Harcourt Hill parkrun
Harcourt Hill parkrun is based in Oxford, at one of the Oxford Brookes University campuses. The start and finish is just behind the Brookes Sport building and there is free parking (until 10am) for over 100 cars. The postcode provided (OX2 9AT) took us to Harcourt Hill, but not quite to the Brookes Sport car park so we relied on the instructions on the course page after that: “last available RIGHT into campus, follow the road to the car park.”. There are toilets in the sports centre which will be open before parkrun and that is also where the team will gather before the start (though they may gather outside in nicer weather). After parkrun has started, the back doors to the sports centre will close, to ensure runners do not walk through the centre in their muddy shoes. There is no café at Harcourt Hill parkrun, though you can buy soft drinks from inside the sports centre.
The course is two laps of the playing fields, nearly all on grass, with a few small sections of trail. There were three or four marshals at key points of the course, though I did feel a few more were needed to make it absolutely clear which way we should be running, though they may have been short of volunteers on the day. Some of the turning points are marked with permanent wooden posts, though it wasn’t completely obvious they were for parkrun. Having said that, I didn’t actually take a wrong turn so obviously the system works well as it is. There are a couple of switchbacks on each lap and a couple of mounds that you have to run over to get from one field to another, all of which are good fun in muddy conditions. The course is fairly flat, but there are a couple of fairly long, upward inclines – nothing too challenging though – and the whole route is wide, so no congestion.
There are some nice views of the countryside near the start and a short section of the course goes through trees, which keeps it interesting. The volunteer team were very friendly, welcoming and encouraging on the way round – especially as you have to run past the finish funnel at the start of lap two. There is also an extremely large, permanent parkrun sign mounted on the wall of the side of the sports centre, so it’s nice to know that Harcourt Hill parkrun is fully supported locally.
Official Event Page: Harcourt Hill parkrun
Hills: Ascent/Descent metres 25.0
Subjective PB potential: 7/10 – fairly flat, but nearly all on grass
Distance Displayed on Suunto Spartan Trainer: 5.11 km