(Not) parkrun week one – and my not (not) parkrun at War Memorial Park.

Basingstoke (not) parkrun #1, 20th June 2020. (Not) parkrun Run Report by Peter Chiverton

It's been FOURTEEN weeks since we were last able to run, jog or walk together at Basingstoke parkrun (14th March) and since then we have all had to endure the difficulties of lockdown, the uncertainties of different work situations, trying to help our children learn while unable to attend school, keeping vulnerable family members safe perversely by not going near them, and many other things. We're not at the end of things yet although gradually we are emerging from lockdown. Hopefully you have been out running, jogging or walking at other places and times while parkrun is not happening.

Well, parkrun is planning for its return. Not just yet in the UK obviously, but you may have seen that parkrun will restart in New Zealand on 4th July (https://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2020/06/16/covid-19-coronavirus-update-16-june/). Hopefully it won't be too long before this extends to other parts of the parkrun world, once it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, have you done a (not) parkrun? I don't just mean a run anywhere that isn't a parkrun, but parkrun this week have allowed us to record our own 5k run, jog or walk anywhere (even on a treadmill if you like?) and at any time during the week (just please don't meet at Basingstoke parkrun's course at 9am to run - we've been asked not to). You can record this against your parkrun profile (you don't need to re-register); to do so click the "manage my profile" link in any email you have received from parkrun (eg for completing a parkrun or for volunteering), and then select the (not) parkrun option. The fastest result you enter for a week will then be displayed on your home run's weekly page - for Basingstoke that's at https://www.parkrun.org.uk/basingstoke/results/notparkrun/. Unfortunately your (not) parkruns don't count toward your milestone T shirt run count for parkrun, but having just had a look it's great to see some familiar names recording times for this week.

I noticed on the Basingstoke parkrun page this week that Event Director Avi Govind posted this picture of War Memorial Park.

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The patterns in the grass show that the park bandstand (here in the background) used to instead be in the middle of the park. I suggest you look at the Basingstoke parkrun Facebook page for the interesting ensuing discussion about the history of the park. It reminded me that whereas a lot of us visited War Memorial Park regularly until mid March for parkrunning or volunteering, and those living close may have continued to do so, many of us (like me) will have visited rarely or even not at all. It therefore encouraged me to go to the park on Saturday for a walk - not for a (not) parkrun as I wasn't planning to do 5k - just to relax after a busy week.

I arrived with Maggie just after 1130am, parking without difficulty at Crossborough Hill car park (finding it considerably easier than normally is the case for parkrun!) and we were pleased the park didn't seem too busy, making it easy to keep distanced from the other groups making use of it. Certainly the area we gather normally before the start was nowhere near as populated with people.

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We were upset that the grass area had quite a lot of litter - thankfully something we don't normally see as a result of our parkruns - and were pleased we had a sparecarrier bag to try to clear up a bit as we walked. There are lots of bins in the park so it's beyond me why people can't use them.

Near to where we normally start to parkrun, we spent some time walking around the Community Orchard (which I knew about but had forgotten was there - details at http://basingstoketransition.org/community-orchard-war-memorial-park/) - this is an area of fruit trees that were planted by volunteers and the nearby notice says people are welcome to pick a few fruit once they are ripe.

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It's a bit early yet for picking but fruit is already growing.

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Maybe parkrunners can munch an apple waiting for the start later in the year?

We enjoyed our stroll under the trees and up Tennis Court Hill (so much easier when you aren't trying to complete it in a hurry) in the shaded sunshine, saying hello to a few people walking the opposite way and keeping our distance from each other. Part of the park has been allowed to grow wild flowers at this point, and poppies and Marguerite daisies are doing particularly well here.

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At the top of the hill the widening path under the trees

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passes the children's playground, sadly still closed,

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and we walked on past the aforementioned bandstand, the very noisy aviary (does everyone else think the birds everywhere seem much louder than in previous years? I'm sure it's not just the lack of traffic during lockdown!)

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and we stopped at the Peace Garden (which as a parkrunner I must confess hardly noticing as I'm normally focussing on getting round the park) to look at the statue of Sir Harold Gillies there, who I discovered was a pioneer of plastic surgery during WWII at Park Prewett Hospital, Rooksdown.

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There are also a number of plaques on the ground with messages and images around the theme of peace. I liked this one which seemed to speak to me during these turbulent times.

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Not missing another area of wild flowers near the Council Offices which we enjoyed too.

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We wandered through the wooded area back to the car park. Far enough for us today, and we'd enjoyed our walk in our lovely park - the sights on offer there change so much through the seasons and it was great to see it in its summer guise. Indeed, at this time of year the park is normally preparing for summer events - dog shows, food festivals and of course the Basingstoke Festival, meaning we normally have to travel across to Crabtree Plantation for a parkrun or two. I visit that more often in my runs from home - I'm sure we've all missed our trips up this infamous hill.

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Here's hoping it won't be too long until we can meet again as a parkrun community, but I'd encourage you to find time to visit our fantastic park in the meantime, perhaps for a distanced walk with friends.

And hope to see your names at least on the Basingstoke (not) parkrun table in the weeks to come?

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