Reigate Priory parkrun

The one with the Armada beacon. Today I ticked another R off the list by visiting the rather lovely Reigate Priory parkrun. It is hosted in the ample grounds of it’s namesake, Priory park. The park contains plenty for everyone, from a skate park, tennis courts and children’s play area to a lake and formal gardens, nature trails and woods. For history buffs there is a museum and also the Armada Beacon up by the tree line, which was erected in 1988 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Reigate Priory was home to Howard of Effingham, who as Lord Admiral commanded the English fleet in its defeat of the Armada. With that very brief history lesson over it’s time to get involved in something else that is making history and the reason I am here, parkrun.

Reigate Priory parkrun is a lovely mix of trail and paths currently as it is being run on their winter course, the summer course is run on the grass but it’s switched to the paths to preserve the surface during the winter season. There is plenty of parking available on-site at a small cost in the Bell Street car park. There is also a nice cafe with bathroom facilities that parkrunners can use. In fact the circular cafe is the place to head when you arrive as the start congregates outside there. The parkrun takes you through the picturesque grounds and woodlands of Priory Park and I would say hybrid shoes are a must due to the woodland section, even though it wasn’t particularly muddy today. Oh yeah, I must mention that it is not what you could describe as a flat course, it’s got a few lumps. It’s a two loop course so you get to see everything twice and experience the undulating wood section twice.

The run director, Paul CHANDLER got proceedings underway this morning from the lofty heights of his bench-top vantage point (pictured below) delivering the run brief to the 231 strong audience of runners, thanking the volunteers and welcoming the 23 first timers and 16 tourists to Reigate Priory for event number 154. There were tourists today from Woodley, Ormskirk, Havant, Nonsuch, Riddlesdown, Horsham, Crane Park, Wimbledon and Tooting Common to name just a few. With a quick run down of the course and explanation of how the whole barcode thing works for the first timers it was time to line up to start the run. It’s a well marshalled, well signposted course and unless you’re going to run it in under 17 minutes then you’ll be following the pack so stand no chance of getting lost. Don’t forget to thank the marshals as you pass them, they are there so that you can run so a small gesture of thanks is the least you can do. Perhaps you’ve always fancied a crack at volunteering but don’t know what to do, if that’s the case then have a chat with Fran AFONSO and she will help you get started. Volunteering at parkrun is a great thing to do and opens up a whole different side to parkrun, it is so much more than just a run in the park. Give it a try, you might find that you like it and it really isn’t difficult, honest, there are even roles that you can fill that allow you to run.

The course is a two lap route comprising of a little loop/big loop that make up a single lap. It starts off on the nice paths by the cafe and runs past the house to then loop back on yourself to run past the children’s play area, then hang a left and run down towards the lake. When you reach the lake you bear left and pass along the side of the it before heading up into the woods. The wood section is an undulating path through the trees, it can be muddy underfoot with a calf tingling incline adjacent to the Armada Beacon to defeat before dropping back down to loop round the main house and back past to the start. I’ve made it sounds a lot more complicated than it is, it is simple, I promise. Once you’ve done the first lap you then push on round for a second time before getting back to the start/finish area where a finish funnel will have miraculously appeared before your final return, magic! Then it’s a final hard push to finish strongly across the line, remembering not to pass anyone in the finish funnel before you collect your finish token and then catch your breath and have a breather in the queue to get it scanned. Bish bosh, job done, congrats on your 5k run and fingers crossed for a PB.

Reigate Priory parkrun has a very friendly and welcoming environment with good levels of support and encouragement for all levels of runner, young or old. The park is such a fantastic open space with a bit of something for everyone, I’m definitely going to have to come back and visit again during the summer months. There is a nice vibe in the cafe afterwards for that all important apres-parkrun socialising. If you’ve never hung around after your run then I really recommend giving it a try. Have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake or even a cooked breakfast and a bit of post run conversation with fellow parkrunners, you get to meet so many interesting people with fascinating and inspiring stories. I met a few fellow members of the UK parkrun tourists group today in person for the first time today and enjoyed hearing about their experiences and getting to share in one of them.

Thank you to the Reigate Priory team for making me feel so welcome and hosting such a lovely event.

Oh yeah, before I round things up, there was no Cornetto today, but instead some nice mint choc chip ice cream from the counter in the cafe, perfect post run recovery food!

Here’s a few more pictures, click to enlarge.

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