Saturday 3 May 2014

Upton Court parkrun

Upton is one of the villages that helped develop the town of Slough - nowadays it is classed as a suburb of the town. The name comes from its situation at the top of the slope from the river terrace - the various levels having been formed during the ice age. Upton Court park is the largest of Slough's parks and is located in the south east corner of the borough. It is the main sports park in the area and is home to Slough rugby, hockey, and cricket clubs. Since 1988 it has also been home to Remote World Model Car Club who have a purpose built racing track in the park. The park is also right next to the CIA, UK Headquarters.

upton court park

Travelling to the venue by car is easy-peasy, and with the M4 being just south of the venue long-distance parkrun tourists can easily reach the vicinity of the venue before moving onto the local (slower) roads. Vehicles can be parked free of charge in the main car park just off Upton Court Road, or for those who like to be closer to the start/finish, you can park in Slough Rugby Club's car park.

parkrun (someone had defaced the sign but i washed the offending text away)

Those travelling by train can alight at Slough station, but will need to leave some extra time to complete the remainder of the journey which is just over 2 kilometres. I couldn't see any proper bike racks in the park but there were one or two chained to the barrier that runs around the perimetre of the rugby field.

just waiting for the runners to arrive

Once in the park, the runners need to head for the South East corner (the rugby club), which is where the run starts and finishes. If you have parked in the main car park, it's about 600 metres as the crow flies across to the start/finish area. Being just north of the main flight path for planes landing at London Heathrow means that the runners can enjoy watching an almost constant stream of low-flying aircraft.

the start line (nice and wide)

Every now and then I come across a venue where the parkrun has truly made its mark on the park that it calls home and this is one of them. At Upton Court there are five permanent kilometre markers dotted around the park which is brilliant for checking your splits as you progress around the course.

1k marker and plane heading into heathrow

The course is almost completely flat and consists of two laps - the first is around 2.7km and the second is around 2.3km. Underfoot is approximately two-thirds grass and a third tarmac. Based on the high percentage of grass and that it had been raining in the days leading up to my visit, I decided to wear my trail shoes, but I would have been fine in standard road shoes on the day I visited.

if i was using a better camera you might be able to see the castle properly

The run starts on the grass near the rugby club and heads north past the wild flower beds (but no wild flowers here when I visited) - this part is on the slightest incline. There is no real defined path while on the grass but the course is marked with cones every now and then - just keep an eye out ahead for the next one and run towards it. The runners continue all the way to the far end where the park meets Upton Court Road.

the shared-use path

At this point the runners turn left and run adjacent to the road (still on grass), passing the 1km marker and then reaching the park's internal tree-lined avenue. Turning onto the avenue, which is ever-so-slightly downhill the runners now have a fantastic view of Windsor Castle in the distance. On lap one, the runners only cover a brief stretch of the avenue before being directed to their right to complete a three-quarters of a lap of the sports field. On lap two, the runners continue straight along the road, cutting out the sports field.

area with wild flowers

After passing the motocross track (you won't see it, but it is there) and exiting the sports field (lap 1 only) or reaching the end of the avenue (lap 2), the runners join the shared-use cycle path that runs through southern part the park and can admire the wild flowers as they head back towards the start/finish area. At the end of lap 1, the runners rejoin the grass at the start area to start their second, shorter lap. Second time around, the runners dive into the finish funnel and collect that all-important finish token from one of the friendly volunteers.

this week a tree had fallen

Post-run, the Upton Court parkrun community head into the rugby clubhouse to have their barcode and position tokens scanned before settling down for a cuppa and/or some breakfast - They may not offer the healthiest options but the prices are very reasonable. The toilets are also located in the building, so they are conveniently placed for the run. It is also fine to leave any bags etc in the clubhouse during the run.


So as a venue to run at, it has lots going for it. The grass underfoot is lovely to run on. It gives a nice soft landing and is nicely trimmed which makes it possible to maintain a decent pace all the way around. The course is easy to follow and is absolutely fine for a spot of buggy running. I also really enjoyed the last bit of path where there are a few twisty corners to negotiate.

what a character

This was venue number six of the #7weeksofparkrun challenge. Upton (Slough) is in Berkshire so is the sixth county and again I managed to finish in under 20 minutes (18.53 - full results). Meaning that all elements of the challenge are coming along nicely.

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