Today saw my second visit to the picturesque setting of Netley Abbey parkrun. The last time had been in the August of 2016 when I was four away from my 50th milestone run and it was only my ninth different event. I’d chosen today’s venue in the hope that I could record my fourth consecutive parkrun PB, more about that later.
Anyway, my journey over there was bathed in glorious sunshine, and on entering the Royal Victoria Country Park, dappled light danced through the avenues of trees on my way to the car park.
Just in case you think I’ve lost my marbles, that was my first visit, today couldn’t have been more of a contrast if it had tried.
I’ve chosen to give my Thesaurus a dusting and flood the description of today’s parkrun with a deluge of adjectives… squishy, squelchy, slimy, sloppy, squashy, sodden, saturated and soggy—absolutely great fun; you really can’t beat a wet and wild parkrun!
I arrived with little time to spare; it’s always deceiving just how much further it is from junction 8 of the A27 down to the park. I managed a warm-up and realised there were an abundance of puddles, so it was good to know Doctor Foster wasn’t taking part today (apparently he was running at Gloucester and has since reported that he has no intentions of going back there).
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the history of Royal Victoria Country Park, here are some incredible facts about it.
The whole area spans 200 acres of mature woodland, grassy parkland and also has a small shingle beach which overlooks Southampton Water. The site, acquired by Hampshire County Council in 1969, was opened as a park to the public in 1970. Prior to that, it had been home to the Royal Victoria Hospital from 1863 until 1966; a large military hospital in Netley. Queen Victoria suggested it be built and construction started in 1856, though its design caused controversy, especially from Florence Nightingale.
It became the 28th US General Hospital, in the midst of the invasion of mainland Europe in the Second World War, and was often visited by Queen Victoria during that time. At the time of completion, it was the world’s longest building and, unsurprisingly, the world’s largest hospital, yet in 1966, everything except for the chapel and the former YMCA building, was demolished. The chapel itself has a 150ft (46m) viewing tower, providing 360° views over the park and across to Southampton Water to Hythe.
So there you have it, a brief bit of history about this incredible park… moments ago, I mentioned 360 and it just happened to be Netley Abbey’s 360th event today, so what better way to carry on with today’s run report?
Today saw 183 parkrunners take part in today’s run, of which there were nine first timers, three of those were running their first ever parkrun, so well done and welcome to the parkrun family (it doesn’t always rain, I promise).
15 runners managed a PB at this course. Only one person was celebrating a milestone run today, and that was Lewis RANGER, so well done on your 50th!
One of the first timers to the course, James LEWIS, managed to finish first in 18:43, so a huge well done to him. Other notable times, just because some numbers look good, are Alistair GARMENDIA in 23:00, Tim FORD 23:32, Mike TAYLOR 25:00, Marc HARDER 25:25 and Steve SLADE 29:00. Runners representing 16 different clubs is the final statistic of today.
There is a café within the grounds that sells yummy cakes, delicious lunches, tasty snacks and a wide range of hot and cold drinks, plus there are plenty of activities for children, including a Story Trail, a play area and a miniature steam railway; it’s a great park, whether it be for a fun day out with your family, walking your dog or visiting for a parkrun.
Finally, I did manage my fourth consecutive parkrun PB, knocking 1m:36s off my previous time, finishing in 23:40, so I was and still am, a very wet, happy bunny.
Finally, a huge thanks to every single marshal who stood in the rain and the cold giving motivation to everyone running.