New Years Day Parkrun at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Horndean, Hants (QE)
By guest blogger, Nikki Yeo @nikkiyeo
A New Years Day Parkrun is always a little bit special and today's was no exception. The anticipation of a whole New Year, a new slate, to move forward and set some goals.
The rain held off, a nice surprise for Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QE), and, for the first time in a long time it actually felt chilly enough for my running gloves (eGloves of course!) as I arrived at QE. No double runs for me this year, just my favourite instead! The car park started to fill with eager runners having travelled from various other Parkruns in the area, ours started at 10:30, giving people the chance to get a 9am one in beforehand.
The warm up proved that the course was nice and slippery underfoot, eg muddy!! What a great way to start the running year with fellow parkrunners, all welcoming each other with beaming smiles and hugs and wishes for a Happy New Year. QE has a family feel, I always feel welcome here and have made some great friends through Parkrun over the years. Today, the crowds kept growing, the Parkrun signpost was heaving with coats and bags, the carpark was full, it soon became clear that the total amount of runners could be an all time high, which it was!
First Timers were given their briefing by James Leighton, I think there were 54 runners new to QE, which is amazing. A certain Mr Parkrun himself and his good lady wife were amongst these First Timers, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, without whom this community just would not exist, so thank you Paul!
Run Director Kiernan Easton gave his briefing, mentioning the milestone parkruns that were being run today, two 50ths and one 100th, well done all. Kiernan also publicly thanked his core team for all of their work throughout the year. From a Parkrunner, thank you to you all too for putting on the very special Parkrun that we all love.
Briefing given, we headed up the hill to the start, chattering still happening, and suddenly we were off. The line of runners was four or five across and a continual line for the initial climb, it was a pretty amazing thing to be in amongst all these like minded people spending the first morning of a new year doing something they love. The first descent was full of slipping and sliding and squealing as we tried not to fall over or into one another. Runners still in big groups at this point, it is the second hill that spreads us out a bit. It felt like hard work today, maybe the late night, the festive food that has been consumed, who knows! The country park really helps on this section, it is always stunning whatever the weather.
The marshals were all great, encouraging us and when I reached Duncan at the top I knew the hard work was over and it was time to try a bit of flying down the hill. The bottom track was actually really peaceful for a bit, birds singing, dogs barking and not a drop of rain in sight.
As I tackled the last muddy incline bit, I chatted to another runner about the mud and how it was tricky to navigate in parts, we weren't really sure where to put our feet! The finish funnel came into view and the line of people with beaming smiles and congratulating each other on a good run was huge. Barcode scanned and I couldn't resist a little wander over to Mr Parkrun who was stood watching the runners coming in. All the runners basically running because of him, that's pretty amazing, what an achievement. We chatted about the mud and the net downhill course of QE.
Headed to the cafe for the coffee, cake and chat which is an essential part of the Parkrun. The staff in the cafe were fantastic and it all moved quickly.
New Years Day and New Years Resolutions, well my motto, if you like is : Live, laugh, give, love, smile and be happy, all which occurred at Parkrun, as always, thank you.
Happy New Year and I really hope that the first time runners to QE fell in love with it!
Editors Note: Parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. Find your nearest Parkrun and more details here: www.parkrun.org.uk