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. parkrun is run by volunteers and runners are encouraged to volunteer at least three times a year to help keep it 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 with one held on the Isle of Wight and 18 in Hampshire, you cannot earn the title of 'tourist' purely within this area. parkrunners who enjoy tourism like to set themselves several weird and wonderful challenges. These include the challenge to become an Alphabeteer, which is completing a parkrun beginning with every letter of the alphabet2. Many challenges are based on the first letter of the parkrun's name, although 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, Surry, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.
The courses are described by tables below. Here is a brief explanation guide, with a more detailed glossary at the bottom.
|Surface||What are you running on?|
|Gradient||How hilly is the course? Out of 500 courses in the UK, the higher the number the hiller the course. Of course how hilly the course is is only one measure of difficulty.|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||The first number is based on the Average Standard Scratch Score (SSS) which rates to two decimal places the overall difficulty of parkruns taking gradient, running surface and other factors into account. The lower the score, the easier the run, the higher the score the more difficult it is. 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 did it start?|
|Attendance||Average attendance and record attendance|
|Location||Where is it?|
|Railway Station||Which (if any) train station is nearby?|
|Neighbouring Area||What is the area around like?|
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 winter 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.
|Surface||Footpath and grass|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||2.89, 347th|
|Type of Run||Two lap / Out-and-back|
|Inaugural Run||7 May, 2011|
|Attendance||Average 170, Record 400|
|Location||Seaclose Park, Newport, off the A3054|
|Neighbouring Area||Next to the Medina Leisure Centre (swimming and showers available), Medina Theatre and arboretum|
Hampshire is not a part of the Isle of Wight but is in fact a separate county on the Mainland.
|Average SSS & Difficulty||3.47, 416th|
|Type of Run||Two loops, first small, second larger|
|Inaugural Run||17 November, 2012|
|Attendance||Average 217, Record 463|
|Location||Alice Holt Forest, Bucks Horn Oak, Hampshire GU10 4LS|
|Neighbouring Area||Alice Holt Forest is a fine woodland with play areas and a Gruffalo trail.|
A twisty-turny course through woodland, although the paths are fairly narrow. The course passes Gruffalo statues. Alice Holt 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.
|Gradient||Flat, cambered in places, 172nd|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||3, 362nd|
|Type of Run||Two laps|
|Inaugural Run||16 July, 2011|
|Attendance||Average 158, Record 373|
|Location||Charlton Playing Fields, Andover, SP10 3LF|
|Neighbouring Area||Adjacent 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.
|Average SSS & Difficulty||2.39, 230th|
|Type of Run||Two lap|
|Inaugural Run||5 July, 2008|
|Attendance||Average 264, Record 693|
|Location||War Memorial Park, Basingstoke, RG21 4AG|
|Railway Station||War Memorial Park is 15-minutes' walk south of Basingstoke Station.|
|Neighbouring Area||Willis Museum is nearby|
National Cycle Route 23 runs through War Memorial Park. Basingstoke counts towards the Stayin' Alive challenge - to complete you must run at three parkruns beginning with B and three beginning with G, as the Bee Gees sang 'Stayin' Alive'.
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, and so in the summer runners instead run around a playing field several times.
|Average SSS & Difficulty||2.47, 251st|
|Type of Run||One loop (winter)|
|Inaugural Run||25th May, 2013|
|Attendance||Average 102, Record 265|
|Location||Winter: Wilverley Inclosure, New Forest; the nearest Postcode to the carpark is BH25 5TZ.|
|Railway Station||Summer only: Brockenhurst|
|Neighbouring Area||Winter: Wilverley Inclosure and the New Forest|
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 almost an unwritten 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.
|Gradient||One hill climbed three times. 324th|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||3.32, 398th|
|Type of Run||Three lap|
|Inaugural Run||8 May, 2010|
|Attendance||Average 173, Record 430|
|Location||Fleming Park, Passfield Avenue, SO50 9LH. Close to Junction 13 of the M3|
|Railway Station||Eastleigh is ten minutes' walk|
|Neighbouring Area||Fleming Park has a paddling pool in the summer. There is also a leisure centre with swimming pool.|
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 cancelled following prolonged periods of heavy rain. National Cycle Route 23 runs by and 24 runs through Fleming Park.
|Surface||Tarmac and gravel|
|Gradient||Very undulating. 196th|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||2.61, 291st|
|Type of Run||Out-and-back, one U-turn|
|Inaugural Run||9 April, 2016|
|Attendance||Average 183, Record 306|
|Location||Cams Hill Estate, Fareham. Park at Lysses Car Park, Wallington Way, PO16 7BE|
|Railway Station||Fareham, 25 minutes' walk|
|Neighbouring Area||Cams 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.
|Gradient||One cambered hill ascended twice, 375th.|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||3.06, 374th|
|Type of Run||Small loop to begin and two larger laps|
|Inaugural Run||16 June, 2012|
|Attendance||Average 195, Record 366|
|Location||Staunton Country Park, Middle Park Way, Havant, PO9 5HB|
|Railway Station||Havant is 1.7 miles south.|
|Neighbouring Area||Staunton Country Park and Farm|
A picturesque run with a real cross-country feel.
|Surface||Trail and sand|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||(Unavailable)|
|Type of Run||Two lap of a figure of 8, contraflow in the middle.|
|Inaugural Run||10 March, 2018|
|Attendance||Average 180, Record 220|
|Location||Hogmoor Inclosure, Whitehill, Bordon - the nearest postcode is GU35 9HN|
|Neighbouring Area||Former 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 Enngieeners 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 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.
