By Laura Kimberley and Katrina UrbanÂ
The Purple Patch running website boasted â€˜A hidden jewel, nestled amidst the M4, M40 & M25, yet a million miles away from the concrete jungle – a real metropolitan oasis.â€™Â I was really excited about this run because nothing makes me happier thanÂ exploring new places and this locationÂ hadÂ reallyÂ been talked up by the Purple Patch team. I was very nearly down a running buddy becauseÂ my planned companionÂ Nicola hadÂ to work,Â but thankfully my friend Kat offered to run in her place. I was looking forward to this as me and Kat havenâ€™t had a chance to run together since a half marathon back in 2014!Â
The event location was really easy to find – the website had clear directions including a post codeÂ whichÂ the satnav recognised,Â and there were clear signposts on the roads leading up to the locationÂ not long after weâ€™d come off the M4 motorway.Â Plenty ofÂ parkingÂ wasÂ available a couple ofÂ minutesâ€™ walkÂ 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 aÂ Weatherspoonâ€™s pub and Virgin ActiveÂ gym located right by the start areaÂ whoÂ were happy for runners to use their toilets. After a group warm up led by a member of the Purple Patch team,Â we were off.Â
The first halfÂ kilometre of the route followed a roadÂ whichÂ led through the industrial estate,Â but we wereÂ thenÂ 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 trailÂ withÂ trees on either side providing a nice bit of shade.Â 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.Â When we were discussing the course later,Â Kat saidÂ â€œI really likedÂ 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,Â but none of the hills were too steep. Itâ€™s a good course for all abilities.â€Â
Before long we headed out of the park, re-joinedÂ the road, andÂ headed towardsÂ to the finish...
After crossing the lineÂ 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 importantlyâ€¦the prosecco! Purple Patch have announced that every runner finishing in a 100thÂ 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 â€“ if youâ€™re not a super speedy runner and you know that realistically you donâ€™t have a hope in placing in your age category, then you still have a chance of getting a prize. There is absolutely no wayÂ that I can fathomÂ howÂ anyone would be able to guarantee that they finish in a hundredth position so itâ€™s a really fair way of giving out some spot prizes. Kat saidÂ â€œThe prize giving at the end was good. It celebrated the winners without dragging on for too long and the prosecco giveaway was a great ideaâ€.Â
This race wasnâ€™t chip timed so we only had a rough idea how long it had taken us to get round,Â 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 weâ€™ve ever managed but it was a very warm day which slowed us down a bit,Â and it had been over a year since Kat had done any long runs so overall we were pleased with the time.Â Â
FinallyÂ Iâ€™d likeÂ 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 saidÂ â€œThe marshals were amazing. They had such a positive attitude and they really encouraged us to keep going.â€Â Â
Well done Purple PatchÂ -Â another fantastic event!Â Trek and Run will next be joining you for the Maidenhead half marathon in SeptemberÂ and weâ€™re really looking forward to it!Â
To find out more about the Purple Patch events Lauraâ€¯and Nicolaâ€¯will be taking part in throughout the year, visit:â€¯www.purplepatchrunning.com/index.php/events