Bevendean Down parkrun

24 01 2016

This morning’s trial parkrun at Bevendean Down, Brighton,  was an uplifting experience despite the  foggy conditions.  Brighton is lucky enough to have 3 parkruns already with around 1000 runners starting out each Saturday morning. We are, of course,  the  #CityOfRunners 🙂 Now with the opening of Bevendean Down we have a 4th course that is unique in being entirely off-road and a bit more challenging than the others. In fact, I got a flash back to x-country runs from my school days as my trail shoes squelched in the mud!

Going for a PB? Don’t! My run today was 25 mins or so – at least 3 minutes longer than my normal tarmac performance at Hove park but I came away totally exhilarated after running on downland that is within the South Downs National Park. It’s going to be even more spectacular when the weather improves.

bevendean down parkrun

It’s a two lap course with just enough gradient to make it a challenge. I loved the gentle downhill section which must be around 500m or more in length. A chance to get your breath back!

After the run, Paul and I  headed off for our traditional post run coffee, this time at The Bevy pub. As I entered the front door, I was greeted with “Tea or coffee?”  The Bevy, Brighton’s only community owned estate pub,  is going to open for the regular 9am parkrun, starting on 6th February. I’ll definitely be back.



The planets are lining up!

20 01 2016

I heard on the radio this morning that a rare astronomical event is about to happen. When I say rare, I mean about once every 10 years. Early morning runners who are out before sunrise, should be able to see four and maybe five planets all lined up as if lying on an imaginary diagonal line in the sky – something called the ecliptic plane of their orbits. Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter will be easy to spot but Mercury will also be there, just visible on the horizon just before dawn. The image below is a screenshot from Stellarium, a program that lets you ‘see’ the night sky from any location on Earth, at any time in the past or future. I love it. This is the view I should get looking from Brighton.  My run along the seafront lets me look South out to sea so the planets should all be visible on a clear morning. Although I don’t really need an incentive to go running, especially with marathon training well underway, a little bit of astronomy helps takes the edge of those cold, dark mornings.


The night sky looking from Brighton on 25/1/16


17 01 2016

It’s not my usual habit to break up a training run to stop for tea and cake but Saturday was a day for changing plans. You’ve got to make the most of the weather when snow is forecast  so the long Sunday run was shifted a day earlier. The aim was to jog a gentle 6 miles to Rottingdean via Ovingdean – a new route for me but I’ve convinced myself that my most enjoyable time running is when I don’t really know where I’m going!

windmill rottingdean

Beacon Mill, Rottingdean

By the time I reached Rottingdean, passing by the Windmill that I normally only see from the bus, I still felt like running a bit further. A quick refuel at Molly’s cafe, down on  the undercliff walk (recommend the chocolate coated seedy flapjack!) and I was good to go back to Brighton via Balsdean and Castle Hill. In all, 23km with a 20 min tea break. Despite the lack of continuity, the run was tough in both directions owing to the gradient (12% on Bear Rd) and mud everywhere so I wont be too hard on myself. In fact I might even do it again! Training for Brighton half marathon feels like its going in the right direction – soon I’ll have to up my distances for the marathon itself in April. Yummy.

Legs a bit weary today but spirit lifted by a lovely walk-pub lunch-walk along the coast at West Itchenor. The Ship Inn is worth a visit – nice food.

Got home to see this funny  video posted about the Tring parkrun. Enjoy!


Here’s to the next million metres!

10 01 2016

On a day that saw 62 parkrun attendance records broken up and down the country, I reached a numerical milestone of my own at Hove Park today, running my 200th parkrun. Numbers at Hove were impressively high with the previous max of 533 being well and truly beaten into 2nd place with a new record of 583 – so high in fact that we ran out of tokens. With so much positive media coverage of parkrun recently and the inevitable New Year’s resolutions being put into practice, I suppose it wasn’s such a surprise.  My 200th run was also accompanied by several other notable stats! It was  my (at least) 200th black Americano at Hove park cafe –  and slightly fewer cooked breakfasts when the weather gets a bit chilly! I’ve gained so many great friends ( probably 200!) from my post run chats with good friends and fellow runners. I’ve definitely lost far more than 200 hours of sleep, getting up at 7am on a Saturday morning for the last 5 years or so. That is a positive, by the way. To have got up and done something early on a Saturday morning, always leaves me feeling I still have the whole weekend to play with.

