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Parkrun memories - while we wait for its return!

VCAC Membership Secretary, Ant, shares his memories of his toughest parkrun:

Many of our members enjoy parkrun - a weekly 5k run (or walk - no pressure) in various parks and estates around the country. It's been around for over 15 years and has been a huge influence on motivating people to both exercise and meet their community.

There are 100s of parkrun events at locations around the country, and many more overseas - from open parks and woodland trails to promenades and beaches.

Some are flat, some are hilly, but they all offer different challenges and post-run coffee opportunities - so it's no surprise that many people like to indulge in a spot of 'parkrun tourism' - visiting several over the course of a year.

So, whilst we're not able to get out and run a parkrun I thought I'd share my memories of my toughest parkrun.

I've run it a few times with my family. It's close to where I used to live when growing up so, when we've visited my parents for a weekend, we've often taken our trainers and joined in the group for the Saturday morning run.

So why is it tough? Why have I struggled? After all, it's not hilly, there are a few gentle slopes but they wouldn't really account for the toughness. It's not the prettiest course - it's based on a few laps of a school field - but surely that should motivate you to get round quicker?

Put simply - mud.

Lots of it. Knee deep.

Here are a few reviews of the course:

- "That's the muddiest run I've ever done"

- "Not really a race, more like survival"

- "Why pay for a Toughmudder, when you can just run this"

It turns out I'm not the only one who finds it tough - Radio4 did a feature a few years ago where they looked at all the UK courses, compared times, genders and ages, and then accounted for average age grading on the different routes, and it turns out this course is the toughest in the country.

Easiest & hardest parkruns in the country?

Their reporter decided to visit and test himself.

You can see how he did here:

His normal average run time? 28 minutes.

His run time here? 38 minutes.

Make no mistake - this is a throwback to the old cross-country runs of yore. Football boots are recommended for the really bad days..!

For when we're back open again, find your park run at:

If you fancy the tough one, plan a visit to here:

One tip - if you wait for a few drier weeks in the summer, many of the muddy spots have dried a bit, giving you a chance of a reasonable time!

If you have any favourite races, let us know.

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