“I think I can hear voices” would be quite an unsettling thing to hear when you’re with a complete stranger say in the middle of a marshland, with no one else around. However, when it’s 8:58 on a Saturday morning and you’re frantically looking for the start of your parkrun, it’s a blessed relief. Yes, it’s the next adventure as part of the parkrun profiles series, and this Saturday I was at…
Newbury (although you knew that already from the title)
This Saturday’s preparation was relatively calm, on the way to Newbury with an ETA of 8:46, what could go wrong?! A long queue to get to the car park, only to find out that I missed the last space by one, as told by a guy who came out onto the road shouting ‘FULL CAR PARK, FULL CAR PARK’, that’s what could go wrong. Not to worry though, whizz the window down and ask where else I could park, ‘hmm, you’ve left it quite late mate’, yes, thanks a lot. At least this gave me some time to think about some key facts….
First parkrun: 11/02/2012
Fastest recorded time: 14:10 (Chris Reade, November 2018)
Number of parkruns: 396
Average number of runners: ~400
Number of SJ members who have run it: 20
Journey time from Sandhurst: ~40 minutes
Number of laps: 1
Surface type: Gravel
Does the race director stand on a stepladder and use a megaphone in briefing: No stepladder or megaphone, but a big booming microphone instead. Very effective.
Anyway, after a bit of an adventure through some parts we probably weren’t allowed to walk through, me and my fellow straggler made it just in time to the start, a rather daunting open area where you can feel the judgement as you sneak in to the crowd at 9:03. And what did I find when I got there? Patrick Wadsworth, Kate Parker and Jon Green! What a lovely surprise! Anyway, briefing over (aided by a big microphone and speaker, must be great for karaoke night), and we were off!
Newbury is set on what used to be an airfield, as indicated by the control tower, and distinctive landing strip (easily seen from Google Maps). The course starts off with a short straight section, before a right turn and a long, long, long straight run, predominantly out along one side of the air field and up to the end. Newbury is a one-lap event, which did appeal to me as I prefer 1 lap events if and where I can find them.
Patrick shot off from the start, but I swapped between running and chatting with Jon and Kate, which was a lovely luxury to have on my morning parkrun. The weather was not ideal on Saturday, and what with it’s location, the setting was quite open and therefore exposed to the elements. It was quite windy on this Saturday, so I dread to think what it would be like in the winter months?!
Following the first straight, it’s a bit of windy running up and down very small and gentle hills, more of a dip really, and then you’re back out onto a mini straight, before a left turn onto a long final straight. In good news for those who maybe don’t start at the front and find it frustrating trying to overtake people, Newbury has nice, wide paths, so overtaking isn’t an issue (except for maybe along the first straight).
The final long straight is nicely populated by some cows at the end. Apparently, the proper technique to run when around cows is to stop (so Kate said anyway), but by this point Jon and I had started to up the pace slightly to see who would finish first. The talking had stopped, the real running had started. It was on. Gradually getting quicker, ignoring the danger of the cows, we upped it. Around the right turn and onto the home straight, it was neck and neck, there was no separating us. Then just as we approached the finish line, someone was slowing up, we were speeding through, it was a disaster waiting to happen! Thankfully, they didn’t get in the way, and I just pipped Jon to the line, although in the grand scheme of things, Jon’s running at Endure far outdid any of my feeble efforts this weekend (that was it).
A nice little finish to a decent parkrun, shall we sum up this experience with some important questions? Let’s….
Will Jon Green, Patrick Wadsworth and Kate Parker be there every weekend? – Unlikely
Should you properly plan your arrival to a first time parkrun to ensure you don’t end up wandering through empty marshland with a total stranger? – Yes
Will you get attacked by cows? – They seemed pretty used to the parkrunners, so I’m going to say no (if you do, then I cannot be held liable).
How would I sum up Newbury in 3 words? – Late, chatty, cows.
Would I go back to Newbury? – It probably wouldn’t be top of my list for places to go back to, although it is quite flat, so if you’re looking for a PB, then (weather depending), this could be it….
And what better way to finish the run than with a nice little SJ group pic (we assumed Patrick must have been running to Endure by this point, because he was nowhere to be seen!)