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Clacton Seafront parkrun

Last week, I completed my East of England alphabet, and so I found myself without a specific challenge to aim towards. With cancellation season upon us, I decided that I would prefer to not embark on another limiting challenge at the moment, and so instead, my plan is to now work towards my longer term goal of running every East of England event while trying (but not necessarily always succeeding) to make progress on a range of different challenges, which will introduce the flexibility I've been missing.

At the time of writing, some obvious challenges I can make progress towards are:

  • Stayin' Alive - Run three Bee events, and three Gee events: I need 1 more Gee event
  • Compass Club - Run an event whose name contains each of the cardinal directions: I need South, East, and West
  • Wilson Index - The length of the unbroken sequence of event numbers run at, starting at 1: I need most numbers in the first 50 events
  • Fibonacci Sequence - Run an event whose event number correlates to a number in the Fibonacci sequence: I need most of the possible numbers

With the East of England my oyster, it was actually a challenge to decide which event to attend this week. While challenges can be restrictive, they also narrow down your options for you! I looked through all of my options with the possible challenges in mind, and the most obvious event seemed to be Markshall Estate parkrun, as this would be the only opportunity to tick off an 8 in the Fibonacci Sequence for at least a few weeks. When I was investigating the event itself however, I decided I couldn't bring myself to attend an arboretum in the depths of winter, and with fog forecast for the day. I'm sure I will enjoy it when I do run it, but I expect it will be all the more enjoyable in Spring or Summer.

Looking at my completed events map, I realised that I have accidentally created a corridor of events on the Tendring peninsula. I hope to attend Alton Water parkrun in the coming weeks, as that seems like more of any any weather course, and so I'm at risk of isolating Clacton Seafront parkrun. Fortunately for me, the weather was forecast to be relatively calm on parkrunday, and so my decision was made!

Voronoi diagram illustrating a corridor of events not yet attended on the Tendring peninsula

The area

Clacton Seafront parkrun, coincidentally, takes place at the seafront in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. The town is a popular resort destination, especially during the summer months, with tourism playing a major role in the town's economy.

Apart from being a seaside resort, the town's has played an important defensive role in many conflicts, and the town still boasts three fully intact Martello towers - defensive towers built in the early 1800s to defend against possible French invasions. The Martello towers formed part of a wider defensive infrastructure network, which included the Redoubt fortification in Harwich, which acted as a supply depot.

The course

The route follows three laps of a collapsed loop (almost an out-and-back, but on different paths). Starting near the toilet block, runners run southbound on the upper level of the promenade, and northbound on the lower level, switching levels at each end. After completing the third lap, the course veers off to the right and through the grass finish funnel. The course is mostly on tarmac paths, but being on the seafront, sand can cover some parts of the path, and while the lower path is level, there is a very noticeable incline at the northern end, with the course gradually declining towards the southern turning point.

Free on-street parking is available, although a number of car parks are also available near to the start too. Toilets are available at near the start / finish area, and a number of refreshment kiosks are available along the seafront.

Lower level of the promenade path

The run

Today began with a weather warning for thick, blanket fog covering the majority of England, and as I set out for today's advanture, I was glad I had chosen a relatively simple course in terms of the route itself. I'm sure lots of people will have taken wrong turns during their runs today!

Having read the course page, I had arrived early to secure my free on-street parking, but (probably because of the weather and temperature) I needn't have worried - there was plenty of parking available, to the point I was wondering whether my satnav had actually taken me to the correct place. Having arrived early, I took the opportunity to reccy the route, and it was at this point that I encountered the incline for the first time, and almost immediately reset my intention to try for a PB today.

I still wanted to run hard today, and the course does lend itself to hard efforts. Apart from the fog, the low temperature and the lack of any real wind meant the conditions during the run were actually quite enjoyable, especially when coupled with the sage advice from one of the younger spectators, which was something I kept in mind throughout the run - "run faster!"

Thanks to all of the volunteers! I really enjoyed my run today, even with the unexpected hill!

After the run

After the run, I took the opportunity to explore the area, first exploring the Martello tower sea defences, the most westerly of which marks the halfway point between Clacton and the neighbouring village of Jaywick.

The most western Martello tower, near Jaywick

The second Martello tower is slightly beyond the southern turn-around point, and overlooks a pleasant sandy beach, which I expect would be a great place to spend a summer's day.

The Martello tower slightly beyond the turn-around point on the parkrun course

A third Martello tower is located approximately halfway along the course, although it isn't obvious during the run. This tower is still actively used as part of lifeguard activity.

Martello tower being used to monitor beach activity as part of life guard duty

Clacton Pier can be found at the northern end of the course, and I expect during summer months, would be a hive of activity. On my visit, the weather was likely enough to dissuade people from visiting.

Main entrance to Clacton Pier

While it wasn't sunbathing weather when I visited, the beach along the seafront seemed like it would be a very pleasant place to enjoy a summer's day.

Clacton beach north of the pier

The seafront also features a series of manicured gardens, including a rose garden with memorials to many causes, a Mediterranean themed garden which houses many hardy plants and shrubs, as well as a sensory garden whose plants have been selected to create a pleasant aroma.

The Mediterranean themed garden

I also discovered a lido on my explorations, however, with the temperature hovering around 0°C, I strangely didn't feel any compulsion to take a dip!

Lido at Clacton Seafront

Links: Run report | Results | Strava

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