Well that was a memorable day out in Gloucestershire. One of the main drawbacks of the pandemic was that for many months we were unable to get out and reconnect with old friends. I had almost forgotten the pleasure of linking up with some familiar faces. But before all that I had to get my weekly parkrun in and so I made my way to Tetbury Goods Shed.
Tetbury is a small town (pop. 6,000) in Gloucestershire, lying amidst the Cotswold Hills. The first recorded mention of the place goes back as far as 681 AD when “Tette’s Minster” was granted to the monks of Malmesbury. Who Tette was, is not known, but a burgh, or fortified position was built here and thus became Tet-bury. The town seems to have thrived in the medieval period thanks to its strong agricultural economy. Sheep grazed on the surrounding hills and produced the wool that became the mainstay of the local economy. Other products - grain, beef, bacon - were traded in the local market. By the sixteenth century, Tetbury had become one of the major towns of the south west. Prosperity allowed the building of many of the fine stone buildings which survive to this day. By the nineteenth century the wool trade had declined. In 1823 it was said that “the place is rendered uncommonly dull in consequence of the desertion of trade” The one good thing about this is that Tetbury has remained largely unaltered and its town centre is full of beautiful and historic buildings. The place is popular with tourists and with the so called “Cotswolds Set” - those rich and famous people who frequent these parts.
Tetbury is home to some unconventional sporting events. First there are the ‘Wacky Races’ (perhaps inspired by the cartoon series) which is a soapbox derby in which contestants race down a hill in home made go-karts, risking life and limb. More in tune with Tetbury’s history, there are the Woolsack races. Competitors race up a steep hill carrying a heavy sack of wool on their backs.
The most famous not-quite-a-resident of Tetbury is Prince Charles, whose Highgrove Estate is just to the south of the town. You can actually visit Highgrove, or at least the gardens and get a guided tour. Tetbury has been a frequent winner of the Britain in Bloom competition so if you want to see a nice floral display, you know where to go!
Tetbury used to have a railway station - it was at the far end of a branch line of the Great Western Railway. That fell victim to Dr Beeching in the 1960s. The one thing that remains is a large goods shed which has been converted into an arts and community centre. You can come here to see an exhibition, watch a film, enjoy some music or a variety of other events. There is also a café. And since May 2019, it has also been the base for a parkrun.
They have two courses for the parkrun at Tetbury … an easy one and a tough one. The easy route is a simple out and back along the disused railway line. It is largely flat and even and would have suited me just fine. So of course they chose to do the tough route. The tough course goes up the railway track but then turns left into a grassy field. You then run up a steep hill, into some woodland. You then follow a narrow overgrown path through the woods, turn right along a stoney path and eventually down the hill again. There is a short out and back section along the track and then you head back towards the start area. Just when you think you are heading towards the finish you are directed right and up the steep hill again! Eventually you rejoin the track and can run in to the finish!
There were around a hundred starters yesterday, numbers slightly increased by the cancellation of a couple of other parkruns locally. After the baking heat on Friday I was worried we might be sweltering on parkrun morning. In fact it was rather dull and overcast with some spits of rain. As to the run … well I did quite well on the flat bits and was passing people all the time. I struggled though on the hilly parts over rough ground and fell back there. Someone took a photo of me at the turn around point so here it is.
I eventually finished 21st in a time of 24:06. Pretty slow for me but, I guess, the best I could do on a course like that. Don’t let me put you off Tetbury though. It’s a lovely town and the Goods Shed is an excellent setting for a parkrun.
My statistics for today - that was parkrun venue number 257. I was first in my age group and eighth overall on age graded scores.
If you’d like a little glimpse of Tetbury parkrun, here’s a video that shows the course and a little bit of the town itself.
Normally that would be it for the day for me, but I had another appointment to keep at Hawkesbury Upton … but you’ll have to hear about that another day!
Tell us your story
Inspire and be inspired by sharing your health or fitness journey. Your blog will provide you with a permanent record of your progress, with the added bonus of motivation and encouragement from our members along the way.* Manage my blogs