The one with all the Santa hats and Christmas Jumpers. With Christmas just a couple of parkruns away it’s time to start getting into the Christmas spirit (which is now perfectly acceptable seeing as we are now firmly into December!). What better way to spread Christmas cheer than to attend a “Santa Hats and Christmas Jumpers” event being advertised at my nearest parkrun not yet done #nenyd, Bognor Regis. Bognor Regis parkrun is held at Hotham (not Gotham!) Park, it’s only 25 miles from home and is my 3rd West Sussex parkrun. Having completed all the Hampshire parkruns last week West Sussex is the next parkrun tourism target. Today is their 131st event so it’s a nice established parkrun with well over 2 years under their belt.
As a tourist I always check the events parkrun website and Facebook page for any last minute changes so as not to have a wasted journey, though I have to say it’s a good habit for any parkrunner to adopt. Lucky I did today as an announcement went out late last night asking everyone to wear their V25 tops under their Christmas jumpers. parkrun UK are showcasing the Aubergine shirts this week so a group photo and an opportunity to be featured on the national sites couldn’t be missed, even as a voluntourist!
It’s nice to focus on the volunteers as obviously without them we couldn’t run. If you still want to run there are plenty of positions you can fill to help your parkrun, like run report writer, pre-event set up, first timers brief, token sorting and tail running to name a few. As a first time visitor I checked the Future Volunteer Roster page prior to my trip to see if there was anything I could do to help, run report for me. Don’t be scared to get involved, it’s great fun, rewarding and opens up a whole new side to parkrun that you may miss out on. Give it a go, none of the roles are difficult and everyone is lovely.
Lets get down to business, running, something else to check before leaving is the course details. I need to make sure I take the right footwear with me! The course is all tarmac so road shoes are the order of the day whatever the weather. Parking nearby is simple, there are a couple of car parks close as is Butlins, holidaymakers have no excuse not to bring their running kit, there are toilet facilities and a cracking little cafe for a post parkrun coffee (ice cream) or breakfast.
I got there early and bumped into a familiar face, Tony HOLCOMBE, he was doing pre-event set up so I jogged the course with him to get familiar with it. It’s a clockwise 4 lapper around Hotham Park, 1 small lap, 3 big laps and the starting point is near the boating lake, which is easy enough to find. As it’s a multi-lap course it’s quite twisty and turny and pretty much wherever you are positioned in the pack you will either lap someone or be lapped yourself, unless you’re super quick, which I’m not, I got lapped about 2 miles in by the first 3 finishers!
Ben BOWERS, the Run Director (RD) got proceedings underway with the run brief, welcoming the first timers and the tourists visiting Bognor from a far, there were a couple of milestones, both official, with Debbie MILLAR earning her 50th milestone Tshirt today, and unofficial, with David ROWE running his 400th parkrun, an immense number of runs! It’s then a quick run through the health and safety and other announcements like the Christmas and New Years plans, Bognor are holding a Christmas day parkrun and on New Years day it’s possible to do a parkrun double if you’re prepared to make a little road trip to Chichester first. With all the formalities out of the way we shuffle as a group down towards the clock tower and we’re huddling together ready to start another parkrun.
9am arrives and we set off as a group, some minor bottlenecks at the beginning but in no time the pack starts to spread out and thin as everyone gets up to speed. It is an intricate little course that uses all the space available to it in a very efficient manner. Be aware that some of the paths can be a bit narrow so passing or being passed by other runners can be a tricky, keep your wits about you. I’d personally recommend using these moments as an opportunity to encourage others in their run, it can make a difference. Most importantly, don’t forget to thank the marshals, be vocal or if you’ve not got enough puff to do this then give them a smile/wave/thumbs up as you pass, courtesy costs nothing.
There were 191 finishers today, there were 12 first timers with 7 of those being completely new to parkrun, well done guys, hope to see you again soon. First male finisher across the line was Conrad MEAGHER in 17:53 followed by Jacob MADDISON,running his first ever parkrun in 18:21, closely followed by Callum ALDOUS in 18:25. The lead lady was Emily MOORE in 19:46 followed by Sophie WRIGHT in 22:01 closely followed by Juliet STALLARD in 22:05. There were a smashing 16 pre-Christmas PB’s, fantastic running folks. The were sadly 12 ‘Unknown’ runners, remember folks Don’t Forget Your Barcode #DFYB. No barcode, no time!
There’s a lot of support at Bognor and it’s a well marshalled course, which it needs to be due to the number of laps and turns. It’s a nice friendly vibe and the park has got pretty much everything you could want if you had a non-runners (heaven forbid) in tow, there’s a cafe, miniature railway, mini golf, children’s play area, boating lake, bandstand and so on. I expect during the summer months Hotham Park is quite the hive of activity. Bognor also has a resident cake club who laid on a fantastic array of post run treats, the little mince pies I sampled were fantastic, thank you very much indeed. Is parkrun really a parkrun without a bit of cake at the end? It was nice to see that so many had made the effort and turned up in either Christmas jumpers or hats, or both. There was even a Santa and elf in a sleigh combo spotted at the start, along with a few reindeer too, ho ho ho!
I enjoyed my trip to Bognor Regis parkrun and if you’ve never done a parkrun then it’s a nice place to try it out, it caters for people of all speeds and abilities in a very low pressure environment, with times ranging from 17 minutes to 54 minutes today, all are welcomed and applauded. The apres parkrun atmosphere is great too with plenty of regulars attending the cafe afterwards. I joined Laura BAGNALL and Anita WATKINS for a sit down, coffee and breakfast (ice cream) after, thank you for the hospitality ladies, it was lovely to meet you today. In fact I have to say a big thank you to everyone at Bognor for being so welcoming.
Finally, the question that you all want to know the answer to, did I get a #parkruncornetto at the end, sadly not, but the cafe did serve me up an awesome funky banana ice cream cone instead, result!