Having had to cancel this weeks Yeovil Montacute parkrun due to high winds, Jodie and I, along with her visiting friend headed off to Southwick Country Park to run their run. It was the closest local event and the Event Director there is also our Ambassador.
It took about an hour and the weather was a it drizzly, but it was unseasonably mild at around 13 degrees – not that you could tell with the gusty wind whipping around us!
We arrived at about 8.30 with plenty of parking and it was easy and obvious to find the start and finish, the volunteer hi-vis and registration tent in the field by the entrance. On entering the park we saw this amazing statue! Constructed by local parkrunners it was presented on the very first Southwick Country parkrun and holds pride of place. Sadly, one of those who made it died recently, and the team paid their respects to him last week.
The start/finish area was already bustling with runners and volunteers, who were busily putting together the makeshift funnel. Usually its on the grass, but it was too squidgy today. The backup plan is to use cones on the concrete but they kept getting blown away! The creative solution was 2 volunteers holding a piece of tape – not sure if there is a predefined volunteer role for “Human Cone”!
Before long we were called to the start – about a 300 yard walk from the funnel area. We left our bags next to this tent – unfortunately shortly after this photo the wind got the better of it and it took a group of volunteers to grab it! I saw it stuffed under a fence after the run!
There were plenty of people gathering up on the start. As paths are narrow, everyone was snaked up at the start and the team had to call people in closer to do the run briefing, during which I had a special “shout out” which was very kind and a small ripple of applause!
The run briefing covered everything we needed to know, including the course description. 2 and 3/4 laps (Anticlockwise), and we had to pass the “Spirit of the parkrunner” statue twice. If you passed it a third time, you’ve missed the funnel!
The course was hard compact trail. Perfectly adequate to wear road shoes, but in the wet conditions trail shoes may have been a better choice, though not by much. The course was quite puddly – which I love! I don’t know why, but when you’re running a wet course people around you tend to run at the side and try and avoid getting their feet damp – that opens up nice big overtaking gaps, so I run through the middle and the water keeps you cool!
Another nice touch was that they have permanent marker posts, indicating the start, finish, and each kilometre. They are carved into short stump type posts, perfectly fitting with the aesthetic of the park and ideal for anyone wanting to have a freedom run.
My run was meant to be part of a 4mile recovery jog, but after the first half a mile I was enjoying myself too much and picked up the pace to finish at about my threshold pace, with a negative spit for every km I think! I finished in 25th place in 22:15. It was my 34th run across 13 different parkrun events. I thanked all the volunteers on the way round, and if you don’t – I recommend you do! Without them you couldn’t run, and on a multi lap course theres no excuse not to say thankyou to each marshal at least once.
Afterwards we went to the cafe, which also had toilets. You can use the toilets ahead of the run, but only if you come back and use the cafe afterwards, which is very fair! It was very busy and clearly enjoyed by parkrunners – it was standing room only!
They had an amazing selection of cakes on display, did a fantastic looking cooked breakfast and was all very good value. The other nice thing about the cafe is that it supports a local charity for adults with learning disabilities – another brilliant example of how parkrun supports local communities.
We hit the road shortly afterwards, whilst this nice lady was sorting the tokens. We had a lovely time, and will be back in the summer to have a crack in the dry!
UPDATE: “Official” photos from Southwick Country parkrun’s Flickr Group.