It’s time for the Full Ponty! Yes, you read that correctly, we said the Full Ponty.
In the latest instalment of the parkrun Tourism Series, we’re talking about the parkrun tourism challenge to complete the three parkruns beginning with Pont – Pontefract, Pontypool and Pontypridd. You can leave your hat on!
1. Pontefract parkrun
First up on the Full Ponty tour of the UK is Pontefract parkrun in West Yorkshire.
Pontefract joined the parkrun family on Saturday 7 May 2011. 42 people completed the 5k course that day, and in the six years that have followed, the number of weekly finishers is now ten times that number.
The event takes place at Pontefract Racecourse, and the course starts on the inner track of the racecourse near the lake.
On your way around you will takes in ‘Ken’s Corner’, named after a local running legend who has made the Marshal point his own, greeting you with a typical warm Yorkshire welcome.
The Marshals are not the only things at Pontefract that typify the Yorkshire spirit - this “flat” course is definitely more Yorkshire flat!
The event has been an overwhelming success, offering regular Walk and Walk-Run groups, and the support of the local community has also seen the launch of a junior parkrun on Sundays.
Once you’ve made your way to the finish funnel, you can join the local hi-vis heroes Pontefract Squash Club and plan the next step of the challenge!
2. Pontypool parkrun
The second leg of the Full Ponty takes us from West Yorkshire, to Torfaen in South Wales.
Pontypool parkrun takes place every Saturday in namesake Pontypool Park, and launched in November 2013, welcoming roughly 100 parkrunners each week ever since.
The town of Pontypool, within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire, has been home to some famous residents, including film star Anthony Hopkins, who won an Oscar for his performance as Dr Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.
The Pontypool course is not quite as terrifying, but this mainly flat two-lapper does boast some ominously titled “gentle climbs” before one short and sharp hill, which may just silence even the chattiest of parkrunner.
After tackling the Pontypool course, you can join your fellow parkrunners and the hi-vis heroes to enjoy some post-parkrun refreshments at the Active Living Centre cafe – which boasts a dog cafe too!
3. Pontypridd parkrun
For the third and final leg of the show-stopping Full Ponty we stay in Wales for Pontypridd parkrun, just to the north of Cardiff.
Pontypridd parkrun takes place in Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, less than half a mile from Pontypridd train station, making it an ideal destination for parkrun tourists.
The town of Pontypridd has a number of historic landmarks, including the Old Bridge, and is also the birthplace of Tom Jones – who fittingly sung the soundtrack to the 1997 movie, The Full Monty.
It’s not unusual to make new friends on your trip to Pontypridd – the volunteers started scanning barcodes in October 2013 and have so far welcomed over 6,000 different women, men, girls and boys to their event.
The course is a multi-lapper consisting of large and small loops of the park. Despite that, there have been some seriously speedy parkruns at Pontypridd, with course records of 14:43 for men and 17:20 for women.
For post-parkrun coffee, you can head to Prince’s cafe in the centre of town, where you can tell all your friends you’ve just done the Full Ponty, then enjoy their puzzled faces!
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