When parkrun restarted back in July I considered what my targets should be and my first aim, I decided, would be to get my total of parkrun venues up to 250. I wanted to crack on and get the next 33 done (I was on 217 venues at the time) because I couldn’t be sure if Covid or Vladimir Putin or just old age and injury would intervene. It seemed a bit optimistic to knock off 33 in a row but I calculated that I would reach that milestone on March 19th. Well … guess what! March 19th is here and I made it! I pondered as to where to do my 250th and in the end I opted for the nearest parkrun venue not yet done and headed for Broadwater in Godalming. I wanted to do it in a place with which I have some sort of personal connection.
I think technically Broadwater Park is in Farncombe but then Godalming and Farncombe are two parts of the same town. (I suspect the residents of Farncombe would disagree) When I started secondary school in Guildford in 1968 I would pass by here on my rail journey twice a day. I would look out the window and see the sports fields and the lake in the middle of the park, but I had never set foot in this park until today.
Godalming is a medium sized town in the middle of Surrey and the administrative centre of the district of Waverley. Because I have the good fortune to live in this area myself, I am aware that this district is frequently declared the most prosperous in the UK with the highest quality of life. Godalming has existed since Saxon times and probably earlier thanks to its position on the River Wey. It is mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great in 899 when it and Guildford are bequeathed to Alfred’s nephew, Aethelwold. The name has Saxon origins - Godhelms Ingus, meaning “the family of Godhelm”, probably an early Lord of the Manor.
By the time of the Domesday Book Godalming was already a decent sized village with a population of around 400 people. The main industry for several centuries was the making of wool and weaving it into cloth. There was also a leather tanning industry and later paper making became a feature of the town. These old industries faded in the nineteenth century but in 1849 the arrival of the railway gave Godalming a swift connection to central London and paved the way for it to become the commuter town it is today. Godalming seems to have been at the forefront of technological developments. It gained gas lighting as early as 1836 and then in 1881 it became the first place in the UK, possibly the world, to have its own electricity supply. Modern day Godalming is a pleasant, prosperous place. If you’d like to see a little more and have nine minutes to spare, you might want to check out this video.
Just outside the town is Charterhouse school, one of Britain’s best known public schools. If you had around £40,000 a year to spare, you could send your child here as a boarder. For most of its life Charterhouse has been a boys’ school but recently it has made the switch to being co-educational. The list of famous ex pupils is extensive and includes people who had illustrious careers in politics, business, the law, the arts and pretty much every field. The members of the group Genesis met up at Charterhouse.
The parkrun takes place in Broadwater Park on the edge of town. Broadwater Park was formerly the grounds of a country house but was subsequently acquired by the council who created a large area of sports fields here. Adjacent to the fields is a large leisure centre and also Broadwater school. The most prominent feature is a largish lake between the football fields and the rugby club. The original course consisted of two large laps around the fields and lake but they have changed it temporarily, to spare the grass, to three laps on the paths around the lake. It’s a lovely setting for a run but a bit twisty and turny and a bit bumpy and uneven in places.
It was a lovely bright morning and there was a good number of starters there this morning (190) Broadwater was celebrating its 25th running today and they had encouraged people to wear purple to mark the occasion (I was one of the few who did!) We set off across the grass. The paths were a bit narrow around the lake so it took me a while to work my way through the field. I also needed to watch my footing on the uneven or muddy bits - didn’t want to fall over on my 250th. Anyway I maintained a fairly steady pace and eventually crossed the line in 30th place in a time of 22:45. That’s a little bit slower than I have managed of late but then it was quite a tricky course.
My statistics for today - that was parkrun venue number 250 (as I might have mentioned before) I was first in my age group and second overall on age graded scores.
So what do you do when you have finished your 250th parkrun. You continue on to number 251, of course! I am sure I will continue to tour, though I think I will be a bit more selective in the future. I have done nearly every parkrun in London and the South East and it is getting pretty hard to find new parkruns within driveable distance.
If you’d like to see Broadwater parkrun for yourself, here’s a YouTube video. I chose this one because it has some nice drone footage.
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