The one with the broken scanners. It’s Saturday and another early morning to get myself off to parkrun. I had planned on going to the inaugural event in Worthing, but a last minute change in plans meant I was off to Endure24 in Reading. This left me with three viable options, Basingstoke, Reading or Newbury. Whilst Reading and Newbury were closer to my final destination, Basingstoke was en route so my mind was made up, Basingstoke it is.
Basingstoke parkrun is “only” 32 miles up the road from me, so way nearer than last weeks Black Park trip. The Basingstoke parkrun course is all about variety according to their website which sounded intriguing, I do like a bit of variety on my runs. It reports to have “a selection of grassed and tarmac paved paths that are both open and through woodland”. Two laps around the park, bish bosh, job done. I’ve programmed Basingstoke War Memorial park into the satnav and made the fourty five minute long drive up the road and parked up a little way past the park entrance in a small short stay carpark on the one way system. £1.80 I think it was for two hours parking, it was free for the first hour but I thought I’d better not risk it and I was there early anyway.
My hatred for being late turned out to be a blessing in disguise for when I walked through the archway into the park I was greeted by scenes of bouncy castles being set up, no neon clad runners, no volunteers in high vis, nada! Oh dear, a quick scan of the Basingstoke parkrun webpage shows that the event is actually at Crabtree Plantation, where the hell is that! It’s at this point I spot someone way way off in the distance in running gear walking purposefully in the opposite direction. With nothing to lose here I set off at a trot across the park down towards where I spotted him, I start feeling slightly reassured as as I get closer as I can make out a couple more people clearly headed to parkrun. I catch up with the man who’s name I sadly neglected to ask for and got chatting with him. He guided me all the way to the start, I certainly wouldn’t have found it easily on my own.
The Crabtree Plantation course is basically two loops of a large green open space. The Crabtree Plantation itself is a nature reserve just minutes from Basingstoke town centre, with beautiful woods and open fields for fantastic views, you’d never have thought you were near the city centre. It’s got a bit of a hill at the end of it too!
I’m wearing my apricot Havant home run shirt and am one of a number of tourists there, there are quite a few Endure24 shirts on display too so I’m clearly not the only one on my way there. There is a bench and a flag where people are congregating, there is also a large plastic sheet on the floor for people to put their jackets and bags on, not a bad idea that. I take advantage of it and leave my coat there.
This was the 430th Basingstoke parkrun so it’s well established and this second location is also well used, there are often things on in the War Memorial park so it’s great to have a backup location within 10 minutes walk.
The Events Director, Steve Fisher, got proceedings underway with a loud whistle and some shouting at the stragglers to hurry up, all very jovial. He’s stood on the bench to give himself a much needed vantage point. There’s a quick run down of the course with some laughing and joking about the hill, no separate first timers briefing here. There are a couple of milestones announced, including an amazing 250 milestone! He also announced that he’s stepping down as ED after 2 years and I get the impression that he will be missed by many, plenty of banter there.
On to the run itself, I plan on taking it very steady as I’ve it’s only been a few days since my 20 miler and I’ve got more running to do later anyway. There’s a pretty large crowd so I opt for positioning myself relatively near the front. We start off with a gentle slope down through a little hedgerow and then back up a small incline into a thicket where there is a turn around point, basically following the outer treeline of the reserve. This is quite a nice undulating course, pushing back up again the direction we came to reach a nice long hill (watch the rabbit holes) down towards the kids zipline/play area. Once you get here there is a short but relatively sharp hill back up to the start, shown at the 10 minute mark in the picture below.
So that’s one lap completed, one to go. It’s a straight forward course, just a great big loop. The second lap goes without issue and I make up a few places on the hill at the end, lots of people walking it. The final push to the finish is downhill so if your quads are suitably recovered from the climb you can push hard here and reel in a few more places.
I cross the line in roughly 25 1/2 minutes, collect finish token 106 and join the queue for the scanners whilst recovering from the effort. There are two queues increasing in length as more and more runners finish the course. The marshals have to move them away from the funnel exit to avoid congestion, there is a problem! The scanners are down, not good, pen and paper is obtained and the laborious task of writing down names, barcode number and finish position starts. There are three people now taking numbers.
Basingstoke parkrun results for event #430. Your time was 00:25:32.
Congratulations on completing your 33rd parkrun and your 1st at Basingstoke parkrun today. You finished in 107th place and were the 92nd male out of a field of 328 parkrunners and you came 11th in your age category VM40-44. Well done on your first run. We have set this as your PB.
Now, for some other numbers, there were 328 runners, which is a Crabtree Plantation record, including 43 first timers to Basingstoke parkrun, of whom 27 were running their first parkrun, so 16 tourists in total myself included.
So another parkrun destination off the list, 10 down, but as its not the official location I guess I’ll have to revisit this one again in the future. I quite enjoyed this one but wouldn’t put it up there on my favourites list, the course wasn’t very varied being two loops of a big space, but it was challenging and offers some views, but didn’t colour me inspired. Organisation and atmosphere was good, the marshals friendly and efficient especially with the challenges at the end.
So it’s a long walk back to the car for me and off to Endure! No parkrun for me next week as its a race day instead.