The return to Lakeside

On Saturday morning, Eastleigh parkrun returned to Lakeside.

As our 2nd car was being repaired and as my training plan called for a 15km run, I decided to break that run into 3 with a run to Lakeside, the parkrun and then the run back. Each leg would be about 5km each.

Having chosen possibly the wettest day to run, I took a rucksack with spare clothing, some layers and my Salomon trail shoes for the 5km around Lakeside.

The run to parkrun was wet. Not only was it raining heavily but there was a lot of standing water, puddles and other flooding to contend with. There really was no point in trying to avoid the puddles so I took the ‘racing line’ and ran through whatever lay in my way.

After getting to Lakeside, it was clear the course was going to be challenging. As I got to the start area, it was good to see lots of familiar faces. Really too many to mention but notable highlights were Dave and Joel Williams, Rachael Elliott and Keith Whitaker.

There were a lot of Lordshill Road Runners in attendance too. After all, it was at Eastleigh parkrun that where LRR made a mark on the local running community and were rewarded with an exponential increase in membership.

After the first timer briefing and main run briefing, we were off. The new-ish gravel path around the lakes (which were the highest I’ve ever seen them) were pretty good to run on although I did seem to be running on the verge. I ran the first km with Ellie Coulthard and Dave Williams. It wasn’t too long until conditions underfoot took a turn for the worst as we entered the ‘tree tunnel’. It was very wet, muddy and it was best to simple accept the inevitable and run in a straight line regardless of how muddy it was.

The conditions meant that there was no point (and little chance) of a PB so I settled for a pace that my training plan suggested for my ‘long’ run (about 6:10 mins per km). This suited me absolutely fine.

Once we got to the end of the tree tunnel, it was time to cross the railway line (many thanks to Neil Garton for his words of encouragement as marshal at that point).

By this point Ellie and Dave had eased ahead and were making good progress on the ‘railway straight’. The condition of the ‘straight’ was ok although the large gravel made it a little uneven to run on.

At the end of the straight, the conditions hit their worst as we headed up to the Bowl. The course had been adjusted to avoid a new ‘lake’ and the ground was uneven and soggy (many thanks to Chris Stocks) for the advise). As I ran up the bank onto the crest of the bowl, I saw Ellie again who appeared to be running with a familiar runner, Tamsyn. I caught up with them and said hi and we stuck together until the end of lap 1. Prior to that though, it was good to see Dave Blackman marshalling the 2nd railway crossing which followed a short section that was underwater. At least it washed off the mud of the earlier part of the course!

On lap 2, Tamsyn and I ran all the way together. It was a good opportunity for a catch up chat. We covered several topics on our way around and it was a great way to focus in something other than the weather and the resulting conditions.

As we approached the final 100m before the funnel, Tamsyn laid down the challenge and we sped up for the line.

It was great to run the course again. Conditions were definitely the worst I’ve seen at Lakeside ever and it’ll take a good couple of months until the ground dries out.

After finishing I headed up to the cafe for a coffee. The parkrunners filled every table and it was great to see so many people there as well as have such a great atmosphere. We stayed for over an hour (many thanks for the 2nd coffee Neil) before heading off home. For most this meant a drive or lift home. For me, it meant another run.

By the time is left the cafe and got a satellite fix, conditions had got worse. However, the run home was fine and I enjoyed it.

All in all, a great morning’s running!

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