My sister is a parkrunner; my sister is a tourist; my sister has her cow cowl; my sister is becoming an alphabeteer; my sister wanted her Q, my sister suggested we meet up… my sister couldn’t make it. However, I had already planned my day around meeting her for the infamous Queen Elizabeth parkrun and volunteered to do the run report. At 5.30, as I was packing for the day with my 9-month-old, she was not my favourite person. At 6.30, as I woke my rather reluctant husband who had, despite finishing a night shift at 4am, agreed to come and look after said baby, she was not my favourite person. As I was on the nearly 2hr drive and she phoned me with the most over the top, energetic “Good morning” and laughed; she was not my favourite person.
Toby LAMBERT and Reeva Diva completing the fastest ever Queen Elizabeth parkrun in 15:26 (assisted)
|On arrival, we parked near the visitor centre which is being refurbished and I followed the inevitable trickle of
runners and excited dogs to the start to find the RD smiling and welcoming. I am always pleasantly surprised at how
parkrun people seem to have the ability to make everything better. There was a lovely couple from Cape Town with a
baby even younger than mine - my distance hardly compared. In fact, rather a lot of family groups were dotted
around the start line creating a warm buzz of conversation. As the first timers briefing was called, there appeared to
be rather a large amount of us listening to the humorous volunteer describe the course and putting us at ease. I was
glad I made it.
The weather was perfect. On a course known for its mud, the unusual dry weather had made the track a little dusty and the gravel a little lose. In the battle between trail vs road shoes, trail had won for me although they weren’t totally necessary. I walked part of the way up the hill to the start with a lovely mum touring here for a second time so her daughter could do the beautiful course. Before I knew it, we were off - running up the hill. I felt the burn in my legs almost immediately. The climb started to level off and I saw the first marshal directing us round and down a stunning grassy corridor that was wide enough to see the sky so I could see what a beautiful morning it was.
The huge forest either side – like nature was protecting us and cheering us on almost as much as the marshals were. I think this small downhill corridor is perhaps my favourite stretch of parkrun to date.
The course continued round the bottom, where I heard two women talking about the marathons they had run – I admire people who can talk as they run, I can barely get my breath. We ran back up to the hairpin bend where we gathered for the start and then the hill loomed for the second time. It is my personal goal to always run the whole course and I am happy to say I ran the whole hill albeit perhaps as slow as many of the people walking. The 2 – 3km stretch where the hill levels off and we passed the marshal at the top of the grassy corridor (this time directing us straight on) was the hardest for me as I regained my breath after the hill. The surroundings continued to encourage me and remind me just how amazing the British countryside is. As I reached the top point, yet another friendly marshal was there to celebrate how well all the runners were doing and although I didn’t quite see the Isle of Wight – which apparently is possible on a good day – I did take in the views and have a sense of knowing that I had done the hardest part.
Downhill from here on another beautiful grassy corridor, this time a little more rocky than muddy under foot, and another inspiring individual overtook me: a young boy who was doing parkrun for the first time. He had a constant stream of chat and questions for his patient dad who was explaining the course and talking him through the run. Another lady who I had run past on the uphill, overtook me on this downhill and took the time to congratulate me for running the hill. As she was using the ‘walk a bit, run a bit’ strategy, we kept overtaking each other throughout the bottom 1½ km stretch. She ran on ahead and I continued at my slow steady pace catching up with the young boy again. Rather than overtake I simply said I thought he could overtake the lady in front, quickly followed by a “Sorry” to the dad who had to keep up as his son sprinted off to overtake several of the runners in front, punching the air with both hands in celebration as he did so.
Tail Walker Andrea BUDDEN with visitors from Cape Town Hannes and Karla LOUW
Towards the end, I overtook the lady walking again and then, as she ran past, a small hill appeared that I hadn’t really noticed on the first loop and as I kept up my steady jog, I again overtook her. I could see the finish in the distance and increased my pace to overtake another runner. As I got to the bench about 100m from the finish I knew she was running again but I was determined now and so ensued an intense sprint finish. This time she didn’t manage to overtake but it was very close and our efforts were much appreciated by the cheering crowd gathered at the finish line. A thrilling end to a wonderful course that highlighted the community spirit of parkrun – thank you to the lady who pushed me in the final stretch; thank you to all the other parkrunners for the conversation and kind words; thank you to the marshals for your encouragement; thank you to all the volunteers for your time and thank you to my sister for making me run!
Run report by: Sam DOWDALL
Photographs of event #311 by Penny JOHNSTONE can be viewed here.
This week 134 people ran, jogged and walked the course, of whom 43 were first timers and 16 recorded new Personal Bests. Representatives of 26 different clubs took part.
The event was made possible by 14 volunteers:
Ivor MCQUAID • Kevin MCTAGGART • Penny JOHNSTONE • David COLENUTT • Amelie LEWIS • Andrew John JAMES • Mark STRAFFON • Tessa BRIGGS • Tanya ROBERTS • Andrea BUDDEN • Emlyn JONES • Max BECVAR • Samantha MBAH • John ROBERTS
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the Queen Elizabeth parkrun Results Page.
The male record is held by Alex TEUTEN who recorded a time of 16:11 on 2nd September 2017 (event number 229).
The female record is held by Emily HUTCHINSON who recorded a time of 19:40 on 19th May 2018 (event number 266).
The Age Grade course record is held by James BAKER who recorded 83.60% (16:34) on 25th December 2018 (event number 298).
Queen Elizabeth parkrun started on 18th May 2013. Since then 5,958 participants have completed 25,395 parkruns covering a total distance of 126,975 km, including 3,924 new Personal Bests. A total of 533 individuals have volunteered 3,962 times.