The GinRunners are massive fans of the whole parkrun ethos. Inclusive, fun and rewarding they’re a great reason to drag yourself out of bed on a Saturday morning. The next logical step is, obviously, parkrun tourism. Yes, it’s a thing. And what better place to tourist than the Fort William parkrun, held in a stunning setting in the shadow of Ben Nevis.
The town of Fort William itself isn’t the most welcoming placed for camper vans we found. Lots of dedicated parking spaces for them, which is good. Also lots of “no overnight parking” signs, which is f’kin stupid.
Fortunately you don’t have to head far out of time to find somewhere to park up for the night. Using the excellent Park4Night app we ended up at the North Face car park, about 5 minutes out of town and not far from the NevisRange where the parkrun itself took place.
Actually, it’s worth noting that there is a nice walk / run / cycle path from the North Face car part straight to NevisRange. If you’re feeling particularly energetic.
Home on the NevisRange.
We arrived at the massive NevisRange pay and display carpark. It’s not expensive but we were told there was no need to pay if we were just there for the parkrun. It wasn’t exactly peak season, or busy at 9am, but I suppose the parking enforcement changes when it’s worth their while.
We joined a small but hardy bunch at the start for Race Director Jim’s traditional parkrun briefing-cum-pep talk. The assembled runners included locals, regulars, tourists and a bona-fide Paralympian.
We saw the back of his head as he shot off into the distance at the word “go”.
The first part of the course is a longish download on a nice track. We were taking it easy and enjoying the scenery. One of us was also trying to master the art of taking photos while running.
There’s an inevitable dropping of the phone going to happen at some point…
Under the boardwalk.
After a while you turn off the track and onto some proper trail. Here things get all sorts of awesome as you run down through the trees towards the river.
This is also where you hit the boardwalk which is covered in chicken wire for grip, but still needs to be negotiated with care.
If anyone is going to stand on the only loose plank on the whole thing it’s going to be one of us though. Photographer missed it 😉
The boardwalk section gives way to an undulating-but-upwards section of nigh on perfect trail as you wind your way through the trees. This has got to be one of the nicest bits of any parkrun anywhere and it’s over too soon as you emerge from the woods at Aidan’s post.
You’ll know it when you get there.
The route then follows more trail until you rejoin the outward path and head back down to the start/finish line where Eno less than the chairman of the local athletics club was issuing the timing chips.
It’s a good ‘un
Fort William parkrun is DEFINITELY our favourite so far. They’re a friendly bunch and the fact you’re running actual mountain trails gives it extra cool-points over most others. As we convened for coffee and a very healthy donut in the Pinemarten Cafe we’d totally fallen for this wee Fort William parkrun and everyone who’d given up their time so it could happen. They’ve been going for 22 weeks now, and we can only see it getting bigger as the word spreads.
Running, and parkruns in particular, are about getting out and enjoying yourself. What’s more enjoyable that running mountain trails with like minded individuals ??
Nothing. That’s what.