We have been to Cheltenham Parkrun at Pittville Park several times. Once I have Jeffed it too. But this weekend there were pacers so I convinced the family to give it a try. Then I also discovered that it was the summer course – and it was only on the way over that I discovered that it was a harder course. So what did I think?
Cheltenham Parkrun Summer Course
The Cheltenham Parkrun Summer Course starts further down the park than the winter course – near the metal bridge. It is only two laps and is mostly on grass. This means that it is much more spread out – because not only is there a lot more space to run, but because over-taking really only happens once (unless you’re Jeffing, see below).
However, the summer course is a lot more difficult because there are a few steep sections. I mean there’s a rather nice downhill too mind! The end section is actually a gradual upwards incline too – and quite bumpy underfoot. In fact the finish felt like it kind of appeared abruptly – as people on the previous lap carry on to the right.
Apparently this course will probably be the one used until around November.
Jeffing Cheltenham Summer Course
For those not familiar Jeffing is a run/walk technique. There are different ratios you can use but my current Parkrun go to is 30:30. This means I only run for 30 seconds at a time. Next I walk for 30 seconds and repeat this on a loop until I am finished.
In terms of Jeffing it was much easier to do Cheltenham’s summer course. This is because it is mostly on grass and so there is plenty of room to go round each other. What I would say, however, is the idea of moving to the right when not over-taking did seem pointless because it really meant just pulling in people’s way when they could already clearly see and go round. Of course there were small points when over-taking on the left did make sense – when it was narrower and on the finishing stretch.
Personally I found that it only being 2 laps made it feel harder. That first lap was like never ending. But not having lots of faster runners lap me was nice. There was one marshal who told me I was almost there when my watch said I was just under 4km!
The Pacers at Cheltenham Parkrun
The thing to keep in mind I guess is that everyone who is doing this is a volunteer. Giving up their Saturday mornings for free to help. Apparently Cheltenham Parkrun has pacers on the first Saturday of every month.
Due to the start not being where we expected we arrived a bit later than we hoped and so didn’t really see which pacers were on offer. When we queued up to start; we kind of headed to the back.
Once everyone got moving and spread out it was hard to know which of the pacers to run with. In my sights were all the pacers between 31-34 minutes. It was good that there was such a variety for this time, but they weren’t even in the right order. My husband ended up following the 32 minute pacer and ended up coming in just under the 32 minutes. Likewise, I tried to keep up with the 33 minute pacer (after the hill killed me) and again came in just under. So they were fairly accurate to finish.
Other Things to Know About Cheltenham Parkrun
Cheltenham Parkrun has plenty of free parking and is easy to find. Whether you do the easier winter course, or the more challenging summer course you only get one PB, not one for each of them.
At Pittville Park GL50 4RN.
Coffees after and facilities at Leisure at Cheltenham
What is Parkrun?
For those not familiar Parkrun is a timed 5Km fun event suitable for all (within reason, and where possible). They have recently tried to make it more inclusive by adding Park Walkers. It is every Saturday and run by volunteers.
Register for your free barcode and have it scanned every time you go. You can see how you progress your 5K in general, and by each Parkrun location. There are some rules such as for running with dogs and under 11s – find out more, including how to register, at Parkrun.org.
As each Parkrun is set in a different location then they are all very individual. This means that Parkrun Tourism is great not only if you are away from your local area on Parkrun Day, the day formerly known as Saturday, but also if you fancy a new challenge.
Some are all on grass and better for children/joints, some are flat and better for PBs, some have pacers (as mentioned above); whist going to others will help with unofficial Parkrun Challenges.
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Should Children Do Parkrun? Our boys have been running for the last 6 years on and off with no problems at present. They are now 13 and 15 years old.