A modest field appreciated a scenic course, full of interest at Scotland's newest parkrun today (Saturday 7 December) as the free weekly 5k phenomenon arrived in Dumbarton.
All parkruns are friendly occasions but the team at Levengrove Park scored 10 out 10 on this count and that mood started with Run Director David Kennedy whose pre-run briefing doubled as a 'stand up' routine. No one was in any doubt that this was a THREE lap event.
Those laps started in the centre of the park at the Pavilion Cafe. Runners and walkers were soon working on the early inclines before a long easy downhill stretch with great views across the Firth of Clyde.
The route continued on a flat section parallel to the Clyde and then back towards the centre of the park. There was another climb before the reward of encouraging shouts from the event team at the start. A short sharp downhill preceded a winding climb to the end of the lap. The flower beds were bare here but are sure to be a feature of the course in summer.
There's year round interest though with the Clyde vistas, lots of evergreen trees and open views of the pretty park. And you also pass the ruins of St Serf's church where some of Robert the Bruce's remains are buried.
We're not sure how much attention Bryn Jones paid to the views as he led the field round the park. The Fulham RC flyer had taken a leaf out of Eliud Kipchoge's book and his Nike Zoom Vaporfly-powered run set the course record at a shade under 18 minutes. Natalie Stevenson's 19:13 is now the time for fast ladies to aim at.
Rachael McHard recorded the mid-point time of 27:52 and the time keepers knocked off on 56:37 when experienced tail walker Lesley Mushet crossed the line and collected token no.133.
It was a gloomy morning in Dumbarton with light drizzle at the start but a great buzz shone through as the field enjoyed a testing course – there's more ups and downs than on the level – that was well-marked and enthusiastically marshalled. The chocolate at the finish was a nice touch too.
A compact course, a friendly atmosphere and the ideally-located cafe, adjacent to the start/finish. suggest that Levengrove parkrun is set to be an event with a strong social dimension. 20 pitch-perfect volunteers saw it off to a flying start.