Another trip across the Dartford Crossing for this morning’s parkrun as I headed to the town of Maldon in Essex.
Maldon is on the Essex coast, more precisely it is at the western end of the Blackwater estuary. In fact two rivers empty into the estuary as the River Chelmer (from Chelmsford) comes out here as well. This area was settled by the Ancient Britons, then the Romans, then the Saxons. In the ninth and tenth centuries it came under frequent attack from Danish invaders, also known as Vikings. In 991 AD there was a large raid culminating in the defeat of the townspeople. This event was commemorated by the Anglo Saxon poem ‘The Battle of Maldon’ and it is remembered today by a statue of the Saxon leader, Byrhtnoth, which stands on the promenade where we would be running.
According to the Domesday Book, there were 54 households and an estimated 180 townsmen in 1086. The town had a mint, to produce coins, and supplied a warhorse and warship for the king's service in return for its privileges of self-government. The town was awarded a charter by Henry II in 1171, stating the rights of the town as well as defining its borders and detailing its duty to provide a ship for the monarch "when necessary".
Maldon grew and thrived as a fishing port and market town. There are still plenty of fine old buildings and churches to be seen today. Modern-day Maldon is home to around 15,000 people. The town nowadays is known mainly for three things. First there is Maldon sea salt which has been produced locally for centuries.
Down at Hythe Quay is one of the few remaining places where you can see traditional Thames barges, the flat bottomed boats that transported goods along the Thames estuary.
Maldon is also home to the great Maldon Mud Race which takes place at low tide across the mud flats. It takes place in May, if you fancy giving it a go!
The parkrun mercifully includes no mud. It takes place in Promenade Park which is down by the waterfront. It’s a nice park, a good place to bring the kids, with a café, a playground, a lake, a splash park, minigolf and more. The parkrun course consists of a short loop around the lake then two laps of the rest of the park. It is fairly flat and largely on tarmac (or concrete) paths apart from a short detour around the dirt path surrounding a grassy field on each lap. It’s not the absolute fastest course that I have run but it could be fairly fast if the conditions are fine, which they were today.
The nice weather seems to have brought out the runners today as there were 326 starters, rather more than they usually get. It was a fairly narrow start so I needed to get away briskly which I just about managed. I was about twentieth after the first small loop of the lake and gradually started to move through the field. I wasn’t sure what pace I was managing but they had helpfully included a 2k marker which I passed in around 7:35. At the end of the first lap, I was in twelfth position. The leader wasn’t too far ahead as I could still see him at this point. I thought I might pick up a few more places in the second lap. There was a small group of three just a little way ahead and I gradually worked my way up to them. I passed the 4k marker in 15:22. Towards the end, I passed the group of three but then they all sprinted past again as we came up to the finish. (At my age, I’m not really one for sprinting) Still twelfth place in 19:24 was pretty good by my reckoning.
I enjoyed my visit to Maldon very much and would have liked to have seen more of the town but unfortunately I need to get back home on Saturday morning. Maybe I’ll make another visit to these parts in the near future.
My statistics for today - that was parkrun venue number 199. I was first in my age group and was first overall on age-graded scores.
That leaves me with one to go to reach a total of 200 different venues. I wanted to go somewhere memorable for my 200th so I was thinking of heading to the Severn Bridge parkrun. It depends somewhat upon the weather though. I wouldn’t want to go there if it was blowing a gale so ... watch this space. I might go somewhere completely different.
I shall finish as usual with a YouTube video. If you would like a little glimpse of Maldon Prom parkrun, here it is.
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