This morning sees Daniel and I heading to Queen Elizabeth parkrun for their inaugural event. QE parkrun is held at Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Horndean and is about 30 minutes from home.
I’ve been involved with the parkrun since day 1 when the local council’s Sports Development Officer contacted me to find out whether we could hold a parkrun at the park. Kirsty had asked the Park Manager if the park could host the event and they’d given a tentative yes. Funding had also been secured based on the success of Havant parkrun.
Given two hurdles had been mostly overcome, I needed to find a team to manage the event and spoke with Dave Williams, ED at Havant parkrun about it. Before long, Dave had spoken with a keen parkrunner and Run Director at Havant, Kiernan Easton, who expressed an interest in taking on the challenge of bringing a new parkrun event to life.
Within a few hours, Kiernan had confirmed he wanted to drive things forward. Behind the scenes he had spoken to another passionate parkrunner, James Leighton, who coincidentally had contacted me previously to suggest QECP as a potential parkrun venue. James very quickly provides a detailed Word document detailing the venue, possible courses and other really useful information.
By this time, the Park Manager had made more positive noises about hosting the event at the park so I forwarded James’ information on and we subsequently arranged a meeting to discuss things in more detail.
Kiernan, James, Dave and I attended the meeting and met with Tim, the Park Manager, who couldn’t have been much more positive. Kiernan’s enthusiasm for parkrun and bringing a new parkrun into the parkrun family shone through and the rest of us didn’t really have to say much!
We recced James’ suggested course after the event. One word – challenging!! Probably the most challenging course in the south (although Ashton Court might be more tough?) It was beautiful though and *maybe* the scenery would distract runners from the pain the ‘undulating’ terrain would inflict!!
We had the green light and now it was time to step things up a gear. In my Ambassadorial role, I was main point of contact for Kiernan and between James, Kiernan and myself we produced the risk assessment documentation and event information. Once complete and reviewed, I forwarded it into HQ and tentatively suggested a start date of 18th May.
With several weeks to go, there was plenty of time to engage the services of Gareth and Dave to measure the course, order the necessary equipment from HQ and prepare for the arrival of this new parkrun.
Fast forward to today, 18th May. Date of Queen Elizabeth parkrun’s inaugural event. It’s currently 5am and I’ve got just under 2 hours until I need to get up and then make my way with Daniel to the venue…
We’re home!! The first QE parkrun went well. Lots of familiar faces from parkruns around the South. Around 140 runners enjoyed the inaugural event. Most found the course the most challenging they’d done and it’s arguably the most challenging course in the South. Robert Spencer believes it’s more challenging than Ashton Court in Bristol which is famed for its 2.5km up and 2.5km down.
The course has a 250m incline followed by quite a sharp decent. Trail shoes are recommended and the descents could be a challenge in wet or icy conditions. It then has an undulating section that takes you to about 2.8km. There’s then a 1km climb (!) which passes the start area before another 2km of undulation to the finish. The last 400m or so is on a gradual incline so a little energy-sapping as you (attempt to?) sprint for the finish. As usual, Daniel’s self-imposed rules of running on the flat and downhill and walking uphill fell into disarray. We were soon adopting a run/walk strategy regardless of the terrain!
Daniel made a long sprint for the finish, seemingly having forgotten his tired legs and crossed the line ahead of me. Darn!
The cafe was full with parkrunners after the run which was a great sign. Lots of chat, beverages and cake (not to mention some odd-looking bananas which were in fact oranges!)
It was great to catch up with Dave, Joel, Neil, Robert, Colin, Elaine, David, Rex, Kerri, Alison, Louise, Barbara, Ian to name but a few!
Overall, a great parkrun morning.
Next weekend sees the inaugural event for Brockenhurst parkrun which promises to be less challenging but another excellent parkrun.