Sandhurst Memorial parkrun

Posted on: 06 Nov 2021

My parkrun report this week has been slightly delayed, the reason being that I have had no internet for the past week.  Last Monday morning a car skidded off the road at the end of our street and demolished the BT box on the corner.  I naively assumed that BT would be straight on it, in order to restore service but when I phoned to check I was told that the estimated time for the repair to be carried out was the following Monday!  I was able to find a corner of the house where I picked up a faint signal from a BT hotspot.  Anyway I'm here now to tell you that my parkrun on Saturday was in Sandhurst.  I needed to be back early as I was having my flu jab, so I chose a parkrun close to home.

Sandhurst is to be found in the southeastern corner of Berkshire just to the north of Aldershot and Farnborough, in an area of woodland and sandy heathland known as Bracknell Forest.  The River Blackwater runs through the old town and to the south there is a cluster of large lakes, known as Yately Lakes.  Its name is Anglo Saxon in origin and implies a hurst (a wooded eminence) on sandy soil.  For much of its history Sandhurst was just a small farming village with the river on one side and the forest on the other.   And then something happened to transform the place entirely

COVID-19: Outbreak at Sandhurst military academy after officer cadets  'breach social distancing rules' | UK News | Sky News

Sandhurst is famous for one thing above all else - it is the home of the Royal Military Academy.  If you are a young man (or woman) who aspires to become an officer in the British Army, then this is where you will come to do your training.  The academy began in the early nineteenth century, at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, as the Royal Military College.  After the Second World War, all other training institutions for officers, including the one at Bagshot for women officers, were gradually incorporated into Sandhurst.  Around 10% of the entrants nowadays are women.  Most come to the academy as a university graduate (about 80%) although it is still possible to be promoted up from the ranks.  Sandhurst also trains quite a large number of candidates from other countries.  Certain Middle Eastern countries seem to have a large investment in the place.

The standard training course lasts for forty four weeks, divided into three terms, i.e. a year with breaks.  The emphasis is on developing physical fitness and professional competence and leadership skills.  At the end of each term, those cadets who have successfully completed the course attend the Sovereign’s Parade.  This parade is normally attended by a member of the Royal Family, possibly the Queen, more likely she will send a younger representative, or an eminent person, or, if needs be, Boris Johnson.  At the end of the parade the cadets leave the parade ground, up the steps into the academy.  Last to leave is the adjutant who rides up the steps on his horse.

Many distinguished people have passed through Sandhurst.  These include members of the Royal Family such as Princes William and Harry. Also members of other Royal Families (King Hussein of Jordan).  Famous political figures such as Winston Churchill.  Famous figures from military history such as Bernard Montgomery.  And a few you wouldn’t immediately have thought of such as James Blunt, Katie Hopkins and Keith Floyd.

The parkrun course at Sandhurst takes place at the Memorial Park on the banks of the River Blackwater.  The course is mainly flat and is on a variety of surfaces which include surfaced paths, a grassy field and some dirt tracks, which can get a bit muddy.  There are two laps. Starting at the north end, running down the west bank of the river, around a field at the bottom end and then back along the east bank.  At the end there is an additional short loop around a small lake.  Sandhurst is a relatively recent addition to the parkrun family.  They actually started out in December 2019 but, with the long break, they were only on run number 24 today.

So, how did it go?  Pretty much the same pattern as recent weeks.  I set off slowly and had plenty of people ahead of me after the first few hundred metres.  I gradually got into my stride and started working through the field.  I took it rather carefully on the bits that were uneven or slippy but then picked up the pace on the smoother sections.  By the end I had worked through to ninth place in a time of 22:38.  Ninth is my best placing so far this year.  I quite enjoyed the Sandhurst course and might like to do it again.  I’d avoid it though in winter when it gets quite muddy and the river threatens to overflow.

My statistics for today - that was parkrun venue number 232.  I was second in my age group and fifth overall on age graded scores.  

If you’d like a quick look at the course, here it is in speeded up form.


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