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.

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.


Basingstoke Aquadrome – swimming in the mornings


Over the last two weeks we have not been able to swim in the Aquadrome’s 25m pool in the mornings as the lanes had been given to the Bluefins without any warning.  I got on my high horse about this as I pay for membership to the Aquadrome and there is just no other time that I can sensibly swim there.

After a bit of fussing, I spoke to Serco who manage the pool, the Leisure Trust and the council.  I know some people spoke to their MP’s and there was an article in the Gazette.  I think I made myself unpopular by phoning the Chair of the Trust, at home, and saying I would like to become a Trustee if this is not resolved.

Anyway, something has happened now.  We have had a bit of a victory in that we have got Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays back (but we have lost Mondays and Wednesdays).  Also, the pool opens 30 mins earlier so there should be a bit more opportunity for swimming before work.  Another change is that the Tadley pool opens earlier and the Basingstoke membership has been extended to cover Tadley. 

Anyway, here is the e-mail that I received from the council explaining things…

I refer to my email dated 10 September regarding the pool programme at Basingstoke Aquadrome. I am now able to let you know that changes are to be made to the timetable which will allow early morning lane swimming in the 25m pool.

On three mornings per week – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays – the pool will be open from 5.30am (previously 6.00am). Three lanes will be allocated for public lane swimming on the Tuesday and Thursday and two lanes on Friday. The other lanes will be used by Bluefins training squads.  The 20m pool will continue to have all 6 lanes available for public swimming, with provision for competitive / fitness swimmers made on Mondays and Wednesdays.

For those swimmers who are willing to travel to the 25m pool at Tadley, all 6 lanes will be available for the public from 6.00am (previously 6.30am).

There will also be public lane swimming in the early evening at the Aquadrome 25m pool where previously there was none; on Tuesdays and Thursdays two lanes will be available between 5.00pm-7.30pm.

As noted in my earlier email, these arrangements are due to start on 20 September and a review will be carried out by Christmas. Notices of the new programme will be displayed at the Aquadrome and website information will also be updated.
We believe the new programme achieves a reasonable compromise and hope the majority of swimmers will now be able to swim at a time convenient to their needs. We recognise the frustration that has been caused by the initial changes and officers from the council will be working with the Community Leisure Trust and Serco to ensure that if the pool programme is modified in the future (as indeed over the coming few years it may need to be) it is done with due consultation and consideration of the impact on everyone who may be affected.