The one with the end in sight and a game of Pooh sticks! Today’s adventure takes us on an 80 mile road trip to Aldenham parkrun. I’m nearing the end of my 15 week word spelling tour, with just Portsmouth Lakeside to go. The more I explain my parkrun tour to people the dafter it sounds, but here goes! Whilst working my way through completing a parkrun for every available letter of the alphabet I got thinking about words. Something a few parkrun tourists do is to spell out a word using the first letter of each parkrun. So, and 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 parkrun (usually a Cornetto). I then post selfies with #parkruncornetto as the hashtag. One of my friends is the ED at Portsmouth Lakeside and we have a laugh and a joke about parkruncornetto not being “a thing”. So just for a laugh I thought I’d spell out parkruncornetto in events with the last one being completed at his parkrun. See, totally daft, but it’s kept me amused and helped me chose places to visit each visit. To me it’s totally a thing! This is what it looks like in my results page. Just a P please Rob!
So that’s why I’m visiting Aldenham parkrun this parkrun day and I have to say what a lovely place for the penultimate run on my tour. Getting there is a piece of cake, postcode WD6 3BA gets you to the park and there’s a tonne of parking there (£2) as well as toilets. The park is a veritable wonderland for your little folk, especially if they like Winnie the Pooh, ponies or farm animals! It’s a great place for a picnic, the reservoir beautiful on a day like today, woodland to explore, you could easily make a day of it.
The run is predominantly trail and pretty flat, there are a few roots here and there to contend with but for a trail course the surface is superb. It’s basically two clockwise loops around the reservoir, the second being slightly shorter than the first. I wore road shoes today which were fine, when it’s a bit damper a light trail shoe would be great but you could probably get away with road shoes most of the time. We were taken through this by the RD at the new runners brief. There were 34 first timers today with 15 of them completing their first ever parkrun, way to go, what a great place to start your parkrun journey!
With the course explained it was time to gather with the collective and prepare for the start of Aldenham parkrun #98. The start/finish area is right by the car park, you can’t miss it. On rainy days I’d hazard a guess that people hide in their cars till the last minute as it’s just that convenient! Looking at the results history the number of runners is normally under 100, today was their 2nd highest attendance with 131 runners lining up. It’s a nice size run and feels very friendly, one slight downside today was that people seemed to be happily catching up with each other throughout the main run brief. I couldn’t hear a thing, there may have been milestones, platitudes and various other things in the announcement, I’m none the wiser. I’d like to ask the regulars to spare a thought for the newcomers who’ve never heard the brief before, hold off on your conversations for just a few minutes please. You might have heard it all before but others haven’t.
Once released to run it was a short dash across the car park and onto the path that loops around the water. If you’re after a fast time then position yourself near the front as there can be a bit of a bottleneck where you turn onto the reservoir path, oh and don’t forget to avoid the fishermen! The reservoir is always on your right so it’s difficult to go wrong here. Time wise the first finishers completed the course today in around 19 minutes with the tail runner coming in under 44 minutes. Dogs and buggies are welcome.
There is a smorgasbord of choice of apres-parkrun refreshment available, including ice cream and bacon rolls, from the Clock House kiosk, there is also plenty of outdoor seating available. It’s a great place to unwind, have a coffee and dissect your run with others. There’s a nice vibe with people sitting out there chatting about various events, marathons and other parkruns. I do love a nice friendly parkrun community and having all the facilities on hand like this doesn’t half help.
I’d like to extend my thanks to Tim and all the volunteers for providing us with the opportunity to run in such a lovely backdrop. Without the wonderful volunteers that give up their time every week we wouldn’t be able to enjoy parkrun. If you’ve never volunteered you really should give it a try, there’s a whole host of things you can do to get involved, none of them difficult.
I loved my visit to Aldenham parkrun today, especially having a wander around 100 Aker Woods and partaking in a game of Pooh sticks on Pooh Bridge, highly recommended! For me parkrun just wouldn’t be parkrun without enjoying an ice cream after, opting for a more traditional cone with a flake rather than a Cornetto. It’s a hard life!
Next week I’m ‘parkrun light’ due to taking part in a 50 mile race on Saturday, so it’ll be the following week that I’ll finish off my little quest. Portsmouth Lakeside is the destination of choice, until then, happy running.