Sunday 5 June 2016

Folkestone parkrun 94

Although this was my first visit to an official Folkestone parkrun event, it wasn't the first time I had run the course. I first did that back in 2014 when I was passing and stopped of for a freedom run. I had been meaning to go back to officially run it ever since, but I was waiting for a reason to justify the journey to the coast.

welcome to the leas [photos: 7t]

Then almost two years after that freedom run, my wife suggested that we take our daughter on an organised fossil hunt in Betteshanger Country Park (formerly Fowlmead Country Park), which itself is now home to a junior parkrun. The country park is not a million miles away from Folkestone, so it made sense to swing by for a swift pre-fossil-hunt run.

I covered some of the history of the various interesting things on and around the course in my Folkestone parkrun freedom run blog entry, so I'd recommend reading that post if you're interested in that kind of thing. It also has a more in-depth course description.

start [photos: dani]

I had recently run 40.48 in a 10k race and 5.41 in a 1 mile race, and these times suggested that I might be able to put in a sub-20 minute 5k, so I thought I'd give it a good effort to see if this weekend would be the one where I finally broke the magic 20 minute barrier again (it's been a tough last 18 months with a pretty nasty knee injury which isn't going to heal - I'm just trying to work around it).

The run takes place on 'The Leas' which is at the top of the cliffs at Folkestone seafront, and this kind of course usually suffers from being extremely windy. However, on the day I visited it was relatively wind-free, so that was great news. The course does have a very slight incline as you run from east to west and it does affect your pace, especially later in the run. Also, if you love bugs wear a bright yellow top here, you'll soon attract a good following.

2km in and the halfway arch [photos: dani / 7t]

Just before the run, I bumped into fellow parkrun tourist Mike Bristow whose home run is Wanstead Flats parkrun, a very enjoyable run and a place of extremes. We also hung around and had a coffee in the official post-run refreshments venue 'The Leas Cliff Cafe', which is right next to the start-finish area.

The first kilometre is run on a gentle incline, but with fresh legs it's quite manageable. The turnaround point is exactly on the 1km marker. The second kilometre takes place on the lower path heading back towards the start - there's a little drop in elevation, but still flat apart from the slope that takes runners back up to the upper path.

the lower path rejoining the main path / finish [photos: dani]

The third kilometre is an out-and-back in the other direction towards the large silver arch at the eastern end of the course. The turnaround point here is also the half-way point of the run. After the turnaround point, the next 1.5km stretch is ever-so-gently uphill until reaching the western turnaround point again, this marks 4km. The final 1km is back along the lower path until the path emerges back at the start finish area and the finish.

19 minutes and 47 seconds after the run was started, I crossed the finish line and re-entered the sub-20 5k club (there is a club, right?).  It also marked my 249th parkrun, which means it's the last time I'll have a 100 club icon next to my name in the results. It's a little sad, but after three-and-bit years in the 100 club it's about time for a change.

touristing fun and bugs [photos: dani]

It also marked my official completion of all of the current parkruns in Kent - so maybe I'm '100 perKent' or even 'Kentire' - some of the other suggestions were a little on the rude side, but 'Total Kent', 'A complete Kent, 'Utter Kent' and 'what a Kent' also made the short-list. As with all things like this, something will emerge and I'll go with whatever the parkrun tourists decide works best.

GPS file of the course: Folkestone parkrun 94

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