The one with cakes on a plane! This mornings parkrun adventure is a very special one for many reasons. It involved getting up at 4am to travel from Portsmouth to Gatwick airport and board a plane to fly to Jersey. It’s only a 40 minute flight to pop over to the Channel Islands from Gatwick and the flight is scheduled to depart at 7am which makes it viable to get us to Jersey parkrun by 9am.
So what makes today’s parkrun so special that warrants a trip to Jersey? Milestones, that’s what. Between the two of us travelling there are a few notable ones.
- My 100th parkrun, a milestone that I never envisaged hitting when I first started going to parkrun back in 2015.
- My 50th different parkrun location, what is known in the tourist world as a cow, so quite fitting to pick Jersey as the destination.
- My girlfriends 20th different run which sees her make it on to the parkrun most events table and eligible to sport the lesser spotted cow cowl.
- It’s an opportunity to collect a rare J. There are a number of people who work towards completing ‘the parkrun alphabet’ or alphabeteers as we are unofficially known. You run at a parkrun that begins with each letter of the alphabet, I have just J, V, Y and Z to go for a full set.
- My 45th birthday
So a good few milestones rolled into one, all of which demand cake, which was an interesting travelling companion that raised a few eyebrows at airport security. It’s taken a little bit of juggling to make my 100th parkrun coincide with my 50th location, Pauline’s 20th location and my birthday, something that appeared to be destined to fail.
On Friday 29th Jersey parkrun announce that there may be issues with the run! They may have to cancel due to fallen trees and some precarious ones around the course. We are locked in regardless and keep an eye on Facebook throughout the evening praying for good news. The last update before we got on the plane was at 16:00 the afternoon before saying that they were planning to hold it but weather overnight may change that. Would it be on?
At 7am, sat in the plane on the runway at Gatwick we still had no idea if it was going ahead. It’s an odd experience being sat on a plane at 7:15 waiting for it to take off to get you to a parkrun that might be cancelled. Usually I’d be well on my way in the car at this time, more in control of my journey and always with a back up plan for a different parkrun to divert to if required. There is no contingency plan here today, it’s totally hit or miss. Airplane mode engaged, no further opportunity to find out if we are hurtling through the sky in a shiny metal tube at hundreds of miles per hour to arrive at a cancelled event.
As we descend to land we are thrown around a bit in turbulence, we break through the cloud to be greeted by a wet and murky Jersey coming up to meet us. Wheels touch down at 8am, airplane mode is switched off and we frantically try to connect to the Jersey parkrun social media pages to see if our trip is a wasted one. Still no update, it’s not looking good. We clamber off the plane to be greeted by the wind and rain outside the terminal. As we are hand luggage only getting through the airport takes less than 5 minutes and there we are in the arrival lounge not knowing. 08:10 there’s an update, it’s on, yes!!! A sense of relief floods over us, now to get there from the airport.
There is an excellent bus service that runs very frequently, roughly every 15 minutes. It’s the number 15 bus and costs £4 a trip or £8 for a day pass. You can also get a taxi but that will cost you in the region of £6 to get there. It’s only about a mile from the airport so you could run there as a warm up too if you wanted to keep costs down and kill two birds with one stone. Options will obviously be limited based on what time your flight lands.
Jersey parkrun is located round the back of Les Quennevais Sports Centre and is easy to find. There are all the facilities you could want there, toilets, cafe, showers, we took towels and swimming stuff with us and went for a lovely post parkrun swim which cost about £9. The cafe will also give you a discount if you show them your parkrun barcode. Pretty much everything you could want as a visiting tourist. There is also a guestbook to sign once you’ve completed the run, don’t forget to do so.
On to the run itself, we were warmly greeted by the run director, Matt CUTHBERT, and other volunteers who were busy trying not to get blown away whilst setting up a special rerouted course. I can’t thank these guys enough, they battled the weather to make it happen for everyone. High-vis hero’s they are, each and every one of them. We also met John DRELAUD who has attended every single Jersey parkrun since it started, all 117 runs, he has also done pre event set up 38 times this year, just brilliant.
The course was predominantly tarmac, with a bit of hard pack trail and a bit of grass to run across where it was diverted, I ran it in road shoes without any issue. We did two loops around the perimeter path before hitting the trail path for a bit of an out and back, up and down. It’s pretty flat with a couple of gentle ups and downs. As today was somewhat overcast and blowing a gale it was a bit of a case of head down and run. I suspect on a clear day that the views across the golf course are quite spectacular. It’s definitely a quick course, or at least has the ability to be one, the course record is 15:12. Today no records were set but it was still completed by the first finisher in a very respectable 16:40, especially given the wind!
There were 207 runners who braved the conditions this weekend, 10 of whom were totally new to parkrun and experiencing it for the very first time. There were a number of tourists there as well, we met some from Woking as well as noticing others visiting from the mainland. I wonder if many others just flew in for the day!
After the run we went up to the cafe and chopped up the cake we had flown in with to dish out to anyone that wanted a slice. I’m very impressed with the way the cake turned out and the fact it made it over in more or less one piece. It also tasted pretty good too not that I can take any credit for making it. The apres-parkrun vibe at Jersey is really nice. We had quite a few conversations with other parkrunners who were interested in our adventures. We met senator Lyndon FARNHAM from the department of Tourism, Sport and Leisure, who is a parkrunner with 35 runs under his belt at Jersey. We also chatted with Sue LERUEZ from the Jersey Evening Post, also a parkrunner with 38 runs under her belt. We ate cake, drank coffee, laughed, joked, recounted parkrun adventures and signed the guest book. All in all I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday. It was a long day, starting at 4am finishing at 10pm but what an adventure.
Thank you to everyone at Jersey parkrun for making this such a memorable day. I can’t wait to return and run with you again, perhaps in the summer next time and definitely more than just a day trip. It would be nice to visit Guernsey parkrun as well and “complete” the Channel Islands.
For budding tourists who want to visit Jersey parkrun flight info below.
- Gatwick – Jersey : EasyJet 7am departure – 8am arrival
- Southampton – Jersey : FlyBe 7:45am departure – 8:30am arrival
We took the Gatwick option due to worrying about arrival time. Travel from the airport to parkrun covered further up.