Last Saturday was my first bit of parkrun tourism for 2019. We were visiting Stuart’s parents who live near to Bournemouth, so we had several options. We’ve run at Brockenhurst, Bournemouth and Poole parkruns, but hadn’t tried Moors Valley or Upton House parkrun. I thought that we should save Moors Valley for another day as it’s nearer to where we live.
We left home just before 8am to ensure we had enough time to get to Upton House. It felt really early – especially as there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the roads.
After parking, we followed people across the car park. Stu asked someone where the start was, but we didn’t hear his response clearly. We walked towards the start, but there was no-one there. At that point we realised that the man had told us that the briefing was in the opposite direction from the start – we thought he was explaining where the finish was.
We arrived just at the end of the first-timer briefing. I wasn’t too worried. I figured that we wouldn’t be leading the field, so an exact course description wouldn’t really matter – we’d just follow the people in front of us. We also knew the usual info about getting our barcodes scanned.
The location of the briefing is really good at Upton House. There is a raised platform for the Run Director to stand on (with a PA system). This ensured that everyone could see and hear clearly. I was pleased to see that the RD was Jenny Campbell Trayford, a fellow triathlete. Jenny and I first met during Grand Shaftesbury Run and Tri Weekend – she shouted hello during the race and we chatted afterwards.
There were a few announcements, including some runners celebrating milestone runs. At Upton House, they have capes for milestone runners and volunteers. There was also a board where tourists could note where they were from. The tourists who had travelled the furthest were from New South Wales, Australia.
Stu and I spoke to the couple from Orange. Their home parkrun is Orange, one of the two locations we’ve done in Australia. I asked them where their next nearest parkruns are, in case we’re able to visit there again. The answer was Bathurst and Cowra – both places that we’ve visited. They said they could recommend somewhere to eat between Bathurst and Orange – it turned out to be where my brother is getting married!
The start of the run was really congested. It’s reasonably narrow and there are not many places where it’s possible to overtake. I found the first 500m very slow. It was also tough running with a buggy as it was not at an even pace, with lots of stopping and starting and people weaving across the path.
Fortunately, when the group of runners had spread out, it was possible to enjoy the run much more.
The route consists of a large loop followed by a shorter loop and then the large loop again. The end of the large loop goes pat the finish, which is where the pre-run briefing takes place, so I saw Jenny, the RD, there.
The course is undulating and on a mix of surfaces with compacted gravel and some muddy patches. On a clear day, I think the views would be beautiful, but it was a little misty. However, it was lovely to be on a route in the countryside.
How did I do?
After the slow start and my health problems this week, I wasn’t too disappointed with my result.
It was my 33rd different parkrun and it also counts towards the parkrun alphabeteer challenge. I’ve now run 17/25 letters of the alphabet.
Afterwards, we went to the coffee shop, which had a nice play area for young children. There was also a ‘fairy village’ outside that M really liked.
Have you done Upton House parkrun? What did you think of it?