Melanie’s Run Report

Alice Holt Run Report (the special one) #377

Alice Holt is a 2-lap multi-terrain course comprised of woodland trails and cycle paths. Its pretty undulating too and unless you are feeling 100% you are gonna struggle on the ups and when I mean ups I mean hilly. These are mainly in the second half and one ‘blaster’ just before the end which really sucked the energy outta me before the final finish shute. That having been said there are several affirmation boards like Pause & Learn to distract you on your way so you can ‘pause’ and really soak up the atmosphere and forestry after doing the lung busting downs and killer up hills.
As much as I enjoyed ‘the route’ it was definitely an “off day” for me as I unusually struggled to get round the course but was determined to do it nonetheless as it was a special one. For those with the 5k App may has noticed there is a Fibonacci Sequence of numbers which correspond to certain Parkrun Event ‘days’ and today was an important one as it was #377 which is the penultimate sequence on the Fibonacci Code! more info here:
Finally we were advised that parking was £2:00 till 10:30 alas I wish more like £3:00 for 1 hour weekends but if you wanna spend a day and go for a walk after the run the price hike is quite considerable. But that's another story for another time. Alice Holt are a friendly bunch and they got the finish tokens down to a t. So my verdict 9/10 for course & volunteers I shall be back just can’t say when!

Milestones, smile-stones, it’s-been-a-while-stones

Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the founder of parkrun, has said that, whenever he visits a parkrun, he looks for the t-shirts – for the milestone runners, walkers and volunteers who have earned their white, red, black, green, blue and mauve insignia.

And so, while parkrun briefings are kept short and there can be no milestone mentions, we thought it would be an idea to celebrate those who have reached such a point in the last four weeks. After all, you’ve probably been waiting a while to get there!

(I have included non-t-shirt milestones, as I think you all deserve it! And I hope that I have identified everyone, but huge apologies if I have missed you.)

On 24th July, Jackie Smith ran her 50th parkrun. Jackie has run 48 of her (now) 51 parkruns at Alice Holt.

On 31st July, Christopher Millard, Paul Naish and David Harvey all did their 50th, Andrew Danson ran his 200th, and Annette Davies ran her 250th. Christopher has completed 48 of his 50 at Alice Holt; Paul has done 49 of 50 here; David 34 of 51; Andrew 171 of his 203; and Annette, wife of occasional Run Director Dan (349 parkruns) and mother of Carys (202) and Oscar (246), has run 161 of her 252 at Alice Holt! Come on, guys, show a bit of commitment!!

Annette was on 249 for over 16 months!

On 7th August, Marlon Driver ran his 150th parkrun, running 45 of his 151 here.

And on 14th August, Daniel Clayton, who is a JM10, ran his 50th parkrun, 41 of those at Alice Holt, with a best time of 29:23. Great work, young man!

David Johnston ran his 100th parkrun that day with 93 coming at Alice Holt. Dave Dring ran his 150th, 131 of those here. Terry Steadman ran his 200th with 182 of those coming at Alice Holt.

Also on that day, Gabriella Till ran her 250th with 157 of those coming at Alice Holt. I have a little inside knowledge here, and so I can pay tribute to the dedication that she, like so many young parkrunners, has shown – foregoing a student’s traditional Saturday morning lie-in to schlepp across Bath to run – as well as performing the New Year’s Day Double for seven consecutive years!

And Nick Whishaw did his 300th run, with 236 of those coming here. A familiar figure at Alice Holt, Nick is known for his genial, urbane presence and, more disconcertingly, his whoops of delight when tackling Dragon Hill!

The dedication implicit in these achievements speaks for itself. Very well done, everyone!


parkrun – restarted, rethought, reclad, resonant

by Steve Till

When we crossed the finish line of Alice Holt parkrun on 14 th March 2020, little did we think that it would be 16 long months before we could do so again. The storm at 5 o’clock on Saturday morning even made some fear that our scheduled 24th July return might be delayed further, but the thunder and lightning turned out really to be God’s celebratory drumroll and strobe effects, to usher in the restart of parkrun in England.

Parking at 8:30, one wondered what it would be like – the same but different, and perhaps even a bit emotional. Well, unlike before, we were encouraged to remain socially distanced; the briefing was briefer than before; and there were expected finish times posted along the start area, so that participants could seed themselves sensibly and minimise bunching and overtaking.


The volunteers did have very smart new pink hi-vis – that was different! And then, almost before any emotions could take hold, we were off – right on time.


The course remained the same, with the forest still as green and welcoming as ever. Weaving through it in our kaleidoscope of t-shirts, we were indeed the prodigals in our amazing technicolour dream-coats, returning to the home parkrun we know and love. Soon after halfway, inevitably, was Dragon Hill. Disappointed that the Alice Holt parkrun Core Team had not taken the opportunity of the lockdown hiatus to lop a bit off the top, we were breathing fire long before then anyway.