|Surface||Predominantly concrete/tarmac, short shingle section crossed twice|
|Gradient||Flat, small bump in the middle. 27th|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||2.12, 146th|
|Type of Run||Prom run out-and-back, two U-turns|
|Inaugural Run||4 July, 2015|
|Attendance||Average 329, Record 587|
|Location||Adjacent to the skate park, Marine Parade East, Lee-on-Solent|
|Neighbouring Area||The run passes the Hovercraft Museum|
Very flat, a short gravel section. Lee-on-the-Solent is usually pronounced Lee-on-Solent. National Cycle Route 2 runs by the promenade.
|Surface||Tarmac, gravel and grass|
|Gradient||Small hill ascended three times. 295th.|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||3.00, 364th|
|Type of Run||Two/Three lap.|
|Inaugural Run||9 July, 2016|
|Attendance||Average 100, Record 160|
|Location||Woodside Gardens, Ridgeway Lane, SO41 8AA|
|Railway Station||Lymington Town is a mile and a half away.|
Lymington parkrun uses a slightly different route at the same location in winter than summer.
|Surface||Tarmac, gravel and grass.|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||2.64, 299th|
|Type of Run||Three laps.|
|Inaugural Run||17 March, 2012|
|Attendance||Average 191, Record 389|
|Location||Royal Victoria Country Park, Netley Abbey, SO31 5GA|
|Railway Station||Netley Abbey station is 15 minutes' walk.|
|Neighbouring Area||Royal Victoria Country Park, including Royal Victoria Railway Miniature Railway|
Netley Abbey is essentially a 3-lap course at Royal Victoria Country Park, the site of an old Victorian military hospital. National Cycle Route 2 runs through Riverside Park.
|Surface||Tarmac and gravel|
|Gradient||Largely flat, 83rd.|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||1.87, 87th|
|Type of Run||Out-and-back, three U-Turns|
|Inaugural Run||30 April, 2016|
|Attendance||Average 193, Record 355|
|Location||Lakeside North Harbour Business Park, Portsmouth|
|Railway Station||Cosham, 25-minutes' walk|
|Neighbouring Area||Nearby attractions include Hilsea Lido and Hilsea Lines|
|Surface||Gravel, cambered trail and grass.|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||4.30, 449th|
|Type of Run||Two loops, first small, second larger|
|Inaugural Run||18 May, 2013|
|Attendance||Average 78, Record 266|
|Location||Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Horndean, off A27|
|Railway Station||Petersfield is 6km north|
|Neighbouring Area||South 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.
|Surface||Tarmac, gravel, trail, grass|
|Gradient||Fairly flat, 140th|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||2.00, 116th|
|Type of Run||Two laps.|
|Inaugural Run||3 May, 2014|
|Location||Queens Avenue, Aldershot|
|Attendance||Average 257, Record 644|
|Railway Station||2½ miles from Aldershot Railway Station, 1½ miles from North Camp Railway Station.|
|Neighbouring Area||British Army sports complex, Aldershot Military Museum|
|Gradient||Long hill, 394th|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||1.64, 38th|
|Type of Run||Two laps.|
|Inaugural Run||7 July, 2012|
|Location||Southampton Common, SO15 7NU|
|Attendance||Average 555, Record 1,134|
|Railway Station||Southampton Central is 1 mile away|
|Neighbouring Area||Southampton Common, Hawthorns Urban Wildlife Centre|
|Surface||Paved esplanade (tarmac and concrete)|
|Gradient||Completely flat, 1st|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||2.23, 187th|
|Type of Run||Out-and-back promrun, one U-turn|
|Inaugural Run||5 October, 2013|
|Attendance||Average 273, Record 473|
|Location||Speakers Corner, Southsea Esplande, Southsea, PO5 3PG|
|Railway Station||Fratton, Portsmouth & Southsea and Portsmouth Harbour Railway Stations as well as Southsea Hoverport are all within 20 minutes' walk.|
|Neighbouring Area||Clarence Pier, Southsea Castle, Blue Reef Aquarium, Pyramids Centre swimming pool, South Parade Pier, Canoe Lake, Model Village|
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.
|Surface||Tarmac, a few feet of a short grass/mud section.|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||2.27, 195th|
|Type of Run||Three lap with a short contraflow dogleg.|
|Inaugural Run||1 April, 2017|
|Attendance||Average 198, Record 344|
|Location||Whitely Meadowside, Whiteley, PO15 7PD|
|Neighbouring Area||Whiteley 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.
|Surface||Grass, some tarmac|
|Average SSS & Difficulty||2.24, 188th|
|Type of Run||Two laps of playing field|
|Inaugural Run||27 April, 2013|
|Attendance||Average 212, Record 391|
|Location||North Walls Recreation Ground, Winchester, SO23 7DD|
|Railway Station||Winchester, ½ mile away.|
|Neighbouring Area||Riverside Park Leisure Centre|
Though the course is flat, the park gets very waterlogged and muddy in winter. Most of the course is on grass.
A description of the words used can be seen here:
|Camber||Uneven and angled running surface.|
|Contraflow||Section in which runners may encounter runners coming in the opposite direction, so 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 small 2k loop followed by a larger 3k loop.|
|National Park||There are two National Parks in Hampshire, the New Forest and 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 far less interesting than other parkruns.|
|Promrun||A seaside run along an esplanade/promenade.|
|SSS: Standard Scratch Score||Introduced by website Run Britain, this rates the difficulty of parkruns. The lower the score, easier the run, the higher the score the more difficult it is. As well as the SSS score to two decimal places, how the parkrun compares to the 500 parkruns in the UK is also listed. The higher the number, the more difficult the course.|
|Trail||A dirt, unpaved path.|
|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.|
parkrun is not about the course but about the people. It all comes down to the community.
- Paul Sinton-Hewitt, founder of parkrun