Lee on the Solent parkrun

The one with the mountainous bump. This morning sees me taking a short trip down the coast to participate in the 64th running of the Lee on the Solent parkrun. It’s my nearest event not yet done #nenyd and ticks off location 19 on my parkrun tour, 18 different UK parkruns and 1 US parkrun under my belt and counting. One of the things I most love about parkrun is the fact you can go to any event being held around the world and you know what to expect, like minded people either running or volunteering week in week out, all firmly entrenched in the parkrun community. Each parkrun the same format, yet different, all unique in their own way and that’s down to both the location and the wonderful people involved.

It’s really very easy to find, you just head to the Lee on the Solent Skatepark, postcode for the SatNav is PO13 9LR, the start/finish is adjacent to that, if in doubt look for the gaggle of neon clad runners/volunteers, you can’t miss them really. Parking is available next to the start in the Beach Road carpark and is free up to 10am. As with most places that have free parking available it’s better to not leave it to the last minute to get there, but I’m a big fan of getting to parkrun early to mingle and chat with the volunteers.

The course itself is along the promenade and like most seafront promenade courses it is very fast and pretty much flat with potential for a PB if the wind is being kind. It’s an almost out and back course. You run along one way, hit the turn and go back, then run past the start/finish area to another turnaround point, turn and run back to finish in a blaze of glory, or something like that. There is a small incline about halfway into the course which you encounter again near the finish as well as a small patch of shingle to contend with twice. It’s definitely a course for road shoes as is 98%* tarmac path.

This morning 311 parkrunners braved the less than perfect conditions. The new runners brief at 8:50 drew a small crowd with a mixture of tourists, from as far afield as Hill Head and Canada, and a healthy number of first timers. Once the course and basics of parkrun were covered off nicely we rejoined the throng and listened to the Run Director, Pippa, welcome everyone and give the main brief. This week a couple of birthdays were announced, a ‘fantastic five’ 50 milestones as well as the general health and safety stuff. This all ran like clockwork and shortly after 9am we were given the 3-2-1 and released back into the wild!

It’s a busy start, the first mile is quite congested with some accidental bumping of elbows, but it starts to thin out after the first turn. If you’re a faster runner than me then you should certainly position yourself towards the front of the pack to get through this. The run to the first turn was into the wind this morning, with a light drizzle to keep us cool (every cloud!). Certainly a stark comparison to last weeks Clermont parkrun where the temperature was 28c, humidity was 95% and there was no ‘gentle sea breeze’!

As I was approaching the first turn the lead runner, Luke Powell, was hurtling back the other way, with a huge gap between him and the second runner, with the chasing pack further behind. The nice thing about these out and back runs is the support and encouragement that other runners give each other as they pass in opposite directions. I get hailed by a couple of runners I know, which spurs me on a bit. Back past the start/finish we go, the ‘voluncheers’ living up to the moniker. Wind now sort of behind us it feels a bit easier, past the skate park and up the small incline, not yet a mountainous bump**, does little to slow the pace as people push on and take advantage of the breezy conditions. Past the cafe and the children’s play area and over the small shingle patch, that can trouble some buggies and on to the next turn.

Before the turn it is evident that Luke Powell has increased his lead yet further still as he rips past us looking strong and comfortable on his way to a very respectable 17:10. Hitting the turnaround point (thank you marshal) the gentle breeze again is more of a hindrance than a help as we head back towards the finish. This stretch now feels slightly longer than it was going the other way, the small incline now a mountainous twin stage speed bump!** There is one nice thing about the small incline being where it is, it means you’ve got a small downhill segment to speed you towards the finish funnel, something to help you with that last hard push.

I make a point of thanking marshals as I pass them at every parkrun I attend, now the weather is on the turn I would encourage every other parkrunner to do likewise, it costs nothing, a simple “thank you marshal” or even just a smile as you pass. It’s not nice standing out there in wind and drizzle, a small thank you goes a long way.

I enjoyed my trip down to Lee on the Solent this morning, it’s a nice friendly and welcoming experience. Thank you to Pippa, the RD, for being so welcoming, thank you to all the volunteers and thank you to this reprobate on the stopwatch at the end, great to see you again Paula.

* all statistics pretty much made up on the spot

** I am often prone to slight exaggeration!

Oh yeah, my time. I’d set out to run the course in 25 minutes, that was my target as I still feel fat and bloated from my holiday!

Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun results for event #64. Your time was 00:24:58.

Congratulations on completing your 45th parkrun and your 1st at Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun today. You finished in 71st place and were the 68th male out of a field of 310 parkrunners and you came 13th in your age category VM40-44. Well done on your first run. We have set this as your PB.


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