Here’s to my next 200 5km parkruns,  my next 1000km and my next million metres! Looking forward to another Megametre 🙂



The smile is partly due to an imminent bacon sandwich but it was a fun morning all round.




Age graded stats

22 12 2015

I’ve never really paid much attention to age graded stats…until this week. For the first 2 years of parkrun, it was all about trying to get a PB. Then I started doing half and full marathons and my 5k times started trailing off – a pity because I love having a goal that is just out of reach. I’d hate to think I could NEVER get another PB but there’s a much better option (for me) and I’ve only just thought about it. My age graded percentage, when I got my last PB, was nearly 73%. My last run was almost bang on 69%, only 4% lower – so that’s my next challenge – to achieve an age graded ‘PB’.

There’s a handy Age Graded calculator at Running for Fitness that’s close to the one used by parkrun. You can pop in your target age graded percentage and it will give you the time you need to get it.

And if that is still too much of a challenge – just maintaining my current time will automatically give a me an improved Age graded result. At age 70, I’ll be over 80%. Happy days!


X,Y,Z and A

14 12 2015

As the volunteer coordinator at Brighton parkrun I’ve been experimenting with an ‘ABC’ volunteering system. By choosing a different letter each week, runners get 3 prompts to volunteer during a calendar year – it’s more of a nudge than anything  and it means we don’t get swamped one week and bereft of help the next. This coming Saturday marks the end of the first year with X,Y,Z and A surnames taking up the many and varied volunteer roles.

If you’ve never heard of parkrun, I urge you to look it up and then take part. It’s free and requires the minimal of effort to comply with the ‘admin’. All you need to bring, other than yourself and running gear, is a printed barcode. That little barcode acts as your lifetime parkrun ID and it will enable your results to be recorded at any one of 376* events – worldwide! (*as of 14/12/15) One of the first things I remember when I joined parkrun was the amazingly friendly briefing at the start:  a welcome for parkrun ‘tourists’, applause for first timers, cheers the volunteers and so on.

With parkrun growing at a pace, you might wonder how it can be sustained if the event is totally free to runners. Two things: sponsors and volunteers. The volunteers are mostly runners who give their time to volunteer in the staging of a weekly event.

There are times when we are a bit short of help but when you consider that in 8 years (it was our 8th birthday in November 2015!) we’ve held 426 parkruns at Hove park – there’s been a huge amount of commitment from our running community and management team. I can’t think of many other sporting events that have kept going without a break for that long – every Saturday!








13 12 2015

A few years ago when I had really caught the running bug, a friend suggested I try the Brighton Trailblazer, a 10km trail run near Woodingdean in Brighton. I vividly remember the outgoing 2 or 3  miles with the fantastic views looking out towards Lewes. It starts with a gentle downhill with time to look around and take in the stunning landscape.  That’s the bit I remember most and then, of course,  the harsh uphill known as Snake climb to the finish. What I didn’t realise was that the mid section ran through a secluded valley that was once home to a hamlet called Balsdean.


Balsdean, near Brighton.

Balsdean near Brighton: Photo by Bill Hunt



Fortunately, my renewed interest in running on the South Downs took me back to the same area.  I love studying a map and picking out new routes  so I set off from Preston Park towards Rottingdean via Hollingbury golf course, Moulsecoomb, Bevendean and Woodingdean. I ended up running down Snake climb, the opposite way  I’d done before. Being a descent, rather than a gruelling uphill, you get to see so much more. The trail runs along the side of a valley and down into the heart of Balsdean.  There’s a small visible clue to the hamlet in the form of a derelict farm building – you can just make it out in the image above – but everything else was demolished after the hamlet had been used for target practice by the army during WW2. This blog by David Cuthbertson, is particularly informative about Balsdean before and during the war.

From Balsdean, a track leads to Rottingdean, past a water pumping station. To get a better feel for the area, take a look at this collection of photos by BrightonDJ on Flickr that really captures the isolation and beauty of the valley.

As I searched for more information about this intriguing area, I came across a map on  Ernest blog. I recognised the map of Balsdean immediately but the accompanying article features the Brighton based band Grasscut who released   1 inch/1/2 mile in 2012,  a collection of tracks inspired by a walk around the Balsdean area. I clicked on the map which links to Curlews.

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