Dunfermline – a sort of homecoming and a sausage roll

Hello everyone. It’s Crumble here again.

Harold Wilson once said that a week was a long time in politics. Don’t think even he could have envisaged just how much normal day to day living could change in the space of this last week nor how much flip-flopping we might see from our current day leaders over the week around the best course of action.

We’ve seen rugby, football, marathons, party conferences and concerts fall like dominoes over the last few days. parkrun has already been cancelled in over a dozen countries and a few bigger UK events didn’t happen today for a variety of reasons. It feels like there’s an air of inevitability that we might see a period of hibernation for our much-loved parkrun so we decided to grab a chance for some parkrun tourism whilst we could.

After smashing my PB at Strathclyde last weekend we decided to pick somewhere where we knew the PB wasn’t going to be threatened given every reference we had ever seen described this week’s destination as “undulating” or “challenging”. Somewhere new to us. A nice drive. A parkland setting. An Abbey. A palace. A trip across a river. It had to be Dunfermline. My first return to the motherland. The Kingdom of Fife aka the Queendom of Crumble.

Whilst the roots of this here Australian labradoodle are down under I’m actually a Fife lass. I was born in Cupar just 30 miles from Dunfermline. This was my first return to Fife since the humans came to collect me a few years back. He’s very lucky that I decided to pick him.

Formerly the capital of Scotland, Dunfermline has a very rich history and Dunfermline Abbey is home to the remains of Robert the Bruce. With his entrails reportedly buried in Levengrove Park in Dumbarton he now touches two of Scotland’s parkruns.

We got up sharp and hit the road about 7:45. As usual Jim left much earlier than he really needed to and we arrived in plenty time. As is quite often the case on our tourism adventures, we listened to the Free Weekly Timed podcast on the drive, the weekly parkrun podcast from Vassos Alexander and Helen Williams. Well worth a listen.

We went over the Kincardine Bridge and took the cross country route past Devilla Forest, Culross and Crossford to Dunfermline. Home to the Alhambra, East End Park and Big Country and the late great Stuart Adamson, Dunfermline is the biggest town in Fife.

The run is set in the beautiful Pittencrieff Park which was purchased in 1902 by the town’s most famous philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and given to the people of Dunfermline in a ceremony the following year. I’m spoiling you with local factoids today.

We did a nice little explore and warm-up round the park to get a feel for the place. We found the Abbey, some stunning gardens, the glass house and an old colliery locomotive. We then stumbled on some pretty peacocks. Dad didn’t trust me and put me back on my lead. I wouldn’t have caused any bother. Honest. Look at my innocent wee doodle face. Importantly after last week’s mid run poo pit stop I got “the business” done early.

We then headed over towards the start area for the briefing. An absolute running legend called Fred did our brief. 75 years old and effortlessly tackles the hills week in week out whilst offering endless encouragement to others all the way round. We had the pleasure of running close to him for most of the third lap. Today’s RD Joy then did the welcome and set us off. Never has an RD been so aptly named. Upbeat, calm and delivering her welcome in a perfect tone.

This was their event 220 and Jim’s 125th at his 30th different venue. Half way to his next big parkrun milestone. At our current rate that’s probably a 2023/24 goal. Assuming we all get back to normal fairly soon.

There was a surprisingly good turnout of 159 today and everyone was in a positive upbeat mood at the start. There was a very big four-legged turnout today, some with fast humans to give them an unfair advantage whilst I was burdened by Jim. I noised up a friendly cockapoo before the start. She looked very like my sister Maizie so that’s why I got a bit excited. Oops. Sorry. I won’t do it again.

After a slow bunched start (mainly because a lot of the humans were trying to avoid the puddle) we eventually got going. It’s a very interesting and challenging course. It features a few twists and turns and one long downhill and one long uphill. All tackled three times. Compared to the likes of Drumchapel and Queen’s Park it’s deceptively tough and the climb doesn’t look as hard as it actually is. We were completely drained by the third lap. The sign made us smile though.

We completed today’s run almost dead on 25 minutes. Well 25:04. Given our slow start I’m counting that as pretty much a sub-25. 25 minutes is my standard target so we’re pretty pleased with hitting that on one of Scotland’s toughest parkruns.

This was a fabulous parkrun and we loved it. The park itself is stunning and well maintained and the views were spectacular, with Dunfermline Abbey and the Art Deco Glen Pavilion at close quarters and the Forth and its bridges visible further out though a photo doesn’t really do them justice. It’s definitely well worth a visit. We also lucked out with the weather.

The core team and volunteers were in great form today with added cheer courtesy of their newly purchased clappers and bells. At the end of a pretty grim week their enthusiasm, energy and good humour was just the tonic we all needed. Many thanks and well done.

Let’s hope we’re back parkrunning again very soon.

As a wee treat we stopped at Stephen’s the bakers on the way home. What a bonus. A sausage roll. My first ever. Amazing. And I was also secretly relieved that he wasn’t dumping me back in Cupar. He must still love me after all.

He now seems in a strangely upbeat mood. He’s just completed his hat-trick of postponed marathons with Brighton and Edinburgh joining Barcelona in the last 24 hours but I guess he knows that’s just first world problems. It’s only a run. There will be other runs.

