Parkrun Tourism

How to be a successful Parkrun Tourist:

I suppose the short answer is just have a go at it. In a new place for a weekend, is there a Parkrun? (Tick). Is it somewhere I can easily get to? (Tick). Do I understand the course and where it starts from (Well, I thought so).

The weekend before last, I spent Friday night in a hotel at the top of Richmond Hill, just minutes from the start of the Richmond Park parkrun. I endured an evening of the friend I was seeing filling me with fears of hills, ticks and Lyme Disease. You see, I run in a very flat place, and I mean very flat. The nearest thing I have to a hill is where the promenade rises up very slightly round the seafront side of Southsea Castle. So I am not really acclimatised to running anywhere that isn't dead flat. To give myself the best possible chance, I drank too much (pint and a half of cider with friends in pub, shared a bottle of wine over dinner). It was also going to be hot, very hot.

I set off at about 8:45, anxious the start would be a bit further away than I expected. Now I am used to people coming out of nowhere at 8:55, but was puzzled there didn't seem to be many people around. Just one other parkrun tourist looking for the start. I found the pond where I thought the start was, still no-one there. Then someone appeared in a high vis vest and I found out the briefing was back where I first entered the park. Talked to 3 or 4 people, every single one doing the event for the first time, with no idea of start point or course.

Of course, by 8:55, everyone had materialised out of nowhere and it was very obvious where the briefing was. It was also obviously the same event but different to my home park run. More people. Lots more younger people. Fit looking people. Pacers! Pacers for several different finish times! The event director stood on a tree and announced the trial of a double funnel. A double funnel!

We walked back to the pond (yes the start was at the pond) and the parkrun got started. Long, long period in a funnel as the faster runners left before the slow ones could get going.

I am no spring chicken and I am not fast. My PB at Southsea is around 37:30 and I am usually 38-39 minutes but there are normally quite a lot of people who finish behind me. I set off at Richmond Park and it's immediately obvious I am going to be at the very back of the pack. A very pleasant tail runner picked me and another runner (also a parkrun tourist) up, and talked us round the course. It was indeed undulating with (to me) a killer hill at about 4k. Bits of the course on paths and even a bit on grass, versus my beloved paved and tarmac promenade. Very hard. And did I mention it was hot? Very hot!

After about 3.5K we caught up with a couple of people who had started walking, so I carried on running, leaving the tail runner and the other tourist behind. In the end I managed to overtake another man and his very young son too, so my fears of being last didn't quite materialise. But it was much harder than my usual course, adding a good couple of minutes to my typical time. At least the hotel with its nice shower was only a couple of minutes away.

Great fun, very challenging, and so nice to do something so familiar, but so, so different.

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14 Replies

  • What a great run to get ticked off (sorry!)

  • Fortunately tick free! (Friend actually has Lyme Disease, hence all the worry).

  • Yes, with the current state of diagnosis and treatment.

  • If your up that way again, maybe do Bushy Parkrun. Having done it a number of times, it's flat, nice views with a big water fountain with a gold Diana statue, and being a royal park some deer, and there can be over a 1000 runners usually.. have heard it's better..

  • Yes, I heard they usual a triple funnel at Bushy! It's also the first site, so has to be worth visiting. I didn't have my car up with me this time, but maybe next....,

  • Nice down your way though, running along the prom?

  • I loved reading this! I'm hopefully going to my first parkrun on Saturday, although I will be building my C25k week 6 run 1 into it to keep me on track rather than try to complete it. Mind you, this is the morning after I'm singing with the band so it might depend how shattered I am!

    Sounds like you did a perfectly grand job though!

  • They are definitely worth doing. The Richmond Park one was my 30th (with the others all done at Southsea). At Southsea we regularly see a local running group using the Parkrun for W9R3 of its C25k programme. It's worth looking at the details of the Parkrun you fancy trying - whilst Southsea is straight forward for someone new to them, I wouldn't have wanted to do Richmond Park first time on Parkrun.

  • I enjoy being a parkrun tourist. I've managed 9 different locations so far. It's good to get out sometimes and just see a different route. The routes and experiences from each can be very different. There's no point in comparing your time on a grass hilly route to a fast flat tarmac path run. What I can say is that the people I've met at each venue have all been incredibly friendly.

    I think my favourite parkrun is Hackworth Park (Shildon, County Durham). This may be because the course is so delightfully whimsical (3 laps with a detour zig zagging round the swings in the children's play area). It may also be that I achieved my best ever position there: 7th (I don't like to admit that there were only 30 runners there and quite a few of them were from a hen party and hadn't actually been to bed from the night before...). The most unusual was probably Singapore, which I ran in the middle of a torrential downpour. There was also a slight incident I had at Hampstead Heath when I got lost and ended up running 7K. I was following the runner in front, who was following the runner in front etc. until we realised that the runner at the very front of our little subgroup wasn't doing parkrun at all. We knew we'd gone wrong somewhere when we all ended up at the railway station...

  • I love the Hampstead Heath story. I guess routes are not always as obvious as the core regulars think they are. There was one junction on Richmond Park where I might have gone wrong had I not had the tail runner to guide me.

  • There are two new parkrun a local to us. There is one at Cams Mill and there is another at Lakeside (IBM). They are both reasonably flat.

    Also, there is Great Run Local on Sunday's at Hilsea Lido. (I actually prefer that one, as it isn't a straight line)

    Well done on your running. Keep up the good work 😀🏃

  • Yes I am aware. I used to work at IBM North Harbour so have a bit of a psychological problem with Lakeside! Plus Southsea start line is 5 minutes from my front door.

  • Wow! I'm slow but even I wouldn't take 5 months to a parkrun! Oh, I love a good spellcheck/ predictive text mishap!

  • Better edit it - 5 minutes!

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