The Scribbler

16 June 2012

The first Whitley Bay parkrun

After an inspiring and emotional day watching the Olympic flame being carried through my home borough of North Tyneside yesterday, it was time for me to stick my trainers on and take part in my regular Saturday morning ritual at parkrun.

Only this was a special parkrun – the very first one in Whitley Bay. It’s been a tough one to get off the ground and I’m sure at times the volunteers who organise it thought it would never happen. But finally, North Tyneside council were won over and elected mayor Linda Arkley was on hand to give the new parkrun her approval.

Runners on the promenade at Whitley Bay

Picture from the first Whitley Bay parkrun courtesy of droughty on Flickr

Even on a grey and overcast day this has the makings of a lovely parkrun course. With a backdrop of the sea and traffic free paths along the cliff tops, it’s certainly scenic. The two lap route and change of terrain, with a couple of short inclines make it a decent challenge too. The hills aren’t too scary – honest!

Starting from Panama Gardens, you run on the well used paths over the Links towards the War Memorial then turn along the path nearest the coast towards St Mary’s Lighthouse. The route goes up and around down to the promenade alongside the popular skate park.

Along the promenade, past the Rendezvous Cafe is a nice long wide stretch with plenty of chances to pick up the pace, or just admire the view of the beach just feet away. Towards the end of the path, marshalls direct you up a small bank and onto the light coloured paths that take you over a small stream and up around another short climb to emerge on the footpaths just before the Briar Dene pub.

Then there’s a sharp left turn back onto the links, heading slightly down hill and a swift right hand turn up the bank to run along the cliff top path looking down over the promenade. The path is slightly narrow and rougher underfoot here, but it gives you good views of the other runners.

Back towards the start and at the war memorial, the cheery marshals will tell you you’re more than half way round as you repeat the route for another lap, finishing just short of the starting point and being funnelled into place on the grass.

I really enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces and getting a few shout outs as I ran. The lapped route gives you a good chance to see other runners, which can be either encouraging or demoralising depending on your attitude. And the change of terrain also helps keep things interesting.

With local cafe, the Boardwalk offering bacon butties and drinks (and a parkrunners discount), it’s also a good chance to catch up with my running pals.

Hats off to Heather and her Whitley Bay parkrun crew for not only getting this event off the ground but coping with a large field of runners for a first time event. As far as I could see, everything ran very smoothly and the cheerful and encouraging marshals were very welcome. And it was good to hear people just passing by afterwards taking an interest in what was going on too. It deserves to be a popular and well supported event.

Stats and stuff:

5k 29:28

1) – 1km – 5:38(5:38/km) – 63cal
2) – 1km – 6:02(6:02/km) – 65cal
3) – 1km – 6:00(6:00/km) – 65cal
4) – 1km – 5:51(5:51/km) – 65cal
5) – 1km – 5:53(5:53/km) – 64cal
6) – 0.02km – 5(4:40/km) – 1cal

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