Only about two miles from home Raphael Parkrun is now my new local parkrun adding to the other local runs in Harrow Lodge and Brentwood.
Having only found out about this new parkrun after a week or two of it starting and after a busy few weeks this week was my first chance to get over and try out the new event.
I was eager to try out this new course as it promised to be a different challenge to my recent visits to Hackney Marshes parkrun. Raphael park in three laps of the park all on Tarmac paths as opposed to Hackney Marshes which is a completely flat there and back course.
I was interested to see how my run on a tougher course would compare with my recent PB on the super flat Hackney Marshes route.
Arriving before the race I was greeted by a great turnout of runners of varying abilities, club runners, fun runners and walkers from a wide age range.
A detailed explanatory briefing was given to myself and the other news runners. The first six weeks of the race seem to have been blighted by confusion amongst runners as to the layout of the route. It seemed pretty simple though 2 long 2km laps and 1 smaller 1km lap and on the final lap you divert from the route into the finishing funnel. With plenty of explanations before the start and numerous marshals out on the course to direct runners I found the course to be pretty straightforward.
The route of the run really went all around the park and it really is a lovely park. The route starts at what most be the highest point on the main path through the park then heads down to the entrance on Main Road before turning right onto the water. Runners then hug the waters edge all the way to the end of the lake before heading up the incline towards the back of the park and the playing field and tennis court area. Right around the tennis courts before heading back toward the main park and the start area which takes you down and then up a dip before your back at the starting point for the second lap.
A repeated lap brings up 4km and running parkrun as laps I found really broke up the race and made it go quickly. The third shorter lap starts the same way as the first two with the split then coming after the incline midway through the lap when runners on their final lap take a sharp right to head for home. Down and the up the dip and another sharp turn to the right brings runners into the only grassed area of the course where the course snakes in the last few hundred metres into the finishing funnel.
It was a tough run and I was interested to see my time at the finish. Despite being a more demanding course there times I felt really good and was flying round, I was able to maintain my pace when I started to struggle and I wouldn't have been surprised if I had challenged my PB time despite the tougher route. However my final time was 21.49 which represents my third fastest parkrun time. My regular speed work sessions in recent months are definitely making an improvement as my faster runs feel easier as I am used to running at faster paces.
Overall I finished in 7th place out of 105 runners which I was really pleased with and it was nice to be involved in the business end of the race even if I wasn't anywhere near winning the race. My first km marked a km PB of 4.04 which was also pleasing but shows that I am still heading out too fast and this is something I need to work on.
Big thank you to all organisers and volunteers at Raphael parkrun for a well organised race which I hope will grow and develop for many months and years to come!