Having been a parkrun tourist for quite some time now, there have been a cluster of parkruns I’ve wanted to ‘strike off’ for a good number of months, all lying in a concentrated area within the boundaries of Brighton city centre.
During the past few weeks, including today, I’ve completed three of the five Brighton based parkruns, leaving just two to fulfil, Preston Park and East Brighton. On January 19th, my fellow tourist, Matthew HANLON, and I visited Bevendean Down, where I achieved my best ever finishing place of 4th, along with my second ever 1st in age category. Last weekend, another fellow tourist, Neil GODDARD, joined me to visit Hove Promenade, so it only seemed right to visit Brighton and Hove this morning.
Unfortunately, Matthew couldn’t make it so it was with Neil that I set off from the Havant area at around 07:20, to make sure we arrived in good time at Hove Park.
Today’s trip, despite there being no post code stated on the official Brighton and Hove parkrun website, was stress-free, with a journey time of about an hour. There were ample places to park along Goldstone Crescent, all of which allow three hours of parking with no return in an hour. We headed towards to the Park, safe in the knowledge we’d be finished within the requisite three hours. For peace of mind, we asked several people whether we were in the right spot. Reassured, we made our way down to the start and did the usual half a mile warm-up along some of the course. Every single marshal we came in to contact with was exceptionally helpful and friendly. We quickly realised that their years of experience showed, after all, Brighton and Hove parkrun was the sixth ever parkrun to start. Today was their 593th event with slightly spooky 493 participants —if only it had been 593 participants! More about spookiness later...
Hove Park, where Brighton and Hove parkrun is held, is a public park covering 40 acres.
Facilities within the park include a fenced-off playground, a football pitch, a basketball court, a climbing boulder and several tennis courts. A paved path, approximately 1.89km in length, is the main route of the parkrun and is often used by walkers, dog walkers and runners, outside of the free, weekly, timed 5km parkrun which takes place every Saturday at 09:00. There are also several paved paths that traverse sections of the park at various points, one of which, affectionately known as, ‘Wiggly Path to Finish Go Go Go’, is part of the first smaller loop of the parkrun.
In addition to some of the interesting facts I’ve already mentioned; Premier League’s Brighton and Hove Albion’s traditional home, the Goldstone Ground, once stood on Old Shoreham Road, opposite Hove Park, up until being demolished in the late 1990s. Its two biggest claims to fame (if you’re a general sports fan) was that on the 23rd September 1992, David Beckham made his professional début, coming on as a substitute for Manchester United in a League Cup second round tie. The other claim is that the ground hosted some of the football matches for the 1948 Olympic Games.
In the southwest corner of Hove Park lies a rock called The Goldstone (hence the name of Brighton and Hove Albion’s former football ground). Legend has it that the devil threw the 20-ton rock there while excavating Devil’s Dyke, a 100m deep V-shaped valley on the South Downs Way. Towards the north of the Park is a sculpture by environmentalist artist, Chris Drury, called
Fingermaze; a labyrinth-like design based on a fingerprint which consists of stones set into the turf. By now, you’re probably thinking how can so much be crammed into what would appear to be a small space? The answer? Everything within is brilliantly set out... I may as well quickly mention the 2,000ft long miniature railway which operates on occasional weekends and bank holidays throughout spring, summer and autumn, which is run by the Brighton and Hove Society of Miniature Locomotive Engineers!
On to today’s parkrun... I’ve already mentioned it was event #593 and that 493 people ran,
jogged or walked the course, and what a fantastic course it is. It ‘flows’ throughout the course, no sharp turns, no out and backs and it has plenty of space to accommodate a high volume of runners. Many of today’s 33 volunteers braved the remnants of Storm Erik, encouraging everyone who was taking part. It’s always essential to thank every single one of them, after all, some are forsaking a run for our benefit. Despite the fact that many parkrunners within the month of January may well have been sticking to a New Year’s Resolution, today’s parkrun still saw 49 first timers, 16 of which were running
their first ever parkrun. That’s a phenomenal figure for this time of year, so a huge well done and welcome to the parkrun family!
Statistics today saw Adam Oliver WHITMEE cross the line as first male finisher in a time of 17:50, recording a new PB in the process. Bethan MALE was first female finisher, also gaining a new PB in a time of 19:43, so a massive well done to the both of you. Huge congratulations go to both Kevin WALKER and Gordon LUNAN for hitting the 50 parkruns milestone. For any of you who have begun to stalk my run reports, you’ll know that I always include other notable finish times, so here they are... Mark STEPHENSON finished in a perfectly rounded 22:22, whereas Zoe OAKMAN finished in an aesthetically pleasing 29:29 as did Natasha WALKER in 34:34 and Yao HU in 48:48. There were a handful of palindromic finish times too... both Alexandra SUTTON and John ELBOURNE in 30:03 and Richard A CARTER in 34:43.
Once Neil and I had finished our spot of tourism, we headed off to Hove Park Café for a hot drink. It has to be the trendiest post-parkrun café I’ve ever visited... even though I have experienced ‘The Bevy’, an excellent community-run pub which has become part of the Bevendean Down parkrun culture in Brighton. Hove Park Café serves a huge array of sweet and savoury snacks, a plethora of hot drinks and a multitude of healthy alternative food, including (so as not to be gender specific) gingerbread people. I must also mention the the fantastic plastic figure of Godzilla devouring a felt-made Pink Panther, which stands on top of the counters as you walk in, coupled with the magnificent helping of ambient dance music pounding within the café.
Finally, I mentioned spooky earlier... and a lot of today’s statistics, particularly mine, were
spooky... today was my 69th different event... there were 69 PBs recorded at today’s parkrun. Last week, at Hove Promenade, I finished in a time of 23:23, in 85th place overall and was 10th in my age category. Today, I finished in a time of 23:22, in 84th place and was 9th in my age category. You may have suggested that I should have bought at least one Lottery ticket tonight. I would have done, only I wanted to write this Run Report, so I’ll never know whether my spooky luck would have continued!