More than just a parkrun – Sandwell Valley
Race Report by Helen Rowe
We had heard that Coventry parkrun was cancelled. So Cal and I decided to do a bit of tourism. Sally was going to Gloucester to get a G for her alphabet, so Cal and I decided to look for somewhere not too far away, and we settled on Sandwell Valley. I picked Cal up at 7.45am, and we went on the M6 to junction 7, Great Barr, which happens to be where I was born, and I grew up. Despite it being my local area, I had never been to Sandwell Valley Country Park before. We stopped at the toilets, and then parked up. We could see a number of people in high viz jackets, and I went over to talk to some. Cal and I were wearing our golden leggings, which always leads to conversation.
We listened to the First Timers briefing, and the run director’s briefing. There were a number of tourists, and some new park runners, and milestones. Then it was time for the off. I had decided I was going to take it easy, maybe even walk it, as I had a hamstring injury. I took the chance to take some photos as I went round. The course took us first over the M5 motorway, and then through a wooded area, past some Priory ruins, and then through countryside, around a lake one and a half times. There were even horse riders out. It was lovely. The last kilometre was an uphill path, before running over the M5 again, to finish where we had started.
After the run we went to the café at Park Farm, and had a toasted tea cake and a drink. We went back to the car, and a man started talking to us. Then a lady asked me for change for the car park. The locals were really friendly, and chatted to us about all sorts. We moved the car to near the toilets, and then I heard someone calling my name. Cal said she thought I was mistaken, and it was someone calling “Alan” – but it turned out to be David Goodwin with Joseph, calling me!. They had been to Dudley parkrun, and had stopped off at Sandwell Valley to have a walk around. The man we had seen in the car park, suddenly reappeared, with a lady friend, so Dave and Joseph went off to the nearby playground, and the lady proceeded to tell me and Cal about her medical condition and her recent surgery. As I said, very friendly locals!
Sandwell Valley Country Park is a gem – and beautiful expanse of parkland in the middle of an urban conurbation. It is well worth a visit if you haven’t already been.