Today I had my first taste of ‘overseas’ parkrun tourism when I lined up at the start of Chippenham parkrun in Wiltshire.
I am over visiting Dawn – it’s her birthday this weekend – so I thought I’d make the most of the opportunity of competing in a different event, taking care to remember the 9am start, half-an-hour earlier than home.
The run starts and finishes in Monkton Park, it’s an area I know a little having walked through the park on previous visits. Before coming over I watched videos of previous runs so I kind of knew what to expect – half tarmac, half trail – and also from chatting to Dawn who has done the run in the past but when we got there we noticed part of the path had been closed so we guessed the route would be different.
As it turned out it was different, although not massively so. It still remained essentially the same ie: two loops of the park and two loops of the trail.
I joined in with the visitors briefing, given by a lovely Scottish lady. She asked where everyone was from … I had secretly hoped to be the furthest visitor but it turns out some chap had come all the way from Queensland!
She then explained the detour to us, mentioning mud and rabbit holes. Interesting.
As I said, the first two loops were on tarmac. Setting off I felt quite good. There’s a hill just past the first bend, which I zipped up comfortably enough, followed by a long straight section before a downhill. We did this twice, before having to go up the hill a third time to turn off for the trail section.
I was going very well up to this point and, indeed, halfway through, was nine seconds faster than my pb time last week, despite stopping to tie my shoelace at one stage.
But I knew the trail would slow me down, and so it proved. The first loop, in particular, was a bit of a slog because I was trying to find my feet and pick out the best way through. On the second time round I was 25 seconds faster than that initial loop which was good.
The last kilometre was a little bit mud, a little bit stoney path but mostly tarmac and it turned out to be my second fastest km split of the run which was very encouraging considering my legs had to work harder dealing with the mud.
All told, I was happy with my time and performance. Yes, no pb this week but a quite challenging course. I felt I acquited myself well, and that’s all I can really ask for.
I enjoyed myself this morning. Thanks to core team at Chippenham for a friendly event and to the marshals dotted around the course for their encouragement as I passed them. I’m looking forward to coming back in May (I hope) to give it another go.