This week, a guest report written by Mark Galpin who was visiting from Upton House parkrun.
After finding out that I have an extra day off this weekend I looked into going to a parkrun event not too far from home to make the most of this event. So this week I decided to visit Winchester. After a pleasant trip up the M27 and M3 I arrived at North Walls recreation ground for this week's run on a magnificently sunny morning in August.
As I am one of many of the parkrun Army why do you not give it a go? It is easy to be a volunteer and you are also able to gain yourself the coveted 25 parkrun t-shirt which you can only get by being a volunteer. It only takes a few minutes to do most jobs or to be a marshal if you happen to have an injury one week.
The information given at the First Timers briefing by Janet Haughton was very informative. I was paying attention to the details about seeing a fair amount of the first field, whilst doing a small loop and then the 2 full loops. We were also told to make sure that we kept clear of the cricket sight screens on our way around on the first lap.
With today being a pacer event I was determined to finish inside 30 minutes which I have done once before on my visit to Moors Valley so my intention was to finish before David Howells. When we set off it was all a bit of a zoo and I was unable to find my pacer to begin with although I eventually found him a little in front of me.
After the first turn I learnt that you have to keep your wits about you as you get clipped by the low branches from the trees that line the River Itchen. As I was told earlier about the sight screens I kept a good watch to make sure that I was not the in race entertainment!
Well with the first lap of the favoured field I started to enjoy my run and see whatever else came my way. At this point I passed the 3km sign for the first time and I was thinking it was going quickly today and after a turn to the right meant a little more branch dodging but more entertaining was trying not to be tripped up by the countless tree routes that show through the ground.
As we make our way around the larger field with a lovely trip down the River Itchen in the offing I hear a raucous racket on the top turn with the supremely cheerful Su Browning giving us a little bit of encouragement. I can understand why this young lady is placed as far from Winchester as possible as she was having a great party in the park giving some much appreciated encouragement. On this lap I stayed to the left of the tree but had quite a few slaps from low branches.
As we make our way down towards the leisure centre I have this feeling of giving in to temptation and joining a couple of the dogs that are happy to go for a refreshing paddle in the river. We now turn back to the bridge to make our way back to the first half of our run this morning and see the sign giving me hope my morning's efforts are nearly done but realize the 4km marker is for our next lap. As we carefully negotiate a couple of bikes I cross the bridge for the 2nd time knowing I'm half way through my run.
Around now I am having a quick look over my shoulder for the pacer I am trying to beat, he is safely behind me and I intend to keep it that way after having passed him in the first few turns. Any hope of being nearer the 28 minute pacer is well lost at this point. I continue on my journey when I get to the top corner the second time Su is still there giving us more cheer to which I replied she was expending more effort than I was and maybe doing the run might be a little less tiring.
As I make the turn for the final time from the Leisure centre I look back to see where the 30 minute pacer is and he's safely in my dust I get to the finish line with my quickest parkrun so far. Thank you to Helen Bonnor for assisting me in token sorting afterwards.
Here is a rundown of this morning's run:
Our final finisher this morning was Christine Brooker and it doesn't matter whether you do your 5km in the quickest time or the slowest all that matters is that you enjoy taking part. I am no Mo Farah either but I turn up most Saturday's when work allows.
We had 118 female and 204 male recorded runners today.
The first place finisher was Jamie Taylor in 17:40 (I was somewhere near the 3km marker at this time)
First Female runner was Karla Borland in 20:09 in 20th place overall (I was just short of Su Browning now)
We had 57 personal bests, 48 first time visitors to Winchester Parkrun, 15 First timers (well done to you all).
The dogs did well on the run and deserve extra credit in the heat of this morning.