Polkemmet/Tollcross NYDD – Queen of the New Year

Well Happy New Year everyone. All the best for 2020. Hope you’ve all been out first pawing and made your resolutions. My New Year’s resolution is 1080p. Sorry that’s one of dad’s bad jokes.

All is quiet on New Year’s Day. Well apart from here where he’s been dragging me all over the Central Belt before lunchtime.

But it’s Wednesday. How can it be parkrun day? I know we’re supposed to lose track of time over the Christmas period but I thought he was messing with me when the alarm went off and he shouted parkrun this morning.

I’ve never run much more than 6k in one day before so we (by which I mean he) decided to see how I could handle a bit more distance today by doing the famous New Year’s Day Double, one of the special days in the annual parkrun calendar (or so he says). After looking at all of the available options we decided on Polkemmet and Tollcross. Jim has done both before but I had never done Tollcross.

Being the true athlete that he is (in his own head at least) the human had a rather lame Hogmanay with just a few shandies and he was in bed by 1am. Eyes on the prize clearly. We got up around 7:30 and then headed round to pick up our friend Claire who was joining us for the morning. It’s not my place to comment but I think she might have had a later and boozier night than dad in spite of her claims…

First stop Polkemmet for our 9:30 date. We first visited it in June last year on a rather hot sticky day. Today’s running conditions were hopefully going to a bit more comfortable.

Polkemmet Country parkrun, to give it its full name, is set in a beautiful country park in former mining heartland near Whitburn in West Lothian, hometown of that marmite crooner and 2019’s most streamed artist Lewis Capaldi. The course is part tarmac part trail and at its furthest point you can see “The Horn”, a 24 metre high steel sculpture that stands beside the M8 motorway that, apparently, on windy days plays recorded music, poetry and famous quotes. That’s your Polkemmet factoids for you there folks.

This is Polkemmet’s first year on the parkrun circuit and so its first ever New Year’s Day event. They have surpassed themselves running both a Christmas and New Year event in year one. Impressive stuff and much appreciated.

It was clearly a very popular choice, smashing its record crowd by some way with a great Garscube contingent too with Casey, Laura and Mary all there too. My wee four-legged pal from Queen’s Park Charlie was there with his human, the other Laura. It was great to see them again.

Run one was going to be a tactical one as we didn’t want to peak too soon and wanted to keep enough in the tank for Tollcross. We started near the back of the field and went for a nice leisurely 28-30 paced minute run trying not to be seduced by that short downhill near the start. It was a good feeling to know that it would be my fastest run of the decade regardless. You can’t say that very often!

It was a fairly slow run in the end and we got boxed in quite a bit bit and struggled to overtake anyone on the narrow out and back stretches but that made it a more leisurely and enjoyable run. There we so many dogs too it felt like a canicross takeover at one point. I got lots of shout-outs on the way round and the guy behind at one point asked how come everyone seemed to know Crumble.

In the end we made it round in a respectable enough 27:48 which was actually faster than our previous trip here. We couldn’t keep up with Charlie. He was just too speedy for us. He’s younger and a boy so that’s to be expected. We finished in 117th place out of an amazing 251. Just a tad down on Saturday’s 15th place!

We did the traditional post race picture. The awesome Laura G even asked if we could include the pic in my blog. She’s one of the reasons dad got into parkrun in the first place. After a few more pics, pee stops and pawshakes it was back to the car. I collapsed in a heap on the towel on the back seat, hoping that my work for the day was done but he had other plans for me.

And so to Tollcross for our 11am date. This is one of the few Glasgow parkruns that I hadn’t done yet. The human did it in May 2018 so he was well overdue a return visit to its hills. Tollcross Park in the east end of Glasgow is (according to the web) internationally famous for its unique Rose Garden and (now much neglected) Winter Gardens. It’s also adjacent to the pool that hosted the 2014 Commonwealth Games swimming events. The poet William Miller of “Wee Willie Winkie” fame is buried in Tollcross. Enough Tollcross factoids?

It’s a beautiful park, there are some sheep grazing at one end but it has a few challenging climbs and so was a tough one to do as part of my first ever double. It was very busy and a slow start but that was just what I was looking for.

We took it nice and easy again, making it round in 26:44 in 162nd place in what I think was another record field. Probably a tougher course than Polkemmet we were pleasantly surprised that we were a minute faster in the second run of the day. That’s my fastest time this year. In fact this decade.

There was an even bigger Garscube contingent there with fellow Polkemmet-Tollcross doublers Laura, Claire and Mary joined by Murray, Gavin H, the other Gavin H, Stephen W, David B, David C, Iain, John, Keith and Martin. We also met some of Glasgow’s parkrun royalty including Brian K, David S, Stuart R and Michael L as well as Running Friends Scotland legend and marathon crazy Ian Birch aka The Bear.

After a bit of cake we headed back to the car and on the way there we met a chap from Newton Road Runners who had been at Lanark Moor at the weekend and Theresa from the Levengrove core team. I think dad was a bit miffed that people recognise me before him these days. He’ll just have to get used to it.

Whilst it was a tough shift I’m really glad we did it. The turnouts were amazing, the atmosphere incredible and the warmth, energy and camaraderie even more palpable than usual. What a great way to start the year.

Huge kudos to two amazing sets of volunteers. It means a lot and is hugely appreciated that so many people give up their time to allow us our runs. Even more so on New Year’s Day when there are so many conflicting demands on time.

I’m hopefully heading back to Queen’s Park at the weekend for our 4th parkrun in 8 days. He must really love me. I’ve also got a couple of volunteer shifts coming up over the next few weeks so looking forward to seeing parkrun from a different perspective and blogging about the volunteering experience.

Meantime enjoy the rest of the day. This Queen of the New Year shall be mainly sleeping for the next few hours.

Crumble out x

Throwback to the old mining days at Polkemmet
Polkemmet is set in such a beautiful park
Is this a canicross event?
Ready to go
My wee pal Charlie wasn’t in touching distance for much longer – his warm-up event before smashing his PB at Linwood
Post run posing around with the gang
Tollcross selfie
The beautiful but neglected winter gardens
Most of the Garscube gang
Action pic at Polkemmet 📸 by Rob Dixon thanks

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