Lincoln parkrun: the one with the jelly-bean man!

“If you’re going to Lincoln next weekend, don’t forget your thermals!” So said my friend Steph, whilst we sat on the pier in Portsmouth in t-shirts in the unseasonably warm sunshine after running the Great South Run.  Steph is a musician who had given concerts in Lincoln in the past and said that she had always been freezing cold when playing there, yet I didn’t take her seriously as it was so warm. But a week later I came to regret ignoring her wise words when I turned up at Lincoln parkrun in the freezing cold, regretting not having packed gloves, a scarf and a long-sleeved top, and feeling like a right Southern Softie!

I was in Lincoln in order to sing at the cathedral as part of a visiting choir whilst the cathedral choir was away for half term. When I saw the schedule for the weekend, which started with a rehearsal at 10:30am I realised that I might be able to get a cheeky parkrun in before the rehearsal, providing the parkrun course was not too far from the cathedral. Looking at the course page I could see that the venue was Boultham park, which was about 2 miles south of Lincoln Cathedral, so I reckoned I could do it, and I became more excited when I realised I might be able to bag an ‘L’ on my alphabet challenge! The weekend I was there was also going to be their Halloween parkrun, and as partial as I am to a bit of parkrun-fancy dress, I sadly had no time to source a costume or put on Halloween make-up which would take time to remove and make me late for the rehearsal.

On the day itself (27th October) I set off rather early. I have found in the past when touristing that postcodes given on the course pages are not entirely accurate, and so I arrived in a fairly deserted residential street (Hall Drive) and I couldn’t even see the park. But then I saw a group of volunteers carrying the familiar yellow/green parkrun signs, and so flagged them down and asked them if I was in the right area for the car park. One of them kindly offered to show me the car park and then to escort me to the park. When I declined saying that I was going to wait in the car for a bit as it was so cold, he told me to look out for him on the course, saying that they called him the “jelly-bean man”.

After waiting in the car for a bit, I reluctantly left the warm interior and braved the cold -regretting my choice of a short-sleeved apricot t-shirt and capri running pants. I made my way towards the park which was not far away, and found toilets near the main gate to the park. By this time other runners had started to arrive, and everyone was congregating near the bandstand, where you could leave your belongings under safely under cover and not worry about them getting wet if it rained – which it did! I took a moment to admire the effort that some people had gone to with their Halloween outfits, and it is the only time I have envied a person wearing a furry monster costume to run in, as they looked toasty-warm compared with the shivering masses!

After a good newcomers briefing, and then the main briefing, there was just time for a few photos to be taken of the costumes, plus people celebrating milestones and a birthday, before we made our way to the start and the off. My home parkrun – Walthamstow – is a 3-lap course, so Lincoln felt like a home away from home. The route was picturesque, going around a lake and through trees, and along the way the various marshals had gone to some effort with their costumes, including the wicked witch presiding over Sandra’s Corner and a young masked marshal hiding in the undergrowth ready to jump out and scare the runners. And there on the route was the jelly-bean man, complete with scary mask, and who now held out a tub of jelly-beans on laps 2 and 3 for people to help themselves to, and who shouted “Go, girl” as I ran past!

After the run I understand that people go for a coffee in the local bowling club, but I had to rush back to my rehearsal so had to forego that pleasure. Lincoln was a lovely, friendly parkrun (aren’t they all?) and I was pleased to count it as my 19th different venue and my alphabeteer “L” but then delighted when the results came in to find that I had added another second on my stopwatch bingo challenge as well!

The parkrun itself is flat as a pancake, and with sufficient turns to make it interesting all the way round. There is free parking in the small car park but also in local residential streets and the bowling club, and toilets at the main entrance to the park. There is a children’s playground for small non-running family members, and also a café in the park. I’m sure it’s not always so cold – or is Lincoln just a freakishly cold place as my friend had warned me? I’ll just have to go back another time to find out! Thank you to the Run Director and all the wonderful volunteers and runners for the warm welcome – but especially to the jelly-bean man!

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