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Pints & Parkruns: Marshall Drive, Brotton

Riding the big dipper

By Andy PottsPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
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A view that gives a hint of the infamous Big Dipper at Marshall Drive

We knew this was going to be tough. Reports from other visitors suggested Marshall Drive was all about hills and mud. A look at the relief map showed four sharp, nasty-looking points of elevation on a four-lap circuit. A closer look suggested that not a yard of the course was actually going to be flat. Suddenly, I had an idea why this is one of the smaller parkruns in the region, typically attracting a couple of dozen intrepid runners to a playing field in a village near Saltburn.

A hardy crew assembles at the start.

The reality was both better and worse. Marshall Drive’s USP is the big dipper, a sharp down-and-up just past halfway on each lap. Rounding the bend and seeing it for the first time is an emotional moment, albeit one where the emotion concerned is pretty much unprintable. However, it turns out that it isn’t so bad: although the descent is too gravelly to risk taking at full speed, it generates momentum enough to power you back up the other side. With Paul the marshal offering enthusiastic encouragement, this isn’t where it hurts. Instead, there’s an almost gleeful sense of “wheeeeee!” as you zoom down one half and rebound back up the other.

No, the problem comes once you’re round the corner on the other side of the big dipper. The encouragement is already directed at runners behind you, and there’s a long slog back to the high point of the course. It’s not steep, but it’s relentless – and once out of the woods, it’s often exposed to the wind as well. Although my visit wasn’t all that muddy, some of the field was soft enough underfoot to suggest that it could turn into a quagmire after heavy rain. Tackling all this on the third circuit would probably have me throwing in the towel if I was out running on my own.

Photo courtesy of the Marshall Drive Facebook page

But that’s the beauty of parkrun. It’s a run, not a race. It isn’t intended to be competitive. But you’d better believe that once I’ve started, I’m damned if I’m going to let myself be beaten by the course. It was slow going on that slope at times, but the feeling that “someone else might notice” was enough to motivate me to keep going.

There are rewards, as well. Although there isn’t a yard of the course that is on the flat, that does mean that half of the route must go downhill. And that’s a great feeling, shifting to a gentler gear, letting gravity do the work and picking up some much-needed mid-run recovery.

In addition, being one of the smaller events means that Marshall Drive has a friendly, no-frills vibe. You won’t find on-site toilets or a park café to hand, but you will find a warm welcome.

Practicalities: you’ll want trail shoes here. The course is a mix of grass field, gravel footpath and woodland trail, so even in a dry spell (remember them?) stretches are likely to be uneven underfoot. There’s a small carpark at the park, which is usually enough to accommodate all runners. And if you’re driving, be aware that the turn off Coach Road isn’t signposted at all and looks like it simply disappears into a housing estate – easy for the uninitiated to drive straight past.

The pint

Established in 2021, and running its own taproom in nearby Marske since 2023, Talking Tides is keen to build on the burgeoning craft beer culture in the Redcar area. While Rita’s Pantry, a seafront bar / bottle shop extraordinaire has long been at the forefront, the district now boasts an encouraging range of small, independent outlets promoting good regional brews.

Drinkers from outside the region are most likely to have seen Talking Tide’s collaborations with BrewDog – at the time of writing, Bark Side of the Moon is available as far north as Dundee. Closer to home, the hazy Headland pale ale and Landlubber session IPA form the core of the range. That Marske taproom is open weekends from midday and often has live music as well as sourdough pizza baked on site.

First visit: March 2023. PB: 27:47

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this, check out the Pints & Parkruns website and consider making a donation at buy me a coffee.

fitnessathletics
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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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Comments (2)

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  • Caroline Craven2 months ago

    Love running and writing so this article was right up my street. Love the beer recommendations afterwards too. That’s got to be the best part of any event! Great stuff.

  • I enjoyed visiting this Parkrun ‘with’ you! Impressive time too… especially considering the course & conditions! I loathe any more than two laps in a course. ‘ But that’s the beauty of parkrun. It’s a run, not a race. It isn’t intended to be competitive. But you’d better believe that once I’ve started, I’m damned if I’m going to let myself be beaten by the course.’ However, it’s nice to beat as many people as you can 🤣. I do love the downhills!✅

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