Clair parkrun

The one with a ‘C’ for Cornetto! This mornings parkrun tourism adventure took me for a blast along the A272 to visit Clair parkrun in Haywards Heath. I’d set myself a little parkrun word challenge, just a bit of silliness really, a ‘C’ was what was required this morning to complete a part of it. Are you sitting comfortably, let me explain further. I’m on a bit of a parkrun tourism spree and to keep things interesting I’m doing a few different ‘challenges’ rolled in one, this is solely for my own personal amusement. The overall goal is to complete the parkrun alphabet, one of each letter. I’ve also been working my way through the nearby counties, I’ve done all the parkruns in Hampshire and am working through West Sussex and have just Horsham left to do.

Whilst I’ve been working through the letters I thought about words, it’s something quite a few parkrun tourists do, spell out a word using the first letter of each parkrun done in order. So, this is where it starts getting plain daft, I have a bit of a thing where I treat myself to an ice cream after every race, it’s usually a Cornetto. This all started with my sister back in 2009 when we ran the Great South Run together in my mothers memory and to raise money for The Brain and Spine foundation. They are the wonderful people who looked after my mum when she had a brain tumour. I’d never run before, I was overweight, morbidly obese, tipping the scales at in excess of 21 stone. Training was hard and I lost 5 stone in the process and managed to get round the 10 miles. At the end of the race we mucked about taking selfies of us with celebratory ice creams. I’ve basically been doing this ever since with Cornetto’s as a bit of a tribute to that day. This gradually crept into parkrun when I started touring, I started posting selfies with #parkruncornetto as the label. So what better word for me to spell out! I must also add that I am a huge fan of ‘The Cornetto Trilogy’ too.

“Do you want anything from the shop?”

So now I’ve shown you all some of the workings of my ‘inner idiot’, back to the parkrun report, this week was Clair parkrun. Clair is not an easy course, at all, it’s the toughest tarmac course I’ve done to date on my travels. It is not flat, there are many laps, four and a bit, did I mention it is not flat. This should not put you off though, oh no far from it, it’s a lovely friendly place to visit. There’s free parking at the Clair Hall car park (RH16 3DN will get you there) and also toilet facilities too. When you make your way into the park head to the pavilion, this is the meeting point and they open it up so you can leave your belongings in there.

There were 120 runners in attendance this morning with a few tourists present, I met fellow UK parkrun tourist group member Tim Gray who had popped down from Roundshaw Downs parkrun with some other members of Chiltern Church Runners. We were given the first timers brief where the course was explained to us detailing the loops and just how tough it is, toughest tarmac parkrun course in the area was the claim that was made.

You walk up the hill from the pavilion past the play area to the start line where we all huddled. Once 9am had arrived we were released to run, it’s a short run continuing up before we turn a corner and continue heading up. It’s a narrow path that we follow around the park so keeping left is important and being aware of your surroundings equally important, not a run for headphones, buggies or dogs in my opinion. Once the hill is crested you turn a corner (thank you marshal), before a lovely descent down past the pavilion, to the next corner (thank you marshal) and you drop down yet further still. Sounds great so far, but then there’s the sting in the tail, there’s a sharp little kick back up here, it’s got a great supportive marshal there too encouraging people up this tough little slope, “you’re looking strong”, “great running” and so forth, hats of to that man! Once up the kick there is little reprieve as it’s still a gentle up till you get to a 90 degree turn where local, Kevin Chamberlain, was calling out the times as people passed. This has an ankle biting little up too, and you’re then back at the start to do it all again, and again, and again, and again! 

The calling out of the times is really good on a course like this, it can really help you with pacing this to a PB time. Once YouTube done the up and start the downhill segment it gives your legs time to recover a bit for the next lot of up. My legs were screaming at me after the second lap, but I still managed to run each mile faster than the last. The finish is really nice as it is back down at the pavilion, so the course is in fact a net downhill course. That final lap is a killer but then the elation you feel as you drop down that hill for the last time to push to the finish is something else. Remember the claim I mentioned earlier about it being the toughest tarmac course, well I have to say it lived up to it. Gently undulating is not a term I would associate with Clair, it’s more akin to doing hill reps! Just look at the course profile!

So a small field, a narrow course, hill reps and multiple laps, small field aside this is not the criteria I normally look for in a run. Did I enjoy it, oh yes! Would I do it again, oh yes! What a tough little course but so welcoming and friendly, I really had quite a laugh this morning. So a big thank you is in order for everyone involved at Clair, you guys are awesome. 

A few of us, mainly the tourists, popped up the road for a lovely coffee and a full English. For me the apres-parkrun is a really important part of the parkrun community and it should really be encouraged. A humble request to any ED/RD that stumbles across this blog, as part of the run brief, designate a cafe, find one with wifi and clear it with them and head there to process the results and invite everyone along for a post run coffee and natter. If you book it they will come…

So there we have it, my Cornetto word challenge done, my 70th parkrun completed and my 33rd parkrun visited! What to do next week? Where will I go? What will I do? Can dogs really not look up? Will there be an ice cream involved? Will there be more tourism next week?

Only one way to find out, see you next week for another exciting episode….

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