Saturday, 8 September 2018

Heartwood Forest parkrun

It has been an exhausting week!  The first week of term is always tiring but it is especially so when one is at a new school.  You might have thought that I would value a lie in on Saturday morning and that I'd choose a parkrun close to home rather than choose to travel for over an hour and a quarter, but this mad parkrunner chose to get up at exactly the same time as on a school day.  Why?  Because I wanted to run Heartwood Forest parkrun before it ceases to exist (in its current form) on 6th October this year.  I arranged to travel over there with friends and we wondered, as we drove, how many runners from Basingstoke we would bump into this week!

Heartwood Forest parkrun has been running (no pun intended) since July 2017 and is located Forest, this is a huge new forest which includes pockets of ancient woodland and wildflower meadows.  It us gently undulating and has some lovely views.  I suspect that the decision to stop parkrun at this venue is so that the forest can become properly established without the regular influx of parkrunners every week!

Love this sign!
Being bad parkrun tourists we hadn't read the course page properly.  To be honest, after the week I'd had I was struggling to remember the name of the parkrun we were heading towards, so was utterly reliant on my travel companions.  We hadn't noted the instruction that parkrunners were not allowed to park at the start, but should have parked in the village hall.  As we thought we might be cutting it fine we parked on a side road and walked to the start.  Had we read the information properly I'd have known that there were loos at the village hall, this would have been very welcome knowledge as I'd enjoyed a delicious curry on Friday evening.....  We walked to start area in drizzle.  

As we approached the start it was obvious that we were not the only people making an effort to complete this parkrun while they still could.  The new runners' briefing seemed to have almost as many people as the run brief.  

The start was uphill, and I started near the back of the group but at least it had stopped raining.  It wasn't a steep hill, but is went of for quite a long time.  We ran on a mixture of hard packed gravel paths and grass.  That grass would probably become mud pretty quickly in the winter. After running up hill, there was a gloriously long, gentle downhill.  I relaxed into the down hill, lengthened my stride and overtook a fair few people.  I do love a downhill!  As it was a two lap course, we got to do the up hill and down hill all over again, this was fine as it meant we got to see all the sculptures of animals again, I got to overtake people on the uphill (that virtually never happens) and I managed to grab a photo of a wooden arch that we ran through twice.    

The approach to the finish was at the end of the long downhill, which made for a fast finish - although I misjudged the final turn somewhat as I was concentrating on overtaking someone and nearly missed the finish funnel!  I finished 60th overall, 6th lady and 1st in my age category.  My time of 24.52 represent the first time I have seen 24 at the start of a parkrun result since April!

Once I'd got my breath back, had my barcode scanned, chatted to a few people I knew, and one who recognised me from last week's Dinton Pastures parkrun and the old 'the parkrun show' we made our way into Sandridge Village to find the Heartwood Tea Room.  For once we hadn't bumped into any other runners from Basingstoke parkrun.   The Tea Room was tiny, but managed to accommodate a surprising number of people.  I enjoyed a cup of tea, while my friends tucked in to bacon sandwiches.  The food looked excellent - the scrambled eggs in particular looked fabulous and as though you could feed a family of four from one portion!  It occurred to me that the cafe will miss parkrun when it stops, and  the locals we met said that they thought it was a shame that it was stopping.  I believe that the event's core team is looking for alternative venues - I hope they find one soon!

Thank you to all the marshals and volunteers.  You were all so helpful and friendly, the course is delightful and I wish I could come back to see if I could improve on my time.  



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