University Parks parkrun in Oxford is such a beautiful flat fast, 2 lap course. My friend and I went along to parkwalk it and here are some lessons I learnt from going along without enough preparation and as a reminder should I return with my family.
Getting to University Parks parkrun and Parking
Accessible by foot, car, bus, train and tube! I think if I were to return with my family I would look at the options for arriving by train – which is a 17 minute walk away from the start.
We thought we had left plenty of time to get to University Parks parkrun but in actual fact didn’t quite make it for the start! The problem was the roads were very wet but mainly it was the situation with parking.
Parking at University Parks parkrun
It was only just as we were meant to be leaving that I discovered that the description of the carpark being a “short walk” away from the start wasn’t entirely accurate! That it is about a mile – or a 20 minute walk.
Then we ended up wasting time driving around looking for free street parking. However, there did not seem to be any! Since I have discovered that Bardwell Rd used to have free parking but not sure if this is still the case. Personally if travelling a distance I wouldn’t risk it and would just allow the time to walk from the carpark!
Which carpark you utilise depends on where you have come from and whether the park and ride is operation if you wish to use it. Basically do some research before you head off! Note that many are now cashless parking only. If you are only staying up to an hour then both the carpark and street parking next to the park are both £5.50 for the hour. Then the parking by the park is a maximum of three hours for £16.50. Whereas even up to 4 hours is £14.30.
Why not make a day of it in Oxford. Oxford University Museum of Natural History opens at 10am and has free entry (suggested donation £5).
University Parks parkrun Course
The course is run entirely on permanent paths. Some sections of the course may accumulate mud, leaves and puddles after rain. Dependent on availability, marshals will be at key sections of the course, or signs will be in place. This was definitely not one for trail shoes but also due to the rain not one for your best gym shoes either!
Starting at the North end of Oak Walk with the finish alongside the Tentorium.
Facilities at University Parks
There are toilets, plus food and drinks served, within the park.
Hot drinks ranged from £1 (Babyccino) to £3.40 (Mocha) – but with additional charges for alternative milks, syrup. We paid £7.70 for a chai latte and a hot chocolate – they weren’t very big.
As well as a variety of cold drinks available there were galettes and and crepes available. These started at £4.80. It also clear that tap water is not available there.
Pacers and Running for a Time
University parks was very quick possibly due to the university students. They were rather inspirational and it was good to see many young people exercising in the park afterwards – despite the weater.
There are pacer vests available every week for 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40. This week there were 25 and 30 minute pacers. But also there was someone letting everyone know what time they were on for.
The first lap I heard them telling people they were four seconds off 20 minutes, and our second lap he let us know we could get in under the hour.
My Experience as a Park Walker
The parkwalker was lovely and I didn’t feel at all rushed. However, on finishing the barcode scanner seemed a bit inpatient. This wasn’t great when my hands were so cold I could hardly use them!
The parkwalker then very kindly showed us how to get to the toilets by taking us there – and then waited to show us how to get back out of the park.
Achievements at University Parks parkrun
- Date Bingo
- Alphabeteer and Parkrun U
- Tourist, Cowell Club and Freyne Club 19
University Park parkrun Stats
There were 442 participants ranging from 15:31 to 1:01:05. Of those 347 were through in under 30 minutes. Fastest female did it in 17:59 and was the highest age grade for the week at 83.23%.
On average there are 393.9 finishers per week, with an average finish time of 27.48. The female course record was 17:14 and the male 15:04. The age graded record was 95.24%.
University Parks, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RF
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