By Laura Kimberley and Katrina Urban
The Purple Patch running website boasted ‘A hidden jewel, nestled amidst the M4, M40 & M25, yet a million miles away from the concrete jungle – a real metropolitan oasis.’ I was really excited about this run because nothing makes me happier than exploring new places and this location had really been talked up by the Purple Patch team. I was very nearly down a running buddy because my planned companion Nicola had to work, but thankfully my friend Kat offered to run in her place. I was looking forward to this as me and Kat haven’t had a chance to run together since a half marathon back in 2014!
The event location was really easy to find – the website had clear directions including a post code which the satnav recognised, and there were clear signposts on the roads leading up to the location not long after we’d come off the M4 motorway. Plenty of parking was available a couple of minutes’ walk from the start and since we had some spare time we could enjoy the surroundings.
The start area was exceptionally well organised with desks set up to collect race numbers alphabetically, sign up for the junior races and put baggage into the bag drop. There was also a Weatherspoon’s pub and Virgin Active gym located right by the start area who were happy for runners to use their toilets. After a group warm up led by a member of the Purple Patch team, we were off.
The first half kilometre of the route followed a road which led through the industrial estate, but we were then directed into a park and the rest of the run was completely off road. It was such a beautiful day and the park was genuinely gorgeous. The first part of the run took us along a quite narrow trail with trees on either side providing a nice bit of shade. This park had clearly been designed with running and outdoor activities in mind as I noticed along the run that there were signs up detailing different length routes available for joggers to follow. It was mostly flat and for every sloping uphill along the way there was a nice downhill to balance it out. When we were discussing the course later, Kat said “I really liked the course layout. It was really pretty and not following repetitive loops. There was a good balance of ups and downs to keep the route interesting, but none of the hills were too steep. It’s a good course for all abilities.”
Before long we headed out of the park, re-joined the road, and headed towards to the finish...
After crossing the line we were awarded with a stunning rainbow coloured medal, water, banana and a spot prize (bandana). The winners of the different age categories were then given out and most importantly…the prosecco! Purple Patch have announced that every runner finishing in a 100th position (100, 200, 300, etc.) will be awarded a bottle of prosecco. This is a really good way of making sure a decent crowd wait around for the prize giving but also – if you’re not a super speedy runner and you know that realistically you don’t have a hope in placing in your age category, then you still have a chance of getting a prize. There is absolutely no way that I can fathom how anyone would be able to guarantee that they finish in a hundredth position so it’s a really fair way of giving out some spot prizes. Kat said “The prize giving at the end was good. It celebrated the winners without dragging on for too long and the prosecco giveaway was a great idea”.
This race wasn’t chip timed so we only had a rough idea how long it had taken us to get round, but we soon checked the website to see the provisional results revealing our finish time to be 1 hour, 16 minutes and 5 seconds. Not the speediest we’ve ever managed but it was a very warm day which slowed us down a bit, and it had been over a year since Kat had done any long runs so overall we were pleased with the time.
Finally I’d like to take a moment to thank the marshals for this race. They were so happy and encouraging at every point along the route and events like this just cannot happen without the lovely people giving up their time to help out and stop us wandering off from the path. Kat said “The marshals were amazing. They had such a positive attitude and they really encouraged us to keep going.”
Well done Purple Patch - another fantastic event! Trek and Run will next be joining you for the Maidenhead half marathon in September and we’re really looking forward to it!
To find out more about the Purple Patch events Laura and Nicola will be taking part in throughout the year, visit: www.purplepatchrunning.com/index.php/events