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Highwoods parkrun

With a new parkrun PB under my belt at Southend last week, I decided that I wanted to visit a woods-based event this week. It was good fortune then, that Highwoods parkrun in Colchester was running its 89th event, which also meant that I could tick off another Fibonacci sequence number, and would also mean that I could follow attending Britain's newest city, with Britain's first city!

The area

High Woods Country Park is located to the north of the Roman town of Colchester. Colchester, interestingly, boasts proudly about its historical role as the first city in Britain, owing to its role as both a city and at the country's capital city during the Roman occupancy, despite modern Colchester not currently holding city status. The town has submitted an application for city status as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations, so I can only wish the town the best of luck!

High Woods Country Park is a mixture of woodland, fields, and farmland, which was converted into a country park by the council specifically with a view to protecting the land for the public's use from major housing development work in 1987 - much of which can be seen boardering the park in virtually every direction.

View over the lake with woods in the background

The course

At the time of my visit, the event was using its winter course which is run mostly on tarmac paths, alongside a minor section run on woodland paths (mostly soil, with some tree roots). The winter course can only really be described as a well-marshalled lollipop with two extra out-and-back spurs. I was anticipating the route to be quite hilly, which it certainly was, and the fact runners start at the bottom of a hill, only to finish at the top of the same hill makes for a net up-hill course!

There are two main car parks to the country park, one near the start/finish area, and another to the west of the park, both of which require payment. Toilets are available at the visitor centre located in the western car park.

Greeter in the western car park

The run

This week's run was the first parkrun I have attended with pacers, who were part of the Great Bently Running Club takeover. My plan for the day was for a steady run, and so while I did seed myself according to my expected finish time due to the fact runners would be heading in both directions on most paths, I largely ignored the fact that they were there, but it was evident as we were running that many others were taking full advantage of them, and that they helped a lot of people to new PBs. If I have the opportunity to be a pacer in the future, it's definitely something I would vonunteer to do, although perhaps on a less lumpy course!

Owing to the layout of the course this week, it was possible to see other runners heading in the opposite direction for virtually all of the run, which meant the whole event seemed much more personal than others, as you could see other people's faces and provide encouragement, which is more difficult when you can only see other runners backs!

Some of the more 'ruggard' paths encountered

I really enjoyed the run this morning, and there was a really positive atmosphere about the event from start to finish.

Thank you to the event team for hosting such a friendly event, and thank you too to Great Bently Running Club for this week's takeover, and for supplying the pacers!

After the run

While I was aware of Colchester's many attractions, I decided instead to explore some more of the country park after the run without venturing into Colchester itself. I intend to run at Colchester Castle parkrun at some point in the future, and that seems like a better base to explore the town from when the time comes.

One of the park's hidden features (from the parkrun route at least) is the lake, which appeared to be very popular with anglers.

View of the lake

Owing to the lumpiness of the country park, there are some picturesque sights of Colchester to be sought looking southbound.

Colchester from the country park

On a drier day, I'm sure that the park would be an excellent place to relax.

Links: Run report | Results | Strava

References: Britain's first city (Visit Colchester)

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