Meantime take care, stay well and look out for each other.

Crumble out x

Andrew Carnegie – Dunfermline’s finest
Choo choo 🚂
Pittencrieff Park
Dunfermline Abbey
Proud…very proud
Can you play who let the dogs out?
Another deceptively difficult climb
Smile 🐾
My new wee cockapoo pal
One of the best parkrun signs yet
In action 📷 by Tom Ward
Finish area
Embarrassing dad selfie
Yummy sausage roll

Strathclyde – an unlikely PB with some top International Women

Evening all

It’s been a long busy day so I’ve only just managed to finish my blog. Jim’s also been in a grumpy mood for the last few hours after his Barcelona marathon next Sunday was cancelled so he hadn’t got round to proof reading my draft either.

The human was a right Mr Indecisive last night. At different points Dunfermline, Springburn, Ruchill and Drumchapel were on the shortlist. Then he threatened to ditch me altogether and have another rest day. At the eleventh hour (quite literally) he decided on Strathclyde.

Since that’s not too far we had a bit of long lie, not getting up until after 8. Quite decadent really. A far shorter commute than last weekend.

We got the usual quality dad chat in the car with such interesting topics as the first few T in the Parks having been in Strathclyde Park and harking back to his Oor Wullie hunt in Hamilton last summer. He’s still not got over that particular obsession.

This weekend, parkrun was celebrating international women’s day so it was great to share today’s run with three of my most favourite running women in Claire, Alison and Kara.

It was my first trip there, with the human having done it just the once before in December 2018. It’s a fairly straightforward flat lochside out and back run which offers PB opportunities albeit the prevailing wind can make it quite a challenging headwind finish.

The route is entirely around Strathclyde Loch. Now brace yourself for one of the best ever Crumble factoids. Strathclyde Loch is a manmade loch which, along with the country park, was created by destroying and then flooding an old mining town. The entire population of Bothwellhaugh was evacuated in 1965 to make way for the motorway and Strathclyde Park. Its ruins still lie at the bottom of the loch. I bet you didn’t know that.

After a short warm-up we headed for the start area. Claire asked what my PB was and Jim told her 23:45 but that wasn’t likely to be in reach at the moment. Subconsciously though I think she maybe lit a fuse!

There were a bumper 342 runners today so the start area was quite crowded and we decided to run on the grass alongside the path for the first 1k. It was a bit muddy but not too slippy. Pretty soon though I realised that it would be a bath day today.

We started pretty fast hanging on to the tail of the 22 minute pacer. Well his bib really. We knew that was greedy and wouldn’t last long. About 3 minutes in though I realised that I had forgotten an essential part of my pre-run routine. When you need to go you need to go. Mid parkrun or not. The PB dream shattered so soon. It’s a cruel cruel world.

After the deed was done Jim executed what can only be described as a spectacular grab, bag, tie and bin manoeuvre. It was the sort of routine that the Formula One teams would be proud of. We maybe lost 20 seconds all in. Maybe all was not lost.

We started moving again (a bit more comfortably now it must be said) and got round to the turn in good shape. The course was slightly altered today because of surface water so the section near the turn got a little bit bunched up with runners on both sides of the path which slowed us down and limited overtaking options. Once again the PB dream slipped further over the horizon but don’t stop believing.

Through 4k and having passed the tail walker on the outbound leg the paths opened up a little and, in spite of the drizzle and headwind, we picked up the pace again. Claire effortlessly sailed past us around then too and we tried to keep as close to her as we could. We pushed very hard in the final stages and were delighted to see the finish.

Against all the odds (did I mention the wind and the bunching up and the poo stop?) we completed today’s parkrun in 23:34. A new Crumble PB. We were delighted. We celebrated with a Team Garscube selfie and then a few treats back in the car.

So a very enjoyable morning. We were very pleased with that run. A nice route, great company and fantastic support and marshalling.

I guess the silver lining on the cloud of his Barcelona cancellation is that I might get a parkrun next weekend after all. And Jim might manage to make it through next weekend without hearing “Barcelona” by either Ed Sheeran or George Ezra, two of his least favourite singers. Only Freddie and Montserrat need apply when it comes to singing Barcelona-based songs.

In other news I picked up my 100th insta follower today. You too can follow me on @letsgetready4crumble.

Crumble out x

Having so much fun I forgot my usual pre-run routine
Strathclyde Loch – what lies beneath
Higher or lower than a 28?
Did I tell you about my PB?
Team selfie
Pic by Ruth Allan
Pic by Ruth Allan
Someone call the RSPCA
ET phone home

Girvan Prom – away from the numbers

Afternoon all

Happy Leap Day!

We finally got in our first proper parkrun tourism of 2020 today with an adventure down the Ayrshire coast to Girvan Prom which has been on our radar for a few months now. It was nice to pick another new to us location for the human’s parkrun number 123. He really needs to get over his numbers obsession though.

The weather forecast looked variable but we decided to take a leap of faith and hit the road early knowing that in the unlikely event of a call-off we could always divert to Troon, Eglinton or Ayr. It turns out that the weather gods were well and truly in our favour with blue skies and sunshine making an unexpected appearance on the start line.

