About Mark S (not DK)

My training blog is at http://markstrainingblog.blogspot.com/

Using local Parkruns for brick sessions

Below is my review of the local parkruns from the runs that I have done there and other brick sessions that can be done. Other parkruns are being added throughout the country and worldwide, so check their listing if elsewhere on a Saturday morning. For the latest information about news, course changes or cancellations check that events web site.


This is most members local parkrun and is a 2 ½ lap course (unless on the alternative route). This has a mixture of tarmac pathways, gravel pathways and grass. With 3 inclines per lap, the first is a slight incline on gravel pathway, the next is a slightly longer incline on grass and the third incline is a longer a steeper incline on tarmac pathway behind the tennis courts about 3/4 round the lap. The finish line is about 50m after leaving the wooded area.

Car parking is limited and is getting very busy. There are toilets that are available to 100m from the finish area. There is NO cafe at the park.

There is fences to lock bicycles, to do a short fast cycle/run brick session or a long run with a fast section. Or you could do a pool swim before going to the parkrun.


This parkrun course is just over 2 laps on mostly on grass but with some on footpaths. There are only two very short inclines per lap, the first is up a grass embankment which can be slippery, the other is another short incline up a grassy slope at the far end of the course but is generally a flat course. The finish is about 200m (around a football pitch) after going past the start position for the second time.

There is some car parking available nearby at the athletics track and toilets there which are sometimes open to parkrunners. There is a cafe at the park which is half way round the lap.

There are places to lock bicycles near the athletics track. This is about 25 miles away on an undulating route using the main roads which makes the run section harder.


This parkrun course is a single lap in a q shape which is mostly on gravel pathways with a short amount across a disused runway twice. This is only one slight incline which is about 1 mile from the end along the long finishing straight.

There is two car parks which did full up quickly, the additional car park is 1km from the start but is opposite the cafe. There are toilets available for parkrunners which is in a different building near the entrance to the business estate, which is about 1 mile from the start.

This would be about 15-20 miles depending on route (not cycled it yet), bicycles could be locked on a fence to the park or left next to the finish area.


This parkrun is two laps which is mostly on gravel pathways and grass with some bits over a miniature train track. This route you have to watch out for hazards such as fishing polls (a lake is fishing lake) and miniature trains. There is only three inclines on the lap, the first is a short steep incline after the fishing lakes, the next is a slightly longer incline up to a top of grass punchbowl, the last incline is after the miniature train station on gravel.

The winter route is multiple laps on grass around some football pitches next to the normal venue. I have not run this route.

There is parking at the country park, with some toilets on site and a cafe.

This would be about a 35 mile cycle on a hilly route which would require leaving about 6:30am to cycle there, I have not done this. There is also a lake (400m loop) which they should be allowing lake swims their this year. This is next to the start/finish for the parkrun.


This course is two laps of a P shape course where the loop is ran twice before handing back along the straight. The course is a mixture of grass and gravel and tarmac paths. Most of this route is a river bank and therefore can get wet and muddy if there has been a lot rain. There is only one incline on the course which is at the far end of the course which a short incline in the woodland section.

Parking is limited and fills up fast along the road in the business park, there is some toilets available the venue. There is no cafe.

This would be about 20 mile cycle ride depending on route around Reading, I have not tried this yet. Depending on timing and length of swim, there is also an option of doing a lake swim on the way to the parkrun.

Outlaw Triathlon Race Report

Last month I took part in the Outlaw triathlon is a long distance triathlon which is 2.4 miles (3.8km) Swim, 112 miles (180km) Cycle followed by a marathon (26.2 miles 42.2km). The race is based at Holme Pierpoint in Nottingham and the surrounding countryside.

The swim is just 2 lengths in an international rowing lake. This did not stop the kicking and hits I was getting for the first few hundred meters or at the turning buoys. On the way back section of the swim I had to slow down a bit to let a flock of geese swim across the lake about 10m ahead of me. I was then able to pick up my pace at this point of the swim and felt really good at the end, perhaps I could have pushed a bit harder earlier.  For the swim I completed it in 1:23:19 which was 32 seconds quicker than the previous year.

In T1 I saw my brother who was still getting his wet suit off, we were both in shock as I am normally not that close to him on the swim. He then got a few minutes on me as I took a bit longer to prepare for the cycle.

