Medina IOW parkrun- the parkrun with the most courses?

For the Easter weekend we were off to the Isle of Wight, and hooray, there is one parkrun on the Isle of Wight (Medina IOW), so guess where I’d be on the Saturday morning!

Now, Medina IOW is known for being a bit rogue as they seem to have many locations and many courses. I did email the team to check, as they are not that active on facebook, and it says to check the news page for the current location but I could not see anything referring to it on the course page. The team were very helpful at replying, telling me that the current course page was correct. It definitely was correct for the location, but see below for what I thought I was running:

And then compare it to what I actually ran:

Slightly different! I did think it was strange that there was no mention of a second lap in the first timers welcome, but then I thought I must have remembered the course wrong.

Anyway, back to Friday- parkrun preparation included eating lots of delicious vegan food in Cafe Thrive (in Southampton), having a walk around the park while Andy was at football, and then getting the ferry over on the Friday night. I know some people would do the trip in the morning but I would be quite stressed by that, plus you had to be at the ferry terminal an hour before, and it then takes an hour, so that’s an early start.

Delicious salad for lunch, hot cross bun cookies, chai latte and a magnolia in the sunshine

The Isle of Wight is pretty small, so although our hotel was on the south of the island, and the parkrun was back where the ferry docked, it was only around a 20 minute journey in the morning. Andy came with me as we had our eye on a breakfast place after, close to the parkrun start.

Finding the parkrun signs is always a bonus! The briefing area by the leisure centre, the purple pop up and a tree covered in blossom by the finish area.

It was such a beautiful spring day with beautiful blue skies. I ran through the park and was happy to find arrows and the finish area quickly, but everyone seemed to be heading up to the leisure centre, and this was where the first timers welcome and main run briefing were held before walking to the start. The main briefing was a long one, with the ED playing a song from the olympics over a tannoy to inspire everyone with their run, and then there were many thanks and milestones and other arbitrary things. By the time we had walked to the start line it was nearly 9:10 so messaged Andy to let him know we were about to start, as I thought he would wonder otherwise, (although he had no phone reception so he didn’t even get my message).

The route started with a lap of the field, before heading along the river for an out and back section, and then retracing your steps around the field again. It was pretty flat, but the section by the river had very uneven ground (which we were warned about in the briefing)- the path had been created with the hexagonal plastic grid sheeting, and filled with gravel, only most of the gravel was gone so you were running on the edges of the sheeting, and it had cracked in places so you had to look carefully at all times to check your footing. I would have preferred to have my trail shoes on as they have thicker soles so are easier on ground like this.

The out and back section was narrow and we had to keep to one side as other runners were already heading back. Once the tail walker had passed it was OK to overtake runners when needed, but it was a busy course, a bit like Maidstone where you feel like it should be fast because it’s flat, but it isn’t really because of the number of people. I did like that it had such a welcoming atmosphere and lots and lots of walkers as well as runners. As it was the Easter weekend, lots of the volunteers had various Easter hats or bunny ears on and we were even offered sweets at the finish line.

After the standard purple pop up selfie attempt, when someone usually takes pity on me and offers to take my photo, I walked back to the leisure centre to get my jacket from the tarpaulin of trust, and then walked back through the park to meet up with Andy and to get some breakfast. Although he hadn’t got my message, he realised that he hadn’t seen any runners go past for a while so had worked out it had started late.

So that was my 110th different parkrun course, and 352nd parkrun overall. It was very enjoyable and if I ever decide to work on all the parkruns in Hampshire (Champshire?) then I have one of the more difficult to get to ones ticked off.

Acai bowl, the port, pancakes and a Mermaid matcha

We went to Peach Cafe in Newport- a vegan cafe with lots of delicious options and amazing looking cakes on display. We shared an acai bowl and pancakes topped with scrambled tofu and smoked coconut (I think meant to imitate bacon), plus a matcha and some tea. I was very excited to see that they served Bird and Blend matcha- especially Mermaid matcha which has been discontinued. It was really good, but it was fairly slow service and I was sitting there staring at the pastries the whole time, so I ended up buying a chocolate hazelnut croissant to have later- maybe that’s their tactic?

