I really liked this parkrun , it was just about the complete package. The day starts well when it’s easy to find, when there’s masses of parking at a reasonable price and there are toilet facilities in the car park, which was as close to the start line as you could hope for.
I travel about quite a bit for parkruns and the constant for me has been the efficient organisation, the relaxed atmosphere, and the friendliness and helpfulness of the volunteers and runners alike; no exceptions so far. But I couldn’t help noticing something at Chichester that was done exceptionally well, and that was communication and information sharing. If you don’t volunteer, you may not appreciate this aspect quite so much, but Liz and Peter who are core team volunteers, were so quick to respond and I have never before had such precise instruction and timing for the various volunteering roles. Very few even mention the Run Report Writer and none have had any written instruction at all, so if you are thinking of having a go, this is definitely the one to start with! There are plenty of roles you can choose from if you want to run as well, both before the event and after, so you needn’t miss out.
With many parkruns you will have to queue at the start in the order you expect to finish, but not this one. There’s plenty of room for a mass start and things just sort themselves out without undue elbow barging. Then something else I noticed that was a first for me was when I encountered permanent course markers. I’m not saying no-where else has them, but certainly not within 50 miles of where I live and a few places beyond. They even have the parkruns logo beautifully carved into the tops of the square wooden posts and you can tell how popular they are by the number of people who use them to stop themselves slipping as they take the sharp turns around them. You can’t do that with the plastic ones!
Okay, so there were some slippery bits. Well, we’ve had an extraordinary amount of rain, but mud was in relatively short supply, considering. Mostly it could be found at those sharp bends with the marker posts, but wherever it was, it could be easily dodged if you had a mind to.
The course was mostly grass, there was a shortish but wide pathway of compacted sand and a truly wonderful, long gentle downhill slope on tarmac almost to the finish. I think we all like finishing like that! But what goes down, must go up. Or so it goes in the parkrun world. The up bit is probably about half the way round the course, of which there are three laps, and is steeper but quite short. Being on the hard sand section, however, makes it that little bit easier. My son and I both took part, we both enjoyed it immensely and in case you’re wondering, he just pipped me, by 212 places.
All in all, I’d say this is a very good all-seasons course, with variation in levels, in surface, and in scenery from parkland to roadside which all conspire to make the laps go by quickly – for some people quicker than others, I might add! Okay, but my excuse was that I was recovering from a gammy leg and I could otherwise easily have come inside the top two (hundred!).
But the icing on the cake was the après race. What we also like to do when we travel away from our ‘home’ venue for the first time, as it was today, is to explore and Chichester is just the most delightful city in which to do that. With the historic city centre within five minutes walking distance of the car park, it has plenty of shops, parks, cafés and restaurants, and pedestrian precincts. We took full advantage and bought a breakfast and a coffee, and did a little shopping. It was a great morning out and it’s one that I shall most certainly repeat. I’m not sure how the team managed to organise the rain to hold off until we got in the car to go home, so as well as it all started out, so did it finish. More of that next time please!
This week at Chichester, among the 228 runners, assorted pushchairs and dogs, there were landmarks for Andrew Carmichael and Caroline McKellar for their 50th parkrun and Marcia Knight for her 100th, so a very well done to them. And finally, I could not let this opportunity pass without a sincere thank you to all the volunteers, and especially to those who turn up week in, week out, just to volunteer and nothing else.
Thank you Dennis Spencer for this excellent report, and his kind words about our parkrun and city. Dennis modesty omitted to mention that he was celebrating double milestones of 50 runs and 25 volunteers.
This weeks Chichester parkrun was brought you courtesy of:
Carly SOFFE • Dennis SPENCER • Eleanor HARRISON • Ellen PERRY • Ieuan WORGAN • Jeremy HARRISON • Johanna HARRISON • Leon PERRY • Liz STANLEIGH-TURNER • Lucy HOUSTON • Mike HOUSTON • Nadia ANDERSON • Neil WORGAN • Peter ANDERSON • Peter CARVER • Peter DUNNE • Philippa NEATHEY • Thomas HOUSTON • Tom BLAYLOCK