Our thighs singed and our hamstrings scorched by the beast, we stretched out down past the Gruffalo before finishing once more up the infamous last hill and throwing ourselves into the mercy of the funnel’s welcoming arms.

Finish tokens taken, we were scanned by phone app this time before wandering off in search of coffee, cake and further camaraderie. Catherine Timson was first finisher for the females, followed by Jennifer Cooper and Kate Larmer. The men were led home by Harry Boyd, Hamish MacLean and Sam Dring. Lockdown has had a multitude of effects on all of us – mentally, physically and emotionally – and it has been heartening to see politicians and sports leaders from time to time acknowledging the important part that parkrun plays in many lives – in all three of those vital dimensions.


In its most simple terms, lockdown has led some people to exercise more and some less. And the results are plain to see – in the results! I cannot name every personal best, but a few that caught the eye were Colin Addison, Nicky Hill and Ben Dakin. It was Colin’s 244 th parkrun at Alice Holt, and he beat his PB today by 22 seconds. His previous one
was set in 2014!

Nicky has run at Alice Holt 131 times, and today took 46 seconds off her two-year-old personal best. And Ben, one of our younger runners, took a whisker shy of two minutes off his PB today, leaving him on the brink of breaking 20 minutes. Well done to everyone who set a personal best or participated for the first time today.

More than that, well done to everyone who finished, and an even bigger well done and thank you to our volunteers. The event simply could not go on every week without volunteers, so please do consider putting yourself forward for a role from time to time. It is great fun; it is super-friendly; and it makes you feel great. But, as we all know, parkrun is so much more than just a physical outing. It exercises bodies, yes, but it also offers a meeting of minds, a lifting of spirits and an aligning of hearts. We meet old friends; we make new ones; we cheer each other on; we smile; we chat; we connect.

That is why it is so important.

And that is why it is emotional.

A friend of mine got the 6am ferry over from the Isle of Wight, where she had recently moved from Alton, because she did not want to miss the Alice Holt restart – proudly wearing her 250 t-shirt for the first time, into the bargain!

Another friend who had buried her mother the week before, made sure she attended – to honour the memory and to put down a baseline for her own restarted fitness campaign.
People I had not seen since 14 th March 2020 smiled, waved and immediately struck up the warmest and most animated of conversations, as though the intervening 16 months had never happened.

And two ladies towards the back of the field jokingly called for the defibrillator as they finished. It was their first run, they said, and, wow, what about those hills, but they would be back. Those are the sort of reactions that parkrun inspires. In my humble opinion, there are very few events in human life were everything is positive, where there are only winners, and where everyone goes away enriched – enriched perhaps by a new personal best, maybe because they ran all of the way up Dragon Hill for the first time, or perhaps just because of a lovely coffee and chat afterwards, or maybe even because of something as simple as a kind word from a stranger as they passed on the trail.

Oh parkrun, for all of those positive reasons, and so many more, how we’ve missed you – and we’ll never take you for granted again!


Run Report 14.03.20 – Alice in Wonderland?

Saturday 14th March saw run number 364 at Alice Holt where 303 people walked, jogged or ran. There were 9 people running their very first parkrun today: James FABIAN, Tim VOLOSSEVICH, Adam JOHNSON, Richard PARRATT, Emma VALLER, Daniel VALLER, Kim WINGHAM, Caspar HARRIS & Rachel SMITH and another 44 who were running at Alice Holt for the first time. That included us (Alice and Nathan) who had travelled 200 miles from Crewe so Alice could run her Alice parkrun. It was totally worth it! After the shoutout during the runners’ briefing, I (Alice) felt like a celebrity with everyone saying, “Hi Alice!” and coming for a chat - totally what parkrun is all about. We thoroughly enjoyed hearing everyone’s stories of how they ended up at Alice Holt on that morning. Can you believe it? Some had actually travelled further than us. There were visitors from Lyme Park (Stockport), Delamere (another Forestry Commission with a Gruffalo just up the road from us in Crewe!) Bushy, Basingstoke, Tring and Chichester. There were also many more who are lucky enough to call Alice Holt their local. We were given plenty of recommendations of other great runs to do around the area.

