First (and probably last)Park Run

Just back from my first Park Run, which was a complete effing disaster. Can you believe they allowed me to get LOST? I know I'm slow, but they really have to look out for people....I was finally directed towards the finish line when I had only run 3KM, when I spoke to a marshall he said "Tough, you'll know for next time" Eventually someone told me where I could pick up the route again, so I did complete the course, but it took me nearly an hour...I was told at the start the route was clearly marked and I would be directed at every turn...HA HA! Every one says PRs are lots of fun, and are for everyone, but I felt this was completely clique-y and if you didn't know the ropes you were on your own. Even the start was divided into expected finish times, with 35 mins being the last stage - I have no hope of running 5K in 35, I felt so unwelcome. When I asked where I should take my token for scanning, I was told to take it to the cafe... well, I looked into my crystal ball, but still had no idea where that was. When I finally found it I was in tears, and stood there for ages, I asked a marshall to tell me who was scanning and she just walked off..

Most of the runners are club runners, one of them shouted at me to get out of the way, before splattering me with mud...I know it is all by volunteers, but I think it is dangerous, suppose I'd fallen and injured myself? They said there was a tail runner but I didn't see her/him.. I shall be e-mailing the run director...


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64 Replies

  • Don't give up Curlygurly, those club runners have short memories and have forgotten that they were once get that in all sports.

    I would go back when there are no park runs, have a good look at the course...walk it.

    Carry on with your normal runs & in a couple of weeks return and do the park run and ignore the snobs...

  • I went for my first park run feeling a bit overawed. I went very early and talked to those setting it up and persuaded one who was putting out markers to show me the route. I then jogged it slowly and got lost! worked out what I had done and managed to get round. They weren't unfriendly at all but there were a lot of people there. I was surprised to find that I don't really like setting off with lots of people.

    I have had to rest up due to heel problems but looked at this week's results. The winners ran in around 18min (!!! :D) and the last runners came in at just under the hour so there was a wide range of results. Well over 200 runners.

    My first proper run was at Thorpe Park. You could do 5k or 10k. I chose 5k. Got there early, walked the route. All good. Then I ran my little heart out. Got to signs saying 800 yards, 600 yards, 400 yards, 200 yards to finish. Then a huge FINISH sign with an arrow next to it pointing past. Yes, you guessed it. That arrow was for those doing the 10k........ I realised after about 6.5k that I had missed the finish. Very sad!

  • I am so sorry you had such a rotten time. It didn't sound any fun at all. I would email the run director as I am sure this is not the sort of runs they are trying to promote. I would be nowhere near a 35min finish time and I've never heard of people being staged to times. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. take care rfc x

  • Oh my goodness, that sounds horrible ! Where were you running ? Definitely let the run director know how you feel that's awful. If you are ever near Aldershot let me know and I'll run with you.....

  • That is terrible! Yes, do write to the run director, from what I have read here an don the Park run website they are supposed to be fun and encouraging! And name the place too... it would be good if a group of us (ok, I'm probably too far being in the SW of Ireland) - could go to that same park run and show the club runners what it is about...

    I am thinking of doing my first park run next Saturday - I reckon it will take me at least 45 min to tun 5 k... and thin a way the good thing is that there are at least 2 different races that day, so the "pro" should not be there ( wishful thinking !)

  • What a horrid experience. Very sorry to hear that, CG. I would prescribe a restorative glass or two of something and then write a vitriolic email with your ire fuelled a little by the veritas of vino. Always the best way IMO.

    Then put the whole thing behind you like a bad smell and look forward to your next run.

  • That sounds flipping awful! Such a shame when everyone else's park run experiences have sounded so positive. I hope you get an appropriate response from the run director. As others have said, put this behind you and do give it another go. {{{hugs}}} xx

  • OMG - totally opposite of my experience today - sound good advice from adidas1961 I hadn't thought of that. I have no idea what my time was but it was a long way off 35 mins!!! Was asked if we were the last ones as we turned the last bend into the home stretch which wasn't exactly motivational!!!

  • Name and shame CG - that is terrible.

    I've just come back from my first PR this morning - couldn't have had a more opposite experience. First timer and tourist - full house of being the stranger. Course was explained to people as we arrived who were clearly new - then again at the briefing. Stewards at every corner, who cheered and encouraged us on - one even called me young lady! Scanners were waiting at the finish line, and all the volunteers and the majority of the other runners waited for the final few. The lady who was last was accompanied for the whole last lap by the "sweeper" and came in almost 15 mins quicker than she expected due to the encouragement she got.

