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A very flat run around the fields next to the University of Hertfordshire. Our SatNav took us to the wrong campus with the provided postcode (AL10 9AB), so we typed in “Mosquito Way” and then followed the road signs for De Havilland Campus. The campus car park is pay and display, however it is FREE on weekends. It’s probably still wise to double-check the machines when you go though, just in case they change the rules. The instructions on the parkrun website are really useful as they tell you which area of the car park to use (head to the back, by the Sports Village). We popped in to the Sports Village toilets beforehand and the staff happily let us through the gates to do so. The toilets are lovely and clean, as you would expect from a sports centre. It states on the parkrun website that muddy shoes must be removed before entering the sports centre, so be mindful of this if you’re going post-run… or take a spare pair of clean shoes.
To get to the start, you have to walk around the back of the Sports Village, cross the road (Albatross Way) and turn right. You should be able to see some parkrun signage in the distance at the north end of Albatross Way as you walk up. It’s no more than a 5-minute walk from the car park to the start line and all the volunteers were very welcoming and chatty when we arrived. There is a gate next to the finish line where people hang their belongings (at their own risk) but this is really handy if you’ve taken stuff you don’t want to run with.
The route itself is two laps of a small loop (about 1km per lap), followed by one lap of a large loop (about 3km). The course is a mixture of clay paths, mud, grass and concrete. The first 2km is fairly standard off-road running, past some houses and the finish funnel twice. The 3rd and 4th kilometres head much more into the exposed countryside – it was quite windy and did seem a bit bleak, but that’s probably due to the British winter weather. The final 1km is along a disused concrete runway which is, obviously, totally straight and you can see the finish line from a long way off. This actually helps as you can speed up knowing that the end is literally in sight. The course is really flat – no hills whatsoever. There were quite a lot of large puddles and slippery muddy sections to contend with, but if you went in good weather then this wouldn’t be an issue.
The volunteers were all really enthusiastic on the day (even in spite of the cold and windy weather), there were marshals in the key spots so that you couldn’t take a wrong turn and they were even giving out sweets at the end. Definitely one of the best volunteer teams we’ve come across so far. There were quite a few dogs running on the day, but no prams. Expect to get covered in mud if you go during winter!
Official Event Page: Ellenbrook Fields parkrun
Nearby postcode: AL10 9AB
Hills: Ascent/Descent metres 5.2
Subjective PB potential: 8/10 – Flat course, but largely cross-country
See below for difficulty ranking