QE parkrun #360 – Come for the Q, stay for the view!

This was my first QE parkrun, but it won't be my last - I think I have a new favourite.

A total of 105 runners turned out for the 360th parkrun at Queen Elizabeth Country Park today, the first ever 29th February parkrun, with the next not due until 2048. This was a great opportunity for parkrun bingo with both the date and the alphabet in my favour. Thank you to Erika, who gave me a run-down on what to expect from the course before we started (and went on to bag a PB - well done!).

We were lucky that the rain held off for most of the run, but the conditions underfoot were wet enough... lots of squeaks and squeals as we negotiated the grassy downhill of the first loop which might have been easier on skis than in trail shoes. The second loop has a long long hill, which is amply paid back in a lovely downhill section, with some gentle undulations and plenty of mud back to the finish point. I'd been expecting a really tough run, but I finished on a real high and loved it. The views over the downs and the adventurous feel of running on woodland trails make this a really enjoyable parkrun.

I'm used to being one of 200-300 runners looping a park or running there and back, so this was a really different experience - the layout of the route and the smaller number of runners meant that at times it felt like I was out on a lovely solo trail run with the added bonus of distance markers and cheerful volunteers along the way.

Congratulations to Stuart Giddings for running his 50th parkrun today. Despite the conditions, 6 runners picked up a PB, and there were an impressive 37 first timers to this course - that's 35% of the total! Tourists came from Rochford, Dunstable and Redditch, among others, chasing that Q perhaps? Welcome to parkrun those of you running your first ever today: Austen Nicholson-Locke and Chris Mahan - what a course for your first one! Thank you to all the volunteers today, you are superstars.

By Katie Reynolds