The New Forest is one of my favourite places to run, and I’m going to let you in on a secret…… Brokenhurst Parkrun is just a little bit special.
Why Brokenhurst Parkrun?
When your birthday falls on Parkrun day, it would be rude not to take the opportunity for a spot of Parkrun tourism, right? But here’s the thing. During the summer months Brokenhurst parkrun takes place on a school playing field. Come October though, it moves onto the spectacular trails of the Wilverley enclosure. Which is why I’d patiently waited until now to give it a try.
The Wilverley enclosure is arguably one of the most beautiful spots in the forest, and after the recent weeks of monsoon like rain, we were lucky enough to be spoilt with the weather. With cold, but brilliant blue skies and the mist rolling along the forest floor, the spruce trees made you feel like you were somewhere deep in Norway, not just a few miles down the road. Beauty over speed was what I’d heard about this course, which made it the perfect choice for a chatty birthday run with some friends.
Although the surrounding area was fairly muddy and boggy after the recent rain, the 5k parkrun loop is all on a solid, albeit stony trail. The briefing takes place through the kissing gate at the west side of the enclosure. The trees provide a lot of shelter, but on a cold, sunny morning it was a tad chilly, so we joined the crowd hanging around on Wilverley plain in the sunshine until a few minutes before nine. The course itself is a single, clockwise loop of the enclosure. It starts with a downhill section after the first 400m. Make the most of it, because after that there’s a fairly substantial uphill. You have been warned! There’s also a very short dog leg at approximately 3k where you can briefly cheer on the other runners. In the final section you’re lulled into a false sense of relief with another downhill, before the final sting in the tail comes as a steep climb in the last half mile.
There’s so much to look at on this course to make the miles fly by. The autumn colours of the ferns on the floor were beautiful, and the way the sunlight glimpses through the tallest spruce trees made it feel really magical. Keep your eye out for some red toadstools with white spots which honestly look like they should have a fairy perched on top too!
Unless you’re lucky enough to live right on the doorstep, you’ll probably need to drive to the start line of this one. Unfortunately public transport is scarce in the forest, particularly early on a Saturday morning. The nearest train station is at Sway, 2.5 miles away. The New Forest roads would be deserted, and totally ‘run-able’, if you wanted to run too and from the start as part of a longer run though…….. and you’d probably find some ponies for company!
If you do decide to drive, the good news is that you can park easily and for free in carpark just outside the enclosure. I’d definitely recommend car sharing where possible, which is what we did.
What I especially loved
- The trees- each and everyone of them. It feels like you’re in a Norwegian Christmas tree wonderland.
- The single lap course. Similar to Moors Valley, this is a great Parkrun if you’re not a fan of multiple laps.
- The feel good factor of being in the middle of nowhere
- The solid core team. One of whom did his 300th volunteer event this week. Definitely puts me to shame.
- The fact that as it’s not the fastest course, the pressure is well and truly off, so there’s nothing to do but enjoy the miles as they tick by.
And what I didn’t
- I honestly can’t think of anything. I suppose some people might say the two, sharp hills, but I actually quite enjoyed them!
Nope! A combination of the aforementioned hills, and the stony pathway don’t make this a fast course. To be honest though, if you ran it too fast, you’d only be robbing your self of the time you could have spend taking it all in. The real winners here are not in the sub 20 club!
Stats from 19th October 2019
Event number: 329
Number of runners: 214
This weeks fastest: M- 16.33 F- 20.56