The one with the pied piper of marathon running. Another Saturday another parkrun, today it’s another little jaunt up the A3, this time a visit to Rushmoor parkrun. This morning was their 117th event which means they’ve been going since sometime around May/June 2014. It shows too, they’re a nice friendly well established event with some nice little tweaks to the format that they’ve introduced over time to make it run smoothly.
The course initially caught my eye on the parkrun website as being run partly along a canal tow path. I like running tow paths, nearby Frimley Lodge similarly runs alongside the same canal. Seeing as it’s only 42 miles away it’s not too early a start as its a straightforward enough place to get to. It was also one of 3 Hampshire events I’ve not yet done, Andover and Brockenhurst being the other two. On top of all that a certain Mr Ben Smith from the 401 challenge was starting marathon 390 of 401 there too, how could I possibly miss the chance of being involved in something so epic!
I arrived early as usual and found myself in the wrong car park, it’s an easy mistake to make. It was evident that modern technology had given me a bum steer so I turned around and drove back out immediately. I was glad that I did as whilst exiting the carpark I spotted a lady, Steph RADFORD, in an aubergine (not a colour) volunteers top. I called to her from the car and was given directions to the real ‘car park 6’, which was roughly where I was, but I needed to drive around the back to get to it. It’s a huge grass formed carpark with free parking all day, you can’t beat that. Having parked up in the right place I wandered back towards the start and bumped into Steph again, she was putting up signs informing people like me that the first carpark I’d gone to was indeed the wrong one. We had a lovely chat whilst she was doing that and bimbled over to the start line together, a very friendly and welcoming arrival this week.
To continue on with the warm welcome vibe, a chap I follow on Instagram popped over to introduce himself, Adrian LUSCOMBE. He had made the trip over from Bracknell to run parkrun with Ben today having run a full marathon with him on Friday, amazing stuff. This was Adrian’s 47th parkrun, coincidently the the same number as me, he’s up to 13 different parkruns himself, well on his way towards becoming an uber-tourist. Lovely to meet you today Adrian. I also bumped into Kevin MARTIN who I recognised from Facebook and had a chat with him, he’s run over 50 different parkruns, lovely to meet you too Kevin.
There was an excited buzz around the place as Ben had arrived. He’d run a mile there from where he’d been staying overnight. He was exceptionally easy to spot as was soon enveloped in a crowd of people wanting to get pictures with him. There were a great deal of 401 tops on display today showing their support of what this amazing man is doing. He’s very down to earth and approachable and genuinely happy to stand, chat and take selfies with other runners. Whilst queuing for that all important selfie I bumped into another tourist rocking the cow cowell, Rebecca ASHBY, she’d made the long trip up from Ashford in Kent to be at Rushmoor, her 27th different parkrun.
Judging by the number of runners at the new runners brief I was not the only one that decided today was a good day to run Rushmoor. The brief was given by the RD, Alex RADFORD, who had been introduced to me earlier by Steph, they are brother and sister. Alex rattled through the course description and explanation in fine fettle, setting the tone nicely for the event to come. The RADFORD’s are clearly very passionate about parkrun and it shows, it’s so nice to see and experience.
On to the main brief, this was delivered to the expectant crowd of 379 runners, by Alex, by way of megaphone. He’s perched atop some steps to make him visible to all and is accompanied by Steph with some cue cards. This works really well in my opinion, from where I was stood there didn’t appear to be too much talking going on over the brief. It was a long one as there were quite a few milestones to work through on top of the usual blurb, the 401 challenge also factoring in to the brief too. It’s a slightly later start, but not by much especially given the amount to go through, we get running about 7 minutes past nine.
On to the course, it’s a two looper, run on path and hardpack trail so road shoes are the order of the day, for me it’s my trusty Hoka Claytons. It starts next to the football pitch and runs diagonally through the centre of the field to the top corner where you head out and onto the pavement adjacent to the A325. I’m not mad keen on this part as I’ve really gone off road running having been so spoilt with trails this year. That said, it’s got a bit of a downward slope so you can power along it before you get to the turn and onto the canal tow path. The contrast here is amazing, from deafening road noise to canal side tranquility in the blink of an eye. This section I really enjoy, then it’s back out into the park to run down and repeat. At the end of the 2nd lap instead of turning left to cross the field again you power straight down to the finish. Sprint finishes the order of the day. Tokens are handed out and scanners are then highlighted by a separate little funnel who get everyone processed in good order. It’s a nice set up and all the marshals along the route, the volunteers and visitors are all incredibly supportive.
I’d like to thank everyone at Rushmoor for making my visit such a warm and welcome one. I loved being a part of this special day, everyone there was great. Big thanks go out to Steph and Alex too, thanks for a lovely morning.
Onto the boring bit now, my results, I didn’t push too hard this morning as I had planned to go for a bit of a run with Ben after, I had 12 miles in my head as a total for the day. I ended up doing parkrun and then another 24 miles on top, but that’s for another blog.
Congratulations on completing your 47th parkrun and your 1st at Rushmoor parkrun today. You finished in 96th place and were the 89th male out of a field of 379 parkrunners and you came 8th in your age category VM40-44. Well done on your first run. We have set this as your PB.