Hadleigh parkrun must have one of the most exciting descents of any of the 600+ venues used for the free, weekly 5K timed runs in Britain. The perfect S-shaped downhill section pictured above is part of the 2012 Olympic mountain biking course!
Of course, what goes down must go up so there are also plenty of adverse elevations to test participants and this is reflected in the course records. Not many parkruns can boast an English National cross country champion as record holder but that is the case at Hadleigh.
Adam Hickey (Southend) represented GB in the World Championships XC in Denmark in March this year and was English champion at Parliament Hill last year but he still found time to nip round Hadleigh Country Park in a modest (for him) 16:59 in May 2017.
Another unusual twist is that this parkrun's record is shared with local M40 legend Crispian Bloomfield (Billericay Striders), who also clocked 16:59 in May 2018. Crispian has had more comebacks than the Rolling Stones and is currently looking at 250 wins in races at all distances from 5K to marathon, including an impressive 20 miles PB of 1:48:30 in 2008!
The women's record has been held by Eleanor Whyman-Davis (Preston Harriers, 18:45) since September last year – when she took first place overall – but the age-graded best is owned by that man Bloomfield (81.55%) for his record equalling run.
Since Hadleigh parkrun was launched in October 2016 more than 3,500 different parkrunners have tackled the undulating but scenic Essex course and many of those have crammed into the on-site Hub cafe for post-parkrun refreshments.
A major feature of the route is Hadleigh Castle, begun in 1215 by Hubert de Burgh and refortified by Edward III during the Hundred Years War. It remains to be seen if today's parkrun army will continue their own battles on the ramparts for another hundred years!
Image courtesy Hadleigh parkrun