Bournemouth Parkrun

After years of missing out through coaching on a Saturday morning, I finally lost my Parkrun virginity at Bournemouth on 1st December 2018. And it was everything I’d dreamt it would be!

Why Bournemouth Parkrun?

Quite simply, because Bournemouth Parkrun, is my home game. It’s only a 1.65  mile trot from my front door to the start line which is a perfect warm up. And, it fits perfectly into my Saturday morning routine. I’m going to share, because if there’s a better start to the weekend, I’m not aware of it!

I set an alarm for 8am, just enough time to have a cup of tea in bed before getting ready and leaving at 8.40 to run to the start. After Parkrun, I run the slightly longer way home again to pass M’s Bakery, where I pick up two of  the world’s best croissants (yes, I’m confident in that assessment…. I’ve sampled many!) 1 almond and 1 chocolate to have with a cappuccino back at home. Our freshly roasted coffee beans arrive from The Coffee Factory on Friday, and the milkman delivers a pint of whole milk for the occasion in the early hours of Saturday morning. And that ladies and gentleman, is how I Saturday!

The course

Bournemouth Parkrun is an anticlockwise, lapped course. 1 small loop and 2, of the larger circuit. It starts on the grass just in front of the athletics stadium. This is a really wide area, so great for avoiding bottlenecks. As you turn right, you join the footpath and follow it round to Newlands Road where the it turns into wood chips and then just the grassy field. There are also some impressive tree roots that require some careful footwork in this section. You complete the first loop back on the tarmac footpath.

The second two, bigger loops turn right at the bottom of the grassy section and you go through a short bit of uneven woodland before joining the path at the top end of the park. This section is uphill, but on a solid path. You pass the Cherries football stadium on your right before skirting the edge of their training grounds and running along a scree style path by the athletics track. Finally, the course goes up a grassy bank taking you back to go around one last time. It finishes inside the athletics stadium.

Getting there

Most people, myself included, run or bike to the start. Bikes can be locked to the railings by the edge of the track. You can also park for free in the carpark by the mini roundabout on the right hand side of the map, and the road leading too it. Although there are usually spaces, I try not to drive where possible. It somehow seems to go against the ethos of Parkrun.

What I especially love

  • The variety of the course terrain
  • That, if 5k isn’t enough of a speed session for you, you can use the athletics track afterwards.
  • The post run coffee is in the cafe inside the athletics stadium, so it has a great community feel. It also keeps the finish area really busy which gives it a real buzz.
  • There are toilets and showers at the athletics stadium for visitors, or if you need to zip off somewhere straight afterwards.

And what I don’t

  • The briefing can sometimes go on for a really long time…. I’m scrapping the barrel a bit here!

PB potential

Unlikely. There are two short hills that are enough to throw you off your stride, and also a large amount of the course is on grass or through wooded areas where you have to jump the tree roots. Having said all that, Bournemouth does currently hold my Parkrun PB of 23.33. That’s mostly because I’ve still only run one other course though! It’s still more than 2 minutes slower than my 5K PB.

Stats from 20th July 2019

Event number: 309

Number of runners: 526

This weeks fastest: M- 15.57  F- 20.13

My stats: 

All Time Stats

Average run time: 00:27:52
Female record holder: Charlotte PENFOLD – 17:18 – Event 203 (17/06/17)
Male record holder: Neil Robert BONIFACE – 15:34 – Event 151 (25/06/16)
Age graded record holder: Caroline HORDER – 95.57 % – 22:12 – Event 251 (19/05/18)

Lasting memory of Bournemouth Parkrun:

Today, as I was about to turn into the finish funnel, I overtook two boys who must of been about 11. They were just finishing their second lap and one was obviously really struggling. His friend turned back, offering him the water bottle he was carrying, and their conversation went like this:

‘You go on. I’m too slow’

‘Come on. We’ll walk to the corner, then start jogging again for the last lap. Alright?’

‘I don’t think I can do it. You should carry on’

‘No. We’re doing it doing it together. I know you can do it. We’ll just make it to that corner, okay?’

Nodding, they trotted off. When I got home, I checked the results. And they did finish…. together.

Kindness doesn’t cost anything. But the exchange between these two boys gave me goosebumps. It epitomises the running community: inclusive, motivational, supportive. One of the many reasons that I love Parkrun.

Thanks Bournemouth, I’m glad you’re my home run!



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