With its exposure to the Atlantic, Girvan Prom, like most other Scottish parkruns, has lost a couple of weeks to the weather this year already and the weather has also hit its numbers too on some weeks when they have gone ahead with a hardy 9 finishers at their last event. There’s something really special about being part of a small event. There’s definitely more of a community and family feel.

There is no truth at all in the rumour that Jim picked this one today just because he thought he could bag a top 10 place!

We got up super early and set off just after 7:30 to start the 60 mile drive past Prestwick, Ayr, Maybole and Turnberry. We arrived in plenty of time and we got a nice wander on the beach before the start.

The human almost ruined our day out by dropping his car keys on the beach and only realising a few minutes later. What a tube. Fortunately we were able to retrace our steps and found them about 20m away. That could have been a bit of a disaster.

Girvan is a beautiful spot and it’s easy to see why it was a popular holiday destination back in the day. The beach offers fabulous views of Arran and the Ailsa Craig, an uninhabited island formed from the volcanic plug of an extinct volcano.

This week’s Crumble factoid – Ailsa Craig‘s granite is harvested for use in making curling stones. Does that mean it shrinks a bit every year? How many curling stones before it disappears completely?

We were warmly greeted by Moira, Kerry-Liam and every single volunteer we met. On a chilly breezy day there was so much warmth on show. What a fantastic team. I even got a mention in the pre-run briefing too.

It’s a cracking two lap course along the water front and around Stair Park, mainly on paths but with a cheeky little grass section thrown in there too and with an unlimited supply of clean fresh air.

We started out trying to hang on to Kerry-Liam for the first 500m but he was out of sight pretty quickly. The first 1k was along the prom into the wind and it certainly blew away the cobwebs. Much of the next 1k was on the grass, a nice change but certainly a little bit more energy sapping, before we headed back with the wind behind us to the start area to turn back and repeat.

We managed a pretty consistent pace today targeting around 25 minutes though kilometre 4 was a bit tough featuring both the grass and the headwind but we managed to pull it back towards the end to finish in a respective enough 24:51. We finished in 6th place out of 22 today, dad’s highest ever finish. I’m sure he’ll be going on about it for weeks. Make sure he tells you there were only 22 finishers though.

First finisher, speed demon and top Aberdeen fan Kerry-Liam was on scanning duties today. He finished over 5 minutes ahead of the next person so he almost had enough time to go home for a shower before starting his scanning duties.

There was home baking on offer too today. Dad got a nice bit of caramel shortbread and tablet which he devoured though I was told it wasn’t suitable for dogs. That’s ruff. Not to worry though, we stopped for a croissant in Prestwick on the way home.

According to legend, females are allowed to propose on 29 February so the big question today was would I find puppy love. Sadly it wasn’t to be. Maybe I should go look in a hopeless place. Apparently it can sometimes be found there. There were plenty of dogs on the beach and promenade but I didn’t find the one. It’s another 28 years until the next 29 February parkrun. Without being morbid I don’t think I’ll see 2048 unless I live to over 120 in your human years so that ship has probably sailed. At least I have my human servant I guess.

All in all a wonderful morning adventure. We loved our trip to Girvan Prom. A nice drive, a great team and a fantastic route. It’s well worth a visit. I think we will return in the summer. And yes driving 3 hours for a 5k run does make a lot of sense!

Crumble out x

Prom warm-up
On the beach
Ailsa Craig
The McCracken fountain
Girvan Harbour
Blue skies
Start area
Trying to drain the puddle – helping or hindering? 📷 courtesy of official FB page
He made me do it!
Me and my shadow 📷 courtesy of official FB page
Finish area
You can’t argue with the record books
Post parkrun treat

Ruchill – Finn and other top dogs

Well hello again. Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis as well as dad’s marathon training have all meant that I’ve had a bit of an unplanned winter break from parkrun but I’m back!

Given the weather and the number of cancellations this weekend we decided it was safer to go for a local option this week. We opted for Ruchill, one of my favourites with its climbs, views and wide paths as well as its brilliant core team and volunteers.

It was a tough old shift getting up this morning after the wind and rain kept me and Maizie awake half the night. We had a bit of a street party about 1am when a few of the recycling bins in the street blew over and various folk were chasing cardboard, bottles and plastic down the street. Must be some sort of strange new training drills for humans.

After a very wet and windy start to the morning it was touch and go whether I was going to get to parkrun with mum trying to be sensible and dad, well, just being dad. As it happened the window between 9 and 10 ended up being the best bit of the day and I got the all-clear to go. The parkrun weather fairies really do exist.

We got there nice and early, said hello to Alison, Lynsey and birthday boy Finn as well as Piotr and Misha the dog then did a wee warm up, chasing sticks, avoiding fallen trees and seeing if we could brave the winds up at the flagpole before, of course, my traditional pre-run toilet stop.

Sorry I don’t have many Ruchill factoids for you. The best one I could find is that the flagpole has some of the best views of Glasgow and is set on an artificial mound built from 24,000 cartloads of spoil from the site of Ruchill Hospital. It is known locally as “Ben Whitton” after the park’s superintendent James Whitton who was responsible for the creation of the Park. Every day’s a school day.

