A Hertfordshire-based parkrun in Hemel Hempstead. There is a large, free car park at Gadebridge Park which is very easy to find, just off the A4146 Leighton Buzzard Road. We used ‘Gadebridge Park’ in our SatNav as the provided postcode (HP1 3AQ) wanted to take us to the High Street. There are plenty of parking spaces so no need to get there early. There are toilets at the start/finish line and they were open before and after the run but, without going into too much detail, I would recommend you only use them in an absolute emergency. There did not seem to be a café within Gadebridge Park itself.
The parkrun course map doesn’t accurately show where the start and finish are. The start is a bit further north than on the map and the finish is at the same point as the start. Both can be easily seen from the car park so you shouldn’t have trouble finding it. The run is almost entirely cross-country with five short sections of tarmac path about 50-100m each and a slightly longer one to finish. It’s two anticlockwise laps of the course and very hilly. Just to add to the challenge, the first grassy section you come to is run at a camber. It was wet when we ran and the grass throughout the course had been churned into mud by the parkrunners and was very slippery. Staying upright was difficult in places. Definitely take a change of clothes if you are not going straight home afterwards.
Gadebridge Park is split in half by the A4146 and you have to run around both halves. The other side is accessed by a narrow underpass which forms part of the course. The parkrun volunteers helpfully divide up the underpass with small plastic domes and you keep to the right each time you go through it. This is the only section of the course where it’s difficult to overtake as it’s pretty much single file each way. The course was well marshalled apart from one section heading back to the underpass, when a runner ahead of me took a wrong turn and was about to cut out about 1km of the course. Luckily (or maybe not!) for her, the runner behind her put her back on course. You should be running through the underpass four times in total – twice in each direction. If you remember that, I don’t think you can go far wrong, because the course is very straightforward.
This is certainly a challenging course, but Gadebridge Park is quite picturesque with the River Gade running through it. It’s also walking distance or a very short drive to Hemel Hempstead town centre, if you’re interested in visiting a few shops afterwards.
Official Event Page: Gadebridge parkrun
Hills: Ascent/Descent metres 74.7
Subjective PB potential: 2/10 – hilly and 90% cross-country
Distance Displayed on Suunto Spartan Trainer: 5.05 km
Author: theparkrunner (HP)