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parkruns of the Isle of Wight and Hampshire

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parkrun1 is an organisation that runs free, weekly, 5K (3 mile) long timed runs. These events are held all around the world every Saturday and are open to everyone equally, regardless of whether participants are able to run or wish to walk. There are over 1,200 events, in 17 different countries around the world, over 500 of which are in the UK. The first parkrun was held in Bushy Park in London in 2004. Other parks in London and nationwide joined in 2007, with parkrun spreading internationally in 2009.

Runners' times are recorded by using a personal barcode that can be printed out once runners have registered on the parkrun website. The parkrun events are run by volunteers and runners are encouraged to volunteer at least three times a year to help keep them going.

Visiting a parkrun outside your home run is considered parkrun tourism, and runners who visit at least 20 different parkruns in the UK can earn the title of 'tourist'. At present (2018) with one held on the Isle of Wight and 18 in Hampshire, you cannot earn the title of 'tourist' purely within this area. Those parkrunners who enjoy tourism like to set themselves weird and wonderful challenges. These include the challenge to become an Alphabeteer, which is completing a parkrun beginning with every letter of the alphabet2. Although many challenges are based on the first letter of the parkrun's name, the Compass challenge involves completing parkruns with 'North', 'East', 'South' and 'West' in their name. Another popular challenge is to become a Regionnaire, which is to complete every parkrun in an official parkrun region. The Isle of Wight and Hampshire are both classed as part of the UK's South West Region, along with Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

Key

The courses are described in tables below. Here is a brief explanation of the information included. There is a more detailed glossary at the bottom of the Entry.

Surface

What are you running on?

Gradient

How hilly is the course? Out of 500 courses in the UK, the higher the number the hillier the course. Of course how hilly the course is is only one measure of difficulty.

Average SSS & Difficulty

Introduced by Run Britain, the SSS rates the difficulty of parkruns. The lower the score, the easier the run. How the parkrun compares to the 513 parkruns in the UK is also listed. The higher the number, the more difficult the course.

Type of Run

Are you running loops, laps or out-and-back?

Inaugural Run

When was the first parkrun at this location?

Attendance

Average attendance and record attendance to date (2018).

Location

Where is it?

Railway Station

Which (if any) train station is nearby?

Neighbouring Area

What is the area around like? What else is there for tourists to do?

Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight's only parkrun is unusual in that it frequently moves location. Although normally based at Seaclose Park in Newport, in the very centre of the Island, during the summer and when events such as the Isle of Wight Festival are being held there the run is located at a different town on the Island, often Appley in Ryde (PO33 1ND)3. Other locations have included Gurnard near Cowes, Dodnor outside Newport for the cycle path to Cowes and Shanklin seafront. Even when the run is held at Seaclose Park the route often changes, either using the sports field and arboretum or the riverside footpath.

Runners are strongly advised to check the Medina parkrun news page and/or facebook page to double-check they know where it will be held.

Medina I.O.W.

SurfaceFootpath and grass
GradientUndulating
Average SSS & Difficulty2.89, 347th
Type of RunTwo lap / Out-and-back
Inaugural Run7 May, 2011
AttendanceAverage 170, Record 400
LocationSeaclose Park, Newport, off the A3054
Neighbouring AreaNext to the Medina Leisure Centre (swimming and showers available), Medina Theatre and arboretum

Hampshire

Hampshire is not a part of the Isle of Wight but is in fact a separate county on the Mainland.

Alice Holt

SurfaceGravel
GradientUndulating, 472nd
Average SSS & Difficulty3.47, 416th
Type of RunTwo loops, first small, second larger
Inaugural Run17 November, 2012
AttendanceAverage 217, Record 463
LocationAlice Holt Forest, Bucks Horn Oak, Hampshire GU10 4LS
Neighbouring AreaAlice Holt Forest is a fine woodland with play areas and a Gruffalo trail.

A twisty-turny course through woodland, so the paths are fairly narrow. The course passes Gruffalo statues. Alice Holt parkrun is held in Forestry Commission land within the South Downs National Park. The surrounding area is very picturesque and there are numerous woodland walks and play trails.

