Monday, 29 June 2015

parkrun tourism and why I want to win one

***   I'd like to start this blog post by preempting the pedants amongst the readers.  I am aware that parkrun is a run and not a race.  If I accidentally call it a race, I do so meaning a race against oneself or a race against friends.  It is, after all, these friendships and the rivalries forged from them that drive many of us to self improvement.  That is the spirt of #RoadToSub20   ***

The apartment and ferry were booked, we were to drive down towards Bordeaux to a small town called Saint-Quentin-de-Baron where we would have our first holiday as a family, the wife, the child and I.  Naturally I'd packed my trainers and some suitably luminous T-shirts with the plan to slip out early on the occasional morning to log some scenic miles.  "Will you do parkrun in France?" she asked.  The thought hadn't even occurred to me to check if France was a participating country.  As it turns out, it is.

Les Dougnes is the first parkrun in France and as luck would have it only an hours drive from where we were staying.  It was settled, I would get my weekly parkrun fix.  With a little further investigation, as one does, it became apparent that Les Dougnes parkrun had been started just two weeks prior to our family break, another happy coincidence, at this rate people will start to think that I planned our holiday around this 5k run (For the record, and if anyone will believe me, I didn't).

A quick glance at the previous results showed that there were 12 participants on the inaugural run and just a single runner on the second outing.  Initially it was the thought of being part of a fledgling event in a country that had not had the pleasure of the parkrun spirit that got me excited.  But when I saw the times I got a pang of intrigue.  The first place finisher on the first week did so in a time of 20'42", that same athlete was then the sole runner on the second week with a time of 35'57".  My progress recently has seen me post times edging towards 20 minutes and so my mind turned to going for the win.  There were several factors to consider, what would the terrain be like?  Was this mystery athlete on form on his first outing or just coasting?  Would he even be there?  Upon reflection these were all out of my control so I decided to prep well and see what happened on the day.

This desire to win got me thinking, I've always been fairly competitive but why did I want to get the first place finishers token so much?  It wasn't the thrill of going toe to toe with another runner, we all love a good burn up on the finishing straight but there were too many unknown factors for that to be the answer.  I boiled it down to this - I'm into the stats of my running (I'm sure readers of this blog know this already), and coming first would be an absolute.  I often check my performances on Power of 10 and Run Britain to see where I came, top 50% of the field, top 20% top 10%, and have revelled in improving over the unnamed masses over the last year.  But regardless of the competition, to come first would be a tick in a box of achievements.  Please don't think of me as naive, I'm aware that there will always be faster runners out there, lots of them, but for my own game of collecting stats, winning was something I wanted to do.

A quartet of runners.

There was yet another happy coincidence, fellow Hilly Field parkrunner and Kent ACer David Devlin and his wife were in France and due to Les Dournes too.  How about that for a stroke of luck.

Les Dougnes is easy to find, it's right next to the massive electrical sub-station just as it says on their web page.  What I'd failed to read on the webpage was that park runs across the channel start at 8:30am!  I thought I'd left plenty of time so rocked up at a leisurely 8:30ish only to see Dave gesticulating for me to hurry up.  "Come on, they were gonna start but I saw you pull up in the car park so I got them to wait for you'.  Realising the error in my ways I got myself ready and dashed over to the starting point where I meet Anita who was run directing and her partner Alex (The mystery athlete).  A quick introduction, a well rehearsed run briefing and we were off.

On our way - The group is made up of 75% Hilly Fields parkrunners
The course is a 3 lapper, with mildly undulating terrain consisting of 90% sun drenched gravel track and 10% woodland trail.  Even ay 8:30 it was HOT! Anita and Alex were excellent hosts, they'd even brought tea and coffee with them so that after the run we could head to the shaded woodland area there there were picnic benches.  Anita told us that she's not promoted this run in any way yet wanting to iron out any kinks before too many people get wind of it.  Also seems like a good idea to me to start it out in the sticks where it can grow organically rather than Bordeaux where it would very much be under the spotlight.  I have every confidence that this run will grow as Anita intends it too and if the welcome we received is anything to go by then I'm sure is will easily become one of the friendliest parkruns out there.

And to the results... I did indeed win my first parkrun.  Don't believe me?  Here's a pic of the first place finishers token.

Still don't believe me? Check out the Results page.

Alex may not have been aware of the race he was in that day but he really helped me enjoy the experience by pushing me all the way.  I'm also pleased to report that Alex's course record remains intact, did I mention it was very hot?  Maybe next time eh?

Fantastic day, great people, milestone achieved.  All in all a memorable holiday experience.


Please don't forget you can sponsor me to run the Berlin Marathon in September at my Just Giving Page.


  1. Amazing! Just found your blog via #ukrunchat. Was drawn to the name as I'm on my own (very much less impressive) road to sub25 after my 2 babies. Congrats on your win!

    1. Nice one Tenminutesspare! Given all three of Road to Sub 20 are male, we will never be able to recreate your effort, but we're suitably impressed and wish you all the best. We'll be updating our blog with a new challenge in the very near future, and we'll keep an eye on your progress

  2. 1. It's definitely a race
    2. Finding a four person PR is cheating
    3. Well done. I'm jealous

  3. Tourism in Honduras helps this country to remain in the competitive global market. Honduras is famous for its natural and cultural heritage. Its superb cultural heritage is well known all over the near marshall mo

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Cycling to Bovilla in Albania is an impressive journey Adventures Albania

  6. Numerous individuals live for their excursions. Have you at any point thought of making excursions your life? On the off chance that you love working with individuals and helping them have fun, think about working in travel and tourism.clinton mo motels

  7. Many travellers want to discover new things. Travel consultants have at their disposal thousands of proven travel options. Their knowledge may very well help you find a better travel experience than what is available online.clinton mo hotels

  8. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info. india visa for swedish citizens

  9. Luckily, there are certain things that still keeping the traveling for senior travelers an easy and hassle-free task.cost of a disney vacation

  10. Travel can be demanding, especially if you are not being "led around by the nose" on a group trip. You know kign west village condo for sale you will need to be on your toes - to be situationally aware - to pay close attention. You will need to walk extensively, including up and down hills and stairs.

  11. Possibly the best thing about going online when looking for a travel agency is that you can see customer reviews. vape store

  12. Thank you because you have been willing to share information with us. we will always appreciate all you have done here because I know you are very concerned with our. Zanzibar day tours

  13. Adaptability is vital when danger is permitted because of the potential misfortunes an administrator or specialist may have to take from the start. More Help

  14. Maybe the most front line of the advances is "ticketless" travel, which practically all significant aircrafts are trying. Europa-Road

  15. Make sure you have money in the local currency as most adventure trips are salzburgo austrien off the beaten track where Traveler's Checks or foreign currency will not be accepted. Take some smaller denominations for tips, baksheesh and the occasional bribe!

  16. To improve time and facilitate the cycles, the organization of the board stages ought to have robotized measures. This implies they ought to embrace portable arrangements where search alternatives, travel alarms, ticket reservations and so on can be gotten to rapidly, effectively and in a hurry. Tripda

  17. The regional manifestations of climate change will be highly relevant for tourism sector that demands adaptation by all major tourism stakeholders. In fact,

  18. In case you're going with your family or a gathering of companions, consider remaining at an all-suite inn or in any event, leasing a period share, an extraordinary alternative for families going on a street outing. mélybölcsős szállítás Europa-Road Kft