Hackney Marshes parkrun

There’s something quite exciting about visiting a parkrun for the first time. The consistency of the parkrun model ensures that each event shares the same comforting familiarity yet it is always intriguing to discover the subtle variations that each has to offer. This could be a difference in size, terrain, route type or even simply the accents emerging from the masses. Regardless, these nuances are what give each event its identity and are precisely what makes parkrun tourism such an appealing prospect.

Last weekend I found myself visiting my brother in London and so, naturally, Vicki and I spent some time researching the local parkrun options. After much deliberation, we settled on Hackney Marshes. I had enjoyed hearing about this event on the ‘Running Commentary’ podcast (well worth a listen on a long run!) and fancied the sweeping, flat route through the woods that surround the mass of football pitches. Unfortunately, due to her injury, Vicki was unable to run this time so she contacted the event team and offered to volunteer as Timekeeper for the morning. She got a bit of a fright when she realised the size of the field but manage to keep her cool and record an accurate set of results (although she could definitely have stopped the watch a few seconds early for me!!)

The morning of the run was stunning; the sun was shining and the park was buzzing with runners, footballers, cricketers and dog walkers all taking advantage of the weather. I managed a quick warmup loop without getting lost (a bonus!) and then took my place on the start line. After a brief introduction from the Run Director we were off. The route winds gently away from the start on a long, flat path through the trees between the pitches and the River Lea and the shade was welcome as we made our way along the course. I took the lead and felt quite good as I hit the 2km point which was marked with a 180 degree turn. Heading back the way we had came, it was great to get some friendly shouts of encouragement from the runners coming the other way and the path was wide enough to accommodate traffic in both directions.

Shortly before reaching the ‘start line’ I found myself directed off on a side-path for a 250m detour before another 180 degree turn and a final push to the finish. I felt OK but the legs were definitely lacking the spring that they had enjoyed pre-marathon. Today would not be a day for PBs but certainly served as a good wake up call. I made my way through the finish funnel to the cheers of my 18 month old nephew and claimed the first finisher token in a time of 16:02. I was fairly pleased with the time as I knew I wouldn’t be in prime 5k shape having been focused on the marathon for the last 3 months, however it was a little annoying to be so close to 16minute mark and not dip under – there’s always something!

The morning was complete when I returned home to a fantastic bacon roll and mug of coffee before spending the day celebrating with family and swapping my trainers for my dancing shoes in Shoreditch that night. This was a great parkrun experience and it all comes back to the volunteers without whom these events would not be possible. Thank you!

Skid Row Marathon


Tonight we ditched the trainers and swapped the tarmac, trails and 10ks for the movies for a special one off screening of the critically acclaimed running documentary Skid Row Marathon. Intrigued after several spotlight features on the ever excellent Marathon Talk we mustered a small gang of like minded runners and made a night of it.


‘Health Snacks’ in Abundance


Meeting in the foyer we caught up with familiar faces. Most, surprised to see The Boy fully clothed and decent (no short shorts in sight), were still keen to talk through his minor celebrity appearance on the national news two weeks prior. How long is he going to dine out on this one? #iknowjackarnold


Settling in to our seats we were treated to messers Yelling and Audenshaw on the big screen in a short film about the compelling holistic benefits of running and the excellent work of The UK Running Charity. This feature, alongside the powerful running poem, set the scene perfectly for the main event. Tony’s honesty in particular, ‘running is sometimes not that much fun’, drew the first laugh of the night and thankfully there were no Yelling budgie smugglers in sight in full cinematic glory.


Skid Row Marathon follows the inspirational voluntary work of Judge Craig Mitchell. Sentencing criminals to life imprisonment by day Judge Mitchell wakes early to lead residents of the Midnight Mission in Los Angeles on dawn training runs. These homeless and often vulnerable participants use running as a part of their rehabilitation and are living proof that structured activity and social interaction are crucial ingredients in getting back on track. Through these sessions and Judge Mitchell’s encouragement their  lives are transformed. Participants are encouraged to stick at it with the lure of participating in an international marathon and through months of training genuine, heart warming and beautifully unexpected friendships develop between Judge Mitchell and participants.



At times funny (a highlight definitely being the monkey chat) and poignant the incredible work done by Judge Mitchell to help those often forgotten by their own communities is set against the contrasting landscapes of Los Angeles, Accra and Rome. The premise is simple and humbling in equal measure. Put on some trainers and run. With others. Run a little further each time. Support each other. Stick at it. Commit and improve.


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Although a one off screening we hope others will get to see Skid Row Marathon whether on the big or small screen. Thanks to Marathon Talk for the recommendation.


Making Waves at the Troon 10k

After a brief but thorough downpour earlier in the afternoon, the skies cleared and the stage was set for a fast evening of running at the Troon 10k on Wednesday night. Among the eager runners lining the seafront stood several Runbetweeners, many of whom were anxiously preparing for their first 10k of the season. This was not an event that I would be participating in myself, instead I had the troublesome task of cheering from the sidelines and patiently awaiting the famous fish and chips while the runners got battered (sorry!) by the increasingly noticeable wind.

