Saturday, 8 February 2014

North Hill Parkrun

We were hoping to get a bit of parkrun tourism in this weekend and blow the champagne fog away with a blast at Longmeadow parkrun near Taunton. I was up, dressed, coffeed, keen and lunging about the place at 7:30 when Amie came down and gently informed me that it had been cancelled due to flooding. The next nearest, at Killerton, had also been cancelled. With parkrun plans scuppered, I decided to go out and create my own. I'm not entirely sure it will meet parkrun's rigorous risk assessment, but here it is:

North Hill parkrun is a challenging, mixed-terrain out and back with an exciting downhill finish. The route starts with a heart-pumping sprint up Church Steps and leads out on a steady climb on Moors Road. Since this is a bad weather back-up course, risk of vehicular obstruction should be minimal as nobody in their right mind would risk driving this high road in gale force winds and driving rain (but this is Somerset, so no guarantees, they're a hardy bunch).

The road continues up, slowly steepening around a tight bend. Totter carefully across the cattle grid and bear off left onto the signposted bridleway. As you continue to ascend through the muck, you may or may not come across a 4 stone bulldog who will inevitably gallop toward you. My recommendation is to assume a wrestling stance and prepare for impact or drop back and allow a fellow parkrunner to take the hit.

Once the apologetic owner has recovered the aforementioned beast, continue up the bridleway and cross the road, re-joining the path again on the other side. You will now be running along the cliff top, it may be very blowy. Hang on for dear life until you reach the car park, then turn around and prepare for an epic descent down Moor Road to the finish.

It is a fast descent, and the finish is just beyond the cattle grid. You have two choices when you get there:

1. Slow your legs just enough to make another steady, careful crossing of the cattle grid (recommended).

2. Use your extreme speed to generate momentum for a commando style jump and roll over the gate (only recommended if you are very agile and really only if nobody is around to see you fail and stack is as this is very embarrassing).

The run ends at the corner; this may not be entirely ideal but is the preferable option to running all the way back and finishing with a race back down Church Steps which is mildly dangerous.

We meet for post-run coffee in the gorgeous country kitchen of Pilgrim Corner where there is also a lovely choice of danishes, crunchy nut cornflakes and teas.

What do we think parkrun? I reckon it's a goer!

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