Following back-to-back tourist weeks in Seaton and Falkirk, we took the sensible decision to get up really early and head to Poole. That’s right, the place that’s an hour and a half away from Taunton.
Things we knew before our visit: It’s a 2 lap course plus a little bit. They have high attendance. Loads of tourists have been there. It’s known as a PB course.
So, actually, quite a bit compared to how ignorant I often am!
We arrived at Poole Park in good time, and easily found our way to the cricket pavilion (with, you know, toilets). I was impressed to see a lamination station inside, so that people could get their printed barcodes laminated on the day. Shouts soon went up for the new runners’ briefing, so we followed the signs (!) and headed over.
The briefing started with an overview of the course so that us tourist types could be dismissed. This worked really well for us, and I suspect the smaller group size was also appreciated by the first timers. In similarly organised fashion, the main briefing was given via microphone and loud speaker. Looking around I started to get a feel for how many people were there.
We headed to the start, which was on a nice wide closed road within the park. The course winds its way around the large boating lake on a combination of closed roads and paths. The wide start area meant that the runners spread out reasonably quickly, restricting congestion issues to those times when you’re trying to overtake two people running together.
To my surprise I actually was overtaking a few people. However, as expected, when we were in the small section outside the park I started to be lapped. Not wanting to run crazily close to the lake (balance issues) there was a little bit of space next to me, and so I had the joy of being lapped on both sides at the same time which was a little intimidating.
Heading back into the park the slow and fast runners peeled off in different directions, as we started our second lap. After narrowly missing a (non-parkrun) roaming dog, I looked up and across the lake. The mass of runners spaced right around the edge of the lake made for quite an impressive sight.
At the end of the second lap the course turns to take a lap round the cricket pitch. After a cheer from my personal fan club I felt pretty strong finishing, something which hadn’t happened for a while. The finish funnel was very efficient, and then we were directed round the back of the pavilion to reach the scanners – not a big deal in my finish position but in the main pack it must make quite a difference.
It turned out attendance was slightly lower than normal that week at just over 580 runners. Unsurprisingly this gave me my biggest ever finish position number at 534. The course did live up to its speedy reputation though – it was my fastest time for 10 weeks and Ben managed a buggy PB.