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Hadleigh parkrun

With no current parkrun target to work towards, I decided to take advantage of the fact it is the start of a new training block for me, and visit one of the hillier events - it's always good to do strength work, but especially at the start of a new block! With my goal for a hilly run in mind, I decided that this week I would visit Hadleigh parkrun!

The area

Hadleigh parkrun takes place at Hadleigh Bike Park, to the south of the town of Hadleigh itself. The town is heavily residential, with a significant commuter population, and is perhaps best known as the home of Hadleigh Castle, which was built both as a defensive installment, as well as offering the king a private residence close to London.

Hadleigh Bike Park is located within Hadleigh Country Park, and is perhaps best known as hosting the 2012 Olympic Mountain Bike event. In addition to mountain biking, the park includes much of the former grounds of Hadleigh Castle, as well as walking routes and conservation areas. In addition, the country park is also home to a very popular open swimming lake, which was very popular on the day I visited!

Olympic rings to mark the 2012 Olympics

The course

Runners follow a single lap of a lollipop course - starting near the main car park, before looping around parts of mountain bike trails, an returning to the finish along the same path you start on. The course is mostly run on loose gravel paths, with a short distance on trail, and a separate short distance on grass. As can probably be inferred from the fact the park hosted the Olympic Mountain Bike events, it's fair to say the course is... lumpy!

The bike park has a large pay-on-exit car park, which is located next to the start, as well as the visitor centre. The visitor centre houses toilets and a cafe for post-run refreshments, in addition to mountain bike hire and repair centres.

View from the finish line

The run

It wasn't until the warm up when I realised just how challenging this course is, with Strava reporting a 25 metre elevation in my 1km warmup alone! During the run briefing, the run director highlighted that this route is considered by some to be the 16th hardest parkrun course! It was during the briefing that I also spotted another London 10000 finisher proudly wearing their finisher's tshirt!

The run itself didn't disappoint. Unlike other lump courses such a Queen Elizabeth and Wendover Woods, where the elevation is mostly all at once, Hadleigh has a mix of both prolonged elevation, but also a lot of undulations along the way. I had anticipated that the gravel paths would play a role in the course too, but as there's a need to conserve energy, the gravel actually acted as a good reminder to not push the pace too hard.

Ian running with a fellow London 10000 finisher

Thank you to all of the super encouraging volunteers today, who definitely helped get me to the finish line today!

After the run

The castle was built on a soft clay hill, and so has been heavily impacted by subsistance over time, while the sale of its brick in the 16th century saw the original building transformed into a ruin.

Northeast and Southeast towers at Hadleigh Castle

The Northeast tower in particular seems to currently be in the most dire state of the remains, and is leaning heavily owing to its poor foundations.

The northeast tower is currently leaning heavily

While the Southeast tower is in a better state, significant cracks have also developed in its structure.

The southeast tower has major flaws in its brickwork

In all, my additional run added an extra 150 metres to the roughly 100 metres of elevation accumulated during the run, and the 25 metres accucmulated during my warm up - a very good day for strength training!

Links: Results | Strava

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