The one with bobble hats and bubbly! This morning it was a cheeky little half hour drive up the A3 to pay another visit to the gorgeous Alice Holt parkrun. This was one of the first parkruns I visited when I started touring back in April and I have to say it’s still up there as one of favourites. I could go as far as saying even more so in this autumn/winter season as the colours of the leaves on the trees is simply spectacular. Looking back, Alice Holt was actually my 25th parkrun and my 3rd location, seems like an age ago, I blogged about it previously Here. Since that first foray into parkrun tourism I’ve met so many people, got myself onto the most events table and become part of the UK parkrun tourist Facebook group. It’s because of this that I’m visiting Alice Holt for a second time this year. There is a tourist group meet up to celebrate one of the groups 250th parkrun milestone, an amazing achievement. Not only has Toria has done 250 parkruns, she has attended 51 different venues and filled in excess of 200 volunteer roles. She is also a regular at the QE Social runs I attend on a Wednesday evening. The perfect excuse for a repeat visit, oh yeah, and there will also be cake! Nom nom!
Normally I tour on my own but this week I was chauffeured up there by a friend from Fareham Crusaders, Paula Williams, accompanied by her son Owen. It was Paula’s 19th different location so she will soon be able to sign up to the UK Tourists group and sport a cow cowl. I can be a bit of a solitary chap and the Saturday morning drive to parkrun is normally a bit of “me time”, but it made a pleasant change to have someone to talk to on the journey and made it go a lot quicker. I’ll definitely have to make more of an effort to car share with people in future. Thank you so much for the lift there and back Paula, it was great.
There is a nice buzz around the place as runners start to congregate from far and wide. There’s a nice big car park and great restroom facilities available right by the start. It’s a great set up at Alice Holt and it’s totally geared up for a weekly event of this nature. We wander through the assembled throng and do a bit of a meet and greet. So many familiar faces this time and lots wearing cow cowls, so many people to say hello to, shake hands with, hug! Such a different experience from my first visit, I’ve met so many people in the year I’ve been doing parkrun. We make it through the crowd just in time to catch the end of the first timers brief, though I’ve run the course before Paula and Owen haven’t. The first timers brief is full of people wearing cow cowls, in fact there are loads on show today. As well as Toria’s 250th, there are some other milestones, three juniors ran their 10th, there was also a 50th and no less than three 100th milestones too! Celebrations all round with lots of people there to share the special occasions, 269 runners in total. This broke down as 7 first timers, 33 tourists and 229 regulars.
The Alice Holt course is all nice hard pack trail, so a light trail shoe is what you want this time of year (as well as bobble hats!). It’s a beautiful undulating course through the forest, sort of one little loop, then one big loop. It’s not the hilliest I’ve run but it is definitely lumpy with an uphill run to the finish line too. Whilst you’re running round the course, if you keep your eyes open, you can see a couple of Gruffalo, “A gruffalo! Why, didn’t you know? He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws, And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.”. There’s great support on route, so don’t forget to thank the marshals as you pass, especially now it’s getting colder out there, a small thank you goes a long way when your toes are frozen!!!
Once the run was done, in a somewhat slower time than my last visit, I managed to obtain a #parkruncornetto from the cafe, Strawberry mmmm, they provide discount for anyone with a parkrun barcode. I also was presented with some bubbly! What a perfect way to finish a parkrun, ice cream and bubbles! Thank you Toria for laying on such a wonderful spread of cakes, haribo and bubbles and again a massive congratulations on your 250th parkrun, onwards to 500! Repeat visit in another 5 years?
If you’ve not done a parkrun before then do so, it’s such a great community, give it a try, its way more than just a run in a park.
If you’ve done a parkrun but not done a different parkrun then do so, you meet so many lovely people touring.
If you’ve done a parkrun but not volunteered then do so, it opens up a whole different layer of parkrun and it’s an amazing thing. Get involved!