The Winsome Run

a running blog


Portobello parkrun

I love autumn, I love the clear blue skies with a chill in the air, the lengthening shadows, and most of all the colours. And since parkruns usually occur in parks, and parks usually have trees that blaze in autumn colours, I particularly love parkrunning in autumn (sometimes parkruns occur on playing fields – these are less alluring, even in autumn). Yesterday’s visit to Portobello parkrun did nothing to convince me otherwise.


Arthur’s Seat from the start line of Portobello parkrun

Portobello is Edinburgh’s second parkrun.  Held in the oddly skinny Figgate park, it is into its sixth month. The course is 3 laps along a tarmac path, round a pond and along a burn (creek) with several bridges to cross. The path is narrow in places which is really only a problem for the first 5 minutes until the pack stretches out, though if the run grows too much it may cause problems for the whole event.


I started towards the back of the pack, not too bothered by my time, but after a little while I realised my pace had crept up towards the 9 min/mile mark so I decided to try to maintain it. I had once again failed to find a toilet before the start but bafflingly this turned out to not be an issue (how can this be so unpredictable? ) and managed to stay on track for a sub 29 minute run. I thought it was going to be faster, but the finish line was further away than my watch predicted – my watch is a known liar.
My 15th Scottish parkrun done (of 20).

After the run I headed off in search of Breadshare, a cooperative bakery featured on BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme a few months ago. I came away with a walnut sourdough cob loaf, almond sweet roll and a very yummy brownie. All in all a successful morning out!


Walnut sourdough for lunch




Ayr parkrun

On Saturday I returned to my quest to complete all the Scottish parkruns with a trip to Ayr on the south west coast of Scotland. I had planned to run this course during Janathon, but discovered minutes before walking out the door that it had been cancelled for several weeks – I went to Edinburgh parkrun instead that day.

Ayr parkrun is held in Rozelle Park which forms the gardens of a former country house with a trail course that skirts the boundary of the park, forming a shape that reminds me of a boxer holding gloves up to celebrate victory. I completely failed to read the course instructions so was surprised to discover that the first arm is actually completed twice! 

Though not particularly hilly, the mud, tree roots and gravel mean this is not a parkrun for a fast time – and this is my excuse for my time of 32+ minutes though I suspect the slow time was more to do with me also failing to find the toilet before the start of the run. Despite my time I still managed to finish 29th – my highest ever overall placing – woot! 

Yes. It was also the smallest parkrun field, what’s your point?

It was a gem of a parkrun however the highlight of the morning was when at the start line I was approached by a man who asked if I happened to be an Australian runner. “Why, yes, I am” I replied, trying to work out what I could possibly be wearing to give me away. But no, he had found this blog when researching Eglinton parkrun, and recognised me from the photos! This is without a doubt the first (and most likely last) time I will be recognised from my blog. So thank you nice man, you made my day ūüėä.

I have now completed 14 of the 20 Scottish parkruns. When I set myself this goal in January 2014 there were only 12 parkruns in Scotland, their expansion shows no sign of slowing down, so it looks like I will have blog material for some time to come.




Strathclyde parkrun with Abradypus

A few weeks ago I had a DM on Twitter from Abradypus; Ultra runner, blogger, ‘Athoner and parkrunner extraordinaire. She was planning a trip to Scotland and did I want to meet up? I certainly did and offered her a bed for the night prior to a trip to Strathclyde parkrun. 

It is possibly weird offering a bed for the night to a complete stranger but fellow bloggers are not really complete strangers are they?! I don’t think so and to prove the point I had no trouble spotting Louise when I met her at the station, even though her skin was not quite as yellow in real life as it is in her Twitter avi.

We headed to Strathclyde parkrun this morning. My last visit was in January 2014 and provided my first lesson in parkrun tourism: Always carry warm clothing for after the run. Today, however, it was mild and overcast but dry. Louise paced me for the first 2/3 of the run, asking me questions that I strongly suspect were more to test my effort level rather than satisfy her interest in the difference between physios and occupational therapists. I couldn’t keep with her for the last third, but I still took a minute off my previous Strathclyde time.

Apart from it being lovely to meet Louise in person, she has re-sparked my enthusiasm for parkrun tourism and I have started plotting my tours of the last 5 Scottish parkruns still to be crossed off my list…can I manage it before the end of the year?

Abradypus and me (I need to practise standing up straight)


Aberdeen parkrun

Aberdeen is 150 miles north east of Glasgow, a 2 hour 40 minute drive. Now call me a lightweight, but I’m not getting out of bed on a Saturday morning at 6 am so that I can go to one of the two parkruns in Aberdeen.

An overnight trip was required.

By happy coincidence one of my friends has an Aunt in Aberdeen who works in a quilting shop, that has a long arm quilting machine. Debs wanted a lesson on the quilting machine, I wanted to run at parkrun, so we headed up yesterday morning.

Is it weird that I took a day of annual leave just to do a parkrun?

I chose the slightly closer of the two parkruns, Aberdeen, starting at the Bridge of Don Nature Reserve, a couple of miles north of the city. The run is an out and back course along the esplanade: The ‘out’ heading towards Aberdeen on the upper esplanade path, with the turn around taking us down to the lower path for the return.


Lead runners returning on the lower path

After a week of gorgeous spring weather across Scotland, it came to a wet and windy end over night. Despite what it looks like above, it was not actually raining, though the North Sea was still making its presence felt. I had stupidly forgotten how cold Scotland can be (I have a very short memory) and did not have gloves with me, so spent half the run not able to feel my fingers. This was good motivation to get back into the car as quickly as possible, though the head wind on the return slowed me down to finish in just over 28 minutes.

We were staying at a Travelodge which has a 12pm checkout, so I returned and showered before we headed out for brunch (pancakes with bacon and maple syrup), followed by a wander around Aberdeen. We continued being tourists on the way home with a stop at Glamis Castle, childhood home of the Queen Mother.

I arrived home at about 7 pm, and realised that I had not received my results email. Hmmm. I checked the results page and at 28 minutes there was a blank. Aaaarrggghh! 300+ mile round trip for NOTHING!

After a brief panic, I sent a polite email to the organisers at Aberdeen parkrun and they very kindly amended the results. Phew!

So that is my 13th Scottish parkrun in the bag. As of next Saturday there will be 18 parkruns across Scotland: It seems to be that the more I do the more I have to do! Nevermind, such a great excuse to visit new parts of Scotland.





Edinburgh parkrun

This morning I had planned to go to Ayr parkrun: I checked directions and then thought I should check the results history to see what the likelihood was of cancellation in frosty weather. Hmmm, the most recent event was the 03/01/2015. I found their Facebook page and discovered that the parkrun has been cancelled until the beginning of March due to ground work!

A quick check on the directions/timing to Edinburgh parkrun and I would make it with a few minutes to spare if I got dressed fast!

I made it, and was treated to a run along the cold, frosty, Cramond Promenade with stunning views of Cramond Island and the Firth of Forth. The course is an out and back along the wide promenade with a lolly pop loop at the turn around point. Despite the 500+ runners it did not feel crowded, and it was very well organised with a slick finishing tunnel and distribution of the finish tokens at the end. The patches of frost slowed me down in places so I was happy to record my second fastest time of the year.

My 49th parkrun completed and my 12th of the 17 Scottish parkruns (the numbers are growing steadily!). Next week it will be back to Victoria for my 50th parkrun. Fingers crossed it is not cancelled as it was today!