I’ve been planning to take part in the first ever parkrun for several years, but have never managed to make a pilgrimage to Bushy parkrun. Last weekend, I had arranged to stay with my aunt in Brockham near to Dorking, so the opportunity arose.
Previously, I’ve done Reigate Priory parkrun, which is quite close to where we stay. Other nearby parkruns include:
- Mole Valley
- Banstead Woods
- Roundshaw Downs
Mole Valley has only been going for 6/7 months and attracts about 200 runners. However, the big draw is that it takes place on Denbies Wine Estate… maybe that calls for a glass of wine instead of a post-run coffee? Unfortunately, buggies are not allowed, but as my aunt is one of M’s favourite people, maybe I could go alone (with Stu!)
Getting to the start of Bushy parkrun
We set off just after 8am to ensure that we arrived on time. Fortunately, the roads were quiet, but as I expected there were a lot of people who needed to park at Bushy. There are multiple large car parks and we quickly found a space.
It was a short walk to the start and the size of the crowd meant that we couldn’t really see much of where we would be running. (I wasn’t even sure which direction we would be running in!) There were some quite large groups of teenagers from sports clubs (I couldn’t work out from their kit what sport they played!) Although the Run Director used a loudhailer, it was impossible to hear what they were saying which was disappointing, although it goes to show that it’s not only Southampton where we have a problem.
Stuart and I got separated at the start. Despite his injured arm, I knew that he would be able to run faster than me.
What’s the course like?
It was a beautiful one-lap course that was on a range of surfaces. Near the start, there were some sections where the path split with trees/bushes in the middle. It was important to know which side you were on and to stay there!
Here’s the official course description:
A fast, flat course that runs anticlockwise from close to the Diana Fountain in Bushy Park. After 250 metres or so on grass, running parallel with the play park, the course moves onto a hoggin path towards the Church Grove gate. There is a left turn to take you around the edge of Hampton Wick Cricket Club. Continue towards the Hampton Wick gate and take a left turn into Cobbler’s Walk (also called Nightingale Lane). After passing The Leg-of-Mutton Pond there is a right turn onto a track towards the Sandy Lane gate. On reaching the gate, there is a left turn to take you along the perimeter (hoggin) path towards the Teddington Gate. A further left turn will take you onto the grass of Chestnut Avenue. There is another left turn back onto Cobbler’s Walk. A marshal will indicate the point at which you will make a right turn onto a track to run towards Heron Pond, over a little bridge, round the South side of the pond on a hoggin path or grass (your choice) – the finish is in sight!
Thoughts on the run
There were lots of birds and animals in the park. We passed ducks, geese, swans and plenty of deer. M would have loved seeing them, but we had left her with my aunt and my mum as I thought that the parkrun would be very busy. Although it was busy, there were a lot of buggy runners at Bushy parkrun.
I spoke to a few different people as I was running including a chap in a Hawaiian shirt. I asked him about it and he explained that he was part of a group of three runners who were celebrating their friend’s 250th parkrun. They had originally worn the Hawaiian shirts for a local half marathon.
I also saw someone wearing a 500 t-shirt. I had a quick glance at the results and could see that there were 9 runners at Bushy on Saturday who had earned their 500th parkrun t-shirts. Interestingly, only two of them have earned t-shirts for volunteering 25 times.
How did I do?
I’m still really unfit, so I found this run tough. Fortunately, the park is flat, so that mitigated my fitness levels a bit.
Whilst I enjoyed taking part in this event, I probably won’t do it again. There are too many other parkruns that are nearer to my aunt’s house that I haven’t tried yet!