Go. Go next week. Seriously. Just go.
I am a little bit* of a parkrun** junkie. And a little bit of a parkrun tourist. I’m not obsessive by any stretch of the imagination*** but I have been known to enter races that give me an excuse to travel to a distant parkrun, am loathe to enter races which clash with parkrun, took my long-suffering husband on a romantic birthday long weekend to Iceland (to run a parkrun) and arrange my training programme around parkrun.
So when my training programme called for a 2 to 2 1/2 hour rolling trail run on a Saturday, I started looking for a parkrun which was extendable. Lacking imagination, I was about to settle on Richmond (again) when I had the idea of asking Twitter.
So. From an idle tweet came:
(a) a suggestion about a parkrun that would add to my different events tally;
(b) not one but two options for extending the run;
(c) the offer of a lift; and
(d) [in a separate conversation] a map of the Staunton Way.
How could I resist?
So this morning, I pottered on down to Havant to await Kiernan in his chariot****.
And then I ran one of the most beautiful parkruns I’ve had the pleasure of running. And trust me, there is stiff competition.
The course is … not flat. Nor is it on tarmac. So if flat road races are your thing, then this may not be the parkrun for you. If, on the other hand, you like a little bit of rolling trail and are partial to the odd tree and view over downland, then this could well be what you are looking for.
Kilometre 1 – up and down
The course starts partway up a hill and in the first kilometre you run a little way up, turn right at the marshals, run down a steep (but runnable) grassy slope and then bobble around a little.
Kilometre 2 – rolling
The bobbling continues for the second kilometre, up a bit, down a bit, up a bit, down a bit, and brings you past the finishing funnel and round a sharp bend to the bottom of the hill.
Kilometre 3 – up
The hill that goes up and up and up. The 1,150m of hill. The hill that is the whole of kilometre 3 and which makes you wonder if it will ever end. You run past the start, past the marshals who pointed you to the right for the first lap, flatten out a little, steepen up a bit and eventually see the welcome sight of the marshal pointing out the right hand turn for the second lap.
Kilometre 4 – doooooooown
A right hand turn that leads down and down and down and down and down. Down, in fact, for the whole of kilometre 4. Down in a lovely, runnable way that makes you forget the effort of kilometre 3 and realise that it was all worth it. Down in a way that makes you go wheeeeeeeeeeee! and remember just why it is that you run.
Kilometre 5 – rolling
And which brings you back to the rolling section of kilometres 1 and 2. Save something for this last kilometre. Or don’t, and just relax and enjoy the views. Either way, the finish will be along before you know it and you’ll be collecting your finishing token and wondering when you can run it again.
Of course, parkrun is not just about the course. It’s also about the people. So I would like to:
- say a huge thank you to Kiernan and James for suggesting QE parkrun, sending through a map of the Staunton way and offering me a lift;
- wish Del all the best in the South Downs Way 100 next weekend;
- wish Mr Stubbington Green (David or John) luck with his forthcoming Alpine Marathon;
- congratulate Katie for completing her first parkrun;
- appreciate the dedication of Lorna, who ran her first parkrun at the QE parkrun inaugural and has been back every week since. A parkrun passionista in the making?; and
- marvel at the parkrun record of James Baker, this week’s first finisher. He has run 18 parkruns, and has been first finisher at every one. Coo!
*Okay. A lottle bit.
**parkrun. It’s a name. As a courtesy, try spelling it the way that it’s registered on its birth certificate. parkrun. Not Parkrun or Park Run or ParkRun or pArkrun.
***This is a lie.
****I had checked out his credentials beforehand. Because accepting lifts from strangers is not always a sensible life choice.