I’ve been a regular Parkrun runner on and off for around eight years, with Cardiff Parkrun at Blackweir being my usual Saturday morning 5k.
A lot of people might not realise that the events are completely volunteer-run; the people marshalling the course are all unpaid and doing it for no other reason than to support the event to take place.
It was so simple to become a Parkrun volunteer.
I knew I wanted to lend a hand at some point so ages ago signed up for the Cardiff helpers emails, through the website. There are also details on the Facebook page.
Then, when I had a Saturday free I let them know I was available by emailing my name and barcode number.
It was really that simple to arrange, the organiser emailed me back with my role for the next day (I was to be a marshal along the route at Bute Park) and I just had to turn up at 8.30, don a hi-vis jacket and go to my appointed spot.
The other volunteers were really helpful and I got chatting to some of them as we walked to our stations, they were a mix of first time volunteers like me and people who give their time to help out almost weekly.
There are plenty of roles available, mostly course marshals like I was, also flying marshals who run along with the pack, people scanning your tag at the end and organising the finishing funnel. I really didn’t want to do this, it looks so hectic! Luckily I was given a much easier job.
So I wandered down to my place in Bute Park and waited.
The spot I was supervising was quite an important one, the route is a loop so the front runners start coming back when the slower end of the pack (this is usually where I am!) are still heading up. So there’s a lot of reminding people to keep right so they don’t crash with another runner (the front ones are so fast!).
Apart from reminding the runners to keep right I found it a bit awkward to know what to do or say. I really don’t like aggressive shouting from the volunteers when I’m doing the run, (“COME ON! YOUR PB IS IN SIGHT! STEP IT UP!” – this is the kind of thing I HATE) but I know some find it a good motivator.
Many of the runners were calling ‘thank you marshal!’ as they went past, which was really nice, so I took to saying “good morning” back and generally trying to be happy!
As the end of the pack started coming back along the route there was a lot more humour and camaraderie, lots of people joking to me about how slow they were, but obviously enjoying themselves and not taking it too seriously.
Volunteering really made me appreciate the role of the marshals, and when I next ran the route I was sure to thank them all!
Being a marshal isn’t the easiest of jobs, ensuring that the runners stay safe and that non-runners can still enjoy the park is tricky at times. But I really enjoyed seeing it from the other side and had a lovely warm glow for the rest of the day.
Some of the regular volunteers go for coffee afterwards, but there’s no pressure to join them, and I really appreciated the fact you could give as much or as little time as you wanted.
If you’re a regular Parkrunner you should definitely give volunteering a go.
Parkrun organisers were not aware I’d be writing this blog post.
After running/hobbling the Cardiff Half last month, I was determined to continue running, at least once a week. I’ve fallen into a routine of one hot yoga class a week (this is my current favourite) and Parkrun every Saturday. I should probably be doing more exercise than this, but with two young children, a job and loads of Netflix to watch, this works for me at the moment.
You probably know that Parkrun is a free, weekly, timed 5k/3mile run at 9am on a Saturday, in various parks around the world. It’s operated by volunteers and is a great way to give you the motivation to get out of bed and go for a run, particularly on those chilly winter mornings!
I usually do the Cardiff/Blackweir Parkrun (you can read my post about it here), which is a beautiful route starting on the Taff Trail, just off Western Avenue and moving along the River Taff. But my running buddy suggested we try Grangemoor in the Bay for a change this week.
We parked at the drive-through Starbucks and had a brisk walk down to the start, which is located in Grangemoor Park, under the A4232 and next to the marina.
Luckily the weather was beautiful, very sunny and crisp, which always makes running a pleasure.
The volunteers at Grangemoor were great and really took the time to explain the course to any newcomers.
The course itself is flat and tarmac all the way. It’s a ‘Y’ shape, with two out and back sections, which you do two laps of. The course itself is pretty uninspiring, with a few power stations and the backs of industrial units forming the main view along the route, with some nice views of the River Ely on the other side. I’m not a massive fan of two lap courses. It’s always a battle with myself to actually do a second lap and not just stop after one! However the Marshals on this course were fantastic and really kept the runners smiling.
If you’re looking to improve your time, Grangemoor is a good option. There are less runners than Blackweir (130 at Grangemoor compared to the 764 that ran Blackweir yesterday!), which means you can get off to a good start and really push your time. Also the path at Grangemoor was very quiet, so you don’t have to worry about other runners, dog walkers and cyclists, unlike Blackweir (“BIIIIKE!”).
