A couple of weeks back, I had planned to visit Rother Valley parkrun so that I could make it onto the parkrun “most events” table. For the unaware, once you have run in 20 different UK venues, you make the board. Alas, I got up a bit too late to get there in time so a quick change of plan took me to Sherwood Pines parkrun instead.
Sherwood Pines parkrun is held in Sherwood Pines Forest Park, near Mansfield. I was excited to try it out as it is a one lap course and the last time I took part in a single lap parkrun was at Harrow Lodge in 2015. The course is held mostly on a cycle route and I’ve heard quite a few runners describe it as fairly technical due to the mixture of trail, compacted paths and stone. Runners don’t need to worry about cyclists on the path as it has been arranged that at 9am, that route is designated for parkrunners only. This means that you won’t really see anyone other than your fellow runners on the path, nor do you need to worry about moving over to be lapped so it makes for a nice open run once the field opens up a bit.
The park is stunning and the start of the run begins just past the Go Ape course. I was incredibly excited to discover the Gruffalo as I headed down to the start and then my excitement levels went through the roof again when I visited the toilets before the run begun.
Sherwood Pines parkrun hands down has the best toilet facilities of any parkrun I have ever visited. They should possibly consider renaming it Holy Grail of Toilets parkrun. The reasons for my excitement?
Yes, you read that correctly. They operate a highly efficient one way system where you enter the building via one down and exit out of another. I did vaguely contemplate what would happen if I went out the wrong way but I couldn’t bring myself to ruin the system. It would have been anarchy.
I digress. Back to the run.
I had a GREAT time at Sherwood Pines. I loved every minute and the first km went by slightly quicker than expected, thwarted only by taking a tumble after tripping over a tree stump. Runners join the cycle route at about 300m in and it’s easy to follow the route as the instructions are simple – follow the route until you reach point 18. Following a flat start, a long hill took me by surprise at about the 3/4 mile mark and although I don’t think it was particularly steep it went on. And on. And on. I did walk a little, but still clocked a steady time at the 2km mark. Then the best bit of the ran started with a downhill section and I was able to catch my breath and recover, while running my fastest km in parkrun this year with 5:45. Kilometre 4 saw things flatten out and I started to tire but it seemed like no time at all until the sign for point 18 on the route appeared and we were turning into the forest road.
Sherwood Pines parkrun also boasts an absolutely spectacular finish. Coming off the forest road, we approached the straight where we had started and the trees rising up above are simply majestic. I felt like I was running through the forest in a movie and it was a great way of finishing. I clocked my fastest time of the year so far with 31:17 (officially 31:22) and felt great. Perhaps it isn’t the easiest parkrun, but it’s definitely the one that I think I’ve enjoyed the most to date and that made the time fly by.
I ran there again yesterday (33.11) and checked out the cafe afterward. Decent coffee and a great selection of cakes on offer, although I didn’t get to sample them this time. I also got serious food envy looking at another runner’s bacon and sausage baguette. Next time. Unfortunately, my visit got cut short when the heat of yesterday brought on heat exhaustion and I spent the day bright red and vomiting, so please be careful in this weather, go slow, take walk breaks and HYDRATE!
I can’t wait to go to back to Sherwood Pines again, the toilets are great, there is a baguette with my name on, the course is stunning and I think I may adopt it as my new home run.