Thursday, 4 April 2013

Course Description: Southampton parkrun

Southampton parkrun takes place on Southampton Common, which is 1.6 miles from the city centre. It is approximately a 20 minute walk from Southampton Central Station and can easily be reached by bus. Free parking is available in bays on Cemetery Road and at the side of the road on Hill Lane. If you are using Sat Nav the post code for this area is SO15 7NN.

Southampton Common is a 326 acre site that is a haven for flora and fauna and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It includes woodland, parkland, rough grassland, ponds, wetlands, nature trails, a paddling pool, a children’s play area, a model yachting pond and a fishing lake. The event starts and finishes near to the Hawthorns Urban Wildlife Centre which gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the local ecology and wildlife.

The Common has been host to many large scale events including Race For Life, Sport Relief, Wrap Up and Run 10k and regular holiday fairs and markets; there are two different routes so that the event can still take place when the main area of The Common (The Flats) is in use.

Southampton parkrun is still in its infancy (with the first anniversary in July), but it is a popular local event, with the turnout regularly topping 300. This is particularly impressive considering its proximity to Eastleigh and Netley Abbey parkruns. The Event Director and Run Directors are all from Lordshill Road Runners, a local running club that provides many of the volunteers each week – they can easily be spotted by their vibrant blue hoodies!

The course has been accurately measured with a professional measuring wheel and is mostly run on wide tarmac paths. Some sections of the course may accumulate mud, leaves and puddles after rain. Dependent on availability, marshals will be at key sections of the course, and signs will be in place. We also usually have a lead bike and a tail-runner.

Route A starts outside the Hawthorns Centre and follows the path north-west across the open area of the Common and on into the trees. Runners head north up the hill past The Lake, following the path clockwise round the northern end of the Common. As you head south again, turn right at the crossroads, passing the south side of the Lake to complete the loop. Turn left to begin an anti-clockwise loop, heading across The Flats before going round the Paddling Pool, heading back north and left at the crossroads onto the path again passing the south side of the Lake. Turn left and head south east for a final time back to the finish.

Route B starts on Coronation Avenue near to The Cowherds and heads up to the crossroads before turning left and taking the downhill path on the south side of the lake. Turn right at the bottom of the path and head up the hill past The Lake, following the path clockwise round the northern end of the Common. As you head south again, turn right at the crossroads, passing the south side of the Lake to complete the loop. Runners complete the loop twice before heading down the hill, past the model boating lake to the finish.

The course record (15:40) was recently set on Route B, which is considered by many to be the tougher route, so it will be interesting to see what happens when we are able to return to route A (our main route that is used when it is relatively dry and there are no events on).

The first Saturday of every month is a special event, alternating between odd numbered pacing, even numbered pacing and junior volunteering events. Other special events also happen, such as a takeover event where all of the volunteers were provided by University of Southampton Athletics club. A first-timer brief takes place at 8:40/8:45.

After the event, many volunteers and runners head to The Hawthorns cafĂ© for hot drinks and breakfast/cake. It’s £2.90 for a cuppa and a bacon sandwich.

Written by Tamsyn Smith (Event Director, Southampton parkrun)

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