Andover parkrun

The one with the swans on the lake and the amazing cake! Today’s parkrun experience is brought to you by the letter ‘A’, Andover to be precise, not my first A (Alice Holt) but my last run required to complete all the parkruns in Hampshire, well, at least until some more come along. Hampshire has no less than 16 different parkruns within its borders, they are Alice Holt, Andover, Basingstoke, Brockenhurst, Eastleigh, Fareham, Havant, Lee on the Solent, Lymington Woodside, Netley Abbey, Portsmouth Lakeside, Queen Elizabeth, Rushmoor, Southampton, Southsea and Winchester and I’ve now done them all. We are quite spoilt for choice with some lovely courses on offer, a bit of something for everyone.

Andover’s not a million miles away so it’s not too early a start, it’s roughly 40 miles away, so a nice 80 mile round trip to go run 5k when my nearest is an 8 mile round trip, I can’t think why the Mrs thinks I’ve lost the plot! Anyhoo, reading the course description it’s a nice fast flat two looper, mainly on grass, so the light trail shoes are packed into the car, there’s a bit of tarmac too so they’re the best choice. On arrival it’s nice to find that there is plenty of free parking, even though I came close to ending up in my first Crossfit/Zumba session! Once I established where I was supposed to be I headed over to the finish funnel where the RD and his merry band of volunteers were assembling. I received a lovely warm welcome from Paul, the RD, and had a pleasant chat with him and a couple of volunteers before the start.

Obviously all things parkrun are very time dependant, so I made my way over to the first timers brief for a course rundown and parkrun overview. There’s a good collection of first timers and tourists, with visitors from Basingstoke, Salisbury and Killerton to name just a few. The course is really straightforward, two large loops of the playing fields and lakes with a couple of bridges to negotiate on the way. It really is pretty flat with a couple of little bumps to contend with, certainly a course you could push hard for a good time on. I wasn’t pushing for a fast time today as my legs are still quite trashed after last Sunday’s 28 miler, so I took the opportunity to grab a couple of pictures from a runners perspective.

There were 218 that ran this fine December morning and a handful of milestones in that lot too. Congratulations to Stevey Newby on reaching 50 parkruns, Helen Jude, Rebecca Meyer and Jay Taylor on earning themselves the black 100 shirt and Martin Welsh who today joined the 250 club. There was also a 40th birthday being celebrated, the birthday boy was dressed as a Stormtrooper, Happy Birrhday Darryl Walsh!

The first male finisher was a tourist from Killerton, Simon MINTING, storming in in 18:13, followed home by first female, Rosie HATTERSLEY in 20:16. Stephen STROUD and Dean MAKAR took second and third male spots, with Louise SWEENEY and Claire FORBES taking the female second and third spots respectively. There were 20 first timers at Andover, 5 of whom were completely new to parkrun, welcome to the parkrun family guys, I hope you love it as much as I do and you come back again. There was an amazing 27 PB’s today too, I’m guessing that could have been down to people wanting to get back to eat the delicious cakes that were on offer today, I don’t know who made these cakes but they were absolutely amazing!

Obviously this event couldn’t happen without volunteers, these guys are great, they made me feel very welcome today, friendly, encouraging and supportive, what more could you want. Remember readers, always thank the marshals, they’ve given up there time and runs so that you can run, a small thank you goes a long way. Why not try it out yourself too, I’ve just recently earned my 25 shirt for volunteering, it’s very rewarding and it opens up more elements of parkrun That often go unnoticed. Just head on over to the future roster page on the parkrun website, see what’s available and email them your name and what you’d like to do, it’s that easy. Get involved!

It’s a good location for a run, there are plenty of facilities available to use. There’s plenty of free parking available, nice open spaces with a couple of picturesque lakes, a sports centre, toilet facilities, children’s play area, mini golf, boating on the lakes (in the summer) and a cafe for the all important post parkrun three C’s, coffee, conversation and Cornetto! I went to the cafe after and joined a group of runners from BADAS.SS for a chat, it was great chatting with them all. Thank you for making me welcome. I also managed to get in a cheeky #parkruncornetto RESULT! What a great morning.

Thank you to everyone at Andover parkrun, I enjoyed completing my little challenge at your event and will be back sometime next year for a repeat visit.

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