A week or so ago I had the opportunity to spend a Friday in Windsor. Obviously I instantly started thinking about how I could team this with a parkrun. I researched where the local parkruns were and looked at hotels. I realised there was a hotel not too far from Windsor but more importantly, not too far from Bushy park!
I’d read on the Bushy parkrun course page that the car parking there was often full by 8.30. I didn’t want to take any chances so we arrived at Bushy park nice and early at 8am. The car parks already had quite a few cars in. I presume these belonged to some of the army of volunteers that have this parkrun run like a well oiled machine.
I was quite surprised to see there were no parkrun flags up or the pop up signs they have. We wondered to the area I thought the start line was near and there were people milling about. It wasn’t, however, clear where the start line was.
A man, along with his wife and daughter, came and asked me where the start line was. I explained I didn’t know as we were tourists and he trumped us by saying he was over from Melbourne, Australia. We spent a good while chatting to him about his home parkrun, what time it started, the temperature etc. It was amazing to hear about a parkrun on the other side of the world. Whilst we were chatting a volunteer came and told us the new runners briefing would soon be held so we headed over to a lady who was now holding up a new runners briefing sign. The briefing was a good mix of humorous and informative. It was amazing hearing where the tourists were from. There were people from various American and Australian parkruns and then various UK parkruns. Distance seems no object when the opportunity to run at Bushy is there! By the end of the briefing a large crowd had gathered so it was now evident where we’d be running from. I spotted the 35 minute pacer but had no chance of getting anywhere near him. There were over 1400 runners the day we were there and it felt like 1000 of them were between me and the pacer!
My husband and I ran together. It’s very rare we do this as our paces are so different. When we set off I had no idea when we’d run over the start line so I don’t know how long it took me to get going. The first section of the course was over grass. People spread out fairly quickly both width ways and due to their pace so it didn’t really feel congested at all. We stayed on the grass for a while even when there was a path as we felt pretty comfortable there. They warned us of ant hills and boy were there ant hills! Some were like mini ant mountains!
The course was described as a butterfly shape and as we rounded a corner I honestly shouted “Oh my god look at all those deer!” There were so many, just watching the runners go by! The views were also lovely. So much lush greenery and a mix of paths and trails.
It was quite a warm day but also it was muggy! It made it so hard to catch my breath. My husband kept reminding me to try breathing deeper as I was breathing so quickly. It definitely helped having those reminders. What didn’t help was him telling me every time we’d run a half mile. It made the run feel so much longer as I normally don’t even look at my watch! I’m sure he thought he was being helpful though haha.
When we got to the end I managed a little sprint finish but honestly, I’d given it everything I had whilst out on the course. We entered the finish funnel and joined the back of the longest queue. It snaked around just like when you’re waiting to go on a ride at a theme park. They have a double finish funnel at Bushy so we queued alongside another finish funnel. I don’t know how it all works but they seemed to and that’s all that matters haha. We were probably in the queue for 10-15 minutes before being given our finish token. We then barely had to queue for the barcode scanners as there seemed to be a small army of them!
I then went to join another queue to have my picture taken with the parkrun selfie frame. Needs must haha. I then took pictures for a group of ladies who were behind me. They all wanted a picture on each of their phones. I didn’t mind though, I’d like to think another parkrunner would do the same for me!
Afterwards we headed off to the café, The Pheasantry. I was sceptical that we’d get a seat with their being so many people there but luckily we did. There was both indoor and outdoor seating which probably helped. I had to queue for about 10 minutes to order our food but the food came out quickly and was really tasty.
We were really lucky with the traffic on the way back and it only took us an hour and a half. Not too far to go back then surely?! I received my time around lunch time. I expected it to be much later as it’s such a large parkrun. My official time was 35:46. When I got home and looked at my stats I was very surprised to see I’d managed to do negative splits.
Have you made the parkrun pilgrimage?
What’s the furthest you’ve travelled to a parkrun?