On the cycle I had left the mount point when I realised I had not fully tightened my handlebars after transporting it to the race. Strange I did not notice this pushing the bike to transition but was only apparent when riding the bike putting some pressure on them. This took me a few seconds to correct and head out on the bike.

The first section was a loop around the lake on the footpath before heading out on the roads for a mile U  turn to get the distance up. At this point I saw my brother who was about half a mile ahead of me but this took me to about 13 miles to catch him up and over take him.

There was about a 20 mile out section to the start of the 3 laps. I was able to use the aero bars a lot which helped my speed in this section. Within the first mile of the loop there was a nice 12% incline luckily there was an aid station half mile from the top. The next few miles were fast on the way in and through Southwell apart from one sharp 90 degree bend. This reached the top section of the course which seemed to be a lot more undulating and in to a headwind, this was starting to get tough on the first lap. Once of this section I was able to speed up again before starting the next lap and the hill.

When I got to the top section of the course I stopped for part of my special needs bag for some of the stuff (sports drink powder, gels and coke) I had left there. That gave me a bit of a boast on the tough section of the course. A bit further along the road I saw my brother who had pulled out of the race there 3/4 way round the first cycle lap (about 40 miles), that meant I had lapped him a lot earlier than planned.

I kept up my pace until the hill on the third lap which was not pleasant but I was able to cycle up it others were walking there bike up at this point. The top section of the course was really tough at this point but I had my last bits on my special needs bag to look forward to. I then knew there was not far left on the bike with the 20 miles back to the T2, however the last 10 miles seemed to be mostly uphill and in to a headwind but I made it back in a time of 7:05:04 which an average of 15.8 mph.

T2 I think I must have had a powernap as it took me twice as long as last year which was already fairly long time. However after finally leaving T2 I got some sun cream applied by a marshal as the sun had came out plus it was getting hot, ideal weather to run a marathon in!!

The course is flat which is basically 4 loops of the lake and 3 out and backs along river footpath. I started of at my marathon pace and was walking through the aid stations about every 1.2 miles and was trying to be careful which things I had. There was a selection of water, High5 drink, cola, gels, jaffa cakes, crisps, banana, pieces of orange. I was alternating the gels/high5 and having water/cola with the occasional few crisps and odd jaffa cakes (as chocolate was melting).

This worked until about 17 miles when muscle fatigue and over nutrition caught up with me. This meant I was walking virtually all the way from then apart from the only downhill on the course underneath a bridge and in the final 1km I managed a slow jog. I was so glad when I crossed finished line and got my medal and finishers t-shirt.


A more detailed race report can be seen on my blog, including more photos and review of my GPS data.


Lowestoft Pier to Pier Swim

On Sunday I took part in the Lowestoft Pier to Pier swim which is a 1,000 meter swim in the North Sea.

It was actually quite warm air temperature at 9am and waited until a few minutes before the start to fully put on the wet suit in the heat, even so I was glad to get in the cold north sea. It was ideal swim conditions with only small waves and it was sunny.

It started from the beach which for some reason I started near the right side which was the shortest distance to get past the end of the groyne. There was quite a few lifeguards on patrol on various canoes and surfboards in case anybody got into trouble.

When running in to the sea I was surprised there was not that many fast people on this side so I was able to get in to my swim rhythm quickly with only getting hit a few times. Once I reached the end of the gryone it was almost a 90 degree turn to the right to head towards the other pier, luckily this was easy to sight.

I was going at a good pace for me and was surprised how quickly I had got to the pier, there was a person in a canoe there to prevent you swimming in to the pier which I managed to avoid. At this point I knew there was somebody close to me as I was getting hit a bit as we turned round the pier. At this point I kicked a bit more to get some separation until I could not swim any further on to the shoreline. I then started to run up the beach about 20m to the finish. I was concentrating on the finish line and nearly fell over down  a dip in the sand but I could hear the person behind me was close so I took the racing line, looking at the results he was given the same time as me.

I finished this in 19:41 and was 19th out of 41 who entered and was 7th in my age category. I enjoyed this low key sea swim/race and will do this again.


Norwich Olympic Distance Triathlon

The swim was a 1,500m in a U shape with exit half way back along the lake side. Standing at the start on the lake side it was hard to spot all the yellow buoys in the sun rise. One of the other triathletes said just head for the tallest try straight ahead which seemed got landmark to spot before turning back.

