parkrun Tourism: St Mary’s parkrun, Bridport

Tamsyn and M posing in the St Mary's parkrun photo frame.

My final long weekend has been quite busy so far. I had a bike ride on Friday, completed St Mary’s parkrun on Saturday and have been for a long family walk today.

On Thursday evening, I got everything ready for my final Friday Ride (before going back to working 5 days a week). I managed to drop M off at preschool quickly, so was back home by 8:30am on Friday. I contacted Pete and Kate to let them know we could leave early. They had agreed to meet Malcolm at 9:15am, so we decide to stick with our original meeting time.

As I had a bit of time to spare, I decided to finish watching a BBC documentary that Kate had recommended to me: The Merthyr Mermaid. This documentary follows Cath Pendleton, an ice swimmer, on her quest to swim a mile in Antarctica. It’s a really inspirational programme that made me want to do some open water swimming.

Final Friday Ride

I met up with Pete and Kate and then we were joined by Malcolm. We cycled off through Shirley to Millbrook and then Eling. After Eling, we headed to Beaulieu and Buckler’s Hard. Just after leaving Buckler’s Hard, we saw a horse and a car on a narrow lane. Pete wondered whether the horse was in the way of the car, but I pointed out that we could only see red lights, so the horse must be behind the car. I peered more closely and realised that I could see hooves on the other side. We cycled closer to the car and then dismounted.

As we went past the car, the driver and passenger spoke with Pete. They had been stuck for a while. After we were all on the other side of the car, the foal came past and joined its mother. We encouraged them down the lane and when we could see a side path, Pete blocked the road, so the ponies went down the side path. The car was then able to drive past.

We then remounted and cycled to Tanners Lane beach where we stopped for a snack and a drink. At this point, Malcolm left us as he had to hurry back. We had a chat and took some photos before leaving.

Selfie of Kate, Pete and Tamsyn by the sea.

We then cycled back to Southampton. Kate left us in Shirley, whereas Pete and I stopped at the Bellemoor before I cycled home. Overall, I think I managed about 70km. I felt fine afterwards, so there’s still hope that I’ll be OK at Southampton sportive.

Getting to St Mary’s parkrun

On Saturday morning, Stu, M and I got up early to drive to Bridport to do St Mary’s parkrun. It’s about 70 miles away and we knew we would need to leave at least 90 minutes to get there as there would probably be a lot of traffic. Unfortunately, we left home 25 minutes later than anticipated and then we got stuck in a long traffic jam because a car had hit the central reservation on the motorway. I was really worried, but we managed to make it to Bridport by 8:30am.

When we had parked, we walked through Bridport. There were lots of market stalls being set up. I was surprised by how busy it was. It was only when I saw some Morris Men that I realised something was happening – we had chosen to go to Bridport during its Folk Festival.

We crossed the street, walked past a church and through a community orchard, crossed a bridge and were at the start of St Mary’s parkrun.

Information and route map for St Mary's parkrun.

Preparing to run

Quite a few people were standing around waiting and we could tell from their t-shirts that there were plenty of other tourists. (A woman standing near us was from Havant and there were quite a few northerners).

The start banner at St Mary's parkrun, Bridport.
People standing around before the start of St Mary's parkrun.

M didn’t seem keen to run, but Stu and I persuaded her to get out of her buggy and run one lap. We were called over for a first timers’ briefing. There was a ripple of laughter when almost everyone who was waiting seemed to move towards the RD. (I later learnt that we had smashed the course attendance record – previously it was 152, whereas 206 people ran this week!) The course description sounded straightforward and, as usual, I knew I would just be able to follow the people in front.

The Run Director at St Mary's parkrun giving the briefing.
The Run Director explaining the course to a crowd of runners.

There was then a brief briefing and it was time to line up. M and I stepped behind a few people as I knew we would be slower. Stu is still injured and unable to run properly, so he had the job of pushing the buggy.

Runners lining up at the start of St Mary's parkrun.

M’s lap at St Mary’s parkrun

M was ready to get in her buggy within a couple of hundred metres, so I had to encourage her to keep going. She was really excited by the flags along the side of the football pitch so I encouraged her to run to the next one… and the next one… for about 50m.

M likes waving to the marshals and shouting ‘Thank you!’ so that kept her going for a bit. She was also excited to see the faster runners coming back towards us. At one point, we passed a nice children’s playground. Fortunately, M didn’t seem to notice it and didn’t ask to go and play. After almost a full lap, M asked to go in her buggy. She’s very tired after being ill and we want her to enjoy parkrun, so we agreed.

I then ran off and tried to pick up the pace. I managed to pass a few people and gave myself lots of small goals of catching up with the runner ahead. I’m still not in good form, but I increased my pace and passed a few people. I also got to wave to M on the put and back sections.

After I’d finished, I ran back to meet Stu and M and take some photos of them

Stuart pushing M in her buggy at St Mary's parkrun. They are both waving.
Stu pushing M in a buggy on grass. They are both waving.
Stuart pushing a buggy across the finish line at St Mary's parkrun.

How did I do?

Tamsyn's result email from St Mary's parkrun #41 in a time of 36:57.

With a time of 36:57, I managed last in my age group, but I had completed the most runs out of all female runners and was in the bronze medal position overall. I was surprised when I saw the results. I finished immediately ahead of another woman from Lordshill Road Runners!

Section of parkrun results table showing Tamsyn Smith in position 185 ahead of Catherine Cooper on position 186. They both run for Lordshill Road Runners.

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