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Colchester Castle parkrun

Circumstance had resulted in a gap in my attended parkruns until this wwek. I had attended several events west of Colchester Castle for a variety of reasons, including attending Markshall Estate parkrun while the weather was pleasant given it is an arboretum, and Maldon Prom parkrun because of the flat, fast nature of the course, all with the memory of nearby Highwoods parkrun being quite hilly!

The area

Colchester was one of the first cities in the UK, and served as the capital during Roman era. Though many in the town would suggest Colchester is already a city given its roots as a Roman city, despite not having a letters patent conferring the status, as part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations, the Queen granted Colchester city status again, removing any ambiguity. The formal ceremony to issue the letters patent to the city was due to be held on 12th September 2022, but the Queen's passing on 8th September 2022 meant the ceremony was postponed as a mark of respect.

Front entrance to Colchester Castle

Much like both St Albans parkrun and Great Yarmouth North Beach parkrun, Colchester is steeped in history, with many original buildings and ruins still in place, including the Castle, which plays host to today's event.

The course

A faire on the Lower Castle Park grounds today meant an alternative course was in operation on the day of my visit. The alternative course is a lollipop shape, with three laps of the castle, the second and third laps having an out-and-back section. The course is run entirely on tarmac paths, but as the castle is on top of a hill, the route includes a fair amount of elevation!

Discounted paid parking is available at Leisure World if you follow the instructions on the event page, while toilets are available at the Cafe in the Park near the playground. As the course is in the centre of Colchester, many other alternatives for refreshments are available along the high street too!

The run

While I knew that Colchester was hilly, I wasn't sure which course would be used in advance, and so I didn't know quite how hilly it would be, especially as the number of laps would impact this greatly. Fortunately, the hills were interspersed with some flats, and so I was able to recover between each incline and decline!

Thank you to all of the volunteers for a great event!

After the run

Colchester Castle is the main focal point of Castle Park. Built during the Norman period, the castle is one and a half times the size of the White Tower at the Tower of London, making it the largest keep in all of Europe at the time of its completion. The initial construction process was paused during the 1080s for a period, and defensive battlements (red bricks) were added to the walls which can still be seen approximately half-way up the current walls.

Defensive battlements in the Eastern wall of Colchester Castle

The castle was built atop an earlier Roman construction, including the Temple of Claudius, which can still be seen on the southern face of the castle.

Ruins of Temple of Claudius

In addition to the curtain walls surrounding the tower, the tower was defended by earthen ramparts and ditches, although only the northern rampart and ditch survive, albeit in a landscaped form.

Rampart (left) and landscaped ditch

The site is also the location of the ruins of a number of Roman townhouses which were built in the 2nd Century by wealthy Britons once they had aclimatised to Roman norms.

Ruins of Roman townhouse

The walls originally had 6 gates, although traces of only 2 now remain. Duncan's gate in the north-east allowed access to the river Colne before being blocked, and the gateway eventually collapsing around 400AD. Only the ruins of the gateway remain, and act as the turning point during the alernative course's out-and-back section.

Duncan's Gate ruins at Colchester Castle

The castle wall was constructed using the materials available most locally, which often included material taken from Roman ruins, and large sections of the wall remain in tact.

Colchester Castle walls

Links: Results | Strava

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