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Pints & Parkruns: Jubilee, Spennymoor

Buzzing and bubbling with a course PB

By Andy PottsPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - April 2024
A satisfied customer in Jubilee's visitor book, and a few well-earned treats at the end of the run.

If MC Escher created a parkrun, it might look a bit like Jubilee. Based in a compact – but surprisingly lovely – park in the small County Durham town of Spennymoor, it twists and turns its way up repeated hills. Although basic physics says it must come down again, somehow this route never feels like it gives runners a proper descent.

It does, of course. The relief map for the three-and-a-bit laps resembles a cut-price cardiogram with its peaks and troughs. But while the climbs tend to be on straight paths, the descents are dotted with zig-zags or down a grassy slope with occasional uneven ground beneath your feet. So it’s the 83m of elevation gain that tends to stick in the mind.

But that shouldn’t put anybody off. Jubilee is a small, friendly run that occasionally gets bumper crowds to coincide with royal occasions (after all, where else would a tourist go to mark the Platinum Jubilee, or the coronation?). It also attracts a few alphabet seekers in search of an elusive ‘J’, although locally it has to compete with Newcastle’s similarly steep Jesmond Dene for that crowd.

Even on a regular Saturday, the turnout is still dominated by tourists. When the first-timer briefing was announced, most of the 60 runners joined the huddle and a few locals (or local-ish, in my case) carried on with a stretch or two before the off. On the way round, look out for the bubble-blowing marshal at the top of the first hill: you’ll see her four times, promising bubble power for anyone feeling the strain of the climb.

Bubbles just about in shot.

Indeed, with a route that tends to double back on itself, you’ll see most people more than once. So much so, that you start to feel like you’ve got to know some fellow runners. This week, in particular, the family whose little boy was tackling his first parkrun stood out: lots of careful, diligent encouragement from mum and dad got him around a tough course happily. The good news for younger runners is that Jubilee Park also has a good pair of playgrounds and, in the warmer months at least, a Queen Victoria themed mini-golf course to explore.

This run also turned into a big day for me. Shaving a couple of seconds off my course PB was an unexpected bonus. Better still, and to my surprise, I finished first in my age group for (I think) the first time ever.

Practicalities: most of the route is on paths, with one stretch (repeated four times) on grass. In muddy conditions, that might require trail shoes but after a relatively dry week (at last!) it was OK in road shoes today. There’s plenty of on-street parking near the park itself, as well as a small free carpark behind Festival Walk, from where it’s a short walk down Villiers Street to the park entrance and the start of the run. For a coffee, The Grind is terrific, but often busy.

The Pint

A typical Norman Cornish pub scene reflecting Spennymoor's mining heritage.

Beer and pubs played a big part in the art of Spennymoor’s most famous son, pitman painter Norman Cornish. Today, the town has a thriving craft ale bar – the Little Tap – and was the starting point for the excellent George Samuel Brewery (now based in Shildon and quaffed after Hackworth parkrun). The closest brewery current in operation is the Yard of Ale at Ferryhill. Based at the Surtees Arms, where the in-house brews are a good accompaniment to the renowned Sunday lunches, it’s not always easy to find further afield. The range has steadily improved since its launch in 2008, as evidenced by its regular festival appearances. The Best by Yards bitter is a great take on a classic style, while the fruitier One Foot in the Yard is always on tap at the Surtees and is perhaps the most distinctive of the core brews.

First visit: August 2021; PB: 26:47 (April 2024)

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About the Creator

Andy Potts

Community focused sports fan from Northeast England. Tends to root for the little guy. Look out for Talking Northeast, my new project coming soon.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (10)

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  • Angie the Archivist 📚🪶22 days ago

    So excited to see this got Top Story…🤩 Yet another enjoyable read about wonderful Parkrun and its community benefits… I won’t keep waxing lyrical, but I could!👏

  • Charlie williams27 days ago

    This is really good

  • Flamance @ lit.29 days ago

    Well understanding story great job

  • angela hepworth29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • D. D. Lee29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story.

  • Rachel Deeming29 days ago

    Well done on your PB. Rather you than me. The bubbles though - what a temptation to try!

  • Anna 29 days ago

    Congrats on TS!!!

  • Thanks for this Andy , love your articles and this is another good one

  • Enjoyable read… enlightening too… I had to research MC Escher 🙃. Long uphills sure are more noticeable than winding ones… you’d be an expert by 3 laps 😃… nice to see fellow runners so often they’re almost friends 😊 ‘Shaving a couple of seconds off my course PB was an unexpected bonus. Better still, and to my surprise, I finished first in my age group for (I think) the first time ever.’ Great job 👏 Keen for your next episode ✅🏃🏻

  • Caroline Cravenabout a month ago

    Congrats on your PB and a great article too!

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