We didn’t pick the best day for a visit to Havant parkrun. The weather was absolutely atrocious, which may have affected my opinion of the event somewhat.
Havant parkrun takes place in Staunton Country Park in Havant, around 8 miles north east of Portsmouth. It’s just off the A3(M)/M27, so easily accessed by car. It’s a couple of miles out of Havant so not the easiest to reach by public transport. According the the website; ‘Staunton Country Park is 1.7 miles from Havant Station. Bus numbers 21 and 27 stop outside the entrance.’ Travelling to the park from the station by bus would take around half an hour. However, from my home 50 miles away, travelling by public transport would entail 3 trains and 2 buses. So we drove.
The park has plenty of car parking spaces a short walk from the start, but it isn’t cheap. In fact, costing £3.50 for two hours, it’s one of the most expensive parkruns I’ve ever attended.
According the website there are tea rooms at the coach house. These apparently include toilets. When we went, they were closed.
There was only one toilet, and there was a queue, thus making the start on time was a bit marginal. To make matters worse, there was a woman with a stopwatch outside, who calculated that everyone in the queue could make the start as long as we all stuck to two minutes each. She proceeded to time us. I really needed the toilet, but the pressure of a lady outside with a stopwatch really didn’t help.
Having managed to pee within my allocated time, I reached the start with 4 minutes to go. As mentioned above, the weather was very wet when went. This made the course; once round the lawn followed by two laps around the country park among the trees pretty scary. As we ran, the wind continued to pick up and the trees were swaying and creaking.
The course started with a lap round the lawn, which was super slippery and squelchy. Then onto the laps of the park. The website describes the terrain as compacted gravel, but it’s really just mud with a few stones and lot of bricks jutting out of it. It also has a steep camber. With my record of falling, it was far from ideal. I tried to stick to the ditch at the side, which was pretty much like running 5 km in a stream, but I didn’t want to risk falling on the uneven, rocky bit. By the time I reached the final slippery, squelchy conclusion back on the lawn, I had had more than enough.
The course is run on a combination of grass and trail. So, definitely trail shoes in winter to deal with the trails and the slippery grass area at the start/finish. Probably trail shoes in summer too. The grass may be less slippery but the trails will still be well, trails.
Run Britain Rankings for UK parkruns place Havant as the 549th fastest out of a total of 706. There is one hill on each lap, bring the total elevation to 54 metres.
I did not enjoy one second of my run. To be honest, this was partially due to the weather, but the cost of parking and the slippery, uneven, hilly route didn’t help my mood much. I was so wet and miserable that I only managed to take one photograph. Here is a photo of my friend who chose to run on a less wet and windy day and claimed to actually enjoy Havant.