Today, the Wiltshire Air Ambulance was presented with a cheque for £2369.26 which was raised by the AVR Wiltshire Half Marathon which was held on November 26th 2023.
It was an early start for AVR on Saturday 22nd July. We had to be on the Active Trowbridge minibus by 6:15am but luckily, it was to attend a wonderfully welcoming parkrun by the sea and despite the terrible weather, we all had a great time.
After a long drive with a couple of loo and car-sickness stops along the way, we arrived in Seaton with plenty of time to spare. We made ourselves known to the volunteering team and listened in on the informative run brief.
At the beginning, the weather wasn't too bad - just a little windy and our interest was focused on the unusual pebble beach start straight. It was amazing how loud they became when nearly 300 runners started moving across them in a Bambi-like fashion. Once off the pebbles and onto a more solid footing, it felt exactly the same as when you stop bouncing on a trampoline and walk along the floor! The esplanade was nice and flat for the majority but the pebbles at the opposite end were much smaller so they were a fun challenge to navigate a couple of times but it just made us smile every time because we were having so much fun! The weather became increasingly windy and rainy and was pretty awful when we all finally finished. A couple of us had planned on a dip in the sea but changed our minds when we saw how choppy it was but that didn't stop Nicola who dived straight in!
A thank you must go to all of the volunteers who stood out in the rain to cheer us on. It was a tough job for the first 2 along the esplanade who stood in the middle of the course with the tall direction arrows - that many runners running a them from both directions must be such a daunting sight! AVR all certainly appreciated them so that we could enjoy our trip.
Afterwards, we dried off and ate a delicious breakfast in the Pebbles Cafe nearby. It's just a shame that the weather was so rubbish as we may have stayed even longer but there are plenty of opportunities should anyone want to return another day when the sun is shining.
Castle Mead School have had the chance to use the purpose built track at Trowbridge Rugby Club thanks to AVR. Eleven children from the school's athletic club visited and were greeted off their minibus by Debbie, the club's Youth Secretary who put them through their paces in a series of fun warm ups. After a fun 'caterpillar' around the track, the children then practiced increasing pace gradually before completing one 400m lap as fast as possible. All of the children impressed their teachers, parent helpers and Debbie too so perhaps we may be seeing a few new athletes joining the yellow and green team!
Written by member, Sarah Emery
Another AVR parkrun trip and another incredibly early alarm which buzzed me awake at 5:45am to be at the meeting point in Bowerhill by 6:20am.
After the long trip, we pulled up outside Oxford University. Pauline Bradley, who was with us on the bus, works there and organised parking for us. We had a nervous few minutes after she’d jumped out to open the gate, where the minibus wouldn’t start again to drive through. We started having images of AVR being stranded in Oxford forever until someone worked out it was only because the side door hadn’t clicked shut properly – phew!
We were all instantly enthralled by the university and likened it to being like Hogwarts almost immediately – a sentiment that would return while eating breakfast later on.
A short walk later, we found ourselves at the start in the park and met Holly Newman and Toby Firkins who both attend Oxford Brookes University. We all took the obligatory group photo around the purple pop-up sign and listened to the first timer’s briefing. There seemed to be loads of tourists which was boosted by us but also because there was a pride event on in Oxford that day. Their average finisher count is 380 but on this day, there were 574!
With so many runners, the start was a bit slow (similar to Lydiard parkrun and the old start at Bath Skyline parkrun) but it spread out reasonably quickly to take in the flat, two lap course on offer. The course operates a ‘run on the right and overtake on the left’ policy which is really tricky to do when most of the parkruns at home are the opposite! There were lots of things to look at on the way round including a group of students playing Frisbee, a father and son playing catch, other morning runners going in reverse to everyone else and plenty of birds and other wildlife by the river and surrounding rugby pitches and tennis courts. There just wasn’t the chance to be bored at all!
It was very busy at the end and a strict two-funnel finish was in operation. I’m not entirely sure how it worked if I’m honest but it involved them handing our letters of the alphabet to some runners and handing out tokens to one funnel and then the other. Whatever magic they used, it was extremely well rehearsed and very slickly done. There seemed to be a million barcode scanners too meaning that everyone could get away quickly.
A massive shout out and well done must go to Mark Spiers. Before the event, he asked if someone would help to pace him following a really good result on the 10k run of the 51 Fiver Triathlon a week before. Holly stayed with him and he achieved 24:48 which is a massive parkrun PB as his previous fastest was at Southwick in December last year at 27:52 – a difference of 3 minutes and 4 seconds!
We walked back to the university afterwards to find the dining hall laid out exactly like the aforementioned Hogwarts with tables reserved especially for us. It was an incredible all-you-can eat affair with full English plates along with huge pastries and cakes too! What a day!
Thank you to Rich Newman for being our driver for the day, Pauline for arranging parking and food and to everyone who made the day a great sociable morning out enjoying this hobby of ours.
Next event: Seaton parkrun 22nd July 2023
Wiltshire Half Marathon Race Directors Hayley Anderson and Vicky Bodman, club Chair Sara Robert, club Secretary David Hyde and member Sandra Sharratt visited the Air Ambulance base to present them with a cheque for £1600. These are the proceeds from the Wiltshire Half Marathon event held on the 27th Noveber 2022.