The one with the Rewind. One of the things I love about parkrun tourism is working out where to visit next. It’s nice having a look around and seeing what options are available and what the courses are like. Today the relatively new on the scene Henley-on-Thames parkrun was chosen. This decision was made using the parkrun tourist tool and the fact that some friends had visited in the weeks prior and having heard them talk about it a visit was inevitable, it sounded right up my street. A twisty turny technical hilly off road run, trail shoes a must, fab! Looking it up on one my favorite parkrun resources, the parkrun elevations site, I found that it’s currently the 420th flattest course out of 458 courses, so the 38th hilliest parkrun as things stand. Sounds like a nice challenging little number. Choice made, postcode of RG9 1US was plugged into the SatNav and off we went.
Henley-on-Thames parkrun has not been going all that long, it started on the 1st July so today was only it’s 8th event. It’s a relatively intimate parkrun with numbers hovering just under 100, with the exception of the innaugral which attracted 175 people. Today there were 90 people in attendance with a lot of visitors making their way over from the Rewind Festival, many with rather sore heads. There were tourists from all over from Swansea to Singapore. The welcome was warm just like the weather this morning. The crowd start amassing at the finish line and spirits were high (possibly down to some peoples hangovers not yet kicking in!) There was a lot of laughing and joking and the odd mention here and there of some hills! At about ten to nine we all trooped up a hill to receive the new runners brief.
So the course then, as mentioned earlier it’s a hilly off road course with lots of twists and turns, tree roots and stumps, branches, stinging nettles and all sorts of fun like that. It’s a two lap course with a little bit of out and back, the paths are pretty narrow so if you’re after a fast time get yourself towards the front. It is NOT suitable for buggies or dogs. There aren’t too many places where you can overtake, but don’t let that bother you too much, I was more than happy to just keep up with the person in front. If you like a bit of trail running then Henley-on-Thames parkrun is right up your street, if you like pancake flat road courses then you will definitely be outside of your comfort zone. Make no mistake, this is a challenging course, but oh so much fun and so friendly. Whilst it’s dry you’ll get away with road shoes, but it’ll be a mud fest come winter, I can’t wait to return and run it then!
Let’s break down the numbers, out of the 90 participants there were 12 brand spanking new parkrunners, 43 first time visitors and sadly 4 unknowns, don’t forget your barcode #dfyb. Remember folks “no barcode, no time”, it’s one of the golden rules of parkrun. There were 17 shiny new PB’s too this morning, which is great on this course. I reckon this course adds about two minutes onto your regular flat time.
Parking is on street by the finish area however there are no facilities available on site. After the run the core team head down to Athlete Services, a gym/shop/workshop with a cafe inside which is a short walk/drive away for a coffee and a chat (there are toilets and showers there too). You should pop along and socialise as it’s an important part of parkrun, you could also help out with token sorting which is quite therapeutic, or just go along for a natter and some cake!
I loved Henley this morning and can’t wait to return and have another pop at the hills. Thanks to the core team and all the volunteers for being so friendly and welcoming, we will be back in the winter for sure.