I don’t run.
I don’t tour.
I hate writing Run Reports.
These were maybe not the most helpful things to be thinking at 8.45 on a Saturday morning, waiting near the start area of a parkrun some 90 miles from my Home Event, wearing running gear and the fact that I’d volunteered to write the run report nagging away at the back of my mind.
How had I found myself here, I hear you ask - you are asking, aren’t you….?
A Saturday morning hospital appointment at Southampton University Hospital is basically to blame, because getting from my home parkrun – Riddlesdown, in Surrey – to Southampton in time for the appointment was not an option. My parents live a couple of miles from the Southampton University Hospital, and it occurred to me that spending the Friday night with them would not only make getting to my appointment easier, it would mean I could still fit in a parkrun – and also spend some time with my lovely Mum and Dad, of course! (They will probably read this!)
I am definitely something of a parkrun agoraphobe – in just over 12 years of parkrunning I’ve only visited an event which wasn’t my home parkrun on two occasions prior to this weekend and as Riddlesdown approaches its 500th Event, I can proudly say that I’ve been on the volunteer roster for every single one of those events, including the (less than a handful) of times I’ve not actually been physically present. Eastleigh parkrun has been on my radar for a while, however. The reason? Sentiment, I guess – my Grandparents lived in Kestrel Road throughout my childhood, their home was a huge part of my family’s Saturdays for years, and I have many happy memories associated with Fleming Park. In addition, Eastleigh parkrun is the only parkrun Event that Dad has ever initiated discussion about (I may have bored my entire family rigid with my enthusiasm over those 12 years) as his old friend Brian, and Brian’s daughter Louise, have been involved as part of the core team here, I think from Eastleigh parkrun’s Inaugural event.
So, here I am – 8.45 on a Saturday morning, a little bit cold, and surprisingly nervous. I think the nerves are largely down to the fact that I’m running today. I’m not a runner – not even slightly. I’ve managed 37 runs in over 12 years, with the best part of decade between run 9 and run 10, mainly due to a knee injury. My return to ‘running’ pre pandemic was largely in the form of tail walking, and after the second lockdown C25K became part of my life, and I’ve run 3 times at Riddlesdown since parkrun returned. I’m not fast. But I am really enjoying it. Until now, that is. At Riddlesdown everyone knows me, and I know every inch of the course. Why on Earth did I think running elsewhere would be a good idea. There’s a hill. What if I can’t get up it? I think at this point, the only reason I don’t turn tail and head back to the car is the fact that I have volunteered to write the Run Report, which does kind of require being at the run as a basic minimum, especially as a tourist!
Before panic sets in totally, I spot a familiar face, and saying hello to Brian distracts me nicely, and suddenly the first timers’ briefing is happening, and then it’s over to the start line, pre-run announcements and off we’re off!
The first lap of the 3 lap course is actually not too bad – I should point out that I’m run-walking, with 6 and a half minutes of running to 1 minute of walking – although the hill is not my favourite thing going up, coming down the other side is much more fun! Obviously, at no point does a walk break happen whilst going up that hill.
The second lap starts with a near slide and fall as my cornering skills on leaves and (a very small amount of) mud are not great – but I recover, remain upright and continue – chatting to a lovely lady running with her child, which works well to reduce the terror of the horrid hill as we approach it for the second time – then it’s time for a walk break, and they run off. The mud is minimal today, for which the I give thanks to the weather faeries for a relatively dry week – I imagine the course would be very slippery after heavy rain.
As the course is a 3 lapper, it is no surprise that many of the faster runners pass me, and I would like to apologize to the speedy lady, possibly the first female, who I manage to step in front of in the middle of her finishing sprint at the end of my second lap – I am not good at left and right, and my attempts to keep out of her path nearly end in disaster. Fortunately her navigation skills are better than mine, and she is gone in seconds, through the finish line as I begin the third and final lap.
The hill is still there – and practice is not making it easier! The marshals are cheery and supportive, I wish I had enough energy to thank them as I pass, but air is a precious commodity at this point, especially as a glance a my garmin tells me a PB is on the cards if I can keep going. Coming into the finishing straight something happens which has not happened to me for a very long time – there are 3 runners between me and the finish, and I know I have enough left in my legs to overtake the first 2, and then, really close to the line, the 3rd one as well – I manage something that could almost be called a sprint finish!
Token collected, barcode scanned.
I did it. And I didn’t hate it.
My current PB is 40.09 (I don’t count the pre-injury times)
The garmin says I ran Eastleigh parkrun in under 37 minutes.
I’m struggling to speak, but I’m happy.
I can’t hang around as I need to get back to my parents’ shower before I head to the hospital, but I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all the volunteers who made this event possible, and who offered encouragement all the way around the course – it really is appreciated.
Once in the car, I start to plan this report. I don’t actually hate writing them, but I have written a fair number over the years, and inspiration is not always easy to find, but I’m glad that I’m doing this one because I genuinely enjoyed the run.
A couple of hours later, sat in a waiting room, I finally have chance to look at my phone, and discover that I have a new PB of 36.30. Happy doesn’t begin to do justice to how I’m feeling – even later that evening, when my Dad points out that Brian (who is a good 20 years older than me) was more than 5 minutes faster than I was, I’m still very pleased!
I’m not a runner. And it’s not a race. It’s parkrun.
And I love it!
Nicki Clark (A26649)
This week 251 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 23 were first timers and 31 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 30 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 35 volunteers:
Nicki CLARK • Karen BOLTON • Claire DEACON • Paul KEMP • Larry COOLEY • Trevor Alan ELLERY • Linda Mary WEBB • Amanda SAYERS • Katie GODDARD • Mark SWINSON • Robert BRYAN • Ray WEBB • Yvonne GRANDON • Mark ANDERSON • Christopher STOCKS • Katie RAWLINSON • Jenny LEE • Brett LYONS • Anthony Peter WILLIS • Annie RYDER • Jane WILKS • Laurence WILKS • Michael LEE • Elizabeth BROWN • Erika SMITH • Kerry FOLGER • Kim FOLGER • Susan BUNYAN • Charleen BOLE • Andy MARKS • Gary GALTON • Angela MEDLEY • Russ GILES • Adam CHALLIS • Anne QUIRK
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Eastleigh parkrun Results Page.
The male record is held by Tom ANDERSON who recorded a time of 15:18 on 19th November 2011 (event number 80).
The female record is held by Josie CZURA who recorded a time of 18:02 on 20th December 2014 (event number 235).
The Age Grade course record is held by Chris STEELE who recorded 91.78% (25:57) on 23rd November 2019 (event number 485).
Eastleigh parkrun started on 8th May 2010. Since then 13,317 participants have completed 102,627 parkruns covering a total distance of 513,135 km, including 16,347 new Personal Bests. A total of 1,298 individuals have volunteered 14,128 times.