Back to the start and we met a lot more of dad’s running friends including fellow parkrun tourist David S on the way to bag a new P Index score, David H, Paul C, Stewart H, Andy C, Jim McL and Laura McA.

Paul C thought I was called Columbo at first instead of Crumble. That made me chuckle. I’m sure I would make a top dog investigator. “Just one more thing”. Don’t give Jim any more blog ideas though…😉

There was a very respectable turnout of 75 given the conditions with a very healthy number of first-timers and a great Jiggly Joggers contingent. Core team member, RD and all-round good guy Finn got a double shout-out in the briefing. He was celebrating his birthday as well as his 100th parkrun. Many congratulations and happy birthday.

We started fast (probably too fast) and I wearied over the second and third laps. The wind certainly helped blow us up the big hill the first time though after that it felt like we were running into the wind the rest of the time though that clearly couldn’t have been the case.

I had a nice bit of competition with another dog in the first lap before it proved too strong for me and overtook me. Around the half way point though it had to stop for a toilet break. A schoolboy error. Or should I say a puppy error. Ever competitive, I wasn’t going to miss that window of opportunity. We overtook, put a bit of distance between us and tried our best to hang on. Whilst it closed the gap we managed to hang on to bag this week’s top dog spot. A rookie mistake by my rival. I’m sure it will know better next time.

It was by no means one of our fastest today but we still managed a respectable enough 26:16. We’ll blame dad and his 10 mile progression run yesterday and busy travel week!

Not content with celebrating his birthday and 100th parkrun Finn Boyd continued his great recent running form, coming home as first finisher in 19:00 on his 19th birthday. You couldn’t make that up. Well done Finn.

Lynsey and Alison were on timekeeping duties. Dad is on 55/60 on the parkrun stopwatch bingo challenge but they couldn’t manage to bump his time up or down to get one of his missing numbers. He needs 8, 12, 24, 29 and 35 for the record. Another week maybe!

It was lovely to get back out running today. I’ve barely even been walked the last week the weather’s been so poor.

Fingers crossed we get to our Leap Day parkrun next week. Your last chance to run a parkrun on 29 February for 28 years. Dunfermline, Girvan and Levengrove are all on the long list though the weather will probably be a factor.

Crumble out x

I’m back and ready for all weathers
Pre-run fetch
How am I supposed to play fetch with that?
Looking out over the west end from the flagpole
Pre-run briefing
Post run chill

Queen’s Glasgow – first day of a February of firsts

Happy February everyone. It only feels like yesterday that we were all enjoying our New Year’s Day Double parkrun and setting our resolutions for 2020 and January has already flown by.

This month is an exciting month of parkrun firsts. This will be the first ever February that has 5 parkruns. At the end of the month we will all have the chance to run the first ever 29 February parkrun. If you like stats and niches that’s one not to be missed. Surely he’ll take me? The next 29 February parkrun after that will be 2048 so I think it’s fair to say this will be my one and only chance of a Leap Day parkrun.

As you might know Jim selfishly ditched me last weekend because apparently he needed to do his long run on Saturday. To rub salt into the wounds he even went to one of my favourite parkruns at Levengrove where apparently I was missed.

This week it’s back to another of our favourites at Queen’s Park. Jim’s clearly chasing down his Volunteer Club T-shirt as we were on duty again. He makes this volunteer shift number 23 though it’s only my second. It’s been amazing how many new parkruns have opened up within a 40 mile radius of home the last few months but it does create the need for about another 100 volunteers a week so it’s only fair that we take our turn.

So back to Queen’s Park for our fourth time. Hills are your friends they say. They must be a ruff bunch if that’s the case. We really love this parkrun, its beautiful park, its “testing” climbs, its awesome core team and regular volunteer pup Charlie the cockapoo.

It was a glorious day. The sun was splitting the skies. Not really. It was wet wild and windy. You could barely see Glasgow city centre never mind the Campsies in the distance from the flagpole at the top. Dad keeps arguing that rain’s not a problem as skin is waterproof. Speak for yourself mate. Try having fur. Not only does it get frizzy but it weighs twice as much when wet!

We arrived just before 9 and had a wee explore before we reported for duty at the bandstand and caught up with Blythe, Laura, Charlie and the rest of the gang.

After my recent Levengrove tail walker shift I consider myself a bit of a veteran now at this volunteering lark but we paid attention to our instructions, dad got his high vis on and we got our game face on.

We had even done our homework and read the parkrun volunteer guidance in the new Volunteer Hub:

Volunteer for the love of it

Treat everyone as a friend

Be kind and respectful

Unite as a team

Be reliable, responsible and attentive

Be helpful and enthusiastic

Do your best

Respect our principles

Easy! Rules to live life by arguably too.

We met a lot of our friends before the start today including Chloe, Barb, David, Iain, Casey and Laura G as well as Andy and Cordelia from WERR. Not a lot of people know it but Cordelia’s responsible for me becoming a dog-blogger so you can direct your complaints to her. Apologies for anyone who found mucky paw prints on their running gear. I was just so happy to see you all. No actually I was just seeing if you had any treats.

