The one with double the fun. You have to love a New Years Day tradition. It doesn’t get much better than being able to start the year off with a positive foot forward. It’s great to see folk up and out early, in some cases regardless of hangovers, setting about the start of the year with gusto. For me it was more like with gutso, but that’s just purely down to my overindulgence throughout the holiday and a real lack of running since the end of October. So lacing up and getting out there New Years Day was definitely in order.
New Years Day is the one day of the year where you can capitalise on your parkrun experience by being able to participate in not one but two parkruns. The New Years Day double. The locations are announced on the parkrun christmas compendium in advance so you can see who is doing a New Years Day parkrun and at what time, allowing you to plan your double. This handy website, Tailrun, also popped up using the data from the main parkrun site to create a handy double finder giving travel times and everything you need.
This year I opted for a flat tarmac option due to struggling a bit with a back injury, the usual Havant/Queen Elizabeth double was sadly not feasible so I went for Southsea/Lee-on-the-Solent instead.
Southsea was up first at 9am and was my 5th appearance there making it my 3rd most attended parkrun behind Havant and Portsmouth Lakeside. It was quite a wet and windy affair with 230 people making a very fresh start to the year supported by 19 volunteers. The course was the standard out and back along the promenade, which is lovely during the summer months, but not quite so enthralling on a day like today. The out part is quite pleasant with the wind behind you and it’s always quite well supported with folk at the Coffee Cup always providing encouragement. The back bit not quite so entertaining with the wind in your face and seemingly twice the distance back!
Unlike most weeks most people vanished immediately after they had finished, heading off to get their second parkrun under their belt. There was a contingent heading inland to go battle the chalky clay mud and hills of Queen Elizabeth, others were similarly taking the flat option and headed west towards Lee-on-the-Solent. Those runs open to start slightly later than usual at 10:30, this is to allow people time to hurry there after their first parkrun of the day. Rumour has it that some people just appreciated a lie in, crazy as it sounds!
We arrived just after 10am at a very windswept beach to find that most people were sat in their cars sheltering from the elements. Opting for the warmth and comfort of their cars rather that socialising before the run. I wandered round and found a few familiar faces to say hello to. Most appeared to have opted for the slightly closer Fareham parkrun. Sounds like they were a bit waterlogged there underfoot.
Lee-on-the-Solent attracted a staggering 404 runners, quite a number given the weather! There were tourists from Frimley, Yeovil, Eastleigh, Nottingham, Fareham, Southwick, Epsom, Netley, Shrewsbury, and Australia! There were an astounding 107 first timers, lots of people making a positive start to 2018. This was my second visit to LotS parkrun and slightly colder, wetter and windier, but just as friendly none the less. They had 28 volunteers out making sure that we could enjoy our run and stay safe.
You have to hand it to the volunteers, standing out in the elements this time of year, they could be out there for in excess of an hour or so. Volunteering is very rewarding and I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve volunteered in various guises at parkrun and junior parkrun 25 times in 2017. It really is very easy to do, parkrun request that every runner helps out 3 times a year, this is by no means compulsorily but it is encouraged. There are no roles that are too difficult and you get on the at training and support from the other volunteers.
If you want to do something positive in 2018 then why not give it a go. There are plenty of options available and many that still allow you to enjoy a run. You can even volunteer at a run you are visiting, it doesn’t have to be your home run.
Thank you Southsea, Lee-on-the-Solent and all the other parkruns throughout the UK for making 2017 the most successful year yet. Thank you to all the participants too, you can’t have events without the volunteers but equally you can’t have them without the participants. There’s been so many amazing stories and successes throughout the year. parkrun is responsible for changing so many peoples lives for the better. Long may it continue. Here’s to an amazing 2018. Happy running folks.