4 laps of the pirate ship, followed by coffee and cake. And that, parkrun lovers, is why Salisbury parkrun was a winner!
With some of our parkrun crew on the PB hunt, Salisbury parkrun had been flagged as both flat and fast. It’s also only 45 minutes down the road and yet none of us had ventured there yet. So after a spot of googling, we picked a coffee destination (arguably the most important part), set a date and arranged to meet in the carpark by Churchill Gardens.
The winter course at Salisbury is 4 laps of Churchill Gardens. The briefing takes place by the river at the south side of the gardens. It is then, just a short walk to the start line. You actually walk past the start line before heading further back, which makes choosing your start position in the field really easy, and not a battle like at some venues where if you want to be near the front you really have to fight for a position.
On ‘go’, you head off along the river path before turning left, up a small incline (the only one on the course) and crossing the bridge. The bridge has a bollard with lethal potential, be warned! You continue past the skate park on your left, passing the boom box (we had a different song each lap) and run parallel to the dual carriageway until you get to the children’s play park with the pirate ship. A hair pin left turn here brings you back to the river path where you complete 3 further laps. On the final, fourth lap, you peel off left shortly after the play park and follow the path 100m or so to the finish line.
The whole course is on tarmac paths making it not just runnable, but very fast.
Coming from two differing directions, we took two cars for the 7 of us and met in the carpark at Churchill Gardens. I believe it’s usually £1 per hour from 8am on a Saturday, but the pay machine was out of order and the friendly chap in the coffee van (worth remembering if you want a pre or post run warm up!) kindly informed us it was currently free. I have no idea how long this has, or is, going on for though.
From the car park, it’s a 2 minute walk to the briefing and start. There is also a public toilet block situated in the car park, but be prepared to hover, and hold the door for a stranger!
What I especially loved
- In the same way that I love a single lap course, I LOVE courses with 4+ laps like this. It always feels like you clock up the miles more quickly. My favourite bit though, is that there are runners everywhere! The whole course is busy and it gives it a great feel.
- The tarmac path was a nice change from the squidgy fields that the rest of winter has involved
- It’s fast!
- That the tail walkers had a devil tail and a fox’s tail
- The boom box by the skate park. We had a different song each time, from Rocky to Is this the way to Amarillo?
- Marshals were particularly friendly, and enthusiastic. Great because you got to pass them all 4 times!
- You could easily bring the whole family and with suitable child care, let them enjoy the play park whilst you ran, giving you 8 opportunities for a high 5 on route!
- 2 race directors- great organising and a short, concise briefing without losing any of the essentials.
- Coffee and cake! The official post run coffee meet is at Starbucks. But keen to look for somewhere a little less commercial, we decided to walk the half a mile past Salisbury cathedral to Boston Tea Party. This turned out to be a cracking idea. It’s got a huge, but quirky upstairs space (think teapot lights, wonky beams and church style windows) and does a winning selection of cake, or brunch.
And what I didn’t
- We ran around 25 mins and were lapped by the front 4 runners. But, for some I imagine a lapped course like this could feel demoralising. Most people passing, or being passed though offered equal encouragement in both directions.
Salisbury parkrun is flat and fast. The only thing you could argue is that there were a few turns that might make you loose your momentum. I wondered if having to lap slower runners would affect the faster times, but one of our group ran a PB of 18.59 and said this wasn’t a problem at all.
Annoyingly, I took this one easy, but in hindsight, I do really wish I could have ‘gone for it’. Not least because the 1st female finished in 23.25 which would have been well within my comfort zone. Not that I’m at all competitive!
Stats from 8th February 2020
Event number: 244
Number of runners: 506
This weeks fastest: M- 16.02 F- 23.25 (!!)
All Time Stats
Lasting memory of Newbury parkrun:
Channeling my inner 90’s kid and doing Tony Hawkes jumps every time we passed the skate park!