For this weekend’s parkrun adventure, we arranged to meet some friends and run Queen Elizabeth parkrun together. It turned out to be an absolute shocker weather wise with seemingly unending torrential rain. We met up in the car park at Queen Elizabeth Country Park and braved leaving the dry warmth of our cars to slip our slide our way through mud and puddles to the start, where we huddled under a tree for the pre race briefing, before setting off our our mudfest.
Queen Elizabeth Country Park is situated within the South Downs National Park and is probably very scenic when visibility is more than a few metres. It is easy to reach, as it is just off the A3 (London to Portsmouth road). Entry to the park is free, but parking is not and costs approximately £2 per hour between October and March (£2.50 an hour April to September).
There are toilets located in the Visitor Centre near the park entrance. There is also a cafe (Beechwood Kitchen) for your post run drinks and snacks. We opted to have breakfast here after we finished running, which I can thoroughly recommend; the Butser Buster consisted of sausages, bacon, eggs, beans, tomatoes, hash browns and toast for £8 and certainly ensured we replenished any calories we’d burned during our run!
The course is described on the parkrun website as ‘undulating’. Undulating is one of my least favourite words. It consists of two loops; one larger and one smaller; each is hilly in its own special way.
The parkrun website states that the terrain consists of a mixture of grass, gravel paths and forest trails. When we ran it, it consisted primarily of mud. Lots and lots of mud.
Run Britain Rankings for UK parkruns place Queen Elizabeth as the 675th fastest out of a total of 706. The course has a total elevation of 113 metres.
Queen Elizabeth parkrun is a small and friendly event; the average number of finishers is just 88. On the weekend we visited, a mere 66 runners came out to play in the rain and mud. Among this number were plenty of parkrun tourists, in particular ‘alphabeteers’ (those looking to attend a parkrun starting with each letter of the alphabet) in search of their Q. Visitors are made to feel very welcome. I’m not sure if I enjoyed my trip to Queen Elizabeth parkrun or not. I think I need to return in very different weather conditions to make a fair assessment. Although, to recap, it is hilly.