The one with the ponies. I’ve been waiting a while for Brockenhurst to switch to its winter course before making the hours drive down there to tick another Hampshire parkrun off the list. I had planned on a visit last weekend, but ticking off my 25th volunteering role this year at Portsmouth Lakeside meant it took a back seat. On the drive down the M27 with rain lashing down I was starting to think maybe that hadn’t been the best of ideas, but then I remembered skin is waterproof and shrugged it off. Once off the motorway, the beauty of the New Forest unravelling before me, the morning, though damp and overcast, was on the up. What an amazing place, rolling countryside with horses roaming free, I had one of those feeling alive moments.
I found it really easy to get to and there is a large free carpark right by the start which makes life easy for a tourist trip. There is also a toilet block close to hand too. I can tell I’m in the right place as there a glimpses of neon clothing visible on people waiting out the weather in the warmth and safety of their cars. I’ve brought a set of light trail shoes with me today which seemed to be the perfect call for the conditions. Whilst there were a few puddles around the course and it was generally wet, there was very little mud.
With 9am approaching people started to abandon their protective bubbles and head over to the start/finish area where the hardy volunteers were busy getting things prepped and ready. There’s a nice pleasant and friendly atmosphere with easy comfortable conversations going on. It’s almost a bit of a pop up parkrun, one minute there were only a few souls there, the next there were 87 runners raring to go. There may have been some slight reluctance to shed layers, but those who chose to remove their jackets were able to store them in a large plastic bag to keep them dryish, which was a nice touch. The run director starts his brief off welcoming the tourists along and the first timers, thanks the volunteers, gives a run down of the course (a map of which is pinned to a nearby tree) and the rest of the usual stuff.
On to the run itself, it’s a large single loop course with a tiny bit of an out and back a couple of miles in, which is nice as I saw high fives a plenty and heard calls of encouragement from other runners. It starts off with a really nice long downhill, I’m liking this, but in the back of my mind I know it’s going to get a bit lumpy later. It’s such a picturesque place to run, the forest either side providing lovely shelter from the elements. It reminds me of Black Park, but much hillier. Did I mention it’s a bit lumpy! There are three inclines to deal with, the first one comes after the long downhill and you think ok that’s not so bad. Ooh downhill again, this is Ok, then you’re on to the next one in no time at roughly the half way point. Now this is a bit tougher, fair play to the lady with the buggy who flew past me on the downhill, it was hard enough without pushing anything. It’s not too long an incline and once at the top it’s a bit bobbly, before another nice downhill. But wait, what is this before me, the third hill, it’s a toughy, it takes the wind right out of my sails, even the scenery isn’t helping take my mind off it!
On the plus side the finish isn’t too much further, on on, last push to the finish line. I may have been breathing like Darth Vader on this last stretch, but I certainly didn’t feel the force flowing through my legs. I attempt to push harder and take the guy who’s shoulder I’ve been on for the past mile which ends in a sprint finish, he kept his place, I was done for! What an excellent run though, such a lovely course, and such friendly marshals.
Looking at the results there were 11 first timers to the course with 4 people running their first ever parkrun, welcome to the parkrun family. One of today’s tourists, Paul RUSSHARD, from Basildon, was the first male finisher smashing out a superb 17:54, followed by Frank HANDY in 18:10 and junior Henry HARRIS in 18:25. First female finisher was Alice BOWLES in 20:41, followed by Karen WARDLE in 23:05 and Jane HODGE in 23:55. There were no milestones this week, but it looks like there might be a couple on the cards next week. There were visitors from Basildon, Moors Valley, Havant, Southampton, Poole and Edinburgh.
As a visitor from Havant I really enjoyed my trip to Brockenhurst parkrun, thank to to everyone involved, despite the miserable weather I had a nice warm feeling. It was worth the wait for the winter course, it’s a beautiful place to run and such a lovely friendly atmosphere. This has made it on to my favourite parkrun list and I’ll be back for more runs in the future. One thing that I do think it’s crying out for is a pop up coffee shop or similar, I could have really done with a hot drink after. I’m not sure how that sort of thing works but it could be a nice little earner for a small local business and really add to the vibe they have going on there. It’s well worth a visit.
Another Brucey bonus, I managed to track down a Cornetto. #parkruncornetto, it’s totally a thing!