I’ve said it before but we love being the tail. You get to see so many different aspects of parkrun, get some more interaction with the marshalls, encourage the speedies as they lap you and meet some fascinating people out there. Today was no exception. We got to accompany an amazing man called Bill who was recovering from a very serious Illness. He was brilliant and it was lovely accompanying him round. On both of my tail volunteering shifts we have met someone convalescing and using parkrun to get out and about and to regain their fitness. Another example of the appeal and benefit of parkrun and how it offers something for everyone.

We part ran and park walked today and the rain stayed off for most of it in the end. We went round in just over 55 minutes and finished in position 173. Given the weather before the start that’s a pretty damn impressive turnout. We got plenty treats at the finish area then we went back to the cafe afterwards and I got even more treats for the road.

So another very enjoyable week at parkrun. The hills were a lot easier at a more comfortable pace today and we had great fun out there accompanying the inspirational Bill round.

It was nice to see Charlie again too and we got to run together for a wee bit. And I mean a wee bit. Charlie wasn’t running with his regular human and decided to stage a one dog sit-down protest after only 200m before reverting to marshalling duty with Laura.

Dad says he’s long-running without me again next Saturday and maybe taking in Ruchill parkrun but we’re hopefully going to venture to Dunfermline the week after. Not quite our NENDY but not far off.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend folks. Looks like I’ve managed to avoid a bath too this weekend which is a bonus.

Crumble out x

Who stole the Campsies?
Dad selfie
UN tree
Blythe briefing the volunteers
Still an impressive turnout in the rain
Me and Charlie looking for post parkrun treats 📸 by Barb Watt
Indoor selfie time
And relax

Levengrove – a tale of two tails

Hello folks. Crumble here again. I’m back in action after an unplanned break last week.

Apparently it was too wet, wild and windy for me to get to parkrun last weekend. Quite a few local events were cancelled, including Levengrove, but the human still managed to get to Drumpellier Country parkrun and left me at home. Can you believe that? He said it was to save me from the inevitable post run bath but I don’t believe him. Anyway I quite enjoy them.

On to this week. My first ever parkrun volunteering stint and at one of my favourite courses, Levengrove, where you may remember I was the first canine finisher at their inaugural event. As you know, I’ve been to a lot of parkruns and had been meaning to volunteer for a while so it was great to finally get round to it. Given the number of late cancellations this week due to black ice we picked our parkrun well.

I was going to be the tail this week. That pun’s too obvious for even me to use. My job this week was to be the last finisher. I would have to put all my competitive instincts on ice this week. Could I succeed? Or was it Mission Impawssible?

Volunteering is a critical part of parkrun and without volunteers parkrun simply wouldn’t happen. Every week between 750 and 1,000 people volunteer at parkruns across Scotland in a number of roles. I decided I wanted to become part of that gang of hi-vis heroes.

The 2019 parkrun survey found that 84% of volunteers said parkrun improved their happiness. So it’s not only supporting and giving back it’s good for your mental health and well-being too. I’m definitely up for some of that. I’m already a very happy doggo so the prospect of being even happier sounded great.

The team at Levengrove is fantastic. Their enthusiasm, community engagement and social media comms are all right up there with the best and it’s hard to believe it’s still in its infancy. Today’s RD Anna is brimming with energy, enthusiasm, good humour and all that’s great about parkrun. If I hadn’t read it I would never have guessed it was her RD debut. It’s been great to see their efforts rewarded with such great local participation and interest with over 100 runners turning up at every event so far and a bumper 218 for their first event of the new year. They really are the top dog. It was great to see so many walkers, buggies and other dogs.

We got up just before 7:30 and were on the road by 8. Can’t turn up late for my first big responsibility. We got there in a plenty time for a little stroll before we were on duty. We went to see Dumbarton Rock and had a stroll on the beach as well as my morning constitutional (TMI sorry). According to the local museum, Dumbarton Rock is a volcanic plug of basalt created 334 million years ago. That’s even older than dad!

Once that was taken care of it was time to head to the park for our briefing. Finish last. Have fun. Encourage the other runners. Allow other runners and dogs to lap me if needed. Don’t overtake anyone. Smile. Easy! I wasn’t trusted to do it on my own though. Jim wanted to share the limelight. We also had a bonus extra tail walker this week, Joan. I guess dad can be a bit of a liability at times so it’s only right that they assigned a responsible adult to keep him in check.

We had a great time. We walked all the way round and got to chat to some great folk. We met Eilidh and David at the start, Paddy, Peter and the Dows. We chatted to Daren most of the way round. He’s a top lad and it was great to catch up. He’s the best photographer in the West and dad has met him at quite a few local races. We also caught up with two brand new parkrun converts who were there for the first time and loved it too. It was good fun being double lapped by a lot of speedy runners and great to see Paddy Gibbons in the Helensburgh vest continuing his great form with an impressive course PB of 18:09. We completed today in 58:54. My slowest parkrun but one of my most enjoyable ones. We loved the park last time and got to see it in more detail today. It’s really stunning, nestling between two rivers, with such beautiful views and gardens. Dumbarton Rock is stunning from every single angle.

They had a record turnout today of 278 which was incredible. There’s something pretty special going on at Levengrove. They also have some of the best and most enthusiastic marshals we’ve ever seen.

