Jersey parkrun

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.

Travel Info

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.

Posted in parkrun run reports | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Southsea parkrun – Christmas Day edition

The one with the distinct lack of turkeys! Christmas time is a time for family, a time for goodwill, a time for happiness, peace and love and so on. Sadly, for many, Christmas can be the exact opposite, a time of loneliness, heartbreak and pain. Whilst many families are brought together by Christmas it can just highlight isolation for others. So what has this got to do with parkrun? Well, whilst I was trotting up and down Southsea seafront surrounded by the smiling happy faces of other runners it occurred to me that this could be the only interaction with other folk for some on Christmas Day. I found this quite sobering but at the same time filled me with a sense of pride in the community that parkrun has built. I am thankful to be a part of it.

There is no obligation for the events team to put on a Christmas Day parkrun. You have to appreciate the fact that the volunteers have given up their time on Christmas Day so that others can run. I can’t thank the volunteers enough for doing so and made sure that I thanked every single one that I passed that morning. 14 amazing volunteers gave up a few valued hours of their Christmas morning to make it happen.

298 parkrunners made it down to Southsea seafront this Christmas Day, some participating for the very first time, others old hands with over 300 attendances under their belt. The participants came from far and wide, many visiting friends and family in the area. The 5k distance was completed in times ranging between a blistering 16:42 to a more leisurely 54:58, some were fresh as daisies others potentially feeling the effects of Christmas spirits. Personally I’d drank far too much over 18’s apple juice the night before and was nursing a bad back!

This was my 99th parkrun and my 4th visit to Southsea parkrun. Each time I’ve visited I’ve enjoyed it for a variety of reasons, today it really was about community. So welcoming, so inclusive and so much good cheer, there were costumes galore, love it!

So a big thank you to each and everyone at Southsea parkrun for making it happen on this special day, I don’t usually do this but a special thank you to Gail BANKS, Robert BILTON, Annette CHIPPERFIELD, Gemma CLARKE, Tony CONWAY, Grant DAY, Caroline ELDER, Rhian GOUGH, Kathryn HAMMOND, Susan LAMB, Katherine NEWELL, Carrie OWEN, Michael TAYLOR, Emma G TURNER, all the other participants and anyone else behind the scenes.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Posted in parkrun run reports | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun

The one with the not-home home run. Havant is my home parkrun, distance wise it is the closest parkrun to my house. It is where my love for parkrun first blossomed and will always be my home run whether I run there regularly or not. Out of my 97 runs, spread over 49 different places, 33 have been at Havant. Lately, when not touring far and wide, I’ve been been running at Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun, it is currently my overall parkrun PB course.

Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun has a lot to offer, easy access and an abundance of free parking available. There are toilet facilities and a Starbucks for a post run coffee and cake, if you’re in need of more sustenance then there is also a Subway. It’s a fast flattish loop out around the lake and back. The route is predominantly on tarmac path but the section that takes you out round the lake is hardpack trail. There are a few puddles to watch out for in winter months but it’s not a big deal. There is a small wooden bridge to cross that can get a bit icy but on the whole it’s a very good course all year round and very unlikely to have a cancellation due to adverse weather conditions.

There’s a couple of great videos on YouTube showcasing Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun.

They both help you get a feel for the place and the atmosphere. Its certainly become a firm favourite in my repeat runs list. It is a home away from home.

They do like a bit of fun at Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun, next weekend, 16th Dec 2027, is their “Festive Themed Fancy Dress Celebration of the start of the Christmas Season!” Everyone is invited to “get in the festive spirit by decking those hamstrings with tinsel, jingling some bells and walk/jog/running until you’re Christmas crackered!” It’ll be a right bit of Fun!

Sadly I won’t be attending that one as I’ve got to be somewhere else next weekend but I’m sure it will be fantastic fun.

Next weeks parkrun adventure will consist of repeat visit to a different Hampshire parkrun, all being well with the weather of course. It’s a parkrun I’ve only visited once before so I’m quite looking forward to a return visit. See you next week!

Posted in parkrun run reports | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Netley Abbey parkrun

The one with the loop de loop. Back in April 2016 I visited Netley Abbey parkrun for the first time. I was very new to parkrun tourism, in fact it was only the third time I’d strayed from home. I remember picking my trip there based on a blog that I’d found about it, Netley Abbey parkrun review. It all seems such a long time ago, who knew then what it would lead to.

Netley Abbey parkrun is held at the Royal Victoria Country park. The park itself is 200 acres of mature woodland and grassy parkland as well as a small shingle beach. The Royal Victoria Hospital was sited there but all that now remains is the rather striking chapel with its 150 metre tower. This is the heritage centre for the old hospital. The park also contains a rather useful tea rooms with toilets on hand and a miniature railway. There is a lot of work going on at the park at the time of writing so the course is quite different from the last visit. Parking is really straight forward, you can park in the park itself for a small fee, and if you leave a spare barcode on your dash you get a discount. There is also parking on the local roads available, postcode for the sat nav SO31 5GA.

