About six months ago I answered a request for people to help set up a new parkrun. It was all very exciting, planning new routes, meeting new people, setting up new Facebook pages and so on. Sadly, due to work and home commitments, I couldn't play as active a part in the event team as I would have liked, but I still kept up to date with what was going on (as I have admin rights on the Facebook page!) and was thrilled to hear that the event was starting today.
I'd run a couple of the proposed routes with Martin Bushell (event director) and other members of the team back in June, but I hadn't even looked to see where the official route would take us. Alice Holt is far from flat, so I knew we would be in for an interesting run.
This is now my nearest parkrun, being about 4 miles up the road from me, this meant that I could have a little bit of a lie in this morning, getting up at ten past seven rather than seven o'clock! I chivied the two younger boys into their shorts and trainers, drank a quick cup of tea, transferred my Alice Holt parking ticket from one car to another, checked I had all the barcodes and bundled the children into the car. Finding a parking place at 8.30am is not going to be a problem at this venue - there are vast pay and display car parks. Canny locals tell me that there are free car parks a short walk away, but I'm far too lazy for that!
It was lovely to see so many friendly faces at the start. There were regulars there from Basingstoke and Frimley Lodge parkruns, Chineham Park Running Club had a huge presence on the day, and I spotted several people from the online running community that is Fetcheveryone. parkrun royalty was represented by Paul Sinton-Hewitt (it is his fault we are all up early running round parks in the first place) and Danny Norman (of 'The parkrun show' fame). Event director Martin welcomed us all to the forest and did the first of many very successful pre-run briefings. If he was nervous it didn't show!
And then we were off! The start is nice and wide, with a gentle downhill slope for the first couple of hundred metres. 'Not so fast Freddy' and I fell into step (for a little while) beside a lady with a 50 club t shirt on and we ran and chatted for a while. We talked about various things running related, and she mentioned that she runs round marathons counting them out in parkruns. 'That's odd,' I said, 'There was a lady on the parkrun show the week before last who said the same thing!' 'That's because that lady was me!' said Louise Ayling!
The two lap course is lovely, very up and down, but the hills are quite short so you don't notice them too much! It is a beautiful place to run and I reckon the changing seasons will provide plenty of wonderful scenery.
It was wet and quite slippery today, Freddy went flying at one point fairly early on, covering his 10 club t-shirt in thick mud. Strangely (!) he was quite grumpy about the whole thing after that and I really had to cajole/bully/threaten/bribe him round. On the plus side this did give me time to chat with the wonderful marshals and to take photos! Another advantage is that if I run it on my own I will easily get a PB! My other son had run on ahead of us.
We were only lapped by one person, I do hate being lapped, but was gracious and cheered Danny on! Danny in turn encouraged Freddy as he passed us (again) on his warm down lap! I don't think this will ever be a very fast 5k course, even in dry conditions as it is quite undulating with a lot of uneven ground (which was quite 'challenging' for my dodgy foot), but is it a fun course with lots of twists and turns.
Coffee afterwards at The Cafe on The Green was very welcome on a chilly morning. Lots of chance to socialise, eat cake, discuss the route, eat cake, talk about other parkruns and eat cake. Actually, the boys both had the 'woodsman breakfast' which was good value at £4.95 each and looked delicious. The coffee was good too!
My middle child is planning to do his ESB exam talk about parkrun this year, and was keen to get pictures of all four club T-shirts (and their wearers!) in one place. Danny (250), Nicola (100),Freddy (10) and an as yet unknown member of the 100 club obliged. I am very grateful, as is he!
So, will I change my home parkrun? Probably not, but I will try to run my local parkrun on a regular basis. I have one son who loved Alice Holt and one who swears he will never run it again (that'll be because he fell over!) but will happily volunteer! So to keep everyone, including me, happy (I like a shopping fix after my B'stoke parkrun as well as a gossip with my B'stoke parkrun family) it looks as though we will be visiting Alice Holt occasionally. If any of my running buddies wants to visit Alice Holt parkrun I am more than happy to meet you there!