The one with all the clackers. Today was a 50 mile road trip from Waterlooville down to Salisbury to do a bit of parkrun tourism, Salisbury parkrun event #71 being my 22nd different parkrun location in almost as many weeks. My reasons for visiting Salisbury parkrun this week are twofold, first is to tick another location off the list and the second was to meet up with Ben Smith of the 401 Challenge again and go for a run around the beautiful Wiltshire countryside on marathon 397 of 401! The weather however had different ideas, the heavens opening as I was heading down the M27, but hey, I’m sure it’ll have dried out by the time I get there, I’m ever the optimist.
OK, so being an optimist didn’t make a blind bit of difference as usual, upon parking up in the Southampton Road car park I’m almost positive that the rain actually got worse. I sat in the car for a further 10 minutes chanting, burning incense and offering up a sacrificial mini finger of fudge to the rain gods, it did not appease them, maybe one day… ever the optimist… Clambering out of the car I brave the rain and head over to find the start and say hello to the wonderful volunteers and organisers. It is now tipping it down and I can see the volunteers in the distance huddled underneath a small gazebo receiving their instructions from this weeks RD. Given the rubbish weather there is a very healthy number of volunteers in attendance, 33 people in fact. Volunteering is so rewarding, if you’ve not done it then you should really get involved and see what goes on behind the scenes. There are lots of roles that you can fulfill, all of them easy, and a few of them that allow you to run and still get a volunteer point against your name. Talk to your events team, they will be happy to hear from you. There is also a handy bag drop tarp next to the gazebo to allow you to attempt to keep your already sodden jackets and bags a bit drier whilst you’re running around the course, not all parkruns do this, it is a nice thoughtful touch. I have to say I absolutely loved parkrunosaurus putting out a very very important message which must be heeded! It is vitally important that you don’t take the finish tokens home, they are not cheap to replace.
Obey the parkrunosaurus! As 9.00am draws closer the number of people braving the rain increases, in fact there is a very healthy 321 runners in attendance and not a Dusty Bin in sight (ask your parents if you don’t get the reference!). There’s a lot going on this morning, with the “Walk Yourself Fit” event being run today, which included a nice little warm up for all the soggy runners. There is also the small matter of the visiting dignitaries, the incredible Ben Smith of the 401 Challenge (Text “BEN” to “70660” plus amount to donate to the cause.) and John Glen local MP who’s starting the proceedings. Some say the good turnout on a rainy day could be down to it being James Mills birthday, the number 33 was mentioned, but I’m sure that’s just the number of times he’s actually run a parkrun rather than volunteering! Oh and let’s not forget that it’s also International parkrun day today, Happy 12th Birthday parkrun, keep on changing peoples lives for the better, truly a game changer for so many.
Shortly before 9am the new runners brief is announced and us Salisbury 1st timers creep out of what shelter we could find and huddle together in the rain. There are quite a few 1st timers this week (me being one of them), 59 in total this week, 30 new to parkrun (well done guys!) as well tourists from Winchester, Havant, Cambridge, Basingstoke, Stubbington Green and Sutton to name just a few. With the basics of parkrun covered off and the course explained, it’s a 3 lapper with some twisty turns and slippy grass sections today so watch your step. With the newbies brief over it’s time for the RD to give the main brief by way of megaphone. He welcomes everyone and thanks the wonderful volunteers, welcomes the visiting dignitaries, or at least tries to, one of them is absent, I won’t say who but it’s not Ben Smith, he is there, he is introduced and warmly welcomed. Some milestones are announced and the health and safety blurb covered. It’s time to run! We head over a short way to the start line and take our positions and get ready to go, but wait, the missing dignitary has arrived and is just in time to set us off, he looks a bit out of breath, almost like he might have gotten a bit lost and had to run the rest of the way, but I could just be guessing!
From the moment we set off and start passing the numerous marshals on the course (thank you marshals) the runners are greeted with a cacophony of sound from clackers that each one has, as well as cheers and encouragement. They are amazing, Salisbury has the noisiest and most enthusiastic marshals I’ve come across in my travels to date, they were all superb. I’m loving the clackers, every parkrun should have these, nice touch. I’m also going to give special mention to a young lady on the turn by the River Avon, I believe her name was Liz, first time going past her she was smashing out hearty ‘good morning’ welcomes to all runners that passed, she was awesome, they all were. On to the course itself, it is a 3 lapper and it is twisty and turny. I’m not a big fan of multi-lap courses, twice round is usually enough for me, but Salisbury pulls it off well which is in no small part down to the level of support from the marshals. It’s a nice flat course, the pathway down by the river starting to get a little broken up by tree roots, not the passing footfall of the runners I hasten to add. It’s predominantly pavement, but there are some grassy sections which, now it’s getting wetter, you’ve got to take carefully as is slippy in places. There are some nice puddles on a couple of the paving areas that you can either splash through or avoid.
Third time around you are directed off towards the finish funnel, a nice final push to get that PB with plenty of support again to get you motivated to sprint to that finish line. The funnel is well organised and runners are processed through quickly, the barcodes scanned efficiently and the post run results processed quickly and at your door (text/email) in no time at all, I had mine through shortly after 11. Great work guys.
I loved my visit to Salisbury parkrun this morning, regardless of the weather, it was a warm welcome and very friendly atmosphere. I would have love to gone and had a post run coffee but there was a small matter of a marathon to run with Ben, but that’s another story for another time. Thank you so much to everyone involved, you’ve got a really good thing going there and again to those that might be thinking about volunteering, do it, get involved, be a part of something special, you won’t regret it.
See you next time.
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