    In the cafe afterwards, we had long chat with one of the organisers who explained what would happen next with times etc. The lady who was last said she was grateful for them not leaving her on her own and we were told they always have someone at the end - it enables them to collect the signs and make sure everyone is safe and not in trouble.

    If you have another local one CG give that a try. Don't be put off by one experience - there may be a whole different crowd next time anyway.


  • Thanks all, I certainly will get in touch with the director. I've just seen my time, 45 Mins, which is in fact far better than I would have hoped for, I guess it would have been about 40 without the detour...They did explain the course at the beginning, but "2 loops around the lake" isn't much use if you haven't been there before and can't see the damn lake from where I think I got lost. I will go back one more time, to get a proper time, but I don't think it's for me. Very narrow trails, I felt really intimidated with every one thundering past, it was slippery too, one guy nearly barged me over..I don't think there's another one any where near..It was Cambridge, Milton Park - anyone here use that one?

  • I walked the Hinchingbrooke Park, Huntingdon, one last week on a weekday. I took the route description with me from their website, but I think I got the last quarter of the route wrong and ended up in woodland I would never dream of running through for fear of turning an ankle.

    I haven't been brave enough to turn up for an official Park Run on a Saturday yet, but maybe I'll go along and watch one day to see exactly where they go once they've been past the 'ornamental lake' which looks nothing like an ornamental lake!! Hinchingbrooke Park lovely for lone running though, with fantastic tarmac and gravel paths round the big lake (where the Park Run doesn't go, strangely). Maybe hop in your car and give it a look?

  • My aunt, who got me into running, runs at the Huntingdon park run so maybe you will meet her! She's been a tail runner a few times and said that once a little old lady who was over 90 decided to "run". She took an hour and 15 minutes and got a huge cheer from everyone when she finished. It sounds like a lovely group. Here at Whitley Bay I am always the last at 45 minutes!

    If you do end up running at the Huntingdon park run and meet a lady called Esther Cotton (in her sixties, partially sighted, talks to everyone) tell her Anna said "hi"! She will be chuffed and confused!

  • Hi Nausicca Just got excited when read you run at Whitley Bay My daughter lives there and we visit quite a lot Did the parkrun few months ago and Notbad and Lovefood 1968 kindly came along to run with me. I was in W bay this week and ran the route on Thurs afternoon. Maybe we could meet up sometime

  • Hi Fitfor60 that sounds lovely :) I would love to meet up next time you're visiting.

  • Hello Nausicaa! My local is Whitley Bay as Fitfor60 says, I run it fairly often (but my club is no longer listed as c25k) - I'm now wondering who you are, did you run today as I was marshalling?

  • Hi notbad. I did run at Whitley Bay today... I was the one that came in 10 minutes later than everyone else. Where were you marshalling?

  • I was by the Briar Dene at the top of that horrible bank! I think I spoke to you as you were walking back from the finish line, I was with my friend and was the one carrying the safety cones. :-)

  • I think I remember you! Everyone at the run is always very nice! I tried to run the course today but the wind was so strong I only managed about three minutes :(

  • Huntingdon is one of two near me, I might well give it a go! Is Esther your Aunt?

  • She is! She will be so chuffed if people from here start chatting to her! It sounds like a really nice park run!

  • Huntingdon is one of two near-ish to me, I might give it a go. Who is Esther - your Aunt?

  • Studio Ghibli fan?!! Great to meet you.

  • I am, although I always feel sorry for Nausicaa from the Odyssey who gets forgotten about. I like to think I channel them both!

    It's great to meet you too! Is Oberon a Shakespeare reference, a fairy reference or actually your name?

  • No, Nausicaa, Lord Oberon was a horse. I've updated my profile to explain why I use that name.

    I'm Mark and I've treated my kids to every one of the Studio Ghibli films except Grave of Fireflies and Princess Mononoke.

