The one on Greenham Common. In the 80’s and 90’s Greenham Common was synonymous with the movement ‘Women for life on Earth’ and protesting against the USAF’s Cruise missiles. These days it’s home to another game changing movement, parkrun. On the 11th February 2012 Newbury parkrun started up attracting 317 runners at their inaugural event and they have hosted 272 free weekly timed 5k runs since. The number of attendees has been anywhere between 109 and 497 week in week out with volunteer numbers ranging from 9 to 29.
This week, as it’s Newbury parkrun’s 5th Birthday, there was a takeover by local running group Hi 5 Roadrunners, who coincidently are celebrating their 1st anniversary today too. Cake all round, yay! They are an local running group led by volunteers that have a great ethos. They provide a free friendly supportive environment to help people with their running. To quote from their Facebook page, ‘Why “Hi 5?” Well, the answer is two fold. When running, we want you to say “hi” (if you can!) and to give your fellow runner a hand, we always offer a high 5 for morale! After all, we are all in this together; irrelevant of pace, irrelevant of miles, we are masters of our own destiny and success is personal!’. They meet every Thursday at Henwick Playing Field car park and have beginner, intermediate and advanced sessions, all led by Hi 5 volunteers catering for all levels of runners. If you are interested or have any questions, please contact Chris (pictured below in the fetching hat) on 07540870610 or email email@example.com.
On to the course itself, Newbury parkrun is a single lap run on part of the old airfield, and, much like last weeks trip to Ellenbrook Fields, it has movie ties. Star Wars, The Force Awakens was filmed just a stones throw from the 5k route. The studio did a set build there, including a Millenium Falcon, using the bunkers pictured below. So, that’s two airfields I’ve visited in two weeks to run a parkrun that have had films shot on location! Other than Black Park what other parkrun’s are there that have movie ties?
Getting there is easy enough as the route through the industrial estate is very well signposted and there is a marshal to guide you to the free car park. There are toilets, they are about 1km from the car park, those are clearly signposted too so you can stop off before parking up. Once onto Greenham Common you will find that the course is mainly hardpacked gravel underfoot and is well marked out. Today there was a light smattering of snow and puddles here and there to dodge or splash through. I opted for a light trail shoe over road shoes due to the snow but you’d be fine in road shoes. Even with the Baltic conditions this morning there was a healthy turnout of 366 runners.
There’s a large tarp laid out by the start/finish for you to place your jackets/bags on and the new runners brief is held near this. It’s a very straightforward course so the brief doesn’t take too long. There are a few tourists in attendance, including uber tourists Stephen and Dave Tarrant who have attending an amazing number of different parkrun’s between them. There were tourists ranging from Wimbledon, Havant, Alice Holt, Tilgate, Andover, Woodley and Roundshaw Downs to name a few.
The start can be a bit congested so positioning can be important depending on your speed. You head out along the periphery before taking a left and running across the old runway before bearing right to start a big loop. With the snow giving everything a light dusting you can imagine it being a bleak post apocalyptic wasteland, well you could if you weren’t surrounded by heaving breathing neon clad parkrunners smashing out a 5k that is! Round the top end of the loop you head back towards the perimeter fence where you start to push for home. There are a couple of small inclines here to push up which is surprising as it’s so flat, but they are gentle. Then it’s a hard push down to the finish funnel back where we started, job done!
Out of the 366 finishers there were 28 first timers to Newbury with 19 of them running their first ever parkrun, well done! There were also 38 new PB’s set, fantastic running on such a cold morning! On to milestones, Suzanne BROWNRIDGE ran her 100th today, congratulations centurion! and Lizzie MURRAY and Chris TURNER both racked up their 50’s, well done guys, wear those shirts with pride.
It’s an amazing space to run around, I love the fact that we have access to areas of land like this to run around and otherwise enjoy. I’d like to thank the RD and all the volunteers from Hi-5 Roadrunners for turning out in force and volunteering in such a cold morning, it’s never nice standing around in freezing conditions.
A large contingent headed back to the Toby Carvery for an all you can eat breakfast and took full advantage of it. I was a good boy and just had a coffee. I did however stop and grab the closest thing to a Cornetto I could find, an Oreo cookie based cone thing, maybe I shouldn’t have moaned so much last week about Strawberry!