I really loved volunteering today. It was such a wag. If you’ve never done it before I would heartily recommend it. Great fun, lots of support from the rest of the volunteers and I loved encouraging the runners round. It also gives you a very different and equally great perspective on parkrun. And since dad likes numbers and stats we think I might now be the fastest as well as the slowest dog in Levengrove’s short history so far. The best thing about being tail is you get to run and volunteer so you get a credit for both.

Don’t think I’m getting a parkrun next weekend as the human said something about his long marathon training run bla bla bla being on Saturday but I’m tail again very soon. In fact I’m volunteering again at Queen’s Park on 1 February. Hopefully my wee pal Charlie will be on the roster too. Puppy power.

Crumble out x

Ready for action
Runners assemble
Course map
The fountain with the Rock behind it
Step back in time
On the beach
View across the River Leven
Dumbarton Rock
Dog at work

Queen’s Glasgow – Don’t Stop Me Now

Me again. The Queen of the New Year one week The Queen of Queen’s Park the next.

Just a wee blog this week since you’ve heard rather a lot from me over the last eight days. Don’t want to overdo it as Too Much (Crumble) Love Will Kill You.

After a short rendezvous on New Year’s Day at Polkemmet it was time to go visit my wee pal over at Queen’s Park, Charlie the cockapoo. Friends Will Be Friends.

It’s been a pretty awesome week for young Charlie. Not content with doing his first double on Wednesday, he smashed his PB at Linwood that day and then surpassed himself by appearing in a great Glasgow Evening Times feature on the fantastic Queen’s Park volunteers on Thursday. He was assistant Run Director today, keeping Laura right. It’s a Hard Life but somebody’s got to do it.

After a very soggy trip there in December the weather gods were a bit kinder today. The temporary water feature was gone too. We had both found this a very challenging but enjoyable parkrun so far and we struggled round in very sluggish 29 minutes last time. Jim had done his long run on Friday so it wasn’t clear if he would be holding me back again on the tough climbs today but The Show Must Go On.

This fabulous park was previously known as South Side Park but was renamed Queen’s Park in dedication to Mary, Queen of Scots who lost the Battle of Langside nearby. The park’s flagpole is regarded as one of Glasgow’s best views with vistas towards Ben Lomond and the Campsie Fells looking North.

After being spoiled with two runs in one day on Wednesday I didn’t get a run on either Thursday (which apparently was his first rest day in over a month, not that he talked about running every day in December very much) or Friday. I was a little bit disappointed about the prospect of only getting one parkrun today. In the end though it was just perfect and I loved it. Coach Collins is maybe right when he says that sometimes it’s the quality of the miles that’s more important than the quantity. It’s about focus he says. One Vision.

We arrived nice and early again. We parked up well before 9 so we got to explore the park, run up to the flag pole and then hang out with Charlie at the bandstand.

There was a bumper turnout with new year resolutioners and recent parkrun converts taking advantage of the mild and dry weather. The turnout was an amazing 292, not far off the course record. Only a few Garscubers today. We only saw Keith and Stuart. They must have all been at XC training!

The hills were tough again today. They don’t seem to get any easier. Not that I meant to put us Under Pressure but I wanted to beat last month’s time and beat it by as much as we could.

I always think Jim takes it too easy and conservative on the downhill stretch and I tried to leave him behind. I shouted I Want to Break Free but he said something dull about parkrun rules and having to stay on a short lead. Boring! Talking of Jims we saw Jim the Dog too today who was taking Alex out for a walk.

We finally made it round today in 25:31. We pushed ourselves at the start and worked pretty hard today though the final climb of the hills was a killer. That time was over 3 minutes faster than last time here and around 90 seconds faster than our previous best here. Happy with that. A very comfortable course PB and close to my 25 minute flat course target. And our fastest time of the year too. We are the Champions! We had our customary post run drink and treat. They’re very dog friendly there.

They’ve got a new selfie frame since our last visit. Dad said it’s in the rules that you have to use it but You Don’t Fool Me. He made me do it anyway.

Huge kudos again to the amazing core team, especially Laura and Charlie, and a big shout-out to the volunteer takeover team from Bellahouston Harriers. What a pawsome bunch. They’re A Kind of Magic and definitely in the top two lots of running Harriers in Glasgow.

Dad’s become a bit obsessed by the parkrun app over the last week and has been plotting a number of challenges including stopwatch bingo (apparently he’s now at 90%), a Clayton and a possible alphabet over the longer term. He’s already been planning an O in February, a C in April and a possible J in July. What sort of person does that? Is there a helpline? I think he’s going a bit Radio Gaga. Save Me.

Worryingly it sounds like I might be abandoned for a few of the more further afield ones. That’s not fair. I Want It All. He’s promised to take me to Dunfermline, Lochore Meadows and Livingston over the next few months though.

More immediately I think we’re off again to Drumpellier next week, one of my local favourites, then I’m making my volunteering debut the following week at Levengrove where We Will (Dumbarton) Rock You. Can’t wait to be the tail and then tell the tale.

Meantime I’m off for a bath. I’ve apparently still got half of Polkemmet Country Park in my fur from Wednesday.

