parkrun Tourism: Salisbury parkrun

Tamsyn running in a green parkrun t-shirt in focus in the foreground, with other parkrunners behind her.

Today was an arbitrary milestone for me as it was my 300th parkrun. Southampton parkrun was cancelled, so Stu and I agreed to do some parkrun tourism to Salisbury parkrun with our friends Rachel and Phil and their children.

We’d chosen Salisbury parkrun for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it wasn’t too far from Southampton as an early start can be challenging when children are involved. (They can be great at waking up early, but don’t get moving quickly!) Secondly, we’d read that there was a good playground in Churchill Gardens, which is important when you have a couple of toddlers to entertain (and wear out!)

I love visiting parkruns that I’ve never tried before. Salisbury parkrun would be my 42nd event. It was also my 10th new event this year, equalling my number of new events in 2018.

Getting to the start of Salisbury parkrun

The morning did not go as smoothly as I’d hoped. M has had a number of health problems recently, culminating in her being diagnosed as asthmatic. Her preventer inhaler hasn’t kicked in yet and we didn’t think about giving her a reliever inhaler before bed, so she woke up coughing and struggling to breathe, which meant that none of us got a lot of sleep. The knock-on effect was that none of us wanted to get out of bed.

We left home late and encountered quite a lot of traffic on the way to Salisbury. Halfway there I got a text message from Rachel warning that they were running late and might not make the start. I responded explaining that we were in exactly the same situation.

We arrived on the outskirts of Salisbury and could see parkrunners walking from a nearby shopping complex where there is plenty of free parking. I kept my fingers crossed that there would be a parking space left in the car park nearest to the start.

We were in luck. There were two spaces left in the car park – enough for Phil & Rachel and us. I paid for parking whilst Stu got the buggy out of the boot. I then ran to the start with M, whilst Stu had a comfort break.

Stu took the buggy from me just before we got to the start line. I had enough time to switch my watch on and get into the crowd before we were off. Phew!

A group of people at the start of Salisbury parkrun. Most of them are glancing down at their watches.

What’s the course like?

I missed the pre-run briefing and hadn’t read the course description for quite a few weeks, so had no idea what the route was. It turned out to be three twisty-turny laps. Some of the course was on smooth tarmac paths, whilst other bits were on wet grass as it had rained overnight.

Some parts of the course were quite narrow and there were some bridges to cross over the river. There was also a photographer out taking pictures. He managed to take photos of Stu, Rachel and I about five minutes into the run.

Stuart pushing M in her buggy in the first 5 minutes of Salisbury parkrun. They are surrounded by runners.
Tamsyn running in the first 5 minutes of Salisbury parkrun. She is surrounded by runners.
Tamsyn running just ahead of Rachel in the first 5 minutes of Salisbury parkrun. They are surrounded by runners.

I also realised on the first lap that there was not one, but two playgrounds within the park. One of them was quite small and obviously aimed at smaller children. It had a wooden pirate ship climbing frame as its main attraction. The second playground had a couple of large slides and a flying fox as well as a large climbing frame aimed at older children.

There were also some great marshals out on the course. A chap with a stereo was by ‘Bog Bend’ and at another point on the course, there was a woman with a bubble machine.

There were a few drops of rain at the start, but it quickly cleared up. However, it was incredibly humid, which made running hard. My Garmin told me that I was ‘peaking’, but after Thursday’s long run, I was less sure. I also struggled to get my heart-rate down and my breathing right after my mad sprint to the start. Despite that, I felt disappointed that I was struggling to get my pace under 6:40/km.

The finish

The photographer had positioned himself on the last lap of the run, so he managed to get a clear photo of each of us (except the children).

Stuart running towards the finish with M in her buggy.
Phil running towards the finish line pushing his son in his chariot.
Rachel pushing her Phil and Teds buggy towards the finishing line.

I think our faces show how tough and warm we were all finding the course… mine more so than the others!

A woman (Tamsyn) running towards the finish line. She looks overweight and tired.

When I reached the small playground on the final lap, Stuart was there with M to cheer me on, which was nice. I was doing my best to finish in under 35 minutes as it seemed that 30 minutes was not in reach. Then I saw the turn to the finish.

How did I do?

I sprinted for the line, realising that a sub 30 minute time was again a possibility. I was surprised at how short the course was as my Garmin was reading 4.34km.

As I was walking to get my barcode scanned, my watch beeped and said ‘GPS located’. No wonder the course had seemed so short. The distance was based on my stride length, rather than GPS! I asked Stu about the distance afterwards and he said that his watch had said it was 4.98km. So, there’s a reason why you should ignore your watch if you feel like you’re having a bad run!

My result was 29:44. Hurray!

My best time for 2019 is still 29:30 (officially), so now I need to work on beating that.

I came 253/415 parkrunners and was 65/167 female parkrunners. I also made it into the top half of my age group finishing 8/19.

It was also interesting to see that I had completed the third-highest number of runs and the most by any woman at Salisbury parkrun today.

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