  • awww that's pants. I have not run the Milton course, but might have to take a trip there, I'll meet you and we can run together as I'm only in norfolk. I'll tell them what I think. There is no need for rudeness. Our parkrun in Kings lynn is the total opposite. Marshals at selected spots cheering you on and telling you the time :-) it will be after my holiday, so middle of November. Let me know? X

  • That would be cool! We could run side by side, that would slow the bu**ers down! Thanks Belinda xx

  • Yes, I will have a few choice words too ;-) I will let you know once I am back off holiday what Saturday I can do ;-) x x

  • Gosh, sounds awful - poor you! Definitely email the director, you'll be doing them a huge favour as this haphazard approach could lead to an accident at some point. The marshals should have been watching out for you, that's their role. If you don't get a satisfactory response you can take it higher to Parkrun HQ.

  • Well, yes, especially as I warned them I am quite slow and actually asked them to keep an eye out for me...

  • Oh that's awful Curlygurly what a yucky first time experience. But don't let it put you off. You did it and you're a C25K'er so you're tough and will do it again. We're all behind you.

    I haven't done one yet but I'm now going to visit beforehand to see what it looks like. I'd hate for my first experience to be like this.

    Forget the to**ers and hold your head up.

  • OMG! what a terrible experience ... I just did my 3rd PR and all 3 have been excellently run (Coventry, Newbury and Basingstoke) there has always been someone on each turn and the course is marked out. Has always been a sweeper at the back and the scanners and audience clapping at the end ... my times are around 37mins and there are people coming in at 49mins who still get cheered. Definitely email them ... I would kick up a right stink may contact the newsletter people you know the email you get on a Friday ??

  • Wow and there was me about to do a Park Run next Saturday - well I shall never go near a Park or a Run ever again. Rotten old organiser deserves a bonk on the nose. I'm sure PR's are a little like life and the weather - generally pleasant with sunny people but a slight chance of occasional b***ards. I'm sure an email to the organiser will result in changes for a better climate :)


  • Oh blimey Curly what a dastardly shower of effluence they seem to have over at Cambridge Milton wossit. I haven't done a PR yet, but this is far from encouraging (though a friend has done my local one at Guildford and echoes the positive experience many people have expressed here). Definitely feel a bit of constructive criticism would be helpful for the organisers. I am sure the Park Run aim is to encourage anyone and everyone to take part rather than make it exclusive to Mo-wannabees. Unless of course they have a different policy at Milton wossit, in which case they could helpfully put on their webpage 'Olympic Hopefuls Only Please'.

    So sorry you had a cr*p experience. Deep breath, take a merit mark for turning up and having a go and thank your lucky stars you have had a better upbringing than those unhelpful people at PR Milton Park.

  • That's terrible! I have done 2 park runs now and have been much slower than everyone else both times (43 and 44 minutes). However, as I got very nervous I asked everyone until I was introduced to the tail runner at the beginning which really helped. I knew she was there and watching out for me (she also shouted at other people to clear the path when it was busy).

    It sounds like your park run isn't very good but I would definitely recommend trying to find the tail runner at the beginning. Also, the volunteers are different every week so you might have a much nicer group next time.

  • Oh, poor you: what a hideous experience! :-(

    Is this the only Park Run near you? You should definitely let someone know that the friendly, supportive aims of the park run have not been met by this one, or at least not on this occasion. I have promised a keen runner at work that I will go along to his park run once I can run 5k regularly, but I am a bit put off now :-(

  • That's grim, is there another one near you? They sound unfriendly ;(

    Don't give up and I would definitely have got list too, it clearly was badly marked... X

  • That's grim, is there another one near you? They sound unfriendly ;(

    Don't give up and I would definitely have got list too, it clearly was badly marked... X

  • List?

  • I meant lost!!!

  • Lol! I thought you meant there was a print out of the course I could ask for! I didn't get, lost a steward directed me towards the finish even though I was crawling along about 2 miles an hour and had another lap to go..... from there I was eventually directed back to the route but I think it was the wrong way round...

  • So sorry you had such a rotten time Agree with others this is not the ethos for Parkrun - in fact think the founder would be horrified. I have done Parkrun at edinburgh and Whitley Bay and found everyone very friendly and volunteers supportive . In my home PRun edinburgh lots of faster runners , volunteers clap etc support those who come in at end We can have 500+ runners and can start wherever we like - certainly no grouping of when you think you might finish . I'm getting quite angry actually cos this has obviously been very negative experience but all I can say is don't let the ******** win ! It's supposed to be an inclusive run ( not a race) . Please do e- mail director and let us know what he says. Oh by the way you wouldn't be last at edinburgh with time of 45 mins

  • There was a women who walked all the way pushing a pram, when she heard me come up behind her just before the finish, she broke into a run to get there before me!

