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Easter at Fountains Abbey parkrun

Search for Fountains Abbey Parkrun on social media and you will often see it described as one of the prettiest parkruns with many people having it high on their to-do list. This Easter weekend I had the chance to check it out for myself.

Several years ago our friends moved to just outside Chepstow in South Wales. I loved the look of Severn Bridge parkrun but each time we stayed there, I found a reason to put it off until next time. Then in 2019, Pete died from Sepsis and this was quickly followed by the pandemic. Whilst we stayed down there a couple more times (my one and only KOM on Strava is up a hill down there!), parkrun hadn’t returned before our friend moved back to London and then North Yorkshire so I never managed it.

After I had run the London Marathon for the UK Sepsis Trust in memory of Pete, his wife started running and once she had moved to Yorkshire, us staying with her and then me and her doing parkrun was high on both our agendas. Fountains Abbey isn’t actually the closest to where she lives, according to the 5K app it is 5th, but she had run it several times before and with its nice location, we decided to head there. It had the added advantage of being my first ‘F’ and another National Trust parkrun.

After a quick coffee we were on our way. From today the parkrun was using a new overflow car park and with a 15min walk to the start, didn’t want to leave it late. As it was we had plenty of time pre-run to take in the main ruins of Fountains Abbey.

I listened in to the first timers briefing (of which there were many) and before I knew it, it was time to line up for the start. Looking at recent results the event regularly reaches 500 people but today saw 637 finishers so it was even busier. Along the narrow starting path there were volunteers holding up signs to try and get you into time order but perhaps they hadn’t quite adjusted for the increase in runners. I settled next to the 24min sign but around me I could hear people talking of times more like 28mins and I was right behind the 28min pacer. Sure enough as the run started, I was stuck shuffling in a large group.

The course takes you up round to the left of the Abbey ruins and I was trying to pick my way through the crowd, including a man in a full wedding dress as he was getting married in the afternoon. The advantage of the start being so busy was it did temper my natural tendency to go too hard. By around 500m the field had started to thin out and it was more like a race day where you wind in and out.

The course is described in the pre race brief as a paperclip with one shorter lap followed by a longer loop. This is great as it is very hard for even the tail walker to be caught by many runners, especially useful as the paths are never wide. The first loop back occurs at about 1km and by now I was in a good rhythm and at a comfortable pace.

At the 1st timers briefing the course was described as flat with some undulations and the stretch from just after 1km saw the biggest rise of the course. Compared to a lot of the Yorkshire parkruns I have done it was relatively easy but more than back home.

The course then drops back round the front of the Abbey ruins which are perfect for your pre or post race photos before setting off again on the loop. This takes you through 2km and I was aware my GPS was not as strong as whilst the hill had slowed me, I knew it wasn’t as slow as my watch said.

As we headed along the valley I caught sight of my friend across the way with Boris the dog. Lap two sees you go straight at a junction that you turn right on lap one and you head alongside the canal which in the lovely weather we had looked beautiful. At the end you then cross the narrow bridge. I have no idea how they got past parkrun health and safety as whilst there is no overtaking on the bridge, there is also no barrier!

By now you are 4km into the run and I was feeling better than I have in recent runs. You loop round the lake at the end and then start back up hill to the finish line. I wasn’t quite sure where the line was so didn’t want to push too hard but in hindsight could have done a little more as I was on the line before I realised. My time was 23:46 and after recent runs and the slow start, I had to be happy with it. I hung around at the finish line to wait. They had a couple of issues with bunching at the line but I think this was probably in part due to the event being almost a third bigger than normal.

After my friend had also finished we got the standard photos of us with the parkrun flag and the ruins behind us. We didn’t stick around for a coffee as the cafe was ramped and we needed to get back to my wife and kids before we were meeting up with another set of friends in the afternoon.

Fountains Abbey definitely lived up to its reputation as one of the prettiest parkruns and it was definitely helped by the beautiful Easter weather. It was probably the biggest event that I had attended and it was nice running among so many people. I think they may have been slightly surprised by the volume and the start and finish possibly could have been a little better organised but it didn’t ruin my impression of the event and I love that I was able to tick off my 20th tourist location.

The post Easter at Fountains Abbey parkrun first appeared on Mike Runs.



This post first appeared on Mike Runs, please read the originial post: here

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Easter at Fountains Abbey parkrun

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