(parkrun #163 – tourist run #35 )
Mallards Pike parkrun has been on our to-do list, ever since we saw and heard about it on Danny Norman’s With Me Now vlog: Treemendous Mallards Pike parkrun, Forest of Dean – YouTube
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Our expectations were running high… On arriving in the area on Friday afternoon, we decided to do a pre-parkrun reccy, walking round the course at Mallards Pike. What a truly amazing venue for a parkrun. Tall trees, lakes, (some) blue sky overhead, wide trail paths with negligible muddy bits, ample parking, café, toilets… Ticking all the boxes, and that was even before the parkrun team were to arrive the following day and weave their usual parkrun magic.
Some 13 hours later we returned, suitably attired in double running layers ready for a crisp Spring morning’s run in the forest. The turnout was lower than other events we have been to recently, but whatever the assembled gathering lacked in numbers was more than amply made up for in terms of friendliness and parkrun positivity. Now….Cathy and I are not exactly the type of people who one would describe as social butterflies, but that notwithstanding, we soon fell into conversation with a parkrunner who lived, almost literally, round the corner. Our brief chat was then interrupted by Simon, ED and our RD for the day, calling us all to order for the run briefing/first-timers welcome. And I must say, it was great that everyone naturally stopped talking at that point to listen to the RD. (Not always the case at some parkruns, I am sad to observe).
Volunteers suitably applauded, course explained, tourists identified and welcomed (shout-out to our “near neighbours” from Oxford – sorry we (from Tring) didn’t get a chance to speak to you afterwards), milestones acknowledged, and first-timers to parkrun encouraged…it was time for the off.
As per usual, the excitement of runners all around me, led me to start off at an unsustainable (for me) pace. I have to admit that I feared that I might be chatting with the tail walker at some point on the course. I am usually somewhere towards the back of the “middle pack” but felt somewhat more conspicuous in a group of relatively small number of runners (who are all bound to be much better runners than me -😉) Anyway, I soon settled into a comfortable pace as the course, imperceptibly at first, started to rise. Funny how a slight incline on a walk the day before suddenly becomes a whole lot steeper when you are running it!
Thanks to the course Marshalls who cheered me on as I passed them. It turns out that I need not have brought a second layer with me for the run itself. As for the valiant Marshalls, fully dressed as they were, standing in one spot for an hour or so on a fresh Spring morning, must have been a challenge. Their efforts are much applauded and “warmly”(!) appreciated. (Thanks Guys)
So the moment I’d been looking forward to arrived: we reached the “top” of the course. Downhill the rest of the way – well almost! I really appreciated that sign 200m out from the finish funnel just where there’s a bit of an incline up to the corner beyond which the finish funnel is hiding! Spurred on by the sign, I managed to get a cheeky sprint (of sorts) to the finish.
We enjoyed a much looked forward to breakfast afterwards at the MP café, sitting beside the lake in glorious Spring Sunshine. (Does anyone manage to eat anything before their parkrun without running the risk of a stitch or worse (FLV)? 😉.
Thanks Mallards Pike parkrun. You are a hidden gem in the Forest of Dean. Sorry to say that we didn’t see any wild boar or deer on the way round but, maybe we’ll catch a glimpse at some point later this week, when we try out the 10k route. Big shout-out to the Forestry Commission whose sites are very welcoming to runners and, it seems, to parkrun in particular. (In stark contrast to the attitude of the Woodlands Trust it would seem)