One of the things that fascinates me about parkrun is the fact that each of the events has a slightly different feel to it. You’d think that they would all be very similar given that, at heart, they are simply free 5K events at 9AM each Saturday morning. But, with the changes in setting and location, size of the field, and the subtle organisational alterations it is clear that each offers something slightly different from its neighbour.
I was pondering this as I drove over to Burnage parkrun which starts and ends at Burnage Rugby Club, close to Manchester’s leafy suburb of Didsbury. It was a glorious September morning, and even though my calf was throbbing away my mood wasn’t dampened at all.
After a few twists and turns through a nondescript industrial estate I found the rugby club – the car park already filling up with runners, and with families attending football training on some well maintained green spaces. I checked where the start would be and set off to jog a couple of miles, both to understand the location better and to warm up my aching calf. I really didn’t know that such a nice green space existed here. Despite being a PGCE student just down the road in Disbury many years ago, I never ventured past the Parrs Wood entertainment complex; so it was with some surprise that I encountered dog walkers, other runners, and an abundance of wildlife just minutes from a very busy suburb of Manchester. It made for a very pleasant warm up.
At 8:55 I made my way to the path that the run would set off from and was surprised to see more than 100 people already organising themselves into an appropriate starting position. As the run director welcomed first timers and visitors to Burnage many more were arriving and the turnout looked very promising. With a quick explanation of the course we were off.
The course itself is a twisty affair over good paths. It takes in sections alongside a river and consists of a couple of small and larger laps. A few steps at roughly half way through the large lap break your stride on a couple of occasions, but otherwise the course is relatively flat and smooth. I wanted to run steadily: there would be little point in aggravating my calf. This was fine; the only time I felt it tweak was on the turns as several of them are quite sharp. However, slowing down to an almost stop and then turning allowed me to maintain my position at 15th in the field without too much bother.
The second lap seemed to be over before it started, and with another sharp turn onto the rugby field for the final straight, the parkrun ended.
Despite taking it easy with my calf, and the acknowledgment that I’ll need another couple of weeks of easy jogging, it still made for an enjoyable morning. Another recommended parkrun.