The one with the boathouse on the Thames. Saturday, saturday, saturday, the day of the week that is eagerly anticipated by parkrunners around the world, yes it’s parkrun day. I’m slightly closer to home this morning with a quick 50 mile trip up the road to visit Reading parkrun. I’m ticking off another R in my word challenge, leaving just four weeks left to go. I won’t bore you too much with my challenge, but I’m basically spelling out things using the first letter of each parkrun, can you work it out from my results page? I have to say doing a word challenge has been a lot of fun and helped me pick out places to visit. We are so fortunate to have so many parkruns available to us in the UK, there are oodles to chose from! I met a couple at the start, John and Helen from Lincoln, who are touring round places that they’ve lived throughout their lives, which I think is a lovely idea.
So then, Reading parkrun. It’s really easy place to get to being just off the Thames Valley Park, home of Oracle and Microsoft amoungst others. I’ve been here for training courses but never for personal enjoyment so today’s trip made a pleasant change. Parking is free along Thames Valley Park Drive, I used the postcode on the course details page to navigate to, RG6 1PQ. It’s then a short walk to the start which is located adjacent to the Wokingham Waterside Centre. It’s the second parkrun I’ve visited with a boathouse, the first being Clermont Waterfront parkrun in Florida, it was slightly cooler in Reading but no less picturesque. There are toilets on site too which is always welcome after an hours drive. It is dog and buggy friendly and there is also a cafe on site and a pub that serves breakfast nearby so it’s got everything a thriving parkrun needs.
With the sun shining and glistening off the river it’s the ideal location for a parkrun. The course is very flat and whilst it encompasses a variety of surfaces road shoes should be fine in most weather. It starts and finishes along the Thames Towpath, you head off down the towpath till you cross a small bridge and head into a little nature reserve. You then do two laps, which is mainly a gravel track, around the reserve, across the meadows and back on the towpath again. At the end of the second lap hanging a left turn and a hard push back to the start/finish area! It’s basically a big P.
The run director, Sev KONIECZNY, ran through the first timers brief to the 60 first timers, with 33 of them being brand new to parkrun, welcome to the family, hopefully you’ll be back next week. The main run brief was then was then given over the PA system, with thanks to the sponsors and volunteers. There was a milestone today too with Kevin JARRETT racking up his 250th run, fantastic achievement Kevin but where was the cake? When the brief was done it was a short walk back to the start line to get prepared for the off.
There was a total of 403 runners toeing the line on this glorious morning. There were times ranging between a blistering 15:42 by first time parkrunner David LEWIS (3rd fastest time recorded at the course) and 46:11 by tailrunner Teresa CASWELL, so great times all round. Sadly there were 15 unknowns today, remember folks don’t forget your barcode #dfybc. As a tourist I always have a bit of a panic about barcodes. I have one on my car keys, I have one hanging with my air freshener from the rear view mirror, I have one in the glove box and I wear a wristband too! Maybe I’m a little OTT about it!
It’s a lovely run, I particularly liked a moment, shortly after the start, as we were heading out along the Thames, a motorlaunch was coming back the opposite way on the river sounding it’s horn and waving on the runners. In fact the support around the course in general was fantastic, at the end there were large groups of runners clapping and cheering in those that were finishing after them. It’s a really nice friendly atmosphere throughout, everyone is very warm and welcoming, it’s a great place to start your parkrun journey if you’ve not done so already. It’s well worth a visit.
After the run I joined the regulars and headed down the Towpath to the pub where they do the results and the token sorting. There’s something very satisfying about sorting the tokens over coffee and you get a volunteer credit too, it’s a nice way to get involved in volunteering if you’re a bit nervous about the other roles, run report writer is similar. You get to run and volunteer, if you’ve not done it you should really give it a go. Apres-parkrun refreshments is also a must, you can’t beat a bit of conversation with likeminded people over coffee after.
I’d like to thank Sev and the guys for such a warm welcome and for putting on such a wonderful parkrun. Ive had a lovely morning and also managed another sub 24 run so I’m over the moon. Can you think of a better way to start the day?
Today’s parkrun was brought to you by the letter R, the all essential refuelling was by way of a Strawberry Cornetto #parkruncornetto