My local parkrun is held in Bramley Park, which is unsurprisingly in Bramley, which is part of Leeds. For those not familiar with the area, it’s in the north-west part of Leeds, really between Leeds and Bradford.
There is plenty of parking nearby – some right outside the park, but plenty on nearby side streets. I always park a few streets away and walk to the park, as it’s just a few minutes and allows my muscles to warm up a little. Bramley normally gets around 200 runners/walkers each week (at least around this time of year).
There are toilets just next to where the course finishes, these are part of the football facilities of the park but can be used by parkrunners.
The course is four laps of the park, with the final lap being slightly shorter and ending down a finishing chute over to the side. It’s more or less a large rectangle, with the final short end cut off.
You start next to the war memorial, at the beginning of one of the long sides of the rectangle. This long side is mostly uphill (or as the sign says, ‘flat uphill section’). It’s on tarmac path for just over half the length, then flattens out a little and goes onto grass as you start running around the rugby pitch. The hill is an absolute killer, not least because you have to do it four times! It’s always such a relief to get onto the field!
Look at that elevation!
Once you get to the back of the field, you turn right (there are always some cones out and a marshall around) and run straight along the back of the rugby pitch, still on the grass, covering the short side of the rectangle. During the winter/spring, this gets pretty muddy so you can find yourself tiptoeing around certain points in order to avoid slipping over! Again, at the corner you turn right again and run parallel to the first long side. At this point the terrain turns from grass to a gravelly path, and then to tarmac. This bit is mostly flat, then slightly downhill. You then make a right turn, then shortly after a left turn, to take you parallel to the first long side again. You then get to fly down this straight as it’s all downhill.
Once you reach the bottom of the hill, you turn follow the path round to the right, and after covering the bottom short end of the rectangle, you’re back at the start!
You do four laps of the course (four times up that wretched hill!), then on the final lap when you come down the hill, you veer off the path to the left into the finishing chute on the field – this allows runners still going to keep running the course.
In case you can’t tell, I am not a big fan of that hill! I find it hard, and I also find it just gets worse each time round. However, you do then get to just tear down the hill on the other side (if you want to) into the finishing chute, so you can finish strongly. I suppose (I’ll admit, begrudgingly) that it’s good training as well.
The best thing about the parkrun is definitely the volunteers – they are amazing. Every time you pass a marshall you are cheered, they’re always in great spirits and are so encouraging. The atmosphere is just fabulous and it really makes it worth getting out on a Saturday morning, even when it’s cold and wet. I just can’t get enough!