Harleston Magpies parkrun, Suffolk

Harleston Magpies parkrun route. 3 laps, running round the edge of two fields. Except! In each field you cut in and run back toward the corner from which you came, then turn away, and finish a triangle, back where you made the first turn, to complete running round the field. It is *much* easier to do than to explain.
Bemused faces (not pictured) as the route is explained.

A mile or so South of the Suffolk town of Harleston is a hockey club, from which this parkrun takes its name. Since parkrun spread widely, and calling the runs after the town became problematic (taxi to London, please!), they updated their naming convention such that we will see more and more of these eclectic names. (Take a bow, Dallas Burston Polo Club parkrun.)

Wondering whether I should park elsewhere to make sure there was space, and that there was no need to test the instruction to park not in the club car park, but on the grass behind the club house, I looked at walking from town, and found a couple of lay-bys to the North of the club, next to the water, which looked like a decent compromise between parking right at the event, and walking down pavement-less roads to the place. In the end, I was there so early I just parked in the field, and for the numbers attending at the moment (66 this week), that’s unlikely to cause any problems.

The clubhouse has refreshments after the event, and probably facilities beforehand, too, though I didn’t check – frankly, given England’s current “hey, let’s ignore the queues outside A&E, the fact it’s only early Autumn by any sensible measure and just pile into places without masks” madness, I preferred to keep away from crowded spaces, even if they’re only full of lovely runners.

Me, making a turn at a corner of one of the mid-field triangles.

The ground was pretty firm underfoot this morning, but being grass throughout it’s never going to be especially quick, despite being fairly flat. As you’ll see from some of the photos, the route is already getting quite nicely (I hope that’s the club’s view, too) marked even though this is only week 5, but at some point that will probably be a little muddy, too.

The start of the second field; this marshal can cheer people on as they turn into the field, as they make their turn on the triangle, and again as they leave the field.

I went to this event partly because it was a new event, and partly because of the unusual name, but it was enjoyable. Everyone involved seemed very keen to see it succeed, and there was a general air of excitement, suggesting new runners and a community being formed. I overheard a couple of hockey players talking about it, and they obviously didn’t know much about it – there’s an obvious possible cross-over if any of them can fit in some pure cardiovascular activity on a Saturday morning, though the event will happily go on around them.

Leaving the second field. That marshal could do with a turntable. That bump ahead is the big hill of the course.
Running past the hockey pitches, on and out of the second field. This small stretch of uneven ground is as tough as the footing gets.

With such an open course, you’re going to be subject to whatever the weather throws at you – this was a cool October morning but with nothing else we were free to get on with getting round as well as we could.

Far corner, second field, and an enthusiastic marshal.
You can see the ground marked where we head down to run the triangle.

The turns within the fields were often just a little bit further round than I expected – turning a right-angle is apparently easy for me, but going a bit further is something I apparently forget to do – so it helps to keep your wits about you, or have someone to follow. You can see from the width of the lighter colour on the field that people have not picked one line and stuck to it. It doesn’t matter, so long as you head for the sign and turn round it, you’ll cover at least 5k, but if you’re pushing for a time you’ll want to pay attention and keep straighter lines than I managed.

In to the finish (or round again for another lap).
The parkrun flag marks the entrance to the club.

I hope club and parkrun have a long and happy association.

Results from Harleston Magpies parkrun, event 5 23/10/21.

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