Andover

SurfaceGrass/tarmac
GradientFlat, cambered in places, 172nd
Average SSS & Difficulty3, 362nd
Type of RunTwo laps
Inaugural Run16 July, 2011
AttendanceAverage 158, Record 373
LocationCharlton Playing Fields, Andover, SP10 3LF
Neighbouring AreaAdjacent to Andover's running track, BMX track and Andover Town Football Club in a retail park area containing Twinings Tea and Stannah Stairlifts

A fast, flat course with a nice wide start on grass before the path narrows for the tarmac section. There is a short contraflow section.

Basingstoke

SurfaceTarmac
GradientUndulating, 318th
Average SSS & Difficulty2.39, 230th
Type of RunTwo lap
Inaugural Run5 July, 2008
AttendanceAverage 264, Record 693
LocationWar Memorial Park, Basingstoke, RG21 4AG
Railway StationWar Memorial Park is a 15-minute walk south of Basingstoke Station
Neighbouring AreaWillis Museum is nearby

National Cycle Route 23 runs through War Memorial Park. Basingstoke counts towards the Stayin' Alive challenge - to complete this, you must run at three parkruns beginning with B and three beginning with G, as the Bee Gees sang 'Stayin' Alive'.

Brockenhurst

Brockenhurst is unusual in having two courses: a summer course held in the town, and a winter course held in Wilverley Inclosure in the New Forest. The Wilverley Inclosure course is a jewel in the crown in England's parkruns, but unfortunately the Forestry Commission does not allow access in the summer. In the summer runners instead run around a playing field several times.

SurfaceGravel (winter)
GradientUndulating, 198th
Average SSS & Difficulty2.47, 251st
Type of RunOne loop (winter)
Inaugural Run25 May, 2013
AttendanceAverage 102, Record 265
LocationWinter: Wilverley Inclosure, New Forest; the nearest Postcode to the carpark is BH25 5TZ
Railway StationSummer only: Brockenhurst
Neighbouring AreaWinter: Wilverley Inclosure and the New Forest

This course also counts towards the Stayin' Alive challenge. As the Winter Course is in the heart of the New Forest along gravel paths, look out for wandering ponies. There is a steep hill near the end – it is an unwritten almost-rule that steep hills at parkruns are nicknamed 'Heartbreak Hill'. One Researcher described his experience at Brockenhurst with the words:

When I went there I was told by the guy doing the briefing that the course 'is shaped like a bra - you go down the right shoulder strap, then turn right to go round the first cup in a big circle, then turn left for another big circle, up the left shoulder strap to the end of the inclosure, turn around back down the strap and then across the top, up 'Heartbreak Hill' back to the right shoulder strap to run the finish.

Eastleigh

SurfaceGrass
GradientOne hill climbed three times. 324th
Average SSS & Difficulty3.32, 398th
Type of RunThree lap
Inaugural Run8 May, 2010
AttendanceAverage 173, Record 430
LocationFleming Park, Passfield Avenue, SO50 9LH. Close to Junction 13 of the M3
Railway StationEastleigh is ten minutes' walk
Neighbouring AreaFleming Park has a paddling pool in the summer. There is also a leisure centre with swimming pool

Eastleigh counts as part of the Compass challenge. The course is all on grass, and there are three laps. Since several trees were chopped down the course has frequently suffered from being waterlogged and runs have been cancelled following prolonged periods of heavy rain. National Cycle Route 23 runs by, and National Cycle Route 24 runs through Fleming Park.

Fareham

SurfaceTarmac and gravel
GradientVery undulating. 196th
Average SSS & Difficulty2.61, 291st
Type of RunOut-and-back, one U-turn
Inaugural Run9 April, 2016
AttendanceAverage 183, Record 306
LocationCams Hill Estate, Fareham. Park at Lysses Car Park, Wallington Way, PO16 7BE
Railway StationFareham, 25 minutes' walk
Neighbouring AreaCams Mill pub

An out-and-back, probably the narrowest. This makes overtaking difficult and may result in a very slow start. Quite twisty and turny with lots of little inclines.

Havant

SurfaceGravel
GradientOne cambered hill ascended twice, 375th
Average SSS & Difficulty3.06, 374th
Type of RunSmall loop to begin and two larger laps
Inaugural Run16 June, 2012
AttendanceAverage 195, Record 366
LocationStaunton Country Park, Middle Park Way, Havant, PO9 5HB
Railway StationHavant is 1.7 miles south
Neighbouring AreaStaunton Country Park and Farm

A picturesque run with a real cross-country feel.

