The recent Riverside Run was such a success. Whether running 5k or 2k the chance for mere mortals such as ourselves to finish a race with an Olympic style finish lapping the Riverside Stadium was a truly joyful experience. Next up is the Sabic Tees Pride 10k on Sunday 8th September when it seems half of Teesside and beyond turns out to run, jog, walk or crawl around south Middlesbrough. Yeah but how to stay race ready between these runs? Or how to get in some kind of shape to take on the Tees Pride 10k? Why not do what hundreds of other Teesside folk do and parkrun on a Saturday morning? A weekly free timed 5km run.
First things first the new runmiddlesbrough website www.runmiddlesbrough.com has lots of handy tips and loads of training runs that you can take part in. You can enter the Tees Pride 10k online on the website.
Why not also run a free timed 5km run every Saturday morning? It is in a park and away from traffic and you will be with lots of friends. This can make it a safer experience for you as well as benefiting from the support of others.
At 9am on a Saturday morning thousands of people of all ages, either gender and all levels of fitness are poised for a starting signal in parks up and down the country. Actually across in Europe and in Australia as well. What started as a fitness run for a bunch of friends in London has developed into an international weekly event. In Middlesbrough Albert parkrun has recently celebrated its fifth birthday. Just across the river, Tees Barrage was one year old last week and Stewart Park has a first birthday in another week's time.
Parkruns are free to enter. Everyone and everything is completely voluntary. It is also a great community event and you will find you get loads of support from fellow runners all the way round the park circuit. Afterwards you can stagger into a cafe and put all the calories back on with a coffee and big cake. But the great thing is you make friends and everyone is in it together.
Parkrun is a totally fun, 5 km run, not race, around a park near you every Saturday at 9am. All you need to do is register on the site. www.parkrun.org.uk and you will be given a barcode. Print that barcode off take it with you to the park tomorrow morning and then enjoy your run. At the finish line you will be given a numbered tag and this will be scanned together with your barcode to give you a time. Simple as that but that time can be compared by age to anyone running in the country and can be a target to match or beat next week for yourself.
We can rightly be proud that in Teesside we have one of the highest concentrations of parkruns in the country, in fact Middlesbrough was the first town nationally to get two runs. Albert Park is the grandaddy of all our local parkruns, five years old and regularly attracting near 200 runners a week. They had 356 one week! But don't worry the runners include slow joggers, stop, starters and even walkers. Everyone can lap the park at their own pace and in good company. Parking is at the Clairville Common end meet at the lakeside cafe where you can leave bags etc. www.parkrun.org.uk/albert
The newly refurbished Stewart Park is a lovely setting for a Saturday parkrun, with a few extra features in the dramatic new Captain Cook sculptures to look out for along the route between the lakes and wooded glades and over the map of the world. There were nearly 250 runners a couple of weeks ago as popularity grows and grows as the Marton run fast approaches its first birthday.
The start is outside Captain Cook Museum looking down on the park and we finish in the quadrangle by Henry's Cafe (where you can leave bags and coats etc beforehand) and you'd be foolish to turn down the chance of a cuppa afterwards. If you grab bats for a free game of table tennis afterwards then you haven't run fast enough I would have to say. Park in the main Ladgate Lane car park.
If you live outside of Middlesbrough there is a parkrun at Tees Barrage, or round Locke Park, Redcar and slightly further afield around the beautifully rejuvenated lake in Hardwick Park at Sedgfield and at South Park, Darlington. You will find free parking at each event and a welcoming cafe at the end of the route.
Go to the www.parkrun.org.uk site register, print off your barcode. Go to the Events page and look up the details of your nearest parkrun and I'll maybe see you at the start line tomorrow morning. Remember the start in every park is at 9am sharp. Although put a loud-hailer to their mouths and a couple of these starters like to gas a bit so you might get lucky if you are late, and you might be waiting for starters orders a couple of minutes after nine. That is what I always rely on in any case. I'll see you tomorrow at Stewart Park, unless I am too late then I'll see you at Albert Park.