The start and finish is currently close to the left side of the chapel when looking at it from the visitors centre. You start on the tarmac there and have a good straight to get going on there before you head off into the woods at the back of the park. Once in the woods you do a little loop before doing a bigger loop in a sort of figure 8. You repeat this three times before dropping back down a gentle slope and heading back to the finish. It’s a surprisingly quick course, relatively flat and was totally enable in road shoes, however I reckon if it’s a bit wet, due to the mixed terrain an intermediate trail shoe would be perfect.

It’s a really well supported parkrun with a good attendance and friendly atmosphere. It was a pacing event as well today, I’m not sure how regularly they do this but I get the impression it’s a reasonably regular thing. I ran it a full two minutes quicker than back in 2016 and surprised myself with a sub 23 finish and place in the top 50. However I don’t think the quicker club runners were out in force due to a local race in the Hampshire Road Race League the next day, hence the highish position. Fast or slow it’s a great parkrun that caters for everyone. There were buggy runners there as well as runners of all ages, shapes and sizes. It’s got a good family feel to it.

There’s also a great photographer there who takes great pictures of the entire field and uploads them later. This is the first run picture I’ve had taken of me that I’ve liked in quite some time.

Post run it’s off to the cafe for coffee, cake, Cornetto, conversation and contemplation, all of the important things covered. I have to say I was quite impressed with the winter ice cream selection, I managed to snag a mint chic chip cone, not had one of those since my last trip to Queen Elizabeth parkrun. There’s a good sized seating area inside and a massive area outside, I’m guessing because of the chillier conditions the outside option wasn’t a fan favourite!

I really enjoyed this repeat visit to Netley Abbey parkrun, so much so that I fancy another repeat visit soon and a pop at beating my shiny new course PB there. I’ve not repeated many courses through my parkrun travels but given how much I enjoyed this today I may well have to rethink that, at least revisit all the Hampshire runs again.

Thanks to everyone at Netley Abbey for being so friendly and welcoming.

Posted in parkrun run reports | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

parkrun milestones – official and unofficial

Those of you that parkrun should be aware of the official parkrun milestones. If you have ever attended a parkrun you should see people wearing shirts with numbers printed on the back, juniors get a white 10 shirt, then there is a purple 25 shirt for volunteers, a red 50 shirt, a black 100 shirt, a green 250 shirt and the magical unicorn blue 500 shirt. These are awarded for free based on the number of parkruns you have completed or volunteered at, reach the numbers mentioned and earn a corresponding shirt. I’m currently on 95 runs so my 100 Club milestone is just around the corner.

These official milestones are the targets of most parkrunners, however, there is another breed of parkrunner, those that like to visit as many different parkruns as possible, the parkrun tourists. There are unofficial goals for parkrun tourists, starting with entry on to the most events table on the main parkrun site. 20 different locations gains you a position on the table and enables you to join the “UK parkrun tourists” group on Facebook. This entitles you to purchase and sport the lesser spotted Cow cowl – “a distinctive black, white and yellow not-buff designed by Kathy Brown which members of the most events table are welcome to buy to allow themselves to be spotted by other tourists at home or away.  Completely unofficial.  Features no parkrun branding whatsoever at all.”

The unofficial tourist goals are as follows (taken from the amazing parkrun tourist jargon buster)

  • Quarter Cowell – your 25th different parkrun (cake!)
  • Half Cowell (alt. Cow) – your 50th different parkrun (cake!)
  • Three-Quarter Cowell – your 75th different parkrun (cake!)
  • Cowell – your 100th different parkrun (your Cowell Club Run) and the point at which you show as having run 100 events on the global most events table. (celebrate with cake)
  • Fielding Club – an unofficial parkrun club for tourists who have run at 250 different UK events. (A sufficient, but not necessary, condition for membership of the Freyne Club)
  • Freyne Club – an unofficial parkrun club for tourists who have run at 250 different global events. (A necessary, but not sufficient, condition for membership of the Fielding Club)
  • A Bailey – trying to run your first 100 runs at 100 different events. Named for Gregory Bailey, the first parkrunner to get hooked on tourism early enough to do it.

I’m currently sat at 49 different events so my next unofficial goal is the Half Cowell, my cow run – my 50th different parkrun, obviously to be celebrated with cake!

There is a plan afoot so cunning that you could pin a tail on it and call it a fox. Will it work out, I do hope so, until such a time my parkrun touring is on hold, I won’t be busting out a parkrun anywhere new for a little while, I’ll just revisit a few local runs in the meantime.

Posted in parkrun | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment