parkrun at Royal Victoria Country Park

Chapel at Royal Victoria Country Park

Yesterday morning I ventured over to Netley Abbey parkrun for a change. I had agreed with my friend Dörte that we would meet up for a run at her local parkrun.

I had originally intended to cycle to Royal Victoria Country Park, but it was very foggy when I got up. As my main cycling jacket is white, that didn’t seem a sensible option. I was lazy and drove there. It’s a shame as there are some lovely bike racks in the park and the cycle route is usually quite scenic.


I didn’t really give myself enough time to drive, so I only had five minutes to park and get myself to the start line.

After I had dropped my bag with the rest of the baggage, I saw a few of my friends from Lordshill at the start. I had a quick chat with Dave who is trying out the Furman (FIRST) three-day-a-week marathon plan. Whilst we were talking, I felt a little nudge from behind. My lovely friend, Di, was trying to catch my attention, so she poked me with her foot. Unfortunately, it was only as she did it that she realised just how muddy her feet were, so I started the run with a footprint on my bum!

I looked around and couldn’t see Dörte, so I thought I’d set off and would probably see her on the way around.She’s a faster runner than me and it’s a three-lap course where you pass other runners.

I find Netley Abbey parkrun to be quite challenging. The current route is a three-lap course that has a downhill section before a run parallel to the shore. (If you want to see a bit more of the view, check out this video from the Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Maritime Archaeology course that I was involved in – Julian and Jesse are standing just off the path that we run along, so you can see the Itchen shoreline and Fawley oil refinery in the distance!) I was supposed to be going quickly so that I could report a 5k time back to Coach Olly, but I got really distracted when I saw a little pug walking along the shingle – oops! There were also some good marshalls along this section.

After the run along the shore, there is an uphill section that is relatively narrow and can only fit two runners abreast. Then it’s back onto the main path, which is quite muddy and has a number of puddles on it at the moment.

After a few minutes to get your breath back, there’s another uphill section, before heading through the woods and a lovely downhill section, which is also quite muddy and leafy.

Several times during the run, I saw Ben who was the first finisher and I also saw Dave, Di, Khalid, Rodolfo, Aurelio, Kelly and various other friends… but no Dörte.

Going into the last lap, Kelly passed me. I don’t see her very often as Kelly runs with Hedge End Running Club.She doesn’t come to Southampton parkrun very often.Kelly and I ran our first half marathon together and finished Stubbington 10k in exactly the same time last week. I tried to stick with Kelly when she passed me, but I was just feeling too tired to keep up. This week’s interval sessions have taken it out of me a bit!

There used to be a large hospital for wounded servicemen at Netley Abbey – now the chapel is all that remains in the park

The section back on the flat is challenging as the right-hand side of the path has fewer puddles so runners coming in the other direction often veer onto this side of the path.

On the final lap, there is a really long finishing straight, which is great if you’re feeling like really going for it at the end of the lap. I got to the final 100m and wanted to have a sprint finish, but I had nothing left. I had assumed that I would get a time of 26:XX, but it was not to be. My time on my Garmin was 27:15, which is quite disappointing.

Netley Abbey parkrun 209 23 Jan 2016

A look at the stats was a little less depressing – I finished 3rd out of 21 in my age category and was 21/110 women. Overall, I was 123rd out of 270. I also realised that my time was a PB on this course – although I have only run it 3 times before and it has generally been with other people. First place in my age category was a time of 26:01 – I reckon that I can manage that with a bit more training!

Overall, this is a lovely parkrun. Occasionally, it is run on a multi-loop course around the cricket pitch, which is quite dull, but the other main route is also attractive. The marshalls were great and as the event isn’t too big, it still has a local community feel to it.

Afterwards, lots of people adjourned to the cafe for a drink. I sent my friend, Dörte a text message and found out that she hadn’t been able to make the run, but she was able to cycle down to the cafe to meet me… this also gives me a great excuse to come back to Netley, so that we can have a run together!

And now for something completely different… You may have noticed that it’s ‘Way Back Week’ on Facebook. Here’s my photo from about 1980!


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