This morning we set off for our first visit to Netley Abbey - a short trip along the M27 to a parkrun course we had planned to visit for sometime which promised much: sea views, a country park, woodland and heritage architecture and all on a sunny day.
Approaching the country park, we could see the streams of brightly clad runners and walkers making their way towards the assembly point in front of the imposing Victorian chapel. We were warmly welcomed by today's run director Claire Browne, and pointed in the direction of James Dunlop who delivered the first timer's briefing. James described the course and noted that marshal Gordon Symon's was celebrating a special birthday. Gordon was also marshalling for the 260th time. A remarkable achievement indeed. Congratulations and happy birthday!
First timer's briefing completed, we gathered near the start line. "3..2..1.." and we were off! The course lived up to its promise, and I really enjoyed the different landscapes and landmarks along the way. The path up to the wood with a gentle incline (less gentle third time around), the coolness of the wooded area, the nice slope downwards, the view of the chapel, the grassy paths, Florence Nightingale corner, the view of the sea, and repeat twice more. I struggled a bit today. Heat and a couple of over enthusiastic gym classes to blame I suspect, but the views and support of the marshals and fellow parkrunners more than made up it!
202 of us ran or walked today. First man home was first timer Paul Keating with a time of 18.01. First female finisher, was Southampton AC member, Anna Rebecca Walklate who returned home in 21:21. Top age graded scorer was Frances Lord with an age graded time of 80.74. Amazing!
37 people recorded a new personal best - well done to you all, particularly given the heat of today. Netley Abbey also welcomed 17 first timers of which 5 took part in their very first parkrun. Alistair Garmendia celebrated his 50th parkrun. Congratulations to you too!
Post parkrun, we joined a number of fellow parkrunners for tea and cake at the cafe, enjoying the sun and wondering why we'd not visited this gem of a parkrun before. One thing's for sure though, we'll be back for more, and not in the too distant future.