As we are spending the next several weekends in Basingstoke, we have the opportunity to do some more parkrun tourism. Looking at the options, we found Newbury was most local (good), flat (good) and a one lapper (good)! So our choice was made. Newbury was my 14th different event, and 37th overall parkrun.
We turned up good and early (as I like to), and the sat nav directed us to a trading estate on the outskirts of Newbury. Greenham Common, where the run takes place, was at the very back of this estate, and if it weren’t for the excellent signage, could have been an absolute nightmare to a parkrun tourist!
Interestingly, future father in law used to work at Greenham Common when he was in the army, it used to be an army base and is dotted with nuclear bunkers!
Anyway, full marks to the early volunteers who helped us find our way and parked us efficiently.
The start was a short walk away, but we followed the mass of runners to find “Run HQ” and it was the “Keep it simple” philosophy personified. A piece of tarp for bags, and a couple of tables for barcode registration. Perfect parkrun!
It was freezing cold, though a very sunny day, very good conditions for running. The briefing was short and sweet, and interestingly they used the term “race” a lot here. Just a pet peeve of mine perhaps, but interesting to see how other events handle things. Before long we were off. Thankfully I positioned myself toward the front as I was hunting a PB, as there were a LOT of people and only a relatively narrow track.
The route is predominantly stony track, and is a single lap course which is basically flat. You run out on the path for 500 meters before taking a left to cross the disused airstrip, which was a bit manky and muddy. Once crossed, take a right on the track and follow the track all the way, looping back to the finish. It was well marked by cones, but very little in the way of marshals, which may be a concern to some. If there is an incident at the far corner of the course, it would take a very long time to relay that back to the start, but maybe thats just my risk averse nature!
One of the disadvantages of single lappers can be a lack of crowd “support” and this had some of the same. There were some supportive dog walkers and social runners, but it wasn’t quite the same as Yeovil Montacute or Basingstoke. The finish straight was excellently attended and superb encouragement from the gathered “masses”.
The route was a bit wet from previous days rain, but I quite like puddles – I go through the middle whilst others take the effort to go to the sides – makes it easier to pass people and makes my run a little shorter than theirs!
Although the course is flat, the last kilometer has a very slight incline, which, when coupled up with the blustery headwind made it a tough finish – must go back in the summer! When looking at my splits I can see my pace drop off despite my heart rate continuing to rise, which affected my time a bit.
There were some very friendly runners here too. Even on the run I was getting tips and advice from people, or just one chap in particular who advised me to tuck in and avoid the wind. Very nice of him to let me draft him!
My run went very well until the last KM. I was targetting a sub 20 for a 40 second PB, but with the last KM being so tough I missed out. On the plus side, I still managed a 19s all time 5k PB (20:22)! The sub-20 will just have to wait.
Jodie and Lucy joined me on tour, and despite neither registering a PB they found it an enjoyable run, and it was nice to hear from them that they struggled with the last section too, made me think it wasn’t just me being a wuss!
Barcode registration was a doddle as always and the volunteers at the finish area first class. Unfortunately we had to get back so couldn’t stick around for a post-run coffee, but we’ll definitely be back in the summer! Thank you Newbury parkrun 🙂