Ok, here goes, my first attempt at Janathon. So far, so good but it is after all only 1 January.
It has been my intention for a few weeks now to do a double today, ie, a double parkrun. My plan was to start the year off with a bit of parkrun tourism at nearby Dartford (especially as I hadn’t managed any parkrun tourism in 2015!) and then dash down the A2 to my home run at Shorne Woods. I’m so glad I announced my intentions on social media because at 7.00am this morning, it was a lot of a struggle to leave the warmth of my bed and it was only the fear of failure and ridicule that dragged me from within. But at least the BBC app’s weather forecast of rain this morning had been changed to frost and low temperatures.
My concerns about parking had kept me awake for some of the night, that and the constant fireworks (bah, humbug – I know but I’m getting old!). Parking at Dartford and concerns that if the main car park was full and I opted for side road parking, would Central Park’s gates actually be open before 9.00am on New Year’s Day (they were). Parking at Shorne because I remember the car park being rammed last year and I had a sneaky feeling there might be even more runners this year (let alone walkers, dogs, families, etc). I need not have worried, I had no problems at either venue!
A brisk walk from my car through the Central Park to the start area warned me that the two bridges we would have to cross were ever so slightly slippery! Forewarned is forearmed – I knew there was a reason I parked off site 🙂 When I got to the start area, I found three other runners milling around but gradually over the next half hour, more and more people began to gather and I was surprised at the number of faces I recognised, mainly from parkrun!
Winter temperatures finally appeared to have arrived this morning and extra layers and gloves had been adorned before heading out the door. The wait until the run’s start proved these to be invaluable and were in fact entirely necessary until probably the last kilometre. It was enjoyable to set off on grass with the frost crackling under foot but not so good when churned up mud made the course slippery, especially the hill at the back of the course which takes you up on to the football pitches.
One of the satisfying things about this parkrun course is that it’s only two laps rather than my normal experience of three. And on the second lap you have to make a little detour to pay homage to the Mick Jagger sculpture (and obviously to bump the distance up to 5k!). I was aware this monument existed but I’d not realised it was tucked into a quiet corner of the park in a place most visitors probably never reach. I’m not quite sure what this says about Dartford’s pride in its rock ‘n’ roll son, especially when you consider the blue plaque posted on platform 2 at the nearby station. I’m sure some fans might have taken umbrage to find their idol adorned in a hi viz yellow vest this morning but it made me smile.
In conclusion, I’m glad I ventured so far along the A2 to try out Dartford along with the other 136 runners and I know I will be back in the future, maybe when that muddy hill’s dried up a bit!
Next, Shorne! I arrived with plenty of time before the start and because of the two minute walk to the start area, I opted to stay in the relative warmth of my car until closer to the run briefing. This enabled me to watch the steady stream of cars arriving, many containing people I’d already seen an hour or so earlier, and many containing families wondering what on earth was going on. They probably thought they would be the only ones taking advantage of the dry weather for an early New Year’s stroll – wrong!
Obviously I know this route very well and the 345 runners at this event meant it was a bit of a slow start but gradually we spread out to form a steady stream of runners around the mile lap. Despite the numbers, it was a very good natured event, pleasantries were exchanged with the group of walkers traversing the park in the opposite direction and visiting families seemed happy if slightly bemused to watch us work off New Year’s Eve indulgencies.
I did pass some wisecrack after my second parkrun about whether it would be possible to do a “treble” next year but in view of the fact I’m now really looking forward to bedtime, maybe that might be a bit optimistic!
All in all, day one has passed in a most satisfactory manner (been watching too much Dickensian!) but day two will not involve a parkrun even though tomorrow is a Saturday. Actually, it will involve a parkrun, but I sensibly opted to volunteer for tomorrow’s event. I’m not sure what day two’s exercise will involve, quite possibly some yoga because I have a feeling my body is going to need some stretching after my enthusiasm for Advent Running extended beyond 25th December and before we get into the full force of Janathon!
But do not fret, I will not be blogging/boring every day about my exploits. I thought I might do a weekly round-up blog post of my activities and post daily progress on my twitter feed @HilaryannJones (in case anybody’s interested!)