The one with the ice cream shop! Whiteley parkrun has been on my to do list since it started back on the 1st April this year. It's arrival into the parkrun world meant that I had no longer done every single Hampshire parkrun, sad eh? For those that might be remotely interested in chasing this dream there are currently 18 parkrun events in Hampshire. They are Alice Holt, Andover, Basingstoke, Brockenhurst, Eastleigh, Fareham, Havant, Lee-on-the-Solent, Lymington Woodside, Medina IOW(yes, I know, it's not Hampshire but some people think it should be included in the list…), Netley Abbey, Portsmouth Lakeside, Queen Elizabeth, Rushmoor, Southampton, Southsea, Whiteley and Winchester. Clearly this was something that had to be rectified and finally on their 17th week of running I managed to make it along to become 'Hampshire Done' again. Not sure how long this will be for as there are some rumblings and rumours of a couple of new ones being proposed and discussed. It will be interesting to see where else will get a parkrun. Behold and admire my Google map of parkrun geekdom..!
Whiteley is the 42nd different location I've attended in the 84 parkruns I've completed. Just 8 more to go to reach cow status, potentially before I reach my 100 milestone run.
So, Whiteley parkrun then, it's located right next to the Whiteley Shopping Centre (PO15 7PD) and is incredibly easy to get to. There is an absolute abundance of parking with the Brucey bonus of the first 4 hours being free of charge. Ideal if you want to do a little bit of shopping after your run or grab the all essential post run coffee, you don't have to rush. There are also toilets available at the shopping centre and the leisure centre, always useful to know! As always, I got there with plenty of time to spare and grabbed a pre-run coffee in Starbucks, I was pleasantly surprised to be given a parkrun discount there. I'd not explicitely mentioned that I was doing parkrun, but I guess the apricot shirt with parkrun emblazened across the front of it might have been a bit of a telling clue. Nice!
The parkrun starts behind the Meadowside Leisure Centre round by the skate park and the five a side footy pitch. For first timers and tourists there is a separate brief to give you the low down on this three lap course. It's a mainly tarmac pavement affair, with a little bit of grassy trail to run on at the turning point. It's a road shoe course. It is also suitable for both buggies and dogs, but not dogs in buggies as that would just be a little bit weird. It's really pretty flat in the grand scheme of things, but there is a very gentle hill.
As it's a three lapper there is an etiquette that you will need to follow so as not to hinder any faster runners, there are also other park users to be aware of.
During the run participants must keep to the right of the path at all times to ensure any oncoming runners will pass on their left.
As with most parkruns the start can be a bit congested so please consider your pace when lining up to start. Yes yes I know you are entitled to start wherever you want as it's a run not a race, but really if you're in the wrong place it can be a hazard and nobody wants to do paperwork on a Saturday morning. It's really not a big deal just think about safety first and why you're there, it's about enjoyment, health, fitness, social and so much more. #loveparkrun
There's a nice focal point for the RD to stand on and deliver his run brief, as always people's respect and attention during the brief is very much appreciated. Those conversations can wait for a couple of minutes whilst the announcements are made. Once that's out of the way and the volunteers are thanked it's time to get down to business.
I've never really been a fan of 3 or more lapped parkruns but it works quite well at Whiteley. I kinda liked trying to get round and onto the 3rd lap before getting lapped by the lead runner. You can see their progress around the course due to the way it's laid out and the out and back nature of it. It's also well marshalled with volunteers positioned in all the right places. Don't forget a nice loud "thank you marshal" as you pass, they are fantastic and deserve a platitude or two. It's also quite good for pacing, once you've got the first lap out of the way you know just how far you have to run and where and when to push on.
The finish area is well supported with a lot of runners hanging around at the end to cheer others in. That's one thing that I felt at Whiteley is there's a nice community spirit there, it was very friendly. Afterwards there are so many places to chose from for some post run refreshment, Starbucks, Costa, Harvester, there's an ice cream shop too!!!!
The volunteers seem to mainly end up in Costa where the results are processed, tokens sorted and post run conversations are held with gusto. It's well worth popping along after, apres-parkrun refreshment IS all part of the parkrun experience after all.
A big thank you to everyone involved in making Whiteley parkrun happen each week. It's a great asset to the local community.
Next week I'm either going to tick off another letter on my quest to collect all letters of the alphabet (except X as there isn't one yet) or just another location. Guildford is a possibility as I haven't got a G, though Horsham would see me complete all the West Sussex parkruns.