As we stood at the start line, I was amazed at the number of participants that this race attracts – I always forget the size of the event and it is a testament to the Troon Tortoises that it runs so smoothly every year. I did not realise until I was informed on the evening that members of the club are not allowed to enter the event themselves and are instead expected to assist in its running. It is on a separate night later in the week that the members then run the route themselves in a more private race after which they bestow upon themselves (quite rightly) the race day t-shirt. The impressive organisation of the Troon Tortoises was a stark contrast to the pre-race preparation of Kenny Taylor, who realised two minutes before the start of the race that he was wearing the wrong trainers and was forced to dash back to his bag, moving faster than Gillian Glass when a new race appears on the calendar!

Trainers switched, Kenny made it back to join the masses and moments later they were off. The runners weaved along the seafront as wave after wave they were released from their pens. A bold start from Michael Deason in the blue and yellow vest of Shettleston Harriers made his intentions clear and he led the charge with Richard Mair of Kilmarnock and David Millar of Irvine Running Club in pursuit. Hundreds of smiling faces followed the lead pack away from the sand and around the golf course as the wind guided them gently away from the start line.

The chief support squad of Vicki, Finola and I, made our way to a point at roughly 4miles where we would be able to see the runners pass before making our way back to the start. Here we watched as the lead group passed, with daylight between each of them, looking strong into the final stages. Many familiar faces passed by with runners from a vast number of local clubs making the effort to attend this event. Mark Porter of Bellahouston Harriers flew by on his way to smashing his PB shortly before Kenny came bounding around the corner on track for a fast time of his own. Following in Kenny’s wake were fellow Harriers Neil Nairn and Mikey Gowans who both went on to absolutely annihilate their own PBs – surely a great sign for both with Neil having recently run the London Marathon and Mikey closing in on his race in the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of the month.

Leading the charge for the Runbetweeners were Paul Burningham (running for Bella Harriers) and Jenny Brown. This was a huge race for both runners as Paul succeeded in dipping under 40minutes for the first time and Jenny managed to finish as 13th female on her debut over the distance in an impressive time of 43:22.

There were great performances all round from the Runbetweeners with a bucketload of PBs from Gillian Glass, Kirstin Campbell, Karen Rosling, June McLeod and Clare Taylor. Jacqueline Glass also put in a great performance and managed to equal her PB which suggests it’s only a matter of time before that barrier is crossed!

As the race drew to a close, the rain decided to make an appearance and we disappeared swiftly into the local chippy for a feed. Annoyingly, were too late for fish but we left with a steaming bag of chips in hand and made our way back home feeling pretty pleased with our little mid-week trip to the seaside!

Well done to everyone who took part and thank you to the members of the Troon Tortoises for putting on such a great event – The Runbetweeners will definitely be back!

Katharina Zimmer – Runbetweener of the Month

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Another interesting read this month as we find out more about ever-happy Katharina. Laid low over the last few weeks with injury and illness this was a perfect opportunity for Katharina to complete the blog challenge. As one of our newer runners Katharina’s motivations for running resonate strongly and we are always open to new members as well as people visiting and living the city for a short period of time.

As well as running Katharina likes to visit other parts of Scotland in her spare time showing friends and family around when they visit from her native Germany.

Katharina apologised for her poor English when submitting the article – suffice to say it is better than ours and one of us an English teacher.

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All Smiles @Newlands Park



Name: Katharina Zimmer (or just Kathi)
Age: 19
Town of Birth: Bocholt (Germany)
Running Club(s): The Runbetweeners
Something interesting we don’t know about you: I can make chocolate disappear suddenly

RUNNING (write as much as you want)

How and when did you start running? When I moved to Scotland in August, 2017.
Why did you start running? I wanted to meet people and improve my fitness in a social way.
What is your favourite route to run? Why? At home in Germany along the fields (because it’s all flat where I live).
What is your favourite race? Why? Santa Dash because it’s the funniest/weirdest thing I’ve ever done.
Proudest running achievement? Why? I ran 5 Miles with my host mum’s running club without knowing it would be that long.
What are your current running goals / ambitions? Running Pollok parkrun in under 30 minutes.
One bit of advice you would give a new runner? It will get better every time, so lift your bum from the couch and go for it.
What does your better half / family think about your running? They are impressed that I do it so regularly as they all hate running.

SPRINT FINISH (answer in less than 5 words)

What is your favourite Runbetweeners session? Every team session.
If you could run anywhere in the world? Isle of Skye.
Pollok parkrun personal best and seasons best? 31 minutes and 35 seconds.
Favourite parkrun? Pollok Park.
With 6 months injury free training how fast could you run Pollok parkrun in? Hopefully under 30 minutes.
Favourite distance? 5k.
Who is your running hero? My Host Dad (Douglas McConville).
Your best running habit? I talk to distract myself and others from the actual running.
Your worst running habit? When I don’t concentrate on my feet I stamp like an elephant while running.
One for the guys – tights or shights? NA
Kenny or Jack? Whoever brings the bigger cake to running next time.


Describe The Runbetweeners in your own words. A lovely group of people who want to improve and motivate themselves & each other.