Saturday, 23 July 2016

parkrun de Mandavit

It has been a while since I've run a parkrun.  School events, travel arrangements and races on Saturdays have conspired against me being on the start line at 9am.  The last week has seen me getting up at sparrow fart in an attempt to get something resembling a run done before the weather became too oven like (it hit 107F here on Wednesday).  I've 'run' slowly, with that nagging sense that I'd never be able to run fast again.  It is rather hilly around Saussignac so that might be part of the reason.

Today we got up early, and were in the car by 7am for an hour and a half drive to Bordeaux.  parkrun de Mandavit had been chosen as our destination as the course description sounded more picturesque than the other Bordeaux based parkrun.  We found the car park easily, arriving with plenty of time to spare, asked some men in running attire if we were in the right place for parkrun and they pointed us in the right direction, with mutters about 'the mad English!'  Off we trotted towards the start..... it was 8.45am and there was none of the normal pre parkrun hustle and bustle to be seen.  Were we in the right place?  We trotted off for a little look around, and found some parkrun arrows... but nothing that looked like a start.  We found other parkrunners though... which was as much help as a chocolate teapot as they were also here on holiday too (from Alice Holt, Conkers and Rushmore parkrun amongst others) and were as clueless as we were.  And then, at about 8.55am, a flag and a run briefing.  The run briefing was done in English as the majority of the runners were English, with a very quick check that the French runners knew what they were doing.

And then, after a count down (in English!) we were off.  Two laps through the park, mainly in woodland, mostly on dusty trail paths with the odd tree root to avoid, just a short stretch of tarmac.  Some how the course seemed to be predominantly downhill.  I don't remember running up hill at all, although I kept thinking 'I must hold something back as we are going to have to go up again at some point.'   There was a little bridge that meant I had to slow down to a walk (because I am a chicken about bridges at the best of times and this one was a glorrified plank), but other than that and a missed turning at one point it was quite straightforward.

With only 28 runners there were long periods of time when I was running on my own, but there were lots of other runners in the park.  As I puffed by on my second lap, regretting setting off too fast and desperately trying to hold on to my position as first woman with no idea how close the second lady was, one French gentleman said (in English) 'You can do it!  I am 58 and I can run!'  I struggled with my school girl French to tell him that I have 5 children and I am exhausted!

I did hold on to that first woman place (by 18 seconds), despite coming around the building where I expected to find the finish funnel only to see that it was a lot further to go than I thought.  Husbando, who finished 6 places ahead of me, shouted 'Get a move on, she's catching you!'  which meant that I pushed a bit harder and thought I might just collapse on crossing the line!

At the finish, there was free coffee and BN biscuits.  A bit of chat with the organisers, visitors and some of the local participants and the volunteers followed before we went into Bordeaux for some touristy sightseeing.

It is a real shame that more locals don't take part.  There were loads of runners using the park, but not park running (only 6 of today's participants had run at parkrun de Mandavit before).  Is parkrun seen as something quirkily English?  I don't know, but hopefully more and more will start to take part.

Facilities in the park: convenient free parking (at least I hope it was free, I didn't pay!) remember to remove bikes from the roof though! There is one loo - but it is one of those nice 'self cleaning' ones, so worth waiting for the queue to go down.  There is a typical French pissoise on the other side of the loo building - but I didn't investigate that!

Thank you to the organisers for a great parkrun - I hope that this lovely venue goes from strength to strength!

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