At parkrun, it’s all about the taking part – whether you walk, jog, run or volunteer. But everyone loves blowing off the cobwebs and going for a PB!
Here are seven of the parkruns across the UK that offer some personal best potential…
1. Belfast Victoria parkrun, Northern Ireland
We start our tour of pancake parkruns in beautiful Belfast. Victoria Park has played home to Belfast Victoria parkrun since May 2011.
The course involves three laps of the lake on tarmac and trail paths, and it definitely has the potential to be speedy for those feeling eager on a Saturday morning!
The course also offers views over the iconic Samson and Goliath shipbuilding cranes, the biggest free-standing cranes anywhere in the world.
The men’s course record is 14:51, set by Irish Olympian Paul Pollock, and the women’s record is held by Jessica Craig with 16:51. However, like all parkruns, Belfast Victoria is not just for faster runners – the average finish time is 27:45.
In seven years of parkrunning, almost 12,000 different people have taken part at Belfast Victoria, with an average of almost 180 people each week.
Fun fact: There have been more than 14,000 PBs at Belfast Victoria parkrun.
2. Cardiff parkrun, Wales
Next up, it’s Cardiff parkrun. The event in the Welsh capital is one of the oldest parkruns in the UK, having launched way back in February 2008.
Handily located to the north of the city, just a few miles from Cardiff Central train station, the route is a straight forward out-and-back lollipop along the River Taff within Bute Park.
The course itself is certainly one for those looking to get things moving – so much so that the parkrun female World Record was set on the course in January 2019 by Charlotte Arter, with a rapid time of 15:50.
The scenic route features river views, woods, parkland and gardens. It’s pancake flat too, and with around 700 parkrunners taking part each week, you’ll be sure to have plenty of company.
You can then sit back, relax, coffee in-hand and look forward to the PB email dropping into your inbox!
Fun fact: The city of Cardiff is twinned with Stuttgart in Germany, which is home to Kräherwald parkrun.
3. Dulwich parkrun, London
England’s capital and the surrounding area has more than 50 different parkruns to choose from, with each offering something different. For those looking for a fast time, Dulwich parkrun in south London is always a popular destination.
There have been more than 51 million parkruns completed in history, and Dulwich was the venue for the second-fastest parkrun time ever.
In December 2018, Alex Yee became only the second person to dip under the 14-minute barrier, running an extraordinary time of 13:57. He clearly wanted to make sure he got a seat in the cafe!
The flat course walks, jogs and runs along wide, smooth, tarmac paths, and being a three-lapper, it is ideal for those number-crunching parkrunners who like to tick off their mile splits.
Another advantage of Dulwich parkrun for those PB-hunters is the fact the course has minimal sharp turns, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost – something that is always handy for those parkrunners who are directionally-challenged.
Most importantly, the beautiful Dulwich Park has a lovely cafe in the centre so you can toast that all-time parkrun best over a cup of coffee. Cheers!
Fun fact: In 1538, Henry VIII seized control of Dulwich and sold it to goldsmith Thomas Calton for £609.
4. Edinburgh parkrun, Scotland
From the capitals of Northern Ireland, Wales and England, to the capital of Scotland. You might be wondering, how can the medieval city of Edinburgh, with its cobbled, hilly streets and world-famous castle offer ideal conditions for flat, speedy parkruns?
The answer is, head to the coast…
Edinburgh parkrun takes place along the Cramond/Silverknowes promenade and travels entirely along tarmac footpaths.
As it borders the Firth of Forth, you can be exposed to the elements, but with that comes glorious views as you huff and puff your way around the course.
Now if you’re worried about being on your own, fear not, because around 650 parkrunners take to the course every Saturday morning. You can then make your way back to the city, PB in hand, ready to explore everything the magnificent city has to offer.
Fun fact: Edinburgh Castle is built on an extinct volcano.
5. Hull parkrun, East Yorkshire
Yorkshire is notorious for being “undulating” but there are no hills in sight at our latest destination – the total elevation gain for the whole Hull parkrun course is less than two metres!
The event takes place in East Park, which is a registered Grade II listed site by English Heritage. The Hull parkrun course is flat and fast, with the route circling East Park’s beautiful lake, entirely on tarmac paths.
Hull’s biggest park has staged more than 500 events since Hull parkrun launched back in April 2010, with almost 15,000 different people completing the course in that time.
Fun fact: The official name of Hull is Kingston upon Hull, and people from the city are known as Hullensians.
6. Long Eaton parkrun, Derbyshire
The very first Long Eaton parkrun took place in June 2015 and course has been serving up PBs ever since. In total, more than 15,000 personal bests have been recorded at Long Eaton.
Taking place in scenic West Park, the course is a two-lapper entirely on tarmac paths and is flatter than the very flattest of flat pancakes.
Jessica Piasecki recorded the second-fastest parkrun time ever by a female parkrunner, with a sprightly 15:51, but it’s not just those near the front who enjoy Long Eaton parkrun… Val Naylor racked up a staggering age grading of 99.18 % in the 75-79 age category!
With a fast, hospitable course, you might be thinking this event is just for those who want to push themselves to the limit – but just like all parkruns, everyone is welcome, with around 500 people walking, jogging and running the 5k every week.
How do you round-off the Long Eaton parkrun experience? Every week the locals and tourists mingle over coffee at the Rugby House Cafe, which offers a cheeky discount for parkrunners!
Fun fact: parkrunners at Long Eaton have covered more than 400,000 kilometres.
7. Worthing parkrun, West Sussex
Oh we do love to be beside the seaside. And we especially love to PB beside the seaside. See what we did there?
For those looking to start a day at the beach with a blast at parkrun, Worthing is certainly one for your list. The course is flatter than a bottle of pop that has been left open in your fridge for two weeks!
The route is a straight out-and-backer along the promenade, meaning you can enjoy sea views for the duration of your parkrun. There is just the one turn to navigate before you reach the finish – the turnaround point at halfway.
Your biggest nemesis at Worthing parkrun is likely to be the stiff sea breeze, but if your visit happens to coincide with a rare calm day, or even a strong tailwind for the way back, your personal best dreams may just come true.
Ultimately, parkrun is all about community and the overall parkrun experience, and at Worthing you can enjoy coffee and breakfast with views over the beach, or spend the day on the pier, playing crazy golf, or on the amusements.
However you choose to shell-ebrate is up to you!
Fun fact: In 1894, Oscar Wilde wrote The Importance of Being Earnest while on holiday in Worthing.
As always, this is just a selection of parkruns for you to explore – many other hundreds of options are available too. You can find your nearest parkrun here #DFYB
The main header photo was taken by Leanne Hall.
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