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I’ve cut it fine two months in succession in my ‘New parkrun A Month’ challenge.  On the last Saturday in February, I made it along to Perth parkrun, situated along the River Tay in North Inch and Riverside parks, just a short walk from the town centre.

I’d been meaning to coincide this one with the visit of the Mighty Staggies to McDiarmid Park for a couple of seasons, but fortune denied me the pleasure of doubling up until this fateful day.  I was out the door at 6.45 for the bus into Haymarket, picked up a coffee & boarded the 7.42 for Perth.  The journey lacked any excitement whatsoever and I got to read a chunk of Catch 22 in peace – if you take nothing else away from this, let it be that that book is hilarious and you must read it.  So there.

With the mile from the station to the start line navigated with plenty time to spare, I got chatting to one of the volunteers who was leading the first timers’ briefing.  That newly acquired cow cowl worked a treat on its first outing!  It’s not quite as impressive in Scottish terms when you say you’ve travelled 44 miles for a parkrun as it would be in a lot of places down South – there just aren’t that many events that close together, unless you’re lucky enough* to live in Glasgow, but I was still there!

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The brief and subsequent race announcements confirmed we were looking at the regular route (a relief to the locals who had to make to with an alternate two-lapper last week), and included an embarrassing call out of milestone runners for a wee photo before the run got underway.  I’m glad Edinburgh is too big these days to reasonably implement that – completely not for me!

*strictly in relation to number of runs available…East is best, obviously <waves innocently to Glaswegians>

And so we got underway just a little after 9.30.  I’d been on a ‘run’ of three different parkruns in three different locations all sub 20, and another today would match a similar spell of four from 2016.  It’s the utterly meaningless goals that bring a bit of joy into into things…so what the hell!

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It was a calm, sunny if chilly morning, and the only grassy stretch was pretty hard thanks to an overnight frost.  No excuses.

I took up a place up near the front.  As we set off, I just went for it as we headed north.  Dodged a dog minding its own business, and very quickly I found myself in seventh, even before we turned a sharpish right past the cheering Parent & Kid volunteers, then an even sharper left through a stone gate that I almost got wrong!

1km = 3:35.  Oops, that was a bit quick.  Might manage sub 19 if I can keep that up.

I was falling steadily behind the folk in front, and moving slowly away from those behind.  It was going to be a lonely run.

2km = 3:44.  Good.  Might be sustainable, and sub 20’s safe.

The turnaround point was a near-180 up a little slope and onto the grass.  That in itself went on for around 1km, almost all of which was solid besides a handful of more rutted areas for me to hop over or around.

3km: 3:47.  Okay, that’ll do.  Even a little slowing should still mean sub 19.

I’m on the right now as the loop closes and the last few runners are heading the other way.  Shout words of encouragement, say hello to dog walkers, thank the nice volunteer at the ‘splitting point’ and completely miss the–

4km: 3.48

–marker because I was trying to navigate the gate more successfully this time.  Have to dodge around a couple of cyclists unnerved by my hurtling (sort of…let me have that one, please!) towards them on the last corner, thank the volunteers, and heads down.  I did my best to smile at the people out for a walk or with their kids or dogs but it may have been more of a grimace!

My watch was telling me a PB might be on, but as I got close the finish line I realised I was running out of metres and the course was going to be short.  Nooo!

0.96km: 3.40

I clocked an official 18:25 for a parkrun best by 29s from more than a year ago, and the pace was probably on for a slight improvement to my outright 5k PB of 18.35 set 3 years ago.  Back in form!

The Run Director was kind enough to pop over for a chat after I’d finished; turns out Edinburgh was also his home event at one time and has also done a spot of tourism!  Montrose coming up soon, if memory serves.

Then it was time for a wander into town for coffee & cake, and we’ll not talk of events thereafter…

I’m not slightly biased, but this was a great course.  The weather also helped my impressions, though it has more to do with the nice surrounds, the fact it was flat and the mix of terrain that in conditions like Saturday, or during the summer, won’t slow you down.

All you need to do is claim your barcode and you’re all set up to head along next Saturday! have made

Oh, and Craig and Doug have made videos of their own days a few weeks earlier, for those of you that prefer moving pictures.

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Post-event scanning and chatter