On Friday night, after having dinner at home, we drove down to Winchester (this took longer because it was hard to find out online if the M3 was closed- it was)- we’d booked a Premier Inn in the sale a while back- handily it was about 0.8 miles to the start of the parkrun, so that was my plan for the morning.
After Harrogate-gate (can you have a double gate?) I had checked and re-checked the map several times. The start was easier to find, as it was by a leisure centre, which in turn was close to the town centre.
I got there in plenty of time- I came across a couple of people setting out the markers, and then I had to walk through the car park (I saw lots of runners heading that way) to the actual start in the middle of a cricket field.
I loved their sign too- I have seen these at a few places (we just have a sign on a clipboard, although lots of people notice it).
I had time to wander around and look at the long finish funnel- the cones they use remind me of PE lessons at school, and Sports Day. I also chatted briefly to a first-timer who had decided to join up, and the tail runner who was reassuring all the new runners that they wouldn’t be left behind.
It was fairly chilly first thing (you could see your breath) but I took my long sleeved top off as I knew I would heat up as I started to run, and I wanted something warm to put on after. Andy was going to meet me in town so I messaged him and asked him to bring my raincoat as I thought I might want another layer.
The first timer briefing was great- the guy tried to explain the course (I had thought it was three laps, but it was more like two and a little bit repeated, although I read later on that it was a trial so maybe they were changing it a bit)- it sounded so complicated though as there are four fields that we would run around, doing hairpin bends to join the adjacent field, as well as running along by the river for a bit. Basically, the rule is “follow the person in front” as per usual.
At the start we were reminded to watch out for the “cricket things” (I have no idea what they are called either)- they had marshal standing by them as they are these huge white board things with legs sticking out on either side- you would not want to run into one of those.
I really enjoyed it. Even though it was busy (they broke their attendance record with 373 runners) apart from the first few metres it didn’t feel busy. The course was super flat, going around the edges of grassy fields- at a few points you had to watch your footing as there were roots growing out of the ground, and then you had a little bit on tarmac by the river.
There were some brilliant marshals, including one lady with pom-poms! I shall be stealing that idea and borrowing some from work for next time I am a marshal- it takes it to the next level.
Both feet off the ground!
They had a photographer out on course (all put on flicker) – he was at a few different places so managed to capture people at the start, at the mid way point and going for the finish.
I felt like I had gone fairly fast- I was overtaking people most of the way, but as I had started my watch at the hotel I wasn’t sure of the speed. I had to stop just short of the finish line as the queue was backing out onto the course.
It was still like that after I had scanned my token in- there were marshals and the RD trying to get people to move on, and they have posted on their facebook page that they are going to make the funnel longer for next week- they clearly weren’t expecting such a huge amount of people. I saw lots of people in the Southampton 10k and half t-shirts- I am sure there was a marathon too but I didn’t see any of those. Anyway, someone else commented that maybe it was the “marathon effect”- eg people see London on TV and decide to sign up to parkrun. It’s all good, whatever the reasons.
One marshal saw my orange top and asked me how I had found it. I really liked it. I think as it wasn’t straight laps- they were complicated- it added more interest. I also didn’t get lapped- I thought I would, but I think because you did 2 big laps and then one smaller one (or something) it meant I was past the finish line before the speedy ones came in.
It felt very Southern-English, with the cricket stuff going on, and a sort of village green feel. It was nice and flat, but varied scenery added to the interest.
Time for a quick photo before heading into town.
That was my 18th UK parkrun, and I managed to finish in 27.14- pretty quick for me.
Then, not my finest hour. I had messaged Andy and he was already in the Starbucks waiting to get breakfast. I looked at my phone, saw where the town was (I had passed the turning on my way to the park) and headed that way. It was all going fine, but I got to the main high street and could not see Starbucks. I could see a Pret, a Nerro, even a Costa, and I had started mumbling to myself about why wasn’t he in Pret. I got up maps on my phone, and tried to follow the dot, but whichever way I went I seemed to be getting further away. I messaged Andy to say I was lost, and then noticed that on the map the Starbucks was opposite Whittards- I had been stood outside Whittards as I messaged him. So I walked back down, and yes, Starbucks was pretty much right where I was when I messaged to say I was lost. Ooops. parkrun tourism is making me work harder at using maps, but I am still not great!
We had a little wander around Winchester- it seemed a really nice place- nice and small but with some good little shops.
Then it was a quick walk back to the hotel for me to shower as we were then off to Southampton.
What are those cricket things called? Did you do any racing this weekend or last? Do you know people taking up running or joining up to parkruns?