  • Oh Curly, what a horrible experience , I felt so sad for you reading that. That person

    who told you to " get out of the way " is a disgrace.

    Yep, I agree with everyone and send an e-mail , would be interested to see what they have to say.

    Big hugs to you Curly , don't let the barstewards get you down ((((( )))) xxx

  • This is so horrible Curly. It's the sort of nightmare scenario that stops people ( me included) from even attempting Parkrun. Poor you, I can just imagine how upsetting the whole thing must have been. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. I'm sure an email to the Parknews, naming and shaming them would soon result in better mannered, more considerate marshals. Chin up Sweetie, if you never go back there it's their loss!! xx

  • Can you please tell us the name of this Parkrun - I would be interested to look at their Parkrun webpage as well as their facebook page to try to gather any clues. It is unusual to have an "unfriendly parkrun - it basically goes against the ethos.

    BUT -- don't worry about getting lost at a new Parkrun -- I have done that TWICE!!!!! The first one was a basic flat out and back route along a bay foreshore. I obviously got into a groove - entered runners Nirvana - and grooved out - because i suddenly realised that I was running by myself!! I discovered that I had ran past the turnaround point and continued on for 2Klm before I realised !!! DUH!! On the second occasion, I went to a new parkrun which was run in a smallish Park - we had to run two times around a circular track and then a third time around a shorter circular track. It was actually a "trial" run for this new course- so there were only 20 runners there -- BUT I crossed the line FIRST , which is unusual for me!! - then I realised that I had taken a "short cut" and had cut about 1K off the course!!!

    So - there are more idiots running around than you :)


    It wasn't that I got lost, a Marshall misdirected me!

  • Thanks for all the support, love you guys! I haven't emailed the director yet, I certainly will when I have worked out exactly what I want to say. It will certainly include "beginners not welcome" and "no fun"

    What I haven't made clear here is that the trail is about one metre wide and we did one small loop, then 2 larger loops - with nearly 400 runners most of them lapped me at least twice, I was constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't in someones way again.

    I'm living in glorious Cambridge now until Spring, with it's wide open spaces, pretty river, beautiful Universities... I have many lovely places to run, I don't need to do something that makes me feel shit about myself.

  • I would definitely email both the Director and Parkrun's main office. Such a put-off! I have only done my local Park Run and it is a friendly affair. I understand about the barrow trail as some of ours is run on narrow trails but the people here give way to faster traffic and I haven't been barged yet!

    They definitely don't put the F into Run at your Parkrun!

    But don't give up on Parkruns altogether, have you any other Parkruns nearby?

  • How truly awful! All I can say is well done you on completing it in spite of them all!

  • Oh dear -- looking at the Cambridge course , I can understand how someone could get "lost" --- a clockwise turn of one circle followed like two anti-clockwise circles. You Brits do like your "Magic " roundabouts - don't you !! :)

    Actually, I once went to a similar course - and also got a bit confused - especially when I crossed the line in first place -- only to realise of course that I had found a "shortcut" which meant that I eliminated one of the circles !! :) It was the only time I ever came first at a parkrun!!!

  • Yes, I read your post about running on all alone for 2K, made me giggle now I've cheered up a bit!

    I think I worked out what happened, where I should have started the 2nd loop I was so far behind everyone else the marshals thought I was in front and directed me to the finish..they must be dim though, I'm very slow...

  • Oh Curlygurly that sounds just rotten. In every walk of life you gets twerps , the people who have all the gear and tech and are then just plain nasty!!!. Hooray for your determination to see it through which you did! I did my first yesterday and I was terrified. I was lucky enough to have my brother and sister running there too and they kept me right. You could do a parkrun freedom where you time yourself running the course not on the big day and then load it on to the system. I haven't done it myself but it looks straightforward on the site. Don't be daunted by the 15 minuters , try running at the back and just go and enjoy the run!!. Why not try their facebook page to see if anyone you know runs it too. Its always good to have a friendly face there.

  • Oh, does that mean I can upload tom the ParkRun site? I didn't realise I could do that, I might give it a go, thanks. I'll probably still get lost though!

  • oooh I wondered what the freedom thingy was all about - btw I don't hear anybody else ... I got Laura in my ears doing the stamina podcast - wouldn't hear anybody shouting at me to get out the way!

