Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Inaugural runs: Netley Abbey parkrun (17 March 2012)

I clocked up my 15th inaugural parkrun today at Royal Victoria Park in Southampton, and a very unusual inaugural it was too.

As a runner, it didn't really feel at all like an inaugural event. Eastleigh parkrun has been mothballed for a while, and most of the runners and volunteers were Eastleigh regulars. Familiarity abounded and the banter felt as though it was picking up where last week's parkrun at Eastleigh left off.

For the event team, experienced though they are, I suspect it felt very inaugural indeed. With only 10 days to get a new parkrun off the ground there were probably any number of last minute niggles to sort out. But sort them out they did, and the result was a treat. The rain stopped just before nine and didn't return until after eleven. No-one got lost. Timing and scanning devices behaved and there was even a home-made chocolate cake.

So what's it like? Four laps around the park, which come complete with an old chapel and great views across Southampton Water. To add a little variety, the first lap also has a bonus tree-lined out-and-back section halfway round.

The view from the back goes something like this:

Lap 1: Run to start of out-and-back section watching runners streaming away in front of you. Marvel at the steep drop along the right-hand-side of the "out" leg, taking a cautious step to the left to allow you to cheer on the faster runners on the "back" leg without tumbling into the ravine*. Rejoin the main lap as the faster runners re-reach it on their lap 2. Cheer them on as they lap you.

Lap 2: Continue to cheer on faster runners on their lap 3.

Lap 3: Continue to cheer on faster runners on their lap 4. Watch as they peel off into the finishing funnel. Think rude thoughts and mutter darkly under your breath.

Lap 4: Revel in the good-natured encouragement from the already-finished, regretting that you ever thought anything mean about them and their athletic prowess. Focus on the runner in front hoping that you can use their push for the line to inspire one of your very own.

Take your position token. Get scanned. Chat**. Eat delicious home-made cake*** courtesy of Barbara****. Go for a cup of tea*****.

Special mention also to @N0rm, who followed up his epic cycle-to-Eastbourne-parkrun-train-home with a train-to-Netley-parkrun-cycle-home, and to Becky and Rob whose encouragement on their lap 4 (my lap 3) went a long way.

*I may be overstating this element a little, but bear in mind that I can fall off my own feet while walking along a perfectly flat, perfectly paved section of pavement.

**To Ian, who needs only 4 more venues or 1 more inaugural to get (back) on the most events table, and to Lisa, a genuine first time parkrunner who seemed to enjoy her first taste of parkrunning.

***For one week only.

****Who was a first-timer at Eastleigh the week I visited. Isn't parkrun a small world!

*****With Robert, who unwittingly paced me around Eastbourne parkrun. I say again - isn't parkrun a small world!

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