For the swim I started towards the left of the start wave, which was the fast side. It was a bit hectic at the start but was a good mass start practice. I left a few meters before I started but I was getting hit for the next few minutes despite it starting to space out already.  I got to the turn point quite well with teh earlier sighting tip and made both of the turns at started heading back. Half way down I decided to slow a bit as the person in front had stopped to let about 5 swans swim past I thought I would play it safe and give them some distance. I then picked up the pace again and was easily to spot the swim exit which had a blow up arch. When I got out of the swim I some how dropped my googles in the murky water but grabbed them on first attempt.

T1 was about 100m from the lake exit to my bike but some how managed to take only a few minutes instead of the normal 10!!

The cycle was a gently undulating 39km (24 miles) loop with one stop point. The biggest issue was the slight breeze going across the farming landscape. I decided to give this a big effort and spend a lot of time on my aerobars. When I got to the first hour I had done over 19 miles which was 4 miles more than normal. With just a few miles to go I decided to see how long I could manage this pace for. When I got to the end my average pace was 19.6 mph!!

T2 was a blur just over 1 minute!!

The run was a 11km multi terrain route made up of two laps around the park and lake side. What I was not prepared for was the woodland section, steps and hills. This was even worse due to the fast pace I started the run on assuming it was all flat. I had to walk up the last half of the hill but ran the rest at a fast pace which I managed to maintain a 8:15 minutes/mile pace for the run.

I completed the race in 2:48:29 which was not bad on a hot day. The only time which was average for me was the swim the rest where at least above average. This was shown by my position in each section being lower each time. I quite like the medal we got which was in a cog shape.

Norwich Olympic Distance Triathlon Medal 2011

More details can be seen on my race report on my blog.

Bala Middle Distance Triathlon

At the start of the month I took part in the Bala Middle Distance Triathlon near Snowdon in North Wales. It is a 2km lake swim, 81 km cycle ride and a 20km run to finish with.

The day before the race the view down the lake was looking quite nice, what a difference a day makes.

Bala 2011

The next day it was wet, windy and only 8c!!

It actually felt warmer to be in the lake which the surface temperature was reported as 10c, so once I got my face used to the cold water I felt a lot better. The swim was ok until the far turn point which there was some waves to swim in to. I quite enjoyed this but it did slow my swim time down.

When I was in T1 I knew times were out of the window as the person next to me was putting his run shoes on as he was quitting already. After a few minutes putting a few layers of winter cycle kit on I left on the cycle.

There was lots of people cycling back within the first few miles, lots just going out in the poor weather conditions in a tri suit, they were not going to get far. Then the wind and hills started, at least I got to improve my bike handling skills. You know its bad conditions when there is a person waiting in a phone box to try keep warm. After finally making the turn point I stopped to fill up my drinks bottle at the only one on the cycle course and then headed back up the hills. It seemed to be head wind on the way back as well, which is not good going up a 10% incline at 4 mph!!

I finally made it back to T2 and there was yet more people quitting, I was even asked if I wanted to continue, I had got this far so I was not going to quit. So after a few minutes changing in to some dryish running gear I headed out.

The run the first and last half a mile was flat then the rest is undulating with the highest point being the turnaround point. There was a lot less people on the run than previous years but I was still going. After 3 miles my legs muscles had become a fatigued due to the cycle effort and the fast run start, so I had to walk any incline from then.

I made it around in over 7 hours which was 70 minutes longer than the previous year but over 33% of entrants did not complete the race.

My full race report is available on my blog, including some more pre race photos.

Midweek Open Water Aquathon

At the lake at Copthorne Hotel, Reading on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday and Thursday of the month at 6:45pm they hold an aquathon. Which is also for those who just want to practice a “mass” swim start. It is just an extra £5 to do the aquathon.

The swim is a single lap (750m) of the lake then a 5.1km (3.2 Miles) run on the footpath around the lake which is 3 laps.

On the 24/6 there was three Basingstoke Tri Squad members taking part which we had the 1st and 3rd men and 2nd place women.

The swim had a bit more weeds than the last time I swam there but was ok but I had a reasonable swim time for me. The transition felt a bit quicker than normal for me but we still had to use the ladder to get out of the lake. The run was 3 laps of a footpath around the lake which was slightly muddy in places due to the recent rain. The main issue was the amount of flies on the far side of the lake. On the plus side I was getting quicker each lap.

It was quite enjoyable and I would do again as good for me to practice swim starts and transitions plus try different kit before a race day.  My “race” report is available on my blog.