Return to parkrun

Even overnight rain and thunderstorms couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm for the return of parkrun. I was up at 6:15am for breakfast and headed out to Upton House parkrun a couple of hours later. As I parked the car, just a warm-up jog away, I saw familiar faces who I’d parked by so long ago.

Since I was last at the country park it’s undergone some renovations with bushes around the tea rooms being cleared and the children’s play area refurbished. Consequently the parkrunners have been shoved out through the gate to a new start line and the course revised. I quite like the new route as it’s more open although the uphill finish is going to be taxing when I get up to speed.

The Run Director struggled through the opening speeches because the PA system’s battery wouldn’t recharge after not being used in eighteen months but unusually all the runners stayed quiet so that was good. New parkrun protocols instruct the pre-start speeches to be over quickly and a prompt start at 9am to avoid runners gathering together too long. I was pleased we still had time to clap the one new First Timer who’d turned up, as well as the four runners who were about to complete their 250th run. Imagine being stuck on two hundred and forty-nine all that time.  For me, it was number three hundred and twenty-five – but no t-shirts for that!

It’s like Where’s Wally – I’m somewhere in there with the red headband!

With runners expected to seed themselves according to time, I positioned myself just level with the 25-min marker and it didn’t seem like there were too many ahead of me. I ran with Rob for the first 2K and it was nice to run unhindered, able to pass others easily whenever we needed to. At the start of the mini-loop, I left Rob as I took the brakes off and went with the downhill. Despite a light rain, it was all rather enjoyable and I gradually eased past some of the fast starters; always keeping my breathing easy. First mile 7:56, second 7:40, third in 7:26 to finish 49th in a time of 23:57.

Collecting my finish token there was lots of space past the funnel to go and get my token scanned. I then returned to the finish line, chatted to a friend and cheered runners in. The tailwalker came round in just over an hour to complete the field of 295. Elsewhere Poole had 565 and Bournemouth 529 which were the 3rd and 5th biggest attendances in the country, then add in Blandford 133 for a total of over 1,500 local runners out at 9am on a Saturday morning. A successful return for parkrun and I even had my result before midday. Admittedly it was 11:58am but it’s still impressive.

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