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Dinton Pastures parkrun

Today was the day we had been waiting almost 18 months for - parkrun's return!

The weather wasn't the best, and with so much turmoil recently, I wanted to give myself the best chance of avoiding cancellations, which meant going to an area with multiple events nearby. Dinton Pastures near Reading seemed to be a great choice, with Woodley and Prospect both possible very easily accessible alternatives.

parkrun sign with arrow pointing to the start

The area

Dinton Pastures Country Park is a pasture and lakeland dominant country park located on the eastern border of Reading. Reading is a historic market town located to the west of London. The town is popular with commuters into London, as well as being a local centre for the IT and Insurance sectors.

The meadows which now form the eastern part of Dinton Pastures have been farmed since the Anglo Saxon period. The land was sold to a farmer in 1924, who renamed it in reference to his hometown of Dinton near Aylesbury. The site was later purchased by Wokingham Borough Council, and after being used for gravel extraction for the construction of the M4 motorway, was opened to the public in 1979.

The course

The route follows two overlapping loops around the various lakes, sharing the back straight, and a straight towards the finish funnel. The surface is mostly gravel paths, with some small areas on mud trail, and the finish funnel on grass. There is very little elevation around the course, with only one "hill", which you only notice as a short (maybe 10 metre) downhill section.

Paid parking is available on site, along with toilets and a cafe for after-run refreshments. The modern cafe is situated in a former farmhouse, which was built in 1904, and called High Chimneys.

The run

I arrived early, and so went about warming up, stopping to chat to one of the marshals who also showed me where the start area would be. As we approached 9am, the number of runners grew steadily - everyone still keeping a distance from each other (a hang-over from the mandated separation we'd all grown accustomed to).

During the first timers briefing, we were warned of the "hill" that we would have overcome during the run. Before too long, it was time for the run briefing, and there were definitely a few less-than-dry eyes as the emotions of getting back to normality began to set in. We were encouraged to position ourselves in order of likely finishing position - faster runners towards the front, and without most of the field realising, we were underway.

People gathered at the start area before the run

I joked with other runners as we navigated the course, asking whether any slight incline was the hill we had been forewarned of. As it turned out, my joking wasn't too far off the mark, as I eventually encountered a short descent over maybe 10 metres!

Dinton Pastures sign

After the run, I chatted with several other runners, and met some other tourists, all of whom agreed that it was like we hadn't been away - a great feeling to experience!

Thank you to everyone involved in the reopening of Dinton Pastures parkrun, and the event team this week. Even after the break, the whole event ran completely smoothly - you were a well oiled machine!

Links: Run report | Results | Strava

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