As soon as we arrived, we were made to feel so welcome; the community spirit at this run is second to none and we have to say it is one of the most well organised and friendliest events we’ve attended! This is one of our all-time-favourite runs even though Dragon Hill nearly saw me off. Nathan managed to power himself up it. The downhill sections running through the beautiful forest made up for the hill and I felt like just throwing my arms out and embracing it, the sun was even shining. After all, this might have been our last parkrun for a while, although we really hope not! 
It was also a special day for Simon Millard who was celebrating his 50th birthday! He thanked Helen Walters as she first got him into parkruns and his friend Rachel who came along today for her very first parkrun. There were a few milestones being celebrated today. Congratulations to: Ellie BOUSFIELD on her 10th run as a junior, Gustav FICHARDT and Lindi CLAYTON who both joined the 50 club, Kevin WADE who ran his 150th parkrun and Carys DAVIES and Peter MALLETT who both ran their 200th parkrun! WOW. There were also 37 people who managed to secure a PB so well done to all of them.
In first place today was Chris BIRCH securing himself a PB too and completing in an impressive time of 18:14. The first female to cross the finish line was Lucy BOOTH (touring from Portsmouth Lakeside) finishing in 24:37. She also needs a special mention as she then kindly stepped in to do barcode scanning on her phone after finishing her run. Lucy was closely followed by Janet LEGGETT who secured the highest age grade this week of 77.62% and a PB of 24:39.
As always, parkruns could not go ahead without the incredible high-viz heroes who today were: Alice SMITH, Ben SHEPHERD, Ben SMITH, Chris BADHAM, Chris MANETTA, Craig TATE-GRIMES, Damian PROBETT, Dan DAVIES, Ewan MCLEOD, Geoff BROWN, Geraldine MCLEOD, Helen BRACEY, Justin CLARKE, Kathy BROWN, Kieron Jake CARPENTER, Libby MALLETT, Lucy BOOTH, Lucy TUITE, Mark BRAIN, Nathan KAPP, Patrick TUITE, Penny SCHNABEL, Philip MASTERS, Rachel ADAMS, Sam WICKHAM & Steven LUCKETT.
Once again, we had a fantastic time at Alice Holt. It’s a parkrun that we will never forget and if we’re ever back in the area, we will certainly return to run here again. Thank you!



Alice Holt parkrun 361

22 February 2020

It's a bit windy!

Setting off for Alice Holt parkrun (from Kings Langley near Watford), I already knew there was a possibility it may be cancelled due to the high winds, but I was hopeful, perhaps even a little optimistic that it would go ahead. Arriving at 8:15am, I wandered over to speak to the Run Director who confirmed that they PLANNED to go ahead, but that Forestry England could stop the event if they thought the winds would make things too dangerous.

Thankfully, the strongest winds were up near the entrance by the toilets. Once out on the course, we could barely tell that it was windy at all because we were so sheltered in the trees. The course itself is a lovely, undulating two laps through the forest on a variety of surfaces (quite similar to Wendover Woods for those of you who have run there), and all of the marshals were super-friendly and encouraging on the way round.

After the run, I had breakfast with Matthew HOUGHTON. He was the guy who brought some goodies along to celebrate his 50th Birthday. Matthew is also attempting to join the "Hoffman Club" by running his first 50 parkruns, all at different events. So far he's on 28 so is over half way there!

I'd like to say a big thank you to all of the volunteers for running such a great event and ensuring it went smoothly and safely:


Some of you may have noticed me filming the course with a GoPro stuck to my forehead. I'll be uploading this to YouTube in the next couple of weeks, so please have a look out to see if you can see yourself. There will also be photos of the volunteers at the end of the video.

On to the stats....

This week we had 321 runners, joggers and walkers. There were 18 UNKNOWNSs (don't forget your barcode next week), 132 Females and 171 Males.

First 3 Males to finish were Steve MCGEOWN in a new PB of 19:13, Barnaby GRAY in 19:44 and Ian CARLEY in 20:06. First 3 Female finishers were Rose LEWIS in a new PB of 23:16, Natasha BENNETT in 24:08 and Linda TYLER in 24:23.

There were 49 parkrunners who were new to Alice Holt parkrun of whom 13 were doing their first ever parkrun, and an amazing 33 PB's. So well done to everyone and we hope to see you back next week.

The "most runniest runner" was Steve TILL on 480 parkruns but there were 19 other members of the 250 Club, 60 members of the 100 Club, 45 members of the 50 Club and 26 members of the 10 Club present. Official milestones achieved today were Barnaby GRAY who joined the 50 Club and Eleanor CORDLE who joined the 10 Club. Well done to you all!

Highest Age Grading on the day was Linda TYLER with 77.38%, with an astonishing time of 24:23 in the VM55-59 category!!

Well done to everyone who completed the course today, great stuff!!!!

Other news....

Have you heard about "Free Weekly Timed", the parkrun podcast with Vassos Alexander and Helen Williams? I thoroughly recommend listening to the new episode each week, or the back catalogue between parkrundays.

Mark Pinney

⇐ Newer Posts