We’ve visited several parkruns since Kingsway, but somehow have yet to write about any of them. So I’m making a start on the backlog with one of our more recent trips.
For quite some time, Exeter Riverside parkrun has been the closest event to us that we hadn’t visited – with only Burnham and Highbridge, Yeovil Montacute and Killerton being closer (other than Longrun Meadow, of course!). We kept being put off by the boring sounding course – out and back along the river path. But a desire to meet up with friends in the area meant we finally took the plunge.
Step 1: Locate a car park. Pretty easy actually, as there are several in the area and it’s early enough that there are plenty of spaces.
Step 2: Locate toilets. After completing the intermediate step of flagging down a hi-viz, these were easily located at the climbing centre.
Step 3: Locate the start. This was accomplished through the traditional method of following people in running kit.
Everything located, the new runners’ briefing got underway – late. A delay in accessing the store cupboard that morning had put everything behind, and the run itself was being delayed by 10 minutes to allow a runner-turned-volunteer to get back from setting up flags. The megaphone wasn’t working, and so the briefing at the start was repeated several times. I thought this was very considerate, as the number of parkruns that don’t have a megaphone is a frustration.
The start of the route heads out along the river path. This was a bit of a nostalgia trip for me, as I have fond memories of the few riverside walks I took whilst at university in Exeter. I’d been expecting to pretty much stay on that path for the duration, but we took a turn and crossed over the river. The paths changed to tree surroundings, with a more off-road feel.
We then entered the university playing fields. I spotted Ben across the other side and exchanged a wave, before starting the trek around the edge of the field (marked out by aforementioned flags). It was windy and bumpy, but pretty nice to be able to see runners at different stages. Exiting the field I couldn’t quite see where to go, and had to ask the marshal. Turns out there was an arrow hidden out of sight. Marshals – check your arrows can be seen!
The route re-joined the main path just in time to cross back over the same bridge. Despite everyone describing it as out-and-back, it was more like a lollipop. Towards the end of the river path I was joined by Ben and Lani for the final stretch, before putting in just enough effort to not be overtaken on the line.
As Ben headed out for some extra miles, I faced the task of locating the barcode scanners. The instructions at the briefing had been to “follow the other runners”, which is probably easier if you finish faster and haven’t spent time playing on stompy bridges with a toddler.
We headed in the direction of the climbing centre, and sure enough once inside I found a sign saying scanning was upstairs. So it’s worth noting that while the course is (off-road) buggy friendly, you will have to abandon said buggy to scan in at the end. Or access toilets. Personally I found it a bit strange having the barcode scanning so far from the finish (they must lose a lot of tokens), but with the cafe and other facilities in the centre I can see why it’s done that way.
Overall, we all very much enjoyed our Exeter Riverside parkrun experience. The course was much more interesting than expected, and it was a nice bonus to do some tourism closer to home.