Views of the coast, posing by the needles, NT tearoom and more coastal scenes

The weather was beautiful so we headed over to The Needles (along with everyone else- we sat in a queue for the car park for around 45 minutes)- we enjoyed a long walk along the coast and up to the lighthouse and were very excited to find a National Trust tearoom still open as we hadn’t had lunch. They were doing hot cross bun scones (their fruit scones are vegan and the guy checked and these ones were too) so of course we had to get those.

We stayed until the Monday so it was good to make the most of going there and seeing lots of the island, which is definitely my preferred way of parkrun touristing- I’d like to be somewhere that happens to have a parkrun, or go to a parkrun and then spend time there seeing what else is there. I think we definitely visited most of the vegan cafes on the IOW while we were there!

Does your local parkrun have different courses? St Albans is trialling a new one at the moment as the lake is so often flooded, and Panshanger has a “cow” course for when the cows are in one of the fields, but both of these start at the same place as the regular courses do.

Gladstone parkrun- parkwalking

My friend Branka was keen to do Gladstone parkrun, and when I looked at the route and saw all the photos, it was added to my list too as it is in a very pretty park.

The day we chose to go was the day before I was running a 10 mile race, and Branka was going to parkwalk, so I decided to volunteer as parkwalker as well so we could walk together (and I could not be tempted to run the day before a race).

I am not sure if anyone had done that role there before- it wasn’t on the roster for the weeks before and I couldn’t see any photos on their facebook page for example, and it did take a bit of emailing to hear back from the team.

We arrived nice and early to am empty park, and ended up chatting to a couple of tourists for a little bit, as they had on some With Me Now gear too. Once the event team turned up, we got our bibs, and then I had a rather disappointing conversation with a marshal, who said to me “you’re not going to walk really slowly are you?” She continued to be negative about walking at parkrun, basically saying it was ridiculous that people were walking and not running, and that if people wanted to walk they should go to one of the health walks held on other days in the park, and that if people were walking to get fit they needed to walk quickly. I said something to her about how parkrun are encouraging walkers, but she then decided to walk to her marshal point so the conversation ended then. The RD was really welcoming, and I didn’t want to bother him with that issue at the time as he was very busy sorting out everything to make the event run smoothly. It did really surprise me, and I think if I was new to parkrun it would put me off. I have been going long enough and have enough confidence with it to know that I can walk, but I could see how one comment like that would put off someone from ever returning.

The first timers welcome continued in that theme a little, with the person telling us about how they have some of the fastest buggy runners, and VI runners, mentioning a few records, and then the main briefing was super quick before we started.

The park is really pretty, with lots of lovely tree tunnels, views of the Wembley arch, various art instillations and memorials. We had a lovely time walking together, and were not the only ones walking. On the second lap we chatted to one of the marshals who wanted to know about the bibs we were wearing. She said she had an injury and couldn’t run, but would like to walk, so we encouraged her to volunteer as a parkwalker- hopefully she will on future occasions.

There were a few marshals still out on the second lap, but also some of them had gone- we could see a few up ahead and had to follow them, and work out where we were. It isn’t the easiest course as you can see above- a sort of butterfly shape but there were plenty of path intersections to cross. We were ahead of the tail walker the whole time, so this wasn’t good as the marshals shouldn’t stand down until the tail walker has passed.

Even when we finished there was still no sign of the purple pop up, so we had selfies in our parkwalker bibs and then one by the Gladstone park sign instead.

An enjoyable 109th different event, and definitely a memorable one!

Selfies without the purple pop up to prove we were there!

I did enjoy the course- it was undulating and would be tough to run, but none of the paths seemed super steep and none of the hills went on for too long. I did email parkrun HQ about some of the issues so they said they would contact the team.

Breakfast catching up on the live t-shirt reveal, my new giant cup and a picture of the parkwalker bib from Gladstone facebook page (my collage cropped me out but I am there!)

Once home I watched With Me Now live as they unveiled the new v1000 t-shirt (a With Me Now yellow colour!), having tea in my newest DLP purchase, the biggest cup ever!

Visiting B&B, pizza for dinner, mega latte and the Moonwalkers

Then we were off to London for the afternoon, to visit Bird and Blend (a vegan creme egg mega latte was mine!), but mainly to go to The Moonwalkers, a brilliant show/ experience about all the people who have walked on the moon, narrated and produced by Tom Hanks.

Do you walk at parkrun? Have you been a parkwalker?