With Bolton parkrun being iced off, I decided to make the 40 minute drive over to Hyndburn parkrun at Clayton-le-Moors.  The event takes place at Wilson Playing Fields. Although to be honest, on a cold, damp, dark winter morning ‘playing’ was far from my mind as I pulled onto the carpark.  Other runners were just about visible from behind steamed up windscreens, with only the odd one or two dedicated enough to venture out into the rain.  And then, as these things do, it suddenly stopped.  It was time for a quick change of shoes before jogging to warm up and find the start line.

Despite missing the first timers briefing, I was easily able to find where to go.  A path around edge of the field led to the familiar signs and high-vis that marks the all important start and finish.  A warm welcome by the run director and we were off.

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Hyndburn parkrun. Muddy. Fun.

The first part of the course is uphill on some very solid trails.  Despite the heavy rain the running surface was great.  Wide enough for the runners who stormed ahead and substantial enough to get a good grip.  My left hamstring immediately started to complain of stiffness, but if I’ve learned anything over the past few weeks it is to relax more as this seems to help it to ease off. A sharp right at the top of the hill and the course follows some woodland paths along what I assume is the boundary of the park.  With houses visible on the left and the woodlands on the right the path dips and rises through the trees until it eventually reaches a turnaround point.  This is located off the paths.  The course winds through some off road stuff, that with the winter weather, had become seriously muddy.  I chose to cling to the outside edge of this in an attempt to stay upright in my road shoes and to avoid aggravating my hamstring and hip.  The turnaround being successfully negotiated, it was back on to the path and back to the start line.  Ample signs and volunteers requested that we all keep to the left so that runners don’t impede those coming in the opposite direction.  It’s a system that works really well.  The start line passed soon enough and then it was back out to complete lap two of this two lap course.

The end seemed to arrive quickly enough in 23:07.  It felt like a solid effort.  Not too hard, but not an easy run. I’m not going to dwell too much on the fact that it was nearly five minutes slower than my PB.  Things are what they are. This gives me a good indication of where I am at at this point in time.  There are 99 days left until the Manchester Marathon, and with the Christmas celebrations behind us, it’s time to get focused on this as my main goal for the first third of the year.

On the way home I took a slight diversion and drove past what used to be Darwen Moorland High School.  The site has now been completely demolished with just the odd pathway, tree or post signalling where the building used to be.

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I spent six years of my life teaching English there before the school became an academy and subsequently moved to a new site in the centre of Darwen.  Some of my former colleagues have died.  Some have stayed in Darwen.  Some, like me, have moved on.  But, this morning, sweaty and muddy from an enjoyable parkrun, I thought of them all for a moment before heading for home and the promise of a new year.

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