From Steve Doswell: Cannon Hill parkrun’s three-week break has given tealsters an added spur to discover park(run)life beyond the M42. And that’s how 18 Bournville Harriers found themselves in the Hanbury Hall results last Saturday.
Hanbury Hall is a National Trust property out in the Worcestershire countryside between Bromsgrove and Droitwich. It was hosting only its third week of parkrun when out of a humid, cloudy sky our squadron of Harriers descended on the grounds of this picturesque and stately pile.
With the club flag hoisted to mark our territory for the post-run picnic, Bournville Harriers were officially resident and ready to discover what Hanbury Hall had to offer. The answer was a rural run on a U-shaped out-and-back course around slopey rolling pastures, with plenty of livestock for company. As the run director counted us down, I noticed a herd of cows grazing a few metres from the 140 or so runners gathered ready at the start line. On his ‘3-2-1 Go!’ command we began running – and so did the cows, in parallel formation, presumably startled into flight by the sight of us, an even larger stampede of two-legged beasts running headlong down the track.
The cows were soon forgotten though as we picked our away over uneven tufty terrain. I was glad of my hybrid road-to-trail shoes, the extra grip helping on what quickly proved to be a fairly demanding trail run.
If Cannon Hill’s urban hazards involve congested paths and awkward dog-walkers, Hanbury Hall’s rural risks were those of turning an ankle or the almost guaranteed experience of stepping on a ‘cowmine’. Freshly laid (or not) by one of the parkland’s year-round residents, these ‘souvenirs’ were freely available in a range of textures from soft and sloppy to hard and crusty and after 3.11 miles of trying and failing to avoid them, my Asics Hybrids had learned to live with them as a much more acceptable alternative to sinking a foot into their canine equivalent. Leaving aside these close encounters of the turd kind, Hanbury Hall offered fairly hard but highly scenic running in a lovely setting, with the welcome sight of a National Trust tea room open and ready to serve seven score of panting runners at the end.
So how did we do? Simon Newman came third in 19:59. Nicola Sykes set a new women’s course record in 20:15. Dave Brayne completed our trio of top ten placings in 20:30. Suz West was third woman in 23:22. Not used to bothering the run rankings, I was more pleased than I should have been to get my first-ever parkrun age category first in 24:24, although Mike Greenhouse, Richard Shearing, Tim Hodges and John Cheel were all comfortably ahead of me. Jude Glynn and Sharon Newman both celebrated their 50th parkruns, although Sharon was a bit taken aback at being wished a ‘happy birthday’ when a fellow runner spotted ‘50’ on her celebration balloon… Paul Holloway ran his final event with Bournville Harriers for a while before moving to the northwest. Finally, cake and non-alcoholic bubbly were happily consumed as we rounded off a fine morning out for the teal tourists.