Bradford parkrun

When I heard my favourite band, mesh, were playing the Infest festival in Bradford, my first thought was “I wonder if I can combine this with a parkrun?”  Bradford, you see, hosts a rather infamous parkrun with a “Teeny Tiny Hill”, complete with sign, that you have to run up three times.  I have never incorporated a run into a festival attendance before; walking to Wetherspoons for a liquid breakfast is usually the only exercise I would get before lunchtime.

As I am generally physically incapable of anything useful when hungover, I took the groundbreaking decision not to consume any alcohol on Friday night.  This was met with huge confusion from my friends.  “What do you mean you don’t want a drink?  Are you ill?  Oh god you’re not pregnant are you?”  My explanation that I had to get up at 6am to go and run round a park did not make them any less confused.

Not running shoes.

Unfortunately, although I was perfectly sober, it didn’t change the fact that I was out rather late dancing around in a pair of New Rocks, and when I finally got to bed, my little feet were throbbing.  When I woke up to my alarm four hours later, they were still throbbing, and showing some signs of turning to lead.  This is what getting old does to you.  I shuffled out of bed and hoped the walk to parkrun would loosen me up a bit.

It is about a 40 minute walk from Bradford Town Centre to Lister Park, which is on the north side of town.  This is as far as my geographical knowledge of Bradford goes.  As I waddled along, patting myself on the back for getting up early and doing exercise while everyone slept off their hangovers, a random stranger ran alongside me and introduced himself as Tim from the Fitgoth Facebook Group.  Tim from The Fitgoth Facebook Group had been up until 4am drinking and had to go and work at the festival after the run, so clearly was a lot more hardcore than I was.  Goodbye, crown of hardcoreness.

Cartwright Hall – you run right past here.

I was surprised to see how nice Lister Park is.  It’s the grounds of a big country house called Cartwright Hall which is some kind of art gallery now.  It’s set on a hillside with a lake, bandstand and ornamental gardens.  The paths are very wide and pothole free and everything looks well cared for.  Inside the park I interrogated random volunteers about Teeny Tiny Hill and found my friend Paul and a couple of other random Fitgoths.  I then decided to find a toilet and had a nasty shock in discovering that the toilet-like building near the start isn’t actually a toilet and had to do a lightning dash to the actual toilet which is near the southern gate to the park.  This was not helped by a random northerner with a dog sending me in the wrong direction.  I was now in grave danger of being late for the start, so I had to sprint back up the hill to where the run briefing was taking place.  This was probably the fastest I was to run all day.

Official photos by Philip Bland (parkrun volunteer) – that’s me in the apricot top.

The course at Bradford is very simple: three rectangular laps.  The long sides of the rectangle are a gentle slope and the short sides are a steep slop.  You start on gentle up, then steep down, gentle down and then… TEENY TINY HILL!  Seeing the sign was like seeing a great wonder, the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal.  Finally I’d arrived!  And actually, Teeny Tiny Hill isn’t that bad.  It’s quite steep but it’s not very long – just like our own hill in Finsbury Park.  Perhaps Hadleigh and Gladstone gave me a inflated idea of how big a teeny tiny hill should be.  The hardest thing about it is that it is followed by the gentle up, so it’s not possible to shift gears at the top and zoom off on the flat the way one would at Finsbury Park.  I still think this could be quite a fast course though, if one was to do it when one had had a proper night’s sleep and when one’s feet did not feel as if they might fall off.    Another thing that I was not keen on was the rather awkward finish, which is up a hill and round a corner, a few metres higher than the start.  It is not very sprint finish friendly.

The starts is roughly level with the bandstand and the finish is level with where I am taking the photo of the bandstand from.

I noticed the attendees were quite different from London parkruns and in particular a lot slower.  This is definitely one for you fast runners (Rob, take note) to come for an impressive looking finish place.  There were only seven runners (out of 406) who finished under 20 minutes (compared with 25 out of 311 at Finsbury Park) and 33 who took over 40 minutes (eight at Finsbury Park).  For only the third time in my life, I actually lapped the tailwalker.  Unsurprisingly, due to my poor physical state and lack of effort put in I was one of the 40plussers with a finish time of 41:50 (thirty seconds of which was standing still at the extremely busy start).  The positives I will take from this performance are that I did manage to do the whole thing without walking (although you would probably describe it as the J-word instead) and that my last lap (and Teeny Tiny Hill segment) was the fastest.  Maybe I was starting to wake up by then.


I found Paul at the end and forced him to come and take a thousand pictures of the Teeny Tiny Hill sign but there was no trace of Tim from the Fitgoth Facebook Group.  I do hope this meant he was so fast he was long gone by the time I finished and not that his excesses caught up with him and that he had to go and puke by the Fossilised Tree.  That would be no good.

In summary, I really liked this course and the only thing stopping me going back is the fact that it is in bloody Bradford.

Addendum: Tim from the Fitgoth Facebook Group did live, and in fact ran the parkrun in 24 minutes.  What a show off!

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