  • aaw thats not good Curly :( dont give up though ,i registered last week for when i graduate ,a little concerned now though if more are like that , hopefully not and it was just a one off :)

  • Hi CG, what a horrendous experience! Scary for me too as I'm about. to register with parkrun and try it for the first time within the next couple of weeks.

    You've had a lot of great support, advice and offers from experiences parkruners, so there's not much I can add other than to say that as a C25K graduate you've proven that you have determination and you KNOW that you are a runner.

    And as for those cliquey running club people, of they want to behave in that way they should stick to their running club and stay away from parkrun which is supposed to be FUN for everyone, regardless of ability.

  • I agree, I'm not sure why they're there to be honest, same people every week trying to shave a second off, some of them have done more than 100 runs, must get a bit boring I'd have thought.

  • What a horrible experience. You should definitely contact the Run Director – there is no excuse for anybody being treated like this.

    On a positive note, assuming you live near Cambridge, I suggest you try the Wimpole Estate parkrun, about 10 miles south-west of Cambridge. I have been there a couple of times. Bedsides having helpful marshals and a great café, it’s a in a great setting around the estate of a Stately home, taking in fields of sheep/deer/cattle, a lake and a haha. Oh and a hill which is tough (most people walk up this bit!) but great views from the top. And as its one big lap, there’s no possibility of going through the finish too soon by mistake and you definitely can’t get lapped!

  • That's not good Curly is it? Shocking really that people behave like that.

    The peeps here all seem just normal and grounded, and I would have expected the peeps doing parkrun would be the same. Can't believe many of them were so up themselves.

    I've registered for parkrun but haven't done one yet. I was looking forward to it, now I'm a little anxious. It's not overly close so I don't have the time to pop over and just watch one week, before doing it. I think I will take the plunge when I've got a free weekend but will definately take something from your tale, and look at the course online before turning up.

    I must have missed something (or got confused!) - I'm sure you lived in France.. have you moved to the UK? Or do you live in both France and England at different times of the year (I'm being nosey I know!).

    If you do have another parkrun, hope it's a better experience. And I echo what everyone else has said about emailing someone in charge - they should know.

    Take care

    :) xx

  • Don't let me put you off, I'm sure a different run would be better. I don't have anything else nearby, but I'm actually happy running on my own.

    Yes, I live in Cambridge in Winter, usually October to March, I have a house in France for the summer months. Before you ask, winters in the South of France are terrible, -15C is usual, and everything shuts down, it being quite a touristy place, so I'm really glad to be home!

  • Hi CG. What a horrible introduction! Go to another parkrun, the ones I have done have been good fun .Where was the tail runner? And to have an unfriendly marshall as well. That parkrun sounds a bit elitist to me and not the usual ethos at all!

  • Yes, that's just what I thought, there was a bit at the beginning where they patted each other on the backs, and gave rounds of applause to the fastest and those who had done most runs. Most of them finished in less than 20 mins. I didn't see the tail runner until right at the finish...

  • Hi 'Curlygurly',

    I'm really sorry to hear this, please rest assured we are looking into it already.

    Please also drop us a line via this page so we can communicate directly...

    I do hope you give us another chance.

    Kind regards,

    Tom Williams

    Managing Director

    parkrun UK

  • Hi Curlygurly

    This has just been brought to my attention. I am the event director at Cambridge parkrun and was timekeeping last Saturday. We spoke very briefly before the start last week about your running in France, which sounds great.

    We try our very best to be inclusive and welcome people and I am sorry we didn't live up to your expectations. As you noted, we are a narrow course with lots of turns - which is the reason why we ask people to line up in approximate order of finish time, so we limit overtaking on the first, most narrow part of the course and to try and help everyone have a safe and enjoyable run.

    I remember being daunted by my first parkrun after learning to run through C25K but, after a good experience, became a regular and gradually got more involved until I ended up responsible for the event. We aim to be inviting to all levels of runners (and walkers) and have had everything from an Olympian to a lady in her 80s with a walking frame complete the course in the last three years.

    I try to run the course at least once a month to continue to understand how it feels for our runners and was planning to do so this coming Saturday. If you are able to come back, I would love to run round with you and show you the course and hopefully demonstrate how much fun you can have!

    Please email me on if you would like to discuss further. I really do hope to be able to welcome you back.

    With very best wishes

    Paul Beastall

    Event Director, Cambridge parkrun

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