Havant parkrun

The one with the Hawaiian theme. Today feels like the first parkrun I’ve done in ages, but it really isn’t! I begrudgingly skipped last weeks parkrun due to the small matter of running at Endure 24. I had wanted to visit Didcot, which wasn’t really that far from where we were camping in Wasing Park, a mere 28 miles away. I had been pursuaded by my fellow participants that getting a cheeky parkrun in, regardless of the fact that it was a D and I don’t have one of them, would be stupid on the morning of a 24 hour endurance race. I’m still not entirely convinced, but it’s too late now. I did however manage to run the equivalent distance of just over 22 consecutive parkrun’s and did at least 4 of those in my Apricot parkrun top. A total of 70 miles racked up in 18 hours 36 minutes. Not a bad days work I guess.

So why am I back at my home run this week dressed in a Hawaiian shirt? Well, this week is Havant’s 5th birthday so it’s most definitely a great excuse for a rare home run. It is the 264th event being held at Havant since its inception on the 16th June 2012! There have actually only been 261 Saturdays in the 1827 calendar days between then and today, but you have to factor in the New Years Day specials too. I don’t think there has ever been a cancellation at Havant in the 5 years it’s been running which is so very impressive and shows the love and commitment behind this free timed 5k event from the local running community. (EDIT: I’ve been informed that Havant has just been cancelled a couple of times when a water festival was taking place in the park, but never due to weather) The core team of volunteers at Havant, along with the volunteers that come out week in week out, come rain or shine, should be commended. Today is the day to go out of your way to thank every marshal and volunteer out on course, though I highly recommend that you do that every single week wherever you’re running. It’s thanks to these guys you get to run. Thank you volunteers!!

Havant parkrun is held at the picturesque Staunton Country park in Havant, there is parking on site for the princely sum of £1.80 for an hour or £2.50 for the day, which gives you a voucher for a free drink at the shop afterwards. There are toilets available near the start line which is a short walk from the car park. Make sure you are there in good time as the car park can fill up as Havant parkrun attracts in the region of 250-300 people most weeks. The course is mainly hard pack trail so this time of year a road shoe is fine, in wetter months trail shoes are a good idea as you have lots of puddles and mud to splash through (no nancying!). It is a small loop of the top lawn followed by two big loops of the woods finishing back up on the top lawn. It isn’t flat by any stretch of the imagination, you drop down the aptly named Black Slope twice, taking in the views across the lake before working your way around the forrest and back up to the top lawn. It’s a lovely but challenging route with some tricky camber on the paths to contend with. The fastest time ever recorded at Havant is a blistering 15:56 by James BAKER, an absolutely incredible time on this course.

Today’s special birthday run was also a pacing event. Pacing events are great, it gives you an opportunity to push yourself to a PB. Havant parkrun attracted 267 runners today and many of them scored a PB as a result, 32 in fact. Guess who was one of them, go on, have a guess…. I got a PB at Havant! My last PB at Havant was 24:19 on 13/03/2016. I absolutely smashed that this morning with a time of 23:22, almost a full minute quicker, and whilst wearing a Hawaiian shirt and leis AND having completed a 70 mile run less than a week ago! My fastest ever parkrun time, like ever, was at the pancake flat Southsea, 23:21, so I’m only 1 second off that today. It could well be time for a return visit to Southsea to see if I can improve on that. It would be lovely to get a sub 23 this year. Can you tell I’m quite stoked about this! I’m over the bloody moon!

Would Havant parkrun be the same without cake? Pretty much every week cake is laid on at the shop after by the cake club. They lovingly bake treats to freely share with anyone who pops over to the shop after parkrun for a coffee and a chat. It’s a lovely social element to this particular parkrun and something that makes Havant very dear to me. It’s very welcoming and very inclusive and there are lots of people I’ve met here that I am happy to call friends. Havant has a lovely family feel to it and I can’t recommend highly enough that you pay it a visit and join in.

Sadly this week I had to rush straight off up to QE Country Park to walk the cross country route and mark out marshal points. I did however manage to get a cheeky Cornetto in when I got there. Mint choc and it was bloody lovely!

Where to next week? I’m not sure yet, I’ve got 9 more to visit to hit 50 different parkrun’s, that’s the target. So maybe Whitely to complete Hampshire again or Horsham to complete West Sussex, or maybe Moors Valley or Guildford, choices choices!

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