Festive Running!

I’ve always loved Christmas. Falling asleep on the sofa in a cheap paper hat with a belly full of food and a familiar film in front of me whilst surrounded by family and friends has always been a highlight. In recent years however, I have discovered another thing which Christmas manages to do better than any other time of year. Running. Don’t get me wrong, I love a run any day of the year (and Strava has just informed me that last year I ran on most of them!) but Christmas running beats the lot of them and this year was particularly enjoyable – with a large portion of the credit going to parkrun…

In the spirit of giving, Vicki and I kicked off our running festivities by volunteering at Duthie Park Junior parkrun. Having been a member of the core team at Rouken Glen junior parkrun for the last year or so, I was intrigued to experience this relatively new event in Aberdeen. I was hoping to get a long run in so set the alarm for 7 and made my way to Duthie Park via the River Dee and Aberdeen Beach. Having enjoyed several years as a member of the Aberdeen University Boat Club, the run along the river was particularly enjoyable as I was able to reminisce of the icy mornings spent rowing up and down the river (often with a horrific hangover) and the eventful (!) socials held in the boathouse on the riverbank! I met Vicki at the park and we grabbed our Hi-Viz vests from the enthusiastic team of Teletubbies (At this point I realised I had forgotten my ‘festive fancy dress). Vicki’s younger cousin was making his parkrun debut at this event and it was great to see the enjoyment that the kids were getting from the event – it definitely gave the festive spirit a kick start!

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Christmas day was our turn to run and so we made our way to Hazelhead parkrun. This was a new parkrun for me and I was intrigued by the unusual profile of the route – 2.5km of climbing before turning around and enjoying a 2.5km downhill section through the woods. Vicki and I arrived nice and early but it became clear as we made our way to the start that Vicki’s injury was not going to play ball and so she decided it would be best to sit this one out. The atmosphere at the event was fantastic and the turnout was impressive. It was great to bump into Kyle Greig – an old friend from Uni – who has gone on to achieve some phenomenal things with his running since the days of our Tuesday night Social Run to the pub! I had a quick catch up with Kyle and then the Run Director led us all in a parkrun themed sing-a-long before starting the run. I enjoyed taking this one easy and took in the scenery as we made our way through the woodland. I would love to come back and have a shot at running this one fast as the long downhill second half would almost certainly lead to a nice negative split! After the run it was time to head home to make a start on food and presents – perfect!

After a couple of days running through the fields of Aberdeenshire it was time to fly to London and enjoy my second ‘new’ parkrun of the week. On New Year’s Eve I awoke early to make my way to Roundshaw Downs parkrun. I decided to make this part of my long run for the week and so enjoyed an easy 5.5M jog to and from the event to take my distance for the day up to 14M. The run itself was great and consisted of a couple of flat, muddy laps around the downs. The event was a fairly small one but as always the atmosphere was fantastic and I had a nice chat with the Run Director at the end.

New Year’s Day arrived and it was time for another parkrun! This time I was heading to Bushy park – the home of parkrun – with a big chunk of the family. We made our way to join the 1000 odd runners at the event and enjoyed the buzz that can only be generated by such a large event. This was my second trip to Bushy parkrun and I loved it just as much as I did the first time around. The route is nice and flat and the scenery is fantastic. Once again, I was surprised by the proximity of the deer and stags that graze in the park and enjoyed taking my foot off the gas to appreciate the view. After the run it was great to hear that the rest of the family had loved it too and we enjoyed our coffees in the park before heading home for another day of eating and napping on the sofa.

So there we have it! One week with four very different (free!) running events all over the festive period! I could have been greedy and gone for the Hogmanay double but maybe I’ll save that for next year…

Bushy parkrun: A Christmas Cracker!

Having hurt my ankle attempting to run to parkrun in Leamington last week, I took the entire week leading up to Christmas off running. The sudden removal of running from my life was a bit of a shock to the system and I was keen to get back into the swing of things. This year I am spending Christmas at my parents’ house just outside of Croydon and so decided to ease back into things with a bit of parkrun tourism – and where better to pay a Christmas visit than the place where it all began: Bushy parkrun.


Lining up before the run (not a race! 😉) it was clear that this would be an experience. 1262 people (including Santas, Elves and the odd turkey) made their way through the misty park to congregate at the start line and there was a powerful dose of Christmas spirit in the air! 


The sheer volume of runners definitely gave the event an added buzz; the start line must have been forty people wide and the crowds wound their way back across the park. I was not planning a fast one today but didn’t really want to get stuck right at the back so I took up a position three or four rows from the front – squashed tightly between a man in a turkey hat and a woman dressed as a Christmas Pudding!


As the starter announced “Go!”, the charge was on and chaos ensued for a couple of hundred yards as people jostled for position but things eventually spread themselves out as we hit the first bit of path and made our way across the park. I was a little worried about my ankle today and was only intending a slow jog round but the atmosphere swept me up. As the watch beeped to tell me I had actually run a fairly quick first mile I made an effort to slow things down and settled into a group. Fortunately my ankle felt ok so after a slower second mile I decided to see if I could make up a few places and started working my way up the field – I couldn’t let the guy in a full elf suit beat me!


Coming into the final section of the race I jumped out of my skin as a huge stag appeared just to the side of the path on which I was running! I then spotted the other seven or eight deer which were grazing just behind it. I couldn’t believe these huge animals were quite happily minding their own business so close to a path which had over a thousand people (many covered in jingle bells!) running along it. Amazing.


As I crossed the finish line I was surprised to see that I had managed to work my way up to fourth position. I was also pretty impressed (if somewhat confused) with the huge, twin funnel! Nevertheless, the funnel management was impeccable and it was clearly a well oiled machine! Dad also had a good run, crossing the line in a new course PB, and we made our way home for a full fry up before crashing on the sofa with a beer and Christmas TV. 


A huge thanks to all at Bushy parkrun for an awesome event, dad for the lift and mum for the breakfast  – is there a better way to start Christmas than parkrun?