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Joining the 50 club...

Why I’ll never get bored of parkrun (and why Moors Valley will always be my favourite course)

Although I have enjoyed a spot of parkrun tourism over recent weeks, I couldn’t not come home to Moors Valley - the place where my running journey began - to run my first milestone parkrun. But it’s not just the sentimental value that brings me back as many Saturdays as possible. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how beautiful the single-loop course is, winding through the forest paths and along the lakeside to finish, without too many hills to encounter. It’s still stunningly picturesque even in the pouring rain!

Moors Valley parkrun milestone runners

On a gloomy June Saturday morning, I arrived at Moors Valley and proudly donned my red 50th parkrun sash. Suddenly I found that having an accomplishment to celebrate really enforces the solidarity resonating among the runners that I thrive on every week at parkrun. Marshals and fellow runners gave me a quick "Congratulations!" as we passed each other, and I felt like I ran the whole race with an even wider grin across my face than usual. There was one man who called out "Happy Birthday", but the less said about that the better! I’m hoping that I don’t look quite 50 years old just yet but at least the encouraging sentiment was there! It just goes to show that parkrun is open to all – no matter your age.

My 50th parkrun was also extra special because I finally convinced my mum to run with me. In response to my previous attempts to get her over the start line, she expressed a fear of coming last, but of course, no one comes last at parkrun thanks to the brilliant volunteer tail walkers. She ran half and walked half of the course and crossed the line alongside my dad in a respectable 43 minutes. I’m hoping now that she has taken that first step she’ll be back for more – hopefully we’ll swap rain for sunshine next time though!

Some people might question why I choose to keep coming back to parkrun week after week, but I can assure you, I’ll never get bored of it. Not only do I love my ‘home’ course, I have also enjoyed visiting a few new parkruns over the past couple of months. Among my 50 runs so far I have completed 5 different courses and I already have my eye on a few more to get me closer to the next milestone run.

One of my favourite parkrun tourism adventures was at the Hogmoor Inclosure course near Bordon. It consists of a two-lap course, a lot of which is soft and sandy underfoot, including a couple of gently undulating sections. I read in Women’s Health (June 2019) that running in sand could help you burn 120% more energy than running on a stable surface, and the best part was I didn’t get any sand in my trainers! This really is another stunning course and has plenty of free parking which is an added bonus. I even got talking to a man who works for the Amaury Sport Organisation – the company behind Paris Marathon – surely that’s some sort of positive sign for the months of training ahead of me? I’d love to return to this course to hopefully get a chance to meet and run with Susie Chan, a running inspiration of mine for whom this is a local course.

Hogmoor Inclosure parkrun

A little bit further along the A3, I also ran the Queen Elizabeth parkrun near Petersfield. This one had even more of a community feel as there were only a select few runners compared to the numbers at Moors Valley (126 the week I ran). This could be because it is known as one of the hilliest parkruns in the UK - a fact I wish I’d checked before I arrived! Another scenic two-lap course, I was surprised at how quickly I managed to conquer the inclines and make it back to the finish line.

Compared to the hills and sand of those Hampshire parkruns, Woking parkrun in Surrey had PB potential. The three flat one-mile laps didn’t feel as repetitive as I expected, but it did take a while to get through the start and there were a few narrow and muddy sections that had to be tackled again with each passing lap. It’s not too far from my ‘home from home’ Guildford parkrun, so I reckon I could be convinced to go back for another PB attempt– I didn’t quite beat it last time. Contrastingly, Guildford parkrun can feel hilly but the uphill struggles are balanced out by the long downhill sections on the two-lap figure-of-eight style course. It can also get very muddy, but it has a quick and easy start and often lots of particularly encouraging volunteers!

It feels great to tick another running goal off the list, but I’m not stopping here! 50 parkruns completed (adding up to 155.3 miles total distance covered) next stop 100!

If you are interested in experiencing parkrun as a first timer or to try out a new course, go to for more information.

Let me know your favourite parkrun in the comments below – I’m looking forward to visiting a few more over the summer.

Enjoyed this post? Why not learn more about my journey from #parkruntoparis by reading Will run for ice cream, all about my most recent races at Poole Festival of Running.

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