Crumble out x

The view from the flagpole
Embarrassing selfie part one
Getting in the zone
The core team and the volunteers getting their instructions from Charlie
Ready steady….
Charlie and his committee having a debrief
Embarrassing selfie part two
Bath time!

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

Lanark Moor – horsing around

Belated Merry Christmas everyone. Hope yule had a great time and that Santa Paws was good to you.

No Christmas Day parkrun for me or, indeed, a parkrun last weekend so it’s good to be back. To be fair though I did get two early morning runs last week so I can’t complain too much. That’s the one upside of the human doing Marcothon whilst being off work. When I first heard Jim was planning a month-long streak my heart sank. Fortunately it wasn’t that kind of streak. We all know he can be a bit of an exhibitionist at times so you never quite know what’s next.

This week we decided to hit the road again and head to Lanark Moor. It’s always nice to try a parkrun that neither of us have done before. It looked like a toughie and looking at the results for the last few weeks it was probably going to be our slowest parkrun for some time. Always good to get the excuses in nice and early…more of a 27 minute course than the benchmark 25 minutes. Jim even had his trail shoes on for the first time in about a year so that set off the alarm bells.

Lanark is a good hour’s drive from North West Glasgow so quite the adventure. We think it’s currently (or was until very recently) our NENDY. What sort of lunatic gets up at 7:15am during their Christmas holidays to go for a run? Dad said it’s one of those places that always takes longer to get to than you think it should so I guess I just had to go along with that though we did arrive ridiculously early. The human says he’s been meaning to go since it started last summer. Today was a tropical 11° so it felt like summer but with that wind it was anything but on the more exposed parts.

Lanark Moor parkrun is held adjacent to Lanark racecourse which was a horse racing venue until it closed in 1977 (factoid number 1). What are the odds on this week’s blog being full of off the hoof horse racing puns then? That would be a complete mare. This week the only prize filly was Crumble. The course includes a loop of Lanark Loch plus a loop of the Lanark Moor Cycle Trail. Varied, scenic and with very manageable numbers (an average of 55 each week) this sounded ideal for us.

We hit the road just around 8. We had the music up loud listening, of course, to the Runner by Foals (who else). We drove through the Clyde Tunnel, headed for the M74 then turned off to pretty much follow the path of the Clyde towards its source through places that sounded like they were school house names from an Enid Blyton novel – Dalserf, Rosebank, Crossford and Hazelbank. The human had done cross country at Lanark once but it felt like the middle of nowhere. It probably was the middle of nowhere. Deepest South Lanarkshire.

We arrived in plenty time and got to check out the surroundings and the conditions. I went to say hello to the horses and the swans and dad said hi to the organisers. It certainly looked like the going was heavy or soft at best. We then met my friends Toby and Terlan (and their humans Zander and Alison) who I had met before at Drumchapel and Levengrove. I think there were 5 or 6 dogs today. About one dog for even ten humans. Quite a canine collection.

On to the start line, the briefing was done and the blinkers were on. The countdown starts and then off we trot. A nice little downhill slalom towards the loch putting the brakes on just in time to avoid the water. It turned out this downhill lulled us into a false sense of security. One mini loop back round to the start area and then a full loop round the loch. Very picturesque and flat then back up hill again towards the car park near the start area.

That’s when the real fun started. The woodland trail half was an absolute thrill. Pulling the human down the muddy hills, zigzagging through the fir trees, up and down, in and out and round about. To the seasoned trail runner I think they’re called technical sections. To me it was all just good fun. I was in my element. It really was a run of two halves. Both very different but both equally enjoyable.

We eventually emerged for the final 500m along the loch and back up the hill towards the finish line in a time of just under 27 minutes (26:55) and in position 15, unusually high up the field for us. We hung around at the end speaking to a nice man called Chris from Tinto Hill runners as well as most of the other dogs, some of whom looked like canicross regulars with more impressive gear than me.

This was a very challenging but very enjoyable parkrun and all the reviews were spot on. It reminded us a little of Plean and Eglinton. Part tarmac, part woodland trail, part lochside, a little bit muddy, nice tree-lined stretches and ever so slightly undulating. It’s certainly up there with Drumchapel and Queen’s Park when it comes to Scotland’s toughest parkruns but without laps which was a real bonus. Neigh bother for me though. Sorry I’ll rein in the horse puns.

We loved how spread out the field of 48 runners got after a few kilometres. There was over two minutes between the person before us and the person after us. Lots of room for me! Mum says that’s because I’ve got a bad rep and everyone was steering well clear. Cheek!

It’s a pretty unique and interesting venue too and we would definitely recommend a visit. Given a lot of the old racecourse buildings and route are still visible it’s a bit like stepping back in time to a ghost race course. The site also has fascinating history and (brace yourself for factoid number 2) the racecourse hosted Scotland’s first international Air Show in 1910, an event that attracted over 250,000 people. During the war period it was used as an aerodrome.

Big kudos to the very friendly core team and volunteers led by Iain and Reg for a huge welcome, enthusiastic shout-outs and fantastic support. And for making sure we didn’t end up in the loch at that first tight turn! A very warm atmosphere today. I’ve even forgiven the marshal who asked if I was a cockapoo 😉

The big question for the week ahead is whether I’ll be back in the saddle for the New Year’s Day Double. Stay tuned. Meantime I’m off to hit the hay. But not furlong.