I did do a PB at Grangemoor too – 31.50. Until recently I was languishing around the 34 minute mark, so I’m pretty chuffed with that. Now that the Cardiff Half is out of the way, I can concentrate on my speed, rather than distance.
Massive thanks to all the volunteers that give up their Saturday mornings to keep us running at Parkrun! 👏🏻
Parkrun is a free event and the organisers were not aware I’d be blogging about it.
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What a day yesterday was! Along with around 20,000 other nutters I went for a 13.1 mile jog around Cardiff.
This time last year I was 38 weeks pregnant and could barely walk from my car to the office, thanks to a delightful pregnancy condition called Pelvic Girdle Pain. (Google it, its when the joints of your pelvis actually move apart. Ouch) But I watched the Cardiff Half marathon and said, “I’m going to do that next year!” My main motivation was to get fit after having the baby, but I also wanted to raise money for the fab charity I work for, Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, which supports people in Wales who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.
So yesterday morning at 8am we dropped the kids off at my Mums and made our way down to Cardiff Castle.
The weather was stunning – blue skies without a cloud to be seen. Perfect for spectators, maybe not so good for the runners though – despite all the water stops I was very dehydrated after and quite sunburnt too.
The route took us from Cardiff Castle, along Penarth Road, into Penarth, across the Barrage (the views were absolutely stunning here) through the Bay, to Roath, around Roath Park lake and back into town for the finish line at the Civic Centre.
The route was full of amazing volunteers cheering us on and the support was fantastic – especially in Roath where there were lovely people handing out sweeties, offering high fives and loads of singers and brass bands dotting the route. Shout out to the awesome vicar at Albany Road church, offering to pour water over anyone that needed it. What a star.
The crowds were definitely needed by me, as my knee (which had been playing me up through my training recently) decided to have a major spasm between mile 9 and 10. I was in agony for the last few miles, but the amazing support got me round.
I finished with a chip time of 2.53, which included a stop to queue for one of the many portaloos along the route. My Strava time (which I paused for said toilet break) was 2.43. My main aim was not to stop, which I didn’t, so I was happy.
If you live in Cardiff this is one of those things you must do at least once. It’s a great way to see an alternative view of the city and the supporters were just fantastic. However, I can safely say that I’ll never do it again! I’ll stick to 5k at ParkRun from now on.
If you want to sponsor me, visit my JustGiving page. Thank you! Now I’m off to ice my poor knee…..
I paid in full for my entry to the Cardiff Half and organisers were not aware I’d be blogging about the event.
There’s a bit of a change to the blog this week. As you probably know, I’ve recently had a baby girl. Life with a baby and a four-year-old is busy! As I’m on maternity leave, baby F and I have been getting out and about in Cardiff most days, but I’m too knackered to properly blog about what we’ve been doing.
So instead I’m going to start doing weekly roundups, with quick snippets of what we’ve been up to. I’m also planning to make the blog a bit more personal. Please let me know what you think. Here goes….
I met up with a friend who’s also on maternity leave this week and we took our babies for lunch at Wyndham Tea in town. Pictured above is my sticky Asian chicken salad. Yum! Their lunches are always healthy and delicious. I’m also loving Waterloo Tea’s loyalty cards – do pick one up if you’re in any of their shops. I’m one visit away from a free slice of cake. Result!
Baby F and I have been going to Rhymetime at Radyr Library in Tuesdays from 2.15pm. The free class starts with a story, then songs and rhymes and there’s always a craft and toys for older children. Most of Cardiff’s local libraries run Rhymetime classes. I’d definitely recommend going along if you have a pre-school child.
My lovely Mum looked after F for a few hours so I could sort myself out and get my eyebrows and hair done at Salon Nia. You can read more about their HD brows treatments here. I’m too embarrassed to do a before/after selfie. But believe me, there’s a huge improvement!
I’ve been trying to get back into fitness after giving birth. I’m *thinking* of running the Cardiff Half in October, but time will tell if I’m really up to it! Luckily the weather was good enough on Friday morning to take the buggy for a gentle jog along the Taff Trail after the school run. I always stop at the bridge at Gelynis Fruit Farm to take in one of my favourite views of Castell Coch.
I’ve also been going back to Hot Yoga at Elite Fitness in Fairwater. I’m loving Diana’s classes on a Saturday morning.
The four-year-old has been a bit poorly this week but he was well enough on Saturday afternoon to take a trip to Caerphilly Castle to see The Dragon/Y Ddraig. You can see a video of The Dragon here. Please do click the link as we couldn’t get close enough to take a decent picture. The queue to get up-close was ridiculous. Look at it!
