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Bedford parkrun

Today's parkrun plan is a simple one - attend 2 parkruns close to each other. I wanted to attend ones with similar terrain so I didn't need to make a kit swap too, but apart from that, I left the decision of which two events to attend to the parkrun Special Events page, which suggested that Bedford and Great Denham would be a great choice, given they're less than 5 km from each other.

I have done a couple of 10km training runs to date, so the distance isn't a problem - I'll just need to make sure I don't push too hard in the first run, so I still have enough to get around the second run!

The area

Located approximately half way between London and Birmingham, an Oxford and Cambridge, Bedford's largest park, Bedford Park is host to Bedford parkrun.

The park is a focal point for many local sports, and local residents alike, with facilities for cricket, basketball, rounders, football, bowls, and tennis, all readily available within a picturesque tree-lined open space.

View of western half of Bedford Park

The town has a strong sporting heritage, and is home to 4 rugby union teams, 1 rugby league team, an athletics stadium, several kayaking facilities, in addition to local football teams.

The River Great Ouse plays host to many rowing galas throughout the year, and the gardens along the embankment are popular spaces, especially during warmer weather.

The course

Participants follow two and a half laps of the perimeter of the park, all on tarmac, finishing on a dividing path, bisecting the park. Apart from a slight rise in the north-west corner, the route is very flat, and definitely worth considering if you're seeking a fast time.

Paid toilets are located near to the start line, and a cafe is located near to the finish funnel. Free parking is available on the adjoining roads (Park Avenue), and a car park (including an electric vehicle charger) is available at the west end of the park, which offers 3 hours free parking.

The run

The Santa hats had mostly gone, but this run definitely had the same sort of atmosphere as the Christmas run at Milton Keynes parkrun. In addition to a flood of new year wishes, numbers had understandably swelled with the addition of resolutioners, with the many first timers and occasional participants adding to the excitement of the day.

The number of participants ensured that you were never far away from anyone else, which encouraged me to push harder than I was initially planning, even though I had planned on keeping something in the tank for the second run later in the day!

As I was pushing harder than usual (and planned), I couldn't resist the temptation to sprint along the finish line with another runner, for some friendly competition. The crowd gathered at the finish funnel seemed to appreciate it too, as they cheered us both all the way to the line. I finished the run having definitely not taken it easy, with a roughly 30 second PB! The second run of the day will be interesting!

An extra special thank you to all of this week's volunteers, the runners who encouraged me today, and the crowd at the finish funnel for cheering me and my competition to the finish, and happy new year to you all!

Links: Results | Strava

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