Why are we paying to do a 5k race when we have a perfectly good 5k we can run for free every Saturday? That was a question a few parkrun regulars were asking as we gathered in Festival Place for the start of this unusual race. The reason we were prepared to pay was, I reckon the fact that it was a) local, b) reasonably priced and c) a bit of a laugh!
With a maximum of 200 runners, it was only two thirds of the size of Basingstoke parkrun and a larger, wider starting area meant that the start felt much less busy. We started level with the edge of Pizza Express and ran straight through the double doors into Festival Place shopping centre! We hared past Debenhams, Fat Race and Waterstones before making a u-turn outside M&S (and passing some lions) to come back past Next, H&M and BHS before leaving Festival Place via the bus station exit. After that I was, quite frankly, lost. I just followed the person ahead of me on what seemed to be a predominantly uphill slog. We went under some roads, and I just followed the excellent directions of the marshals. It was lovely to see marshals that I knew - and all the marshals were cheerful and encouraging.
It was surprisingly hot out there - for a race that started at 9am! I was glad of the shade as we came into Eastrop Park (which I know having run 5 laps of it dressed as Santa Claus! This race only called for one loop of the park and then back under another road and across the finish line near Nandos. As I did a u-turn under the ring road the marshal there informed me I was 6th lady! I knew 4 of the 5 ladies ahead of me, I knew exactly where the 5th lady was and knew I had no chance of catching her, but I had no idea where the 7th lady was, and I was not going to let her catch up with me! I knew by now that I wasn't on for a PB, but I wanted to try to run it in under 24 minutes - I managed this with 4 seconds to spare! And the 7th lady did not catch up with me! In fact I was 45th overall.
The goodie bag is excellent! It includes a voucher for half a chicken at Nandos - which probably means that I have pretty much got my entry fee back in free chicken. A nice medal, with a lovely purple ribbon (I am easily pleased!), plenty of water and bananas at the finish all made for a rather nice morning out!
Definitely a race I will do again next year.