See you all next decade!

Crumble out x

The “ghost” racecourse with the old odds board in the background
Saying hello to the horses
Enjoying the loch view – dad loves his wide angle setting on his new phone
Morning swans!
He’s just teasing me now to get a good picture
Cycle trail map
The moors
Raring to go with Toby and Terlan photobombing
Embarrassing dad selfie!
Throwback to the 1910 aviation show – “The Spirit of Flight” statue
Sharing a post run bacon roll – I’m just looking after his diet

Queen’s Glasgow – who’s that doodle in the puddle?

‘Twas my last parkrun before Christmas

And all through the park was water and puddles and sleet in near dark

With matching Marcothon buffs and T-shirts we were looking just great

As we left the warmth of the car for my Charlie play date

The human is volunteering next week as part of a club roster takeover at Drumchapel and apparently I’m not allowed to join him (though that sounds like a made up tail). That means this was probably my last parkrun before Christmas though hopefully he will take me out for another dog jog somewhere before then.

We did the wonderful Queen’s Park a few weeks back where I got to meet Charlie and I was keen for a return play date so there was only ever one parkrun in the reckoning today. That was perhaps the only vote that everyone could get on board with this week.

The forecast wasn’t great to start with and around 7:30am as the rain was battering against the windows mum said it maybe didn’t sound like a parkrun day. Clearly she’s not a runner. Didn’t she know I had a play date? It’s almost Christmas we said. We won’t even notice the rain dear.

We managed to convince her (and probably ourselves) that it was clearing up and it would be glorious in the Southside as we hit the road. We put the festive tunes on. Bark the herald angels sing, some tunes from the muttcracker suite then he started singing… Dashund through the snow…stop! Enough already!

How wrong we were about the improving weather though. The minute we parked up the skies got darker, the rain got even heavier and then the rain turned to sleet. We decided that we could do without a warm-up this week so stayed in the car a little bit longer. For the first time ever I ran today with my waterproof on. Sometimes being dry is more important than being a four-legged fashionista.

Just after 9 we decided to brave the elements and headed across to the relative shelter of the bandstand. There we found Charlie and we had a good play chasing sticks, sniffing babies, talking to cyclists, running up and down the steps and playing in the puddles. It was great fun and lovely to see him again. We saw him a few times more on our run. On one lap he was marshalling and the next time we passed Laura he had decided to bail and tag along with one of her friends for part of the run. I like his style. A free spirit. We also met two lovely parkrun tourists from Oxford who were both running in their Christmas jumper. The same jumper! Amazing. See below for borrowed pic.

As usual the core team and volunteers were in great form, making light of the elements and cheering us all round. I even got a name check in Sarah-Jane’s briefing at the start and a few folk remembered me from my last visit. Notorious or famous? You decide.

Following a few weeks of speedier parkruns this was anything but. After running through the new water feature at the start (see pic below) our six legs were like blocks of ice and we started making our excuses even before the first hill. Today was about running for “fun” not for a time. No pressure. Phew. Jim is almost half way through his Marcothon run every day in December challenge so I think he was happier than me with that approach.

Even in atrocious weather, Queen’s Park is a still beautiful park and we really enjoyed our run especially on a few hills with rivers of water cascading towards us. It’s a great feeling getting past the flagpole and hitting the downhill though it’s always over far too soon. The view from the top is great but today wasn’t a day for hanging around. The volunteers made it so much easier today though. The water feature didn’t get any easier on the next two laps. Just as my paws had dried and thawed out each time it was straight back into the ice bath. We must be barking mad.

We came home in 29 minutes dead. But just about still alive. Almost 5 minutes slower than last week but happy with that. I think I was second dog today behind a very speedy collie. We also met (and beat) another cockapoo called Buttons, a very cute dog with a really cool name.

After a bit of a drama at the end where dad thought he had lost his phone…he hadn’t but only realised this after dragging Laura, Charlie and I back through the wind, cold and rain to re-trace his steps (I apologise profusely on his behalf) we went for quick coffee.

This was the first time I’ve been allowed into an indoor parkrun cafe so I had to be on my best behaviour. The Baptist Church church hall was excellent. Buttons and Charlie were there too so we said hello again. Dad had a nice coffee and a few biscuits and I got a few crumbs (no pun intended…or was it?). They also had a nice grotto but there was no sign of Santa Paws.

We love Queen’s Park and will be back soon. One of Glasgow’s tougher ones but certainly one of the friendliest and prettiest. And a dog-friendly indoor cafe is a big pawsitive.

I’m now back home, fed, watered and defrosted. Hopefully I’ll have fully dried out by my next parkrun.

Happy Christmas everyone in case I don’t blog again before then. I hope your Christmas is a cracker.

Crumble out x

Dad do we really need to run in that?
Chasing the water down the hill
Well hello again Charlie
Ready to play chase
Sarah-Jane’s briefing
Ready for action
Action shot 📷 from official FB page thanks
The new water feature
Santa’s grotto – don’t think he works the weekend sadly
The Christmas jumper ladies from Oxford 📷 from official FB page thanks