Street parkrun

Posted on: 01 Oct 2022

I had another trip down to Somerset this morning.  I lived in this part of the world back in the 1980s and I like to pop back every now and then to see how they are managing.  The answer is always … perfectly well without me, but I like to revisit some old haunts.


My destination today was Street, which is the largish village adjacent to Glastonbury.  Most people are familiar with Glastonbury.  The Tor surmounted by its church tower is an iconic image of the Somerset landscape.  Glastonbury is associated with various legends.  There is the story that Joseph of Arimethea brought Jesus Christ here as a child.  Centuries later William Blake wrote a poem about it - “And did those feet in ancient times, walk upon England's mountains green”.  There is also the story that Joseph returned, bringing with him the Holy Grail, the vessel used at the last supper.   You may see the graves of King Arthur and Guinevere in Glastonbury, although who is actually buried there is a bigger question.  Glastonbury nowadays is a haven for all things new age and hippy dippy.  If you’re looking to buy a dreamcatcher, some wind chimes or some healing crystals, Glastonbury is the place for you!

Not so many people are familiar with Street, although it is a larger place with a bigger population (ca 12,000).  The name Street comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘straet’ meaning … yes … street.  In a charter from 1330 it is named as Strete Juxta Glastone.  In medieval times a road was built through here along which to transport the stone used to build Glastonbury Abbey.  A village sprang up alongside the road, which is now the A39.  In the nineteenth century the railway arrived although this particular branch line fell victim to Doctor Beeching in the 1960s.

There are two things for which Street is famous.  Firstly there are Clark’s Shoes.  The business was founded in Street in 1825 by Cyrus and James Clark.  It remained in family control over two centuries, gradually growing to become one of the biggest names in shoe manufacture.  In recent years it has experienced financial difficulties and a private equity firm, Lionrock Capital, bought a controlling share.  Shoes are no longer manufactured in Street but the headquarters of the company are still there along with a shoe museum and Clark’s Retail Village.

Then there is Millfield School.  Millfield is Britain’s largest coeducational boarding school.  Millfield was started in 1935 by Jack Meyer and originally based in the mansion that belonged to the Clark family.  The school has some excellent sporting facilities and is known for having produced some outstanding competitors in rugby, cricket, swimming and other sports.   There are also some ex pupils you might not expect - Tony Blackburn, Lily Allen, Sophie Dahl.

If you’d like a little glimpse of Street, here’s a three minute video, with emphasis on Clark’s Village.

The parkrun takes place at Strode College Sports Centre on the northern edge of the village.   The course consists simply of three laps around the sports fields.  It doesn’t have much in the way of change of scenery but you can enjoy the sight of Glastonbury Tor looming in the background.  The course is flat and all on grass, so should be reasonably fast when the ground is firm.  Street parkrun has been going since May 2018 and usually attracts around 130 starters.  Numbers were slightly down this week at 87, though I think they were down everywhere because of the London marathon tomorrow.

It was a fairly bright morning.  The grass was a little soggy from the downpour the day before but not too bad.  I hadn’t any great ambitions for this one but I did find myself chasing a grey haired guy who looked like he might be in my age group.  We passed the end of the first lap in 7:10.  I thought, if he keeps up this pace, I’m not going to stay with him.  He did and I didn’t!  I manage the second lap in around 7:30 and the third in about 7:35.  That brought me in in a time of 22:15 and tenth place overall.  I was pleased with that, it was faster than I had been expecting on a slightly soggy grass course.  The grey haired guy turned out to be a mere youngster of 60 and so I had worried for nothing!

My statistics for today - that brings my total of parkrun venues up to 266.  I was first in my age group and fourth overall on age graded scores.

If you’d like a little look at the course, this video will give you some aerial footage!

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