Well, Netley Abbey Parkrun, set in the Queen Victoria Country Park with Southampton Water as its backdrop, is a pretty spectacular setting, but that’s all I’m going to say about it. There’s plenty written about its facilities and its history and you can read previous Run Reports which will tell you all about that and more, as eloquently as any. So l thought something more topical might take your fancy.
How about rain and floods, and mud and cancellations? That’s pretty topical isn’t it? We’ve had all of those in abundance recently. You read down the list of cancellations and it says: flooded, waterlogged, swamped, boats only, flooded, flooded, swamped - sound familiar? Well it made me chuckle when I got down to the Eden Project, which was cancelled due to the Cornish Pasty World Championships!
Like me, I expect you check diligently the night before to see which of the few remaining local Parkruns are still on, then, as happened to me recently, you turn up at one of only three remaining to find it was just in the process of cancelling because of the overnight freezing weather, making the course available only to those who had brought ice skates. So ‘the word’ gets out that ‘so-and-so’ Parkrun is still on and you can just make it, and you do, along with a thousand other people where only twelve normally attend and you have to park your car on top of someone else’s. But am I complaining? Most certainly not; the volunteers are just amazing in setting all of this up for us and I’m just eternally grateful that week after week they are putting themselves out for us to take part in possibly the most significant mental and physical health revolution in our lifetime, entirely free of charge. They don’t like cancellations any more than the runners!
Coronavirus; that’s fairly topical too, I’d say. Don’t be too surprised if we see one or two of those locally on the list of reasons for cancellations in the not-too-distant future, before there are more cancellations than events. It’s quite possible, of course, that we may just have run our last Parkrun for a while, what with so many sporting events and other mass gatherings already having been cancelled or postponed, as the government is now saying that a ban will most probably come into effect from next weekend – it just remains to be decided what number constitutes a ‘mass’. But left to Parkrun HQ, they are urging individual venues not to make the decision as it only increases the pressure on neighbouring Parkruns, so they will make a unilateral decision, if one is called,, for before it is enforced. I also heard rumblings that they’re considering people in the ‘old codgers’ bracket being compulsorily self-isolating, which would mean a halt to my Parkrun travels on a Saturday morning for a while! Ah well, there’s always I-Spy.
And talking of travelling, there’s a lot of us like to do that, including me. I’m up to 30 different venues now, which puts me firmly onto the lower rungs of the exclusive and most prestigious ‘Tourist’ status society, along with 15 to 20,000 others, and with Paul Fielding at the top on 485. And just to verify, that’s 4-8-5!
Then there’s the alphabet chasers – yup, I do that too, so thank you Itchen Valley Country Parkrun, you’ve saved me a trip to Ifield Mill Pond!
But as I go round I find quite some interesting challenges people set themselves; a few weeks ago I met someone at Eastleigh who had just completed his ‘Compass Challenge’, following on from a run at Southampton. I’ve no idea where he did his North and West, but I expect there are plenty, with 711 Parkruns and counting, now on the calendar.
Also recently someone told me they were attempting to run on every date of the year, and the 29th February was an especially great joy to him because he won’t get the chance again for I-forget-how-many-years he said!
Then just last week a delightful young lady told me she was doing all the Pontys. Well good luck with Pontypridd – she may have quite a wait for that one if this weather keeps going as it is!
But back to Netley Abbey. No Run Report narrative can be complete without acknowledging the efforts and accomplishments of the runners, among whom I am notably, and sadly, absent:
In what appears a titanic family battle at the very front, Max pipped Wayne Andrews by just one second.
Among the notable achievements and landmark runs there were no less than 13 First-Timers, of whom 12 were ‘First-ever’ Timers. On the subject of PBs, there were no less than 32 today out of a field of 247.
Congratulations for their 50 goes to James Munn who will be able to wear his red shirt in a couple of weeks; Matt hill hit 200, but sorry Matt, no shirt for that one. However, top of the tree was Matthew Wateridge on 413, so, well done to all of those, and to Tracey Corker who topped out the Age Grades with 78.25%.
Finally, I must say thank you to all the volunteers who make this event possible. To those of you who haven’t yet considered volunteering or are holding back because you want to run, there are many roles you can undertake without losing the opportunity and, even if it is only one time in ten, it is a great help and is always very much appreciated. There is always good instruction from friendly people, the tasks are simple but essential, and you get the fulfilment of putting a little something back for what you have just taken away. Why not give it a try!