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Pints & Parkruns: Sedgefield

Round the back of the temple, then up the hill

By Andy PottsPublished 6 months ago 3 min read

When I was a kid, Hardwick Park meant fishing nets and leeches in the pond. Back then, it had seen better days – but they were in the 18th century, so it wasn’t immediately clear what potential the place could have. A decade of restoration, at a cost of £4.1 million transformed the place and, after it reopened in 2010, parkrun got going within a couple of years.

There’s usually a strong Sedgefield Harriers representation here, and that swells the numbers to make it one of the biggest in the northeast (188 runners on average, with 7.8 finishes per participant suggesting that there’s a committed core of regulars). Community spirit often manifests itself in the guise of reworked pop classics to mark anniversaries and special events (such as Hi-ho Sedgefield Parkrun or this year's Fairytale of Parkrun). And there are also good things for tourists.

First, there’s the park itself. Not every event has you trotting past elaborating pseudo-Greek temples and exploring a landscaped garden created by one of the leading architects of his time. After your run, it’s worth taking time to explore at a slower pace, especially if the weather is good.

Then there’s the course itself, two laps that fall on the rewarding side of challenging. Yes, there’s a hill. Yes, second time around, that hill hurts a bit. But there’s also a nice sweeping descent down behind the temple of Minerva to the lake and a good flat stretch before you plunge into the woods and grapple with the gradient. Most of the paths are firm enough, although it can be muddy in places after heavy rain. Perhaps the greatest danger is tripping over a territorial goose on one of the waterside stretches! Best of all, the nature of the park means that it feels different each time. I’ve seen it in autumnal splendour, stark wintry beauty and blazing summer – each has its tests and triumphs for a runner.

A welcome sight.

Facilities are all present and correct. Now the alternative Covid-secure route is no longer required, Sedgefield parkrun has extensive on-site parking, which is free until 11am if you leave a parkrun bar-code visible on the dashboard. The visitor centre combines the other essentials: toilet, and a decent café. It’s all run by the local authority, so supporting the park helps to fund the education and outreach programmes available here throughout the year.

As well as the park, Sedgefield itself is well worth a look. A genteel village green is dotted with nice cafes and tea-rooms, while the Impeccable Pig offers more substantial fare. It’s a pleasant place to potter around, and the local racecourse is a small but welcoming affair if you enjoy an afternoon with the horses. And that, of course, leads us to ...

The Pint

Lost Robot, overlooking Sedgefield’s picturesque village green, started life as a bottle shop. But it didn’t stop there. It wasn’t long before proprietor Gary Forster began releasing batches of his own bespoke beers in partnership with his favourite breweries. I tried the ‘Lost for Words’, brewed with Knaresborough’s impressive Turning Circle Brewery (more about them from Conyingham Hall) and enjoyed the result. There are long-term plans to start bottling some of Gary’s own beers, which can only add to a burgeoning Sedgefield craft scene. Although it’s a small place, the nearby Hopper House Brew Farm, out past the racecourse, also brews its own. You might spot a Lost Robot van parked up at parkrun as well - is Gary another devotee of Pints & Parkruns?

First run: June 2019. PB: 25:03

Thanks for reading. For more Pints & Parkruns, check out my website.

fitness

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 (3)

  • Angie the Archivist 📚🪶5 months ago

    Hi Andy... I finally wrote my Kawana parkrun story... https://vocal.media/longevity/kawana-parkrun-queensland-australia

  • I really enjoy reading about your various Parkruns! This sounds good... "Yes, there’s a hill. Yes, second time around, that hill hurts a bit. But there’s also a nice sweeping descent down behind the temple of Minerva to the lake and a good flat stretch before you plunge into the woods and grapple with the gradient." You've inspired me to write about a Parkrun I recently did whilst on holidays.

Andy PottsWritten by Andy Potts

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