I'm planning a bit of a go at my 5k PB, so was thinking a trip to Parkrun might be in order. I've got several within 30 mins drive, and was wondering how to tell which would be quicker (I need all the help I can get!)

I am assuming that some will naturally be a bit faster than others. However, it's difficult to tell from the results, as it's not like the same people run each of them. Is there a way to get an idea which is the speediest? 



  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    Beyond looking at the individual course description and map, you can always cross-check individuals' times against their other performances on Power of 10.

    From my limited experience (I've only run one but have course knowledge of three  close by) they can vary a great deal from pancake flat to hilly.  The only one I've done was reasonably quick with a couple of inclines, but there's one planned for close to where our club trains, in "Hilly Fields".  You probably don't need a course description for that one, does what it says on the tin.  image

  • I only know the routes for three, and one is definitely quicker than the other two.

    Which ones are they? I'd be surprised if people on here didn't know them to give first hand advice image

  • definitely different..i think Cardiff is one of the fastest ones as all on tarmac and flat....newport is mainly on trail but is also mainly flat........i imagine some will have a few hills in them........try them all out one a week

  • As said by the others there is a huge variation in type of course which may or may not highlight your personal weaknesses. If you're not a fan of hills you could always see what the elevation profile looks like in mapmyrun (or similar site). You  could also have a sneaky look to see if some one else has done the course on Garmin connect, which will show the elevation and see if there's any point where people slow down due to course conditions.

    If you want to be really geeky then Crispy did a comparison of courses, but this was over a year ago and is limited in the number of course analysed; (see #12). I remember someone who had done lots of different parkruns analysed the their garmin's elevation profiles and ranked the course but I can't find that now. It was a slighty iffy analysis as I remember to as it ranked flat, cornerless, tarmac Cardiff below a grass 'n' gravel, bumpy twisty turny course image

    The best way to find out which is the speediest for you? As seren says, try all of 'em.

  • I would concentrate on the terrain and number of laps. A course may be flat but how are you mentally running a flat 5 lap course?

    eg. Highbury Fields

    A course may have only 2 laps but could you cope going up the same steep incline twice, the second time less than a km from the end?

    eg. Finsbury Park

    I do both of these as they play to my strengths. I often spend miles doing laps and can cope with the percieved tedium. As for inclines I practice those a lot as I hate nasty surprises.


  • Hog-mouseHog-mouse ✭✭✭

    Find a track. 20 laps. image

  • Or for a different approach, find the hilliest parkrun and use it as a training tool. A second one closer to me has just started and is quite hilly, as a joke I stated that I would do 6 training runs on the hilly and then go back to the original for a pb. I only did 3 runs on the hilly one and then went back to the original to celebrate someones 10th parkrun and knocked 55 secs off my pb. 


  • Bristol is definitely hilly - more or less all up hill to 2.5k and then 2.5k back down (it is an out and back course)


  • camillia sinensis assamica mouse wrote (see)

    Find a track. 20 laps. image

    wouldn't fancy the last 7.5 laps much image

  • I think Hull and York are meant to be the quick ones but if you listen to the park run show podcasts this is often discussed so that may help, conditions also play a part but this too is often talked about.
  • It's not just the course but the field as well. Bushy gets a good average because lots of fast runners turn up, but equally with 800 runners it can get a bit crowded in the midfield. The upside however is there's plenty of people to work off to drag you to a good time. On the other hand Pymmes seldom gets more than 20 people, so you'll have a nice clear run but probably no-one to work with.

    Which are the events that are your options?

  • Options would be Bedford, Milton Keynes or Northampton. 

    Bedford & Northampton are laps (and I'm not sure how the ego would take to being lapped on 5k image) while MK has the more hills, but they're early on.

    I can see what has been meant by "fastest" depending, to some extent, on how you run and what suits you. I might just have to try them all in turn and see what I get down to. I know sub 30 ought to be on, managed 5 k in under 30 during a tempo run while marathon training - more than once. I just need to shift the ar$e and get out there to prove it on the clock. 

  • I think trying them all out is a good idea - and then at least you'll have multiple options. You may even become more proficient over a type of course that you'd thought difficult as a result! Nothing to do with speed, but I believe Milton Keynes is considered the most picturesque parkrun of all, if I remember correctly. So if nothing else, that's one reason to go there!

    Best of luck with the sub-30.

  • I really want to do Bushy Park as the times are always fast and I like a good battle me. Want to get a little faster though as my current pb would have gotten me only a 12th place on last weeks run.

    Currently there is a runner in my local who I really want to beat in a parkrun. Last time we raced he beat me into 2nd place. Thing is he's getting bloody faster and already has a pb 1 minute faster than me! A whole minute and hes two age grades younger.

    "Got to have a nemesis" as my running work collegue is always telling me.

  • Mk isnt too bad, as you say hills at begining. Two are going over a canal and road. The other is  zig zag type thing (constructed so that wheelchairs/ prams can get to top), and lasts say 50 seconds? As soon as you get to the top, there is a long downhill bit for  a good minute or so, to get breath back. Then its flat all the way!

  • Glasgow is a tough route.

  • Camp Bastion? The thought of being shot at might give you an incentive to get round a bit sharpish!

  • Well its almost 3,000 feet plus above sea level so if you were there a year and kept a regular running routine you would be getting in some rather expensive if dangerous elite training. There is only one guy who has done a sub 17 though.

  • Blimey Stephen. Your'e 5k times are getting seriously quick. You must be in sub 40 minute 10k shape by now
  • Victoria Park is the place for a quick 10k
  • NLR Thanks for the praise, and I am under 40 mins for a 10k by 49 whole English seconds.



  • i started parkrun at MK, as i live there, it is pretty i guess, but i am used to our town and lakes, so have nothing to compare it to, it is a bit hilly, so i guess not a true speed refelction of capability over 5k, unless you always run that course and can judge by the times, would deffo get a faster time on a flatter course than MK

  • camperdown park in dundee is a new tough one. two challenging hills and it takes me a minute longer than most routes. which is A LOT.

  • Poole is pancake flat - two laps of the boating lake & one round a cricket pitch.

  • Cardiff park run is flat and very fast
  • York is ridiculously flat. 1.5 laps of the racecourse. Very fast!


  • Edinburgh's fast - the men's course record is 14:31- it's a dead flat out and back but it's beside the sea so there can be issues with headwinds (I swear it's possible to have headwinds in both directions).
  • My local Parkrun is Swindon which is two laps round a relatively flat course. I have twice run the Falkirk Parkrun which was a big culture shock, little flat bit then climb for ages, drop back down to previous level and get suckered into false sense of security to realise that the hill just before the finish is called "Heartbreak Hill" for a reason. (Mind you I dont know how many others Parkruns have Heartbreak Hills , maybe it;s quite a common thing) The downhill bit just before the finish is very pleasant it has to be said.

  • My nearest is Brockwell, which has a couple of small inclines in it, but it's not too bad. The winners are regularly around 18mins there or abouts. There's Dulwich not too far away which is apparently pancakey, so during the summer i'll probably run the Brockwell ones for training, then "race" the Dulwich ones every month or so to guage how i'm progressing.

  • Good to hear that Agent Ginger, as I'm gonna give Dulwich a spin this week.The key for me is that it counts as a "5k" on power of 10, whereas a lot of the parkruns are either MT or NAD.

    MT I suppose you can at least count as a 5k time, but NAD, nearas dammit, is just plain pointless. Either measure it properly or stop it.

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