I’ve been trying to be ‘Great North Done’. That’s what everyone calls it when you’ve run all the parkruns in the North East. What do you mean you’ve never heard of it? It’s not like I’ve just made it up!
After finally getting to Gibside last week (which is great by the way), I only had Druridge Bay for the set. I’d even got to the sneaky new one at Newbiggin not long after it started. That’s another good one, as our captains will testify to after today, I’m sure. Coincidently I bumped into Paul and Dylan Swinburne there, as I did today at Windy Nook. Yep, another new North East parkrun. We’re spoiled for them up here.
I rolled over in bed to see how many more hours I had to luxuriate when I noticed it was 07:58 and my 07:30 alarm had failed! Luckily I’d got my uniform ready the night before, as if I was a school kid, and was dressed in minutes and out the door before 08:20. This gave me plenty of time to do the 25-minute trip to Gateshead.
The postcode (NE108XU) sends you to Whitehills Community Centre where’s there’s space to park. From there you need to walk 500 yards through a housing estate to Windy Nook Nature Park. The organisers emphasised how we shouldn’t park in the housing estate to avoid annoying the residents. There was free tea and coffee in the Centre after. I expect it won’t always be free.
There was a lot of snow and ice left around the North East and Facebook was peppered with parkruns being cancelled. Luckily not Windy Nook. Coincidentally, my Daughter was supposed to be playing footy at Hill Top School half a mile away but that was cancelled too. The course is not far from Wrekenton XC so that should tell you what to expect. The snow had turned to slush which flowed down the paths and turned the off-road bits into slippy bogs. I’d packed my fell shoes but made the mistake of wearing my brand new Brooks instead. They’d be fine for this course normally but not today.
I was expecting lots of tourists from the cancelled runs. There were 215 runners, in the end. I suspect this parkrun will attract around 150-200 most weeks, but what do I know?
The organisers did a great job welcoming everyone, explaining the route and bad conditions and to expect some hiccups.
The course is complicated. At least it was today. There was a hiccup and we went the wrong way on the first lap (I’ll have to go again to be sure). It’s a three-lap course; you start and finish at the same point. Before the first lap, you set off around a small path loop in the wrong direction then you start the laps. Halfway around, there are 14 steps. But there are two sets of steps in the park and we went up the wrong ones first-time, I’m sure. The real lap has a long wood chip incline with the real steps and a muddy bank. It’s great to do it three times. It’s not as bad as the inclines and hill at Flatts Lane but the mud made it almost impossible to run up today (in Brooks).
Windy Nook is not a PB course. I was saving myself for Sunderland Strollers Half on Sunday and I took nearly 28-mins. I’ll be going back to get under 25 minutes soon. But I don’t think I’ll get very far under.
It’s a fine addition to the ‘Great North Done’ set and all the Striders should get there soon before any more parkruns appear (I’m looking at you Kerry in a Peterlee type direction).