Hogmoor Inclosure

SurfaceTrail and sand
GradientUndulating, 315th
Average SSS & Difficulty(Unavailable)
Type of RunTwo lap of a figure of 8, contraflow in the middle
Inaugural Run10 March, 2018
AttendanceAverage 180, Record 220
LocationHogmoor Inclosure, Whitehill, Bordon - the nearest postcode is GU35 9HN
Neighbouring AreaFormer MoD land currently being developed, Hogmoor Inclosure

The site used to be owned by the Ministry of Defence as part of the 4,410 acres of the Bordon and Longmoor Military Camp. Home of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers until December 2015, it was used as a tank training ground/assault course. This means there are nice, wide paths that tanks can get through, but there are also lumps of tank-teeth concrete everywhere. As the garrison has been relocated and the area is in the London commuter belt, an area the size of a medium town is now a housing development, with the Inclosure in the middle being kept as a nature reserve.

Lee-on-the-Solent

SurfacePredominantly concrete/tarmac, with a short shingle section crossed twice
GradientFlat, small bump in the middle. 27th
Average SSS & Difficulty2.12, 146th
Type of RunProm run out-and-back, two U-turns
Inaugural Run4 July, 2015
AttendanceAverage 329, Record 587
LocationAdjacent to the skate park, Marine Parade East, Lee-on-Solent
Neighbouring AreaThe run passes the Hovercraft Museum

Very flat with a short gravel section. Lee-on-the-Solent is usually pronounced Lee-on-Solent. National Cycle Route 2 runs by the promenade.

Lymington Woodside

SurfaceTarmac, gravel and grass
GradientSmall hill ascended three times. 295th.
Average SSS & Difficulty3.00, 364th
Type of RunTwo/Three lap
Inaugural Run9 July, 2016
AttendanceAverage 100, Record 160
LocationWoodside Gardens, Ridgeway Lane, SO41 8AA
Railway StationLymington Town is a mile and a half away

Lymington parkrun uses slightly different routes at the same location in winter and summer.

Netley Abbey

SurfaceTarmac, gravel and grass
GradientUndulating, 208th.
Average SSS & Difficulty2.64, 299th
Type of RunThree laps
Inaugural Run17 March, 2012
AttendanceAverage 191, Record 389
LocationRoyal Victoria Country Park, Netley Abbey, SO31 5GA
Railway StationNetley Abbey station is 15 minutes' walk
Neighbouring AreaRoyal Victoria Country Park, including the Royal Victoria Miniature Railway

Netley Abbey is essentially a three-lap course at Royal Victoria Country Park, the site of an old Victorian military hospital. National Cycle Route 2 runs through Riverside Park.

Portsmouth Lakeside

SurfaceTarmac and gravel
GradientLargely flat, 83rd
Average SSS & Difficulty1.87, 87th
Type of RunOut-and-back, three U-Turns
Inaugural Run30 April, 2016
AttendanceAverage 193, Record 355
LocationLakeside North Harbour Business Park, Portsmouth
Railway StationCosham, 25 minutes' walk
Neighbouring AreaNearby attractions include Hilsea Lido and Hilsea Lines

Queen Elizabeth

SurfaceGravel, cambered trail and grass
GradientHilly, 503rd.
Average SSS & Difficulty4.30, 449th
Type of RunTwo loops, first small, second larger
Inaugural Run18 May, 2013
AttendanceAverage 78, Record 266
LocationQueen Elizabeth Country Park, Horndean, off A27
Railway StationPetersfield is 6km north
Neighbouring AreaSouth Downs National Park, South Downs Way National Trail

Queen Elizabeth is the hilliest course in Hampshire and one of the hilliest in the UK, located in the heart of the South Downs National Park.

Rushmoor

SurfaceTarmac, gravel, trail, grass
GradientFairly flat, 140th
Average SSS & Difficulty2.00, 116th
Type of RunTwo laps
Inaugural Run3 May, 2014
LocationQueens Avenue, Aldershot
AttendanceAverage 257, Record 644
Railway Station2½ miles from Aldershot Railway Station, 1½ miles from North Camp Railway Station
Neighbouring AreaBritish Army sports complex, Aldershot Military Museum

This parkrun counts towards the Pirate challenge - to complete this challenge you must run seven Cs and an R.

