I had an affair yesterday.
This affair left me feeling a bit sweaty and VERY breathless. And while I feel a bit guilty about my affair, I would TOTALLY do it again! 😈
... Yesterday – Saturday 30th July 2022 – I shamefully two-timed my wonderful ‘home’ Parkrun, Wilmslow, for an event a little further afield.
Ever since I joined the brilliant Parkrun family, I have been intrigued by the Lyme Park event. Dubbed the ninth slowest Parkrun in the UK, Lyme Park lured me in with its bad boy status.
I’ve had a relatively low-mileage week in terms of running. My aim has been to rest my legs as much as possible ahead of the Colshaw Hall 10k. I ran 11k on Monday but apart from a few long walks, that’s been it, so I figured Saturday was as good a day as any to challenge myself at Lyme Park.
Now, despite that fact that Lyme Park played such an integral part in my childhood, it has become a bit of a two-word horror story since the Run North West Lyme Park 10k Trail Race a few weeks ago. My God that was just something else.. EXHILARATING, but bloody tough! I swear I broke out into a bit of a PTSD-infused cold sweat when I saw that hill up to the Cage again yesterday morning!
(Side note: as I passed under the finish arch of the Lyme Park 10k Trail Race in June, my exact words were ‘Never again.’ ... Obviously, I then went straight home and entered next year’s event. I imagine it’s very similar to when women have babies and go through all of that excruciating pain... Then get pregnant again a year later. My mind might have forgotten the struggle of ‘that’ treacherous hill, but my calves have not). 🤣
Lyme Park is an undeniably special place. I was lucky enough to grow up with generous access to its magic, and yet I am still left spellbound by its panoramic splendour every time I visit.
I know there are a few runners who like to visit different Parkruns up and down the country, and I honestly can’t sing the praises of this one enough. It’s such a unique experience. While it may well be one of the most difficult, I can hand on heart declare that it also has to be up there with the most stunning.
I challenge anybody not to leave Lyme Park buzzing with enchantment.
The Lyme Park parkrunners were a really lovely group.
The ‘first timers’ briefing was done by a friendly gentleman who was very informative and welcoming. He did give us a subtle heads up about the difficulty of the course, however I don’t reckon any amount of research, stark warnings or hearsay could have prepared me for the first kilometre...
As we lined up at the starting point, I glanced wildly around me.
We had been positioned at the bottom of a rocky slope. As mentioned, I know Lyme Park well, and unfortunately, I was familiar with this particular path...
Oh God, no, please no...
Hills and rocks are NOT my fave combo when it comes to running. They’re even more of a hellish pairing when they spring up AT THE FIRST KILOMETER!
There was no beating around the bush: there was only one way we were running, and it was indeed up said slope!
Here's a video I took after the run. This is the starting point and that infamous, testing first kilometer! 😱
I was alarmed to find myself towards the front of the pack as the run began, and got swept along in the faster throngs. With runners so close behind, I had no option but to keep pace.
By the time I’d slipped up the rocky terrain of the first kilometre, I thought I was going to cough an actual lung up in my hands.
On we careered through the woods, which was actually one of my favourite parts of the course. There’s something quite... Purifying about running under the embracing canopy of thickset oaks. It was the perfect opportunity to blow away the cobwebs of the preceding week.
The second kilometre followed a path alongside the bottom of the roaring moorland, which was sensational, and a good opportunity to catch a breath.
Gorgeous, other-worldly woodland along the course 💚
I got chatting to a fellow runner as we crossed the fields up towards The Cage. (Uphill AGAIN, although this time so subtle it was barely noticeable, and don’t let this put you off – the view from the top is simply, sensationally, staggering!)
“I do this Parkrun regularly,” he said. “And it never gets easier! There’s another hill coming up towards the last kilometre. It’s not a steep one, but it’s a real killer.”
“I’ll never grumble about Wilmslow’s bathtub shaped course and cute little hills again!” I laughed. “Put it this way – I don’t think I’m going to run sub 21 today!”
“No, but this is an entirely different beast.”
I realised he was right; Lyme Park Parkrun is definitely more of a trail course. At this point, I had no idea what time to expect. I always like to run my 5ks at least sub-22, but thought this was highly unrealistic given the elevation and uneven terrain.
I calculated that I’d be happy to finish in around 24 minutes.
The view from the peak at the Cage was mesmerising. I drank in the spiralling scenery inching its way out towards the Manchester skyline.
And then came some relief in the downhill part of the course.
I surged forwards, ploughing towards the landscape that engulfed me. I was suddenly overcome with that ‘flying’ sensation that runners often talk about; that feeling of sheer freedom that literally feels so powerful you genuinely believe you may take off the ground any second.
It was euphoric.
I certainly didn’t feel euphoric for long, because up popped that nasty final hill.
As described, that last hill was almost definitely a killer. It wasn’t steep by any means, but it seemed to go on for the entire final kilometre, which was made up of grass.
By this time, my legs were knackered from fighting against an array of terrains that I rarely train over.
If you read my blogs regularly, you’ll know how much I DETEST running on grass. I know it’s better for you as it’s a softer landing for the joints and whatnot, but I just don’t get on with it at all. I find it so hard to build momentum in terms of my pace when I’m running over grass, and instead tend to spend time focusing on not rolling my weedy little ankles.
I struggled towards the finish line, focusing on the striking stature of Lyme Hall ahead of me. I was also acutely aware of the imposing Cage high above me.
SUCH a cool course!! How many other Parkruns can say that they share their course with such incredible, history-steeped monuments?
I staggered over the line as first female, first in my age category, and 9th out of 79 overall. My time was 22:51.
I thoroughly enjoyed my morning at Lyme Park Parkrun. Sometimes, it’s thrilling to challenge yourself, and this course certainly did that!
I can’t recommend this Parkrun enough for anybody wanting to try something a little different. You will ache in places you can’t even imagine! (So much for resting my legs before the Colshaw Hall 10k!)
But as is the beauty of Parkrun, you don’t even need to push yourself over the course – you could attend with family, friends, or the dog and stroll along, taking total advantage of the out-of-this-world views along the way.
Thank you kindly to the Lyme Park Parkrunners and the awesome marshals for being so friendly and welcoming! 🥰
Cara Jasmine Bradley
Lyme Park ParkRun: https://www.parkrun.org.uk/lymepark/