Adam Bird


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Monday, 20 June 2022

Mote Park parkrun - event 3

Mote Park parkrun On the 18th June 2022 I ran the Mote Park parkun which was the 3rd event held at the venue, my 83rd parkrun and 18th different course I'd attended.

I use the massively helpful 5K Achievements App for keeping record of my parkrun activities, planning future visits and accessing course event page information to understand more about various routes and how to get to the event. This resource is usually updated once a week, bringing enhancements to the app and updating the library of courses. On a recent update to the app a new purple icon appeared on the map feature and a new parkrun for Kent was born.

Mote Park by all accounts had been attempting to start a parkrun for a number of years without much success. I'm not entirely sure what had changed, nor why. But I was enthused to see that a new event was coming to Kent and I was keen to attend as soon as possible. What wasn't clear however was when the inaugural event would take place. I suspected that it would start on Jubilee weekend, which as it transpires was entirely accurate. But according to conversation on the parkrun tourism group on Facebook inaugural events aren't heavily publicised in order not to inundate a brand new event team, which made rational sense.

After some careful consideration and a review of my existing plan, I realised that I still needed to tick off the event number 3 which is one of the numbers required to complete the Fibonacci challenge. When I started writing this series of blog posts a few weeks ago I said that I'd learnt a whole new vocabulary. Indeed this was one of those words and phrases I referred to. For those of the equally curious mind here's a link to the Fibonacci numbers Wikipedia page.

As the event was new there was no real information to go on as to regarding the course. The event page contains the usual map, but the accompanying description doesn't give much away. From what I could see the course was an out and back with a loop the loop in the middle. But I couldn't tell what order the course components happened, specifically whether the two loop part was taken on the way out, the way back or in which direction (clockwise/anti-clockwise).

It wasn't until the first event had taken place and a fellow parkrunner named Steven Stockwell updated his blog with a review of the event that details started to emerge. In fact, it's Steven's blog that inspired my recent blogging renaissance. His posts cover a fully comprehensive log of all his parkrun exploits and covers not only details of the events, but of the history of the area in which they take place. Please do stop by and have a read! 

In Steven's blog post he described the event as 'undulating' and said that this continued for the entire 5km length of the course. He certainly was not wrong! But this clue and the accompanying fly by clip certainly built up a healthy mental picture of what to expect and shattered my mistaken perception that the course would be flat on account of starting and following part of the lake.

I was therefore expecting a tough event which was made even more so by two external factors. First, the weather which was beyond my control. The second, alcohol which was very much within my own.

The week leading up to the event had been the hottest part of the UK summer so far, and was expected to be in the early 20's at 9am on the Saturday morning. Hayden had his football presentation evening which was supposed to be on Saturday 18th of June. It was in fact neither, an administrative error got the date wrong and so instead of being on the Saturday night as expected, the organisers had to compromise and lead with the Friday night (the 17th) instead. I normally try to avoid drinking on a Friday night and save any boozing for a Saturday, so opted for a night of moderation. I didn't drink a huge amount, but had more than I was expecting!

We eventually got home after midnight minus Stephanie who had gone to the unofficial after party. She crawled home at 3:30am and woke me up in the process. Being hot and sticky all night I didn't get the best night's sleep but still set off as planned in the morning, slightly dehydrated, bleary eyed and regretting my obsessive nature.

I used to work at Turkey Mill in Maidstone which backs onto Mote Park and I am ashamed to say that I never took a walk in the park for as long as I worked there. I missed out on a lot as the park is beautiful. Once I'd parked and walked around, noting that the play area included an inclusive space where children in wheelchairs can play safely and inclusively which I thought was amazing and wished every park offered the same level of facilities. I made my way down some steps towards the lake where on the north side where a gaggle of parkrunners were preparing to start.

From the start area, you can't really see the course. You can see the road that you will take, which heads upwards running parallel to the lake. But it disappears into the trees which are abundant and give almost a forest like appearance. 

The pre-race briefing was busy, as with a new event lots of people were looking to experience it for the first time. The lady providing the information discussed the course in detail, explaining the out and back nature of the first part, with two loops opposite the house before heading back to the start to complete the 5km distance. To help runners orientate themselves they are encouraged to take note of the number of times that they pass the house at the top part of the course. Runners should pass the house four times, any more than that they've run too far and any less they've not run for long enough!

As we stood at the start, I felt fairly comfortable. It was indeed very hot, so I had planned mentally to start gently and not try to force myself off too quickly. This approach paid dividends for the most part, as the course was pretty much an upward slog along the road aside the lake. It dipped down briefly half way up before rising again sharply and bearing around right towards the aforementioned house.

The first pass of the house arrived sooner than I was expecting, where the path dips down again and bears left where it continues undulating as per Steven's description. In fact I don't believe there is a single flat part of this course, it certainly felt that way! You are either running upwards or you are running down, there's no respite in-between. Fortunately there's plenty of tree cover so there was plenty of shade which came as a much needed relief.

After a short while you reach the end of the out and back. The turnaround is wide, so you can keep up momentum and the marshall here was great, offering everyone encouragement and support. The path is comfortably wide enough to accommodate people running in either direction with space for overtaking if necessary. As per course etiquette, please do keep left.

The path rises again, passes the house for the second time and dips back down towards the left. At the bottom of this dip runners take a left onto the first of two laps. This path shares the same characteristics as the rest of the course, undulating up and down before coming back out on the bottom of the hill at the other side of the house. Up you go again for the third pass and back around again to complete the second lap..

On completion of my second lap I struggled with the last major hill and had to stop running and walk. Normally I run wearing a pair of running tights to help combat 'chub rub', chaffing in other words. But with the heat I left them behind on this occasion and was in a little bit of difficulty trying to manage the irritation that was being caused as well as the exhaustion caused by the heat, poor preparation and the tough course. But after the fourth pass of the house, I got a psychological boost and started picking up the pace again. After the dip on the way back down towards the lake is a nice downward home stretch which was great for a bit of a sprint finish. In cooler times this will provide some grandstand finishes, but for now I was felt lucky to have reached the end still alive!

I had finished in 116th place out of a field of 195 runners in a time of 30:18. On the one hand I was disappointed at not getting a sub-30. It would have certainly been on the cards had I not walked the last hill. But with all of the things perceived to be going against me I'd have taken that time if you'd have offered it to me ahead of the event! (I would also do well to remember it's not about the time!)

Ultimately Mote Park parkrun is a great addition to the Kent parkrun portfolio and one I'll definitely look to go back to as it offers a great challenge as well as being in a beautiful location for a run,.which is exactly why I've been touristing in the first place. You'd never know of these places iff you didn't go looking for them.


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