Renton parkrun, WA, USA

Renton parkrun route
Renton parkrun route.

The state of Washington has two parkruns, within a few miles of each other (though it’s easier to get to each from Seattle, than from one to the other). I ran Des Moines in the summer, and very nice it was too – 2.5km up, then 2.5km down. Renton, on the Cedar River trail, is significantly flatter, though not totally flat, as my slightly disappointing third mile (and pleasingly quick first) showed.

Although the parkrun page suggests that there’s no available public transport, the 101 from Seattle to Renton arrives just after 8, and it’s not a massive walk from there – a couple of kms, and you can get straight onto the trail. I’ll admit, I didn’t do that – I stayed in the Quality Inn, for $80, which is on the other side of the 169 (road), just East of I5, in the map, above. From there, wander over the road (6 lanes, but there is a crossing), through the park and there’s a foot/bike bridge under the I5. Walk along for a mile or so, and there’s the start.

Simple. And beautiful. The trail is tarmacced, and wide enough to take both runners and cyclists, which is good, as the latter were out and about. Most of the route is surrounded by trees on both sides, as in the picture above, and in places you can convince yourself you’re in a rain forest.

Finishing Renton parkrun
Finishing Renton parkrun – as if coming down from the air.

The event is usually small enough that the keen event directors, Catherine (who ran today) and Kortney, and now including Patrick, training on the day, could introduce themselves to more or less everyone, and mingle to keep conversation going after the finish. We had 40 people with a good mixture of paces, ages and sexes. It was quick enough at the start, too, though without the mass of over-quick starts that is so common in the UK. That said, two people cruised past me after 500m and I reeled them in, so people put extra effort in at the beginning all around the world.

Renton group photo
Renton group photo.

The event director asked for tourists, and two of us made ourselves known. The other is in the photo above, and waved his cap at me on the run – yes, that’s a Spurs badge! At the time, I was too hard of thinking to be able to cheer him on, so at the end he wandered up to apologise for having the ‘wrong’ badge. “No!” I said “the right one!”. He was the other tourist, having been based in the UK for the last few years, and moved back to the relative sanity of the US (yes, really) just recently.

The course takes you out, East, for a km, then back on yourself, back past the start/finish, back West for another 1.5km and back to the finish to end up. Simple, with the start/finish just off the path. If you’re in the area, you can’t miss it. They also chalk encouraging messages onto the path, which is great. Weather was cool and damp, and probably tends to the humid in the summer, but it would be a pleasure to give it a go then, too. But there’s a new parkrun at Redmond in the offing, and a putative one in Portland, which is likely to keep me busy on a future visit.

The team retire to a cafe in Renton, post run, but I had a couple of buses to catch, down to Olympia, so left them to it, jogging back along the trail to the hotel. Such a pleasure to be able to roll out of bed at 8am and head for a 9am start. It could catch on.

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