parkrun Tourism at Southsea parkrun

View of the beach at Southsea with 'parkrun Tourism: Southsea parkrun' written on it.

At the start of the year, I was struggling to get back on form with my running, so I decided to do more parkrun tourism. This relieved the pressure that I put on myself when I run at Southampton every week. To keep me on track, I wrote a planner for the first six months of the year, scheduling a range of different parkruns. I haven’t quite managed to do everything that I wanted to, but I have visited 7 ‘new’ parkruns. I’ve also got three more letters towards my parkrun alphabet: U, K and G. However, my reasons for choosing Southsea parkrun this weekend were different.

This weekend, Race for Life and Pretty Muddy were taking place on Southampton Common, so Southampton parkrun was cancelled. This meant that I needed to do some parkrun tourism. I discounted the parkruns in the immediate vicinity of Southampton as I knew they would be busy. Stu and I planned to run with our friends with Rachel and Phil and their two children. This meant that we needed a smooth, buggy-friendly path and a playground near to the finish. A nice cafe would be a bonus. A quick search of events that I hadn’t run yet suggested that Southsea would be ideal.

Other runs this week

Anyway, before I tell you about Southsea parkrun, I wanted to share some details of my runs this week. On Monday, I made it to a hill training session with LRR. I ran to the session, took part and then ran home.

Straight after work on Wednesday, I went out for a run, so that I had no opportunity to make excuses and stay at home. It was an RR10, so I didn’t expect to see anyone from LRR.

I made it as far as the crossroads on the Common when I saw fellow triathlete Sandra out for a walk with her daughter and her puppy. I stopped to chat and walk with them for a bit, which was a welcome break as my breathing wasn’t great.

As I was chatting with Sandra, my friend Teri ran up. She was out running with her dog and said she would run with me for a bit. Teri is much fitter and faster than me, so it was quite a challenge to keep moving at a pace that was acceptable to her.

I’ll get by with a little help from my friends!

Teri was just going to run a bit when we first met, but she agreed to keep running with me until we had done 5km. Before the end of our run, we bumped into Kata, so we ran together for a little bit.

Three women wearing running clothes.
Teri, Kata and I. ©Teri Pragnell

I was so grateful to Teri for running with me as I really hadn’t been feeling like running. It was a lot hotter than I expected and the t-shirt I was wearing is not breathable, so I was too hot.

As I was expecting to do a long solo run, I decided to wear my Aftershokz Air bone-conducting headphones. I was wearing a waistbelt with my phone in it, so that I could listen to With Me Now podcast. The sound quality was great and I was really enjoying it. I stopped listening after meeting Sandra and Teri. I hadn’t charged the headphones up properly and within 2 minutes of leaving Teri, they ran out of power, which was frustrating.

By the time I made it home, I was soaking wet but feeling proud of myself for having run further than 10km. I feel so frustrated that I have become so unfit, but am determined to be able to run a half marathon in 7 weeks time.

Selfie of Tamsyn wearing running kit.
Feeling proud but soaking wet after a run in the rain.
Garmin watch face showing 11.26km in 1:20:48.

Getting to the start of Southsea parkrun

We left Southampton just after 8am and were pleasantly surprised by how quiet the roads were. There is a 50mph speed restriction on a long section of the motorway between Southampton and Portsmouth, but traffic was flowing smoothly. We arrived in Southsea at 8:40am and located a parking space right by the playground.

View towards Southparade Pier in Southsea.
View towards Southparade Pier in Southsea.

We then had to walk to the start of Southsea parkrun, which is at Speakers’ Corner on Southsea Esplanade. It was an easy stroll for an adult from the car park… but for a pebble-obsessed toddler, it was a long walk. M wanted to choose pebbles from on the beach, but we didn’t have that much time. In the end, we had to encourage her to get in the buggy by the pier or we would have missed the start!

View towards Portsmouth Pyramids Centre. The start of Southsea parkrun is off to the right.
View towards Portsmouth Pyramids Centre.

The start of the run was congested. The record at Southsea parkrun is 554; there were 529 runners on Saturday. Recently, there have been under 400 runners on a number of occasions. I noticed that there were quite a few runners from St James’ Runners in Southampton. Obviously, a lot of others had the same idea as me!

Crowd of people wearing running clothes.

What was the run like?

The Esplanade is wide, so there should have been plenty of room. Rachel and I had started at the back with our buggies, so we had to dodge a lot of people.

The weather was sunny and warm, which was a nice change… but it was a bit warm for me to be running.

Southsea parkrun is a simple out and back. I had assumed that it would all be on the paved promenade, but there is one section that goes out around a cafe, so runners have to go on the shingle. Rachel and I were directed to remain on the pavement with our buggies, but Phil wasn’t so lucky. He was sent onto the shingle with his Chariot. It must have been a nightmare to push.

On the way back, there were a lot of people gathering for Pride, so the pavement was even more congested. I got really held up by the cafe as the people who were gathering there didn’t seem to be able to hear me shout ‘Excuse me, please!’

So how did I do at Southsea parkrun?

This parkrun was a lot tougher than I expected. The temperature and humidity were not good for running. I also started in the wrong position, so had to weave around a lot of people. Although it is perfectly flat, this did mean that there were no downhill sections where I could take a breather.

I didn’t start my watch exactly at the start of the run but did not expect it to be so different from my official time. I had 32:12 on my watch, which was nearly a minute quicker than the time I was given.

Tamsyn's result from Southsea parkrun #302: 33:07.

On a positive, I had done the 4th highest number of runs at the event. I was the female runner who had completed the most runs – the next highest was 231. There were only 11 runners who had run over 250 parkruns.

I didn’t realise that you could click on your age group and see the top performances for all people in that category at that parkrun (I’m at 545/794). In my age group, I was 12/24. although it was a slow run, it wasn’t terrible.

What next for my parkrun tourism?

In the second half of the year, I’m hoping that I might visit 16 ‘new’ parkruns. I’m still chasing my parkrun alphabet, so I’ve identified opportunities to do parkruns beginning with Y, V, Q and J. Fingers crossed that a rumoured parkrun beginning with I starts in the local area! I’m also hoping to visit 3 international parkruns before Christmas.

Another parkrun challenge that I’m aiming to complete is Cornw-all (all the parkruns in Cornwall). I don’t think I’ll manage to crack that this year as Mount Edgcumbe isn’t easy for me to get to. I’ve also heard rumours that there will be another parkrun starting much nearer to my mum’s house.

My next parkrun will be at Southampton, but the following one is still a mystery to me as I’ll be at the parkrun ambassadors’ conference. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll be Bedworth or Brueton as I’ve done Leamington and Coventry.

Are you planning any parkrun tourism?

I'd love to hear your thoughts...

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