Brueton parkrun Sat 24th May. By Stacey Marston.

As a regular at Cannon Hill parkrun I’ve been planning to do a bit more parkrun tourism for a while, and maybe even try to get the the “Half-Cowell” (50 different events) within the next year (I’ve done 75 in total, but only eight different events so quite a way to go). Suz West had posted on Facebook that they were planning a conga at Brueton to celebrate their 200th event so I thought I’d take tourism with a pinch of salt to begin with and make the 25-minute trip over to Solihull.

The parkrun weather-fairies had taken the day off and torrential rain first thing probably put off a few potential extra runners looking to experience a conga as there were just five more runners than the previous week. 209 runners, including 25 first-timers (but no other BvHers today) so quite a few less than Cannon Hill’s recent turnouts, and a nice friendly feel at the start; I got chatting to another couple of runners and then listened to the run briefing before setting off.

The rain wasn’t too bad once we got going and although there were a few puddles around it is an all-tarmac course so no mud to contend with. At the start line they had marked out where to stand for under 20mins, 20-24, 25-29 etc. which I thought was a sensible touch on a narrow path. The advice from those around was to stand a bit ahead of where the sign indicated and it turned out to be good advice as although it was a bit congested to begin with it soon spaced out nicely and I was in the right area, neither being passed too frequently, nor needing to pass many others. There were also km markers which I liked and the marshals were encouraging, especially considering it was better weather for running in than for standing in.

The course is two laps with a middle section out-and-back (bit hard to explain!) and mainly flat apart from a short gentle incline at about 1.5 and 3km. It would make a good venue for a PB attempt (39 people managed a PB today) and I shaved almost a minute off last week’s Cannon Hill time, with a finish time of 25:18. I’m aiming to get back under 25 minutes at a parkrun before 22nd June; birthday 35 and a new age category, so it was a confidence boost and a step in the right direction (apparently if you tell people about your goals it makes it more likely that you will achieve them, and a race report on the BvH website is a reasonably public forum!)

Registration (scanning) was very well organised and quick, which was just as well as everyone (not least the hardy event team) was keen to get out of the rain. The planned conga sadly had to be cancelled because of the weather and unfortunately the team had a bit of trouble processing the results, but all was resolved in the end thanks to the volunteers.

I really love parkrun, it’s a great way to spend Saturday mornings and to measure your progress if you’re working on improving your speed. I’m also a big fan of the ethos, community spirit and inclusivity of parkrun – a bit like having a second running club. If you’ve never tried it, I do recommend it… Remember, Don’t Forget Your Barcode! (DFYB) and it’s parkrun #allonewordalwayslowercase.