It was kind of a default choice this weekend for the latest Parkrun Profiles article. I was tempted to be a rebel and go somewhere totally different, but in the spirit of the club I joined my fellow members and took part in the latest SJ Parkrun Explorers Collective meeting, to…
Crane Park (although you knew that already from the title…)
If you’ve had a heavy work night out in London, and had to stay awake until 5am to get the first train home, which meant you didn’t get back home until 8am (after changes and walking) and you need a lift to Crane Park, please immediately seek the help of a professional….SJ driver. Kate Parker was my knight in shining armour, and sure enough at 8:10 (slightly later than planned, nothing new there), we set off down the M3 and towards Crane Park.
After a bit of faffing around trying to find a good point to park, we parked up and saw the one and only Craig Bowles (and children) walking up the road! We can’t have been too late, we thought. From where we parked it was about a 5 minute walk to the start point, through the park itself, which quickly turned into a jog (although nothing compared to last week’s sprint at Guildford #9amStrollers). Here we met up with the SJ group, which was strong in numbers.
I had offered to run with one of Kate’s dogs, and she decided to pair me up with Taz. She also gave me a lovely dog-running harness sort of contraption, which probably won’t be seen on the Milan catwalk (if you’ll pardon the pun) anytime soon, darling. However, after a bit of ‘adjustment’ we were clipped in and ready to go! And good thing too, because the race director (whose pre-race briefing we missed) didn’t hang around! “Right, where are my pacers? 3, 2, 1, go!”, she said, and suddenly we were off, and Taz flew out the blocks!
Full of energy along the first section of path, we set off on our little adventure together, passing runners left, right and centre! Kate had given me some commands to remember which Taz would respond to, so with my best Paul O’Grady voice on, I negotiated our way along the first straight. ‘Left, left’, steady’ I was saying, and Taz responded really well, I felt like we were at Crufts.
Crane Parkrun is a lap and a half course which basically follows the river (albeit not always visibly, boo), heads over a bridge on the A314 and continues along the other side, over a bridge on the A316, and around. The weather was ridiculously hot on Saturday, and Taz’s enthusiasm (along with mine, on 30 minutes sleep since Thursday night) started to wane as we made our way around the course. Not the hilliest course around, we appreciated the shade when we could find some, and there was plenty on offer, as trees lined the park and the course of the river.
It wasn’t the most park-y of runs considering you ran (albeit only for about 50m each time) along two stretches of main road, but there were plenty of helpful marshalls there to point you in the right direction and applaud you on your run. There were SJs everywhere on Saturday, especially obvious given that this isn’t one of the bigger parkruns around, with only 174 running on Saturday.
Continuing along the lap, and about halfway along the second stretch of river, you pass the River Crane Shot Tower, which has an interesting history behind it regarding the production of lead shot, and not the type of shot I was hoping for (and could’ve done with by the end of the run). Thanks to John Tovell for educating me on it, I wouldn’t dare steal his thunder so if you read this John, please do let us know the story you told me in the comments section!
Anyway, back to the run! Past the shot tower and you take a left, which on the second lap brings you to the finish, but on this first lap takes you on your way towards the A316. Again, the run does lose its park-y sense for a brief minute, but before you know it we were back in the serenity of the park, and after a brief river bathe (for the dogs, not me, although I was tempted), what did we see in front of us? Was it the red vest of Mr Dave Bartlett? It sure was, Taz’s eyes lit up, and on we went trying to catch up with the man himself. Sure enough we caught Dave, I told him that he needs to buy a parkrun dog, and on we went!
Back up to the A314 you go, and coming back past the shot tower on your second lap, after the left turn you are soon enough at the finish point, up a little footpath that can lead you out of the park. On our way to the finish line, Taz and I encountered plenty of supportive runners and SJs who had finished and were cheering on their fellow runners, always a nice parkrun touch! And just like that, we were finished! A quick finishing selfie, although no dog, and we were done (with the running anyway, it was straight to the cafe afterwards!).
Shall we review our little club away day/morning at Crane Park? Let’s….
Do dogs make you run quicker? – Sometimes, although they can also be a bit awkward to run with! (made up for by how adorable they are though)
Is running parkrun on 30 minutes sleep a good idea? – Not particularly, although it didn’t really seem to affect my time too badly!.
Do dogs respond to Paul O’Grady voice? – Evidence suggested not really!
How would I sum up Crane Park in 3 words? – Taz, hot, roads
Would I go back to Guildford? – Yes! Nice course with some lovely volunteers and a nice atmosphere at the finish.