Amazingly, I did get up at half two this morning. Especially amazing is the fact that after going to bed at half eight I was awoken around ten with a problem at work. Even though it only took about ten minutes to sort I was awake and took ages to go back off.
At 03:20, I pulled up and parked in a quiet street close to Sutton Park’s Banners Gate, near to the parkrun start in five and a half hours time.
My route was already on my watch, so I fired it up and when the GPS signals were acquired, I pressed start and I was off.
A couple of years ago, I did a walk with the LDWA Heart of England group. The route exited Sutton Park at Banners Gate and headed towards the canal near Spaghetti Junction. For now, this is the route I would follow.
After a mile and a half, I entered Finchley Park, one of several green strips which form a greenway across birmingham. Finchley was followed by Witton Lakes Park and Brookvale Park.
After exiting the last park, I somehow, totally missed a path which passes under the M6 and leads to the canal.
I walked in roughly the right direction and after a while came to a road junction that I reckognised. From here, a short downhill section allowed me to join the canal at Holford.
Back on course, the next four miles were soon covered before I left the canal for Sandwell Valley Park.
The plan was to leave Sandwell Valley then follow the River Tame as far as Perry Hall Park.
However, the path leaving the park was closed and fenced off. Another diversion was required !
Without backtracking, I could see on my phone that I could go through Handsworth to cross the Tame into Perry Hall Park.
Interesting things seen traversing Handsworth and then Browns Green, included …
… this interesting van and this road sign …
I went to Worlds end – and beyond, to cross the Tame and enter Perry Hall Park.
In the dawn light, I crossed the river and walked through the formal part of the park before arriving at the main gates.
Unfortunately, the main gates were still locked and there was no pedestrian access. Bugger !
Turning right, towards Birmingham, I carried on through the park and eventually escaped at Perry Bar adjacent to the One Stop Centre.
The unusually quiet Walsall Road was crossed before turning left onto Aldridge Road, passing the greyhound track and Perry Park. The M6 passed over head and I was able to rejoin the planned route, dropping back onto the canal.
Because of the Handsworth variation, I needed to lose a mile or so to keep my mileage to around nineteen miles and get to parkrun on time.
The bit that I cocked up on the way out was missed out completely leaving Witton Lakes, Finchley Park and back to the car, arriving back just before eight thirty.parkrun
After a bite to eat and divesting myself of the back pack, I made my way to the parkrun start.
At the allotted time, I set off with three hundred others and was soon settling in to a brisk pace of around 13 minute miles. The Hill of Doom was charged up and further runners were passed.
Making the final descent, my average pace stood at 12:26 and I crossed the finish, stopping my watch at 38:59 in 252nd place out of 309.
When the official sms reached me, my official time was given as 38:11 – yet another Sutton Park PB.
I’m not sure how they get these times, every time (apart from the short course fiasco) has been lower than what I have recorded.