I think we can all agree that the first few weekends of 2019 have been blessed with unseasonably mild weather, contributing in part, I am sure, to some fantastic high attendances at parkruns across the land.
So we come to 19th of the month, and January is starting to play more to form. A chilly 5 degrees on the weather app, and damp grey skies overhead, off we set for Whiteley – wearing a noticeably higher proportion of the running gear I own than I needed last week! We arrived not long after 8:30am (to check in with the RD team, as both my son and I were volunteering – him on barcode scanning, and me for the opportunity to write this report) and the car park was already filling up. The signs were good for another strong attendance – perhaps the New Year’s Resolutions are strong this year, and the good word of parkrun is spreading and taking hold across the country (and quite probably beyond).
Our RD Martin gave an uplifting and inspiring run briefing, welcoming tourists (from as far afield as Scotland this time!) and newcomers alike, generating enthusiastic support from the gathered runners. I have particularly high regard for those who start their parkrun journey in these cold damp months of winter – it’s one thing to get out there when the weather is warm and sunny and inviting in the summer months, but it takes some serious dedication to decide to embrace the parkrun phenomenon when the degrees are in single digits, your own digits should be in multiple layers of gloves and you can’t feel your face by the time you get to 2k. So an extra special round of applause for all the January first timers please. May you all be bitten by the parkrun bug and become regulars!
Having re-met some lovely parkrun regulars from Portsmouth who’d made me very welcome there back in early December, and a good friend from my regional PA network (who is in training for this year’s London Marathon, raising money for the Zurich Community Trust – go Nadine!), I felt primed with the parkrun spirit, and ready to run.
And with a very understated “3, 2, 1 – go!” from Martin, we were off! The start location and route at Whiteley have been adapted slightly in recent weeks to better accommodate the increasing numbers taking part, and take better account of other park users. The event has some wonderfully attentive marshals all around the course, and also now some ‘running marshals’ – a new addition to help support us all navigate the narrow sections of the course especially (with two way traffic on all three laps, so lots of runners heading in opposite directions at very different speeds, nimbly adapting to overtaking, and the variety of running companions involved – including under 11s, buggies, and dogs). We were all careful to ‘keep right’ and watch our step as we switched from the tarmac to the short muddy grass section on each lap. The sections where runners pass each other are a lovely reminder of the supportive atmosphere of parkrun, with lots of words of encouragement passing between faster and less fast runners, and walkers alike.
And so with the third and final lap complete, it’s in to the finish funnel, where the RD and other volunteers were on hand to encourage us all across the line, capture that all important time, hand out the finish tokens and generally supervise an orderly completion of the run, keeping us in order in the funnel and helping us get our barcodes scanned. It’s always a friendly one, and many runners, supporters and volunteers always head to the nearby Costa Coffee for well-deserved post-run refreshments (and that’s where the RD and team sort the tokens, collate and publish the results and sort out any other post-run administrations).
All in all, one of the friendliest and most supportive parkruns on the Hampshire circuit, the warmest of welcomes even in the coldest of temperatures. I look forward to seeing you all again, team Whiteley!
I have been filming some of my recent parkruns on a GoPro, with time-lapse footage, so that potential parkrun participants can see the various courses and terrains before they visit and get some idea of the variety of events. Here’s my GoPro timelapse from Whiteley this morning: https://youtu.be/KYtVN-F4JOc (and all the others I have uploaded are on the same playlist).
Whiteley parkrun - every Saturday - 9am start - Run, Jog, Walk, Volunteer, Support, Enjoy!