The Dragon moves inside the castle this week and will be there until the summer so we’re planning to go back in the Easter holidays for a proper look.
It was my sister’s birthday this week so on Saturday night we went for a family meal at the Happy Gathering Cantonese restaurant in Canton. I’ve been going there for around 20 Years. I don’t think the decor or menu have changed at all during that time. The service certainly leaves a lot to be desired but the food was great as usual and the place was packed with families. The children’s menu is really reasonable and J enjoyed his first ever BBQ spare ribs!
So today is Mothers Day. G joined 1,500 other people to run the Newport half marathon this morning and got a pretty stunning medal for his efforts, but the little ones and I stayed home and had a relaxing morning with coffee, croissants and cuddles.
Parkrun is an amazingly simple concept; Weekly, free, timed 5k runs around parks across the UK. Perfect for people who want to beat their PB, are looking for a social run with like-minded people or just need a reason to get out of bed and get their trainers on at the weekend.
Parkrun is a not for profit event, run by fantastic volunteers and it’s completely free to take part, just register online. Print off a barcode (you have to print it, they can’t scan smart phones) and they’ll log your time and email it to you. Simple.
Cardiff Parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9am, starting on the Taff Trail at Blackweir (next to the giant Tesco on Western Avenue) and running along the River Taff, looping back through Bute Park.
After eating my homemade energy ball and downing a smoothie, I turned up ready to race alone with a podcast to keep me company. But while standing at the start line, trying my best to keep warm, I bumped into two of my old work colleagues, Nicola and Beth and Beth’s sister.
Hooray! It meant that my solo run became a lot more sociable and we jogged round the course in 34 mins, while managing to catch up on a good bit of gossip. And that’s really what Park Run is about. Not gossiping (unless that helps motivate you, in which case gossip away) But Parkrun is about taking on a challenge with other runners, feeling that comraderie, with perhaps a dash of competitiveness thrown in. It would’ve been a huge mistake to do it alone with my iPod!
So to the course itself. The Taff Trail is absolutely beautiful anyway so to run around there is always lovely, no matter the weather. With more than 650 runners taking part, the path is a bit tight at the start, but it soon opens up with plenty of room for all speeds and levels. I do think there’s an opportunity here for another park run in Cardiff though – further along the Taff Trail at Forest Farm or around Pontcanna and Llandaff for example. The demand is certainly there.
I didn’t record a PB at this weeks race, but I wasn’t far off and a surprise catch up with friends while enjoying a scenic run made for a lovely morning.
The timing of Parkrun meant I was home by 10am, plenty of time to enjoy a well-deserved breakfast of spinach, avocado and poached eggs on toast with an Americano. Heaven!
In the past I’ve taken part in the Cardiff half marathon, the Sport Relief Mile in Cardiff Bay and numerous Cancer Research UK Race for Life events, but still, I would never call myself a ‘runner’. I find it hard to motivate myself and when I do go out for a run, I inevitably find myself walking after 15 minutes. So when someone told me about Park Run, I thought it might be the perfect way to get myself running again.
Park Run is a free 5k timed course which takes place all over the UK. In Cardiff, the run starts on the Taff Trail, next to Tesco Western Avenue and follows a 5k loop running alongside the River Taff and taking in Bute Park. It’s a free event, run by volunteers and funded by sponsors.
Last Saturday’s run saw 207 runners taking part – ranging from serious club competitors to younger children running with their dogs and even one man pushing a buggy around the course. It’s well organised, with a dedicated start, markers along the route and volunteers cheering you along the way.
It’s not a race, but you are being timed, which really gave me the incentive to keep going and not walk. I was in good company, gold medal runner Jamie Baulch took part on Saturday, although he wasn’t the fastest! The quickest time was 16 minutes, while the walkers came in at 55minutes for the course. 37 of the runners were first time Park Runners (including myself) – not suprising considering last Saturday was such a beautiful day. Luckily a large part of the course was shaded so it wasn’t too warm, but even in the open sunny areas, it was early enough not to feel too uncomfortable in the heat.
When you cross the line, you’re handed a token recording your time, which is then logged by the Park Run team and emailed to you, marking you against your previous stats, other runners in your age group and so on. On Saturday, the volunteers only had one computer working so logging your time took a while, but noone seemed to mind. Many runners seem to use the run as a social event and were happy to chat and compare times while waiting.
I would really recommend the Park Run event as a good incentive to get running, and a great way to kick off your weekend. Surely a jog along the beautiful river Taff is better than half an hour going nowhere on a treadmill at the gym?