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Great Yarmouth North Beach parkrun

With the summer weather returning, I decided that this week would be an ideal opportunity to run at Great Yarmouth North Beach parkrun, as it would also mean spending the day at the seaside during nice weather!

Great Yarmouth North Beach

The area

Located on the northern bank of the River Yare, Great Yarmouth North Beach parkrun has a reputation as being one of the more challenging parkruns in the UK, owing to being run entirely on a sandy beach. Thanks to its reputation, many local runners tend to steer towards Gorleston Cliffs parkrun on the southern bank of the River Yare, which is run entirely on tarmac, although it too has a challenging hill!

While Great Yarmouth's history is tied to the fishing industry, the modern town is both a popular holiday location, with many people visiting the beaches, piers, and other amusements, while staying in the many local caravan parks, as well as supporting the offshore renewable industry, with the port providing a base for the construction of components for wind turbines.

Part of the course with Britannia pier in the background

The course

Great Yarmouth North Beach parkrun is run entirely on sand and pebbles. The course is two rectangular laps through sand dunes, and while it is mostly flat, the surface is the element which provides the most challenge!

Pay and display parking is available next to the start, along with public toilets. Being a tourist destination, there are many cafes near the event offering post-run refreshments.

The run

As I finished my warmup for this week's run, I joined the first timer's briefing along with almost everyone else in attendance this week, where we were told that the event had almost been cancelled due to a family who were volunteering not being able to attend. Fortunately, the team did manage to find enough volunteers by 15 minutes from the start, and the run could go ahead, and so the volunteers deserve an extra special thank you this week!

I knew that this was going to be a tough run going into it, and as I set foot onto the sand, which had softened with the warm weather we had experienced in the week before. The course record for Great Yarmouth North Beach parkrun is well over 20 minutes, despite the event being over 50 events old! Having not fully recovered from my previous run the night before yet, I struggled to run on the soft sand, and found myself running much slower than normal for lots of the course, and walking through the soft sand. My expectations around time were on point, and this was to become my slowest parkrun by some time, and the first finisher on the day took 25 minutes!

Ian running on the sand

One tip that I found very useful for future participants, I ran in an old pair of shoes and socks, so that I could recycle them after the event while still in Yarmouth, which meant I didn't get sand in my car! If you have an old pair of shoes ready for their last run, this might be an ideal way to send them on their way!

An extra special thank you to the team and the last-minute volunteers for hosting such a great event - it's a great change of pace to have such a challenging course to run!

After the run

After I had slightly recovered from parkrun, I explored some of the main tourist destinations in the town, begining with the Elizabethan House, a building dating to the 1500s.

Elizabethan House

A short trip from the Elizabethan House lies the Tolhouse museum - a former Gaol dating from the 1800s.

Tolhouse Gaol

The Hippodrome Circus lies a short distance from the Tolhouse, which has hosted entertainment events in the town for over a hundred years.

Hippodrome Circus

Throughout the town centre, you can find large sections of the Medieval town wall and its 11 of 18 remaining original towers - the second most complete Medieval town wall still standing in the country.

Two towers and a section of the town wall

Heading south-bound on Admiralty Road, you can find a Bansky artwork near the junction with Barrack Road. It uses the bus stop as a stage for a dancing couple and an accordian player.

Banksy artwork on Admiralty Road

A short distance further south lies Nelson's Monument - a pillar similar to Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square in London. The monument, commissioned on behalf of Nelson's fellow countyfolk of Norfolk, seems somewhat out of place given the modern industrious surroundings of the area.

Nelson's Monument

Perhaps one of the biggest attractions to Great Yarmouth during warm weather is the beach, and the town's piers, which are amongst the sandiest in the East of England.

Great Yarmouth Central Beach

Adjacent to the main car park lies the Venetian Waterways - a manicured garden with waterways and many bridges, which is very pleasant to explore!

Venetian Waterways

Links: Results | Strava | Things to do inspiration

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