It has been another rather sociable weekend.
It kicked off with the inaugural Horsham parkrun, the 100th different event (or Cowell Club run) for uber-tourist Rosemary Egbe. Combine the words inaugural and Cowell Club and pick a location within spitting distance of London, and you can imagine the scene. There were tourists as far as the eye could see. In fact, by my reckoning, of the 366 runners who were there, 53 were on the most events table at the start of the run, and another 4 joined the table as a result of the run.
Which is not to say that tourists were the only people there. 105 of the runners were running their very first parkrun and another 48 were members of running clubs with “Horsham” in the name. This is a parkrun which looks as though it will have a huge amount of local support, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if its week 2 numbers near 200.
So what’s the course like? Well the course description mentions a number of uphill sections, but if you’ve ever run at Tilgate (the parkrun that’s closest by) you will run around the course thinking “Where are these hills?”. It isn’t pancake flat by any stretch of the imagination, but with just 128 feet of climb spread evenly over three miles (compared to Tilgate’s 263 feet of climb crammed into the middle mile), you’ll be forgiven for wondering whether it even merits the term undulating.
Underfoot is a mixture of tarmac, grass and trail, and there are one or two uneven sections (I have a niggle at the moment that dislikes anything other than perfectly flat tarmac, so I was very aware of these). However, given that the first finisher managed to clock up a time of under 16 minutes (I was lapped before the end of lap one, unusual on a three-lap course), the mix of surfaces is no bar to a speedy time.
The finish is in a nice, open section of the park with lots of space for people to stand around and chat, and there is a great little café within the park where you can spend a happy hour or two catching up with old friends. Which I did.
My plan for Sunday was for a solo jaunt around Richmond Park, but on Saturday evening, my club put out a call for someone to step into a relay team for the Surrey Road Relays. Hmmmm. 10 miles by myself or 3 miles with people? 10 miles easy or 3 miles all out? I dithered for a while and then decided to let fate decide by offering to run if no-one else stepped forward. At 9:30am on Sunday morning, when no-one else had shown willing, my fate was sealed. 3 miles* all out it was.
I don’t get to club sessions all that often and would be quite a long way down the list of all-time-most-dedicated-Windmilers**, but in the three years that I’ve been a member, I have managed to put a fair number of names to faces. Add to them the runners from other clubs that I know through parkrun tourism and something that was really quite intimidating when I took part 2 years ago has suddenly become really rather sociable. So much so, in fact, that I was so busy talking at the end that I almost missed my name being called out. It turns out that our VW35 team won bronze*** in our category.
*2.9 miles. This course was not designed by a compulsive rounder-upper.
**Okay. I’d probably be right at the bottom of the list of all-time-most-dedicated-Windmilers. But at least I’m on the list.
***And yes, there were more than three teams running. Though we did, in fact, come 4th out of 6 teams, and earned the Bronze due to my new favourite rule which says that each running club can only take away one medal from each category.