CASTLE PARKRUN FACEBOOKRunners and walkers, in fancy-dress, set off at the start of the Clare Castle parkrun, held just three days before Christmas. The motte and bailey castle is in the background. Picture: CLARE CASTLE PARKRUN FACEBOOK

If there's one fact everyone remembers, from their school-day history lessons, then its the date of 1066 for the Battle of Hastings.

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I thought it would be quirky if I was to land at Hastings for the 166th staging of the Hastings parkrun but, true to form, I ended up arriving the following weekend for the 167th, in late June of 2018.

Runners, walkers and joggers congregate before the start (not the finish!) of the inaugural Hunstanton parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners, walkers and joggers congregate before the start (not the finish!) of the inaugural Hunstanton parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

- Top seven 'M' listed parkruns

The Battle of Hastings did not actually take place in Hastings - it was fought on a nearby field at Senlac Hill, eight miles away - while the parkrun actually starts in St Leonards, to the west of Hastings, and heads eastwards to the pier along the promenade.

I loved it.

Reason: 1066

4 Clare CASTLE (Suffolk)

Now this is proper warmongering territory, dating back to the time of the Romans and the Saxons, and appropriately the parkrun starts close to the remains of a motte and bailey castle, built after the Norman conquest in 1066.

One of my more 'local events,' I first rolled up for event No. 4 in October, 2017. A three-lapper close to the River Stour. Lovely.

Reason: king of the castle.

5 HUNstanton (Norfolk)

I attended the inaugural Hunstanton parkrun (last month), on the Norfolk coast, and I can confirm that the event is not inundated with warlike nomadic people from the Caucasus, wishing to invade another empire.

- What to expect from a visit to Hunstanton parkrun

I spotted more dogs, than 'Huns,' along the delightful 5K route which includes a bracing stretch on the grassy cliff tops.

Reason: It's HUNderful!

6 MARCH parkrun (Cambs)

I know that an army does best when it 'marches on its stomach,' but I ate a bit too much toast in the hour leading up to my visit to the March parkrun, in the autumn of 2017. The net result was a stitch that developed over four laps of West End Park.

Reason: march first, eat later.

7 KesGRAVE (Suffolk)

A bit of a downer to end this list with a mention of burial places (popular with military campaigns), especially as Kesgrave is a 5K scorcher on flat, grassy terrain.

Reason: a good place to bury those PBs!

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