Southampton

SurfaceTarmac
GradientLong hill, 394th
Average SSS & Difficulty1.64, 38th
Type of RunTwo laps
Inaugural Run7 July, 2012
LocationSouthampton Common, SO15 7NU
AttendanceAverage 555, Record 1,134
Railway StationSouthampton Central is 1 mile away
Neighbouring AreaSouthampton Common, Hawthorns Urban Wildlife Centre

Southampton counts towards the Compass challenge.

Southsea

SurfacePaved esplanade (tarmac and concrete)
GradientCompletely flat, 1st
Average SSS & Difficulty2.23, 187th
Type of RunOut-and-back promrun, one U-turn
Inaugural Run5 October, 2013
AttendanceAverage 273, Record 473
LocationSpeakers Corner, Southsea Esplande, Southsea, PO5 3PG
Railway StationFratton, Portsmouth & Southsea and Portsmouth Harbour Railway Stations as well as Southsea Hoverport are all within 20 minutes' walk
Neighbouring AreaClarence Pier, Southsea Castle, Blue Reef Aquarium, Pyramids Centre swimming pool, South Parade Pier, Canoe Lake, Model Village

Southsea also counts towards the Compass challenge. The route runs parallel to the road along the finish for the Great South Run. Although Southsea is the flattest parkrun in the country, it is notorious for its surprisingly strong sea breeze. National Cycle Route 2 runs along the prom.

Whiteley

SurfaceTarmac, a few feet of grass/mud
GradientUndulating, 233rd
Average SSS & Difficulty2.27, 195th
Type of RunThree laps with a short contraflow dogleg
Inaugural Run1 April, 2017
AttendanceAverage 198, Record 344
LocationWhitely Meadowside, Whiteley, PO15 7PD
Neighbouring AreaWhiteley Meadowside Leisure Centre, Whiteley Shopping Centre

Located next to one of Hampshire's largest shopping complexes, Whiteley is a narrow, three lap course. As the path is narrow the start is likely to be slow.

Winchester

SurfaceGrass, some tarmac
GradientFlat, 69th
Average SSS & Difficulty2.24, 188th
Type of RunTwo laps of playing field
Inaugural Run27 April, 2013
AttendanceAverage 212, Record 391
LocationNorth Walls Recreation Ground, Winchester, SO23 7DD
Railway StationWinchester, ½ mile away
Neighbouring AreaRiverside Park Leisure Centre

Though the course is flat, the park gets very waterlogged and muddy in winter. Most of the course is on grass.

Glossary of Terminology

Here are descriptions of the words used in the table:

Camber

Uneven and angled running surface.

Contraflow

Section in which runners may encounter runners coming in the opposite direction, so you need to stick to your side of the path.

Dogleg

In loop or lap courses, a dogleg is a short, straight section that leads outside the loop, often at the start or end.

Inclosure

A forestry plantation fenced off to prevent large animals from entering.

Lap

Running the same short course 2, 3, 4 or possibly more times.

Loop

Instead of running the same route more than once as laps, a loop involves running different routes, such as a 2k loop followed by a 3k loop.

National Park

There are two National Parks in Hampshire: the New Forest and the South Downs.

Out-and-back

A run in which you head out, turn around and head back.

Playing Field

A run around a sports playing field. These tend to be flat and so potentially fast, but are far less interesting than other parkruns.

Promrun

A seaside run along an esplanade/promenade.

Trail

A dirt path, unpaved.

U-Turn

Sudden 180° turn to head back the way you came.

Undulating

Not flat, with lots of little up-and-downs rather than a hill.

Finally

parkrun is not about the course but about the people. It all comes down to the community.
- Paul Sinton-Hewitt, founder of parkrun
1parkrun is always spelt with a lowercase p.2Note that there isn't a parkrun beginning with 'X' at present.3This usually involves a lap around Appley Park followed by a two-U-Turn out-and-back promrun that encompasses running around Appley Tower and through Puckpool Battery's moat before returning to the park up the incredibly steep 'Tourette's Hill', so-named for the reaction it generates.

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