Cirencester parkrun

Posted on: 18 Dec 2021

It was another trip westwards today with a visit to Cirencester in Gloucestershire, sometimes referred to as the “Capital of the Cotswolds”.

Cirencester has been a town of some significance for over 2000 years.  When the Romans arrived in the first century AD they set about developing it into one of the major towns of Roman Britain under the name Corinium.  They built a fort, a wall and other fortifications.  They constructed villas and bath houses.  There was a forum, a market place in the centre of town.  There was also an amphitheatre, the outline of which can still be seen today.  The population of the town in this period was estimated at around 15,000, which is not far off what it is today.  According to some accounts, Corinium was the second largest town in Britain in the Roman era.

After the Romans left, the town seems to have fallen into steep decline but then it began to revive again in the Middle Ages.  The town stood at a junction on the main routes to the major settlements in the West - Bath, Gloucester, Cheltenham.  It also stood on the River Churn, which ran into the early stages of the River Thames.  Cirencester became a thriving market town - indeed it still is.  In the eighteenth century the canals reached Cirencester and in the mid nineteenth century, the railway followed.  Both rail line and canal have now closed but Cirencester continues to be a prosperous place.  At its heart is an historic town centre, full of picturesque buildings of Cotswold stone.  There is a good selection of upmarket shops and restaurants.  Around the edges you will find a variety of modern facilities.  In a recent survey, Cirencester was declared one of the happiest places to live in the UK.  If you’d like a quick glimpse of Cirencester, this video shows you a lot within seven minutes.

Just on the edge of town lies the Royal Agricultural University.  It dates back as far as 1845 when it opened as the Royal Agricultural College, the first of its type in the world.  It was granted a Royal title by Queen Victoria.  Prince Charles is the official patron today.  The University is home to around 1100 students from this country and abroad.  They are offered more than 30 degree courses in all areas of land management, animal welfare, business development and environmental studies.  The University also owns two nearby farms to give students practical experience.  The place also offers all the amenities that a modern day student might expect.  It has a very strong reputation in the sporting field (all those farmers' sons wanting to play rugby!) and has a large area of sports fields and amenities next to the main buildings.   The one complaint against the RAU is that there are too many ‘Hooray Henry’ types and there are unfortunate reports of anti social behaviour.

Which brings us on to the parkrun.  Cirencester parkrun consists of three laps around the perimeter of the University grounds.  It is largely flat and takes place partly on surfaced paths but mainly on grass.  I went for a jog around the lap and soon decided that this was not a day for heroics - too much mud and too many slippy corners.  I didn’t want to fall over and hurt myself just before Christmas.  There were 85 starters there this morning on a day that was rather grey and murky with a touch of drizzle.  I found myself moving quite well on the smooth sections but then taking it more carefully when the ground started getting slippy.  I was overtaking people on the firm sections of the course but then was getting overtaken again as I tiptoed around the mud.  My lap times were around 7:40 and I eventually crossed the line in 23:16 which gave me 18th place.  That was fine - I wasn’t expecting too much today.  I had never been to Cirencester before nor the RAU and was glad to have seen both.

My statistics for today - my number of parkrun venues now stands at 238.  I want to keep cracking on as there is the nagging fear that there will be another lockdown and parkrun will have to be paused for several weeks or more.   I was first in my age group and sixth overall on age graded scores.  

I could find no video of the course, so I shall leave you with a few photographs instead.


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