So Guildford it was. The pattern for some months now has been to choose a different Parkrun location every week. I usually go with my son if I can and this week it was his choice, and he decided on Guildford – because it was one of only two in the South-East beginning with G! We could have gone to Kent of course, where the other G is, but living in Hampshire that didn’t seem very sensible! The closest in the South-West were both in Gloucester so, as I said, Guildford it was.
As it turned out I couldn’t have been more pleased. The Spectrum Leisure Centre where we are advised to park was easy to find, there was plenty of free parking, good toilet facilities and the Parkrun was only just across the road - two or three minutes’ walk from the car. But it got better, because the Parkrun was in a lovely park setting on a combination of grass and tarmac paths.
It’s not the flattest course by a long way – a total elevation gain of 191 feet over two laps, and that’s 419th on the list of registered flattest UK Parkrun locations – but it’s all quite gentle, as are the descents, and I found it easier than on many flatter courses with short ‘killer’ hills. But this is one of the bigger Parkruns and although today 490 of us set off, the great thing was that whereas with many events you will have to queue at the start roughly in the order you expect to finish, not with this one. There’s plenty of room for a mass start and things just sort themselves out without undue elbow barging. And there are no bottlenecks.
Okay, so there were some slippery bits. Well, we’ve had an extraordinary amount of rain, so mud was in plentiful supply and there were places it wasn’t easy to dodge, so some of the runners finished the run in quite a state, especially the fast ones. Which is why I finished in pretty much pristine condition by comparison!
My son and I both ran today and we thoroughly enjoyed it. If you’re wondering, and I don’t suppose you are, he just managed to get to the finish before I did. Only just. By 3 or 400 metres. Except I still had one more lap to complete after that. Just 461 places ahead of me. So close…
All things considered, I’d say this is an excellent venue, with variation in levels and in surface, and a picturesque parkland, making the laps seem to go by quickly – for some people quicker than others, I might add! Okay, but my excuse was that for the second week I was recovering from a leg injury and I could otherwise easily have come inside the top four (hundred!).
But for me, part of the fun travelling to Parkruns is after the run, and in Guildford you are spoiled for choice if you want a decent breakfast and a coffee in really nice surroundings.
I travel about quite a bit for Parkruns and the constant for me wherever I’ve been has been the efficient organisation, the relaxed atmosphere, and the friendliness and helpfulness of the volunteers and runners alike, and Guildford was no exception. The marshals were a great bunch, with their encouragement and enthusiasm, and they really give you a lift. And so I could not let this opportunity pass without a sincere thank you to Maddie the Run Director, to all the volunteers, and especially to the core team and to those who turn up week in, week out, just to volunteer without the chance or the ability to run. So if you are thinking of having a go, this is definitely 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. It really is fun, the instructions are simple and you’ll be back for more!
This week, among the 490 runners, assorted pushchairs and dogs, there were landmarks for Carolyn Baxter, Simon McCrohan, Matthew Duncan, Annie Williams, Rob Stokes and Cecile Boylett for their 50th Parkruns. Congratulations also to juniors Grace Farmer, William Channing and Juliette Stell for their 10th, and a special mention to Juliette for highest age grade performance of the day with a remarkable 81.34%. Other notable performances were by David Owen Williams in the VM55-59 category with a personal best of 19:07, which earned him an age grade of 78.75%. Andrea Thomas and Henk Innemee both chalked up their 150th Parkruns and Susanna Harrison (who did a fantastic job as the 24 minute pacer today finishing at 23.57) joined the 250 club, but top of the tree was Annette Shrimpton with an impressive 375! There were 21 first-ever Parkrunners today, also many who were new to Guildford and countless PBs, so a very well done to you all!
By Dennis Spencer
This week we had a 'volunteer takeover' by a group of ladies from Back on Track Running and Fitness who took on marshaling, barcode scanning, and handing out finish tokens. A huge thank you to them along with all of our other wonderful volunteers without whom parkrun couldn't happen!
This week's volunteers were : Sarah ALEXANDER, Abigail ATHAIDE, Ben BALDWIN, Laurie BANTIN, Matthew BAYLIS, Tanya BOARDMAN, Ryan BOWDLER, Rennie CHADWICK, Laura CHANNON, Harry CONLAN, Anne CONNELL, Clara CONQUEST, Lesley CULLY, Joshua CURTIS, Benjamin CURTIS, Neill EBERS, Nicholas GOLDMAN, Susanna HARRISON, Robert HARRISON, Mike HARROLD, Alastair HESLOP, Maddie HESLOP, Carrie HIGGINS, Jeremy Paul HUTCHINS, Kiera JONES, Ian KENYON, Sasha LE MARQUER, Heather LOVE, George LUDLOW, Judith MCKNIGHT, Charlotte PEARSON, Katherine PORTMAN, Hyder ROOHANI, Jon SAUNDERS, Julie SKELTON, Dennis SPENCER, Francesca STERN, Monica-Gabriela TUDOR, Sian WILLIAMS, Carol WILLIAMSON, Edward WINSLOW, Elizabeth WYLES