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Chalkwell Beach parkrun

There are a number of "C" events I could have considered attending this week, but after the pleasant weather of the summer, we have started to reach the turning point, and so I wanted to try to make the most of the last warm weather with a run along the beach.

The area

Chalkwell Beach is located in Southend-on-sea, a seaside resort town located on the mouth of the River Thames. The town has many amenities one would associate with a seaside resort, including amusement arcades, a theme park, and the world's longest pleasure pier.

Southend pleasure pier, with a train travelling to the station at the end of the pier

A large granite obelisk known as The Crowstone can be found near to the start/finish area, which historically marked the boundary of Port of London Authority, and symbolising the point where the River Thames joins the North Sea.

The Crowstone marking the boundary of the Port of London Authority

The sea is also very popular with open-water swimmers and sail yachts.

Sailing yachts anchored near the start / finish area

The course

Runners follow a simple out and back route, along the beachfront, first heading eastwards towards the Southend pier, before turning around, and heading back to the start. The finish funnel is situated adjacent to the start area.

There is lots of paid parking available along the beachfront, especially near to the start/finish area. There are also many public toilets available, both near to the start / finish area, and at the turnaround point. A coffee shop is situated within about 10 metres from the finish line, and there are many other cafes and food shops along the beach to suit every taste.

The run

The event started with the first timer's briefing, during which we were presented with a weighty request - "we only have one corner - please don't cut it!" After the giggles petered out, we had a short run briefing, and were underway.

It was a very windy day, with the wind first propelling us along the paths, before we turned and faced a head-wind for the second half of the run. This was the first time I had run along a seafront in any capacity before, and so I was surprised by how many other people were using the paths at the time - not enough to cause any concern, but definitely more than I expected!

Knowing that we would face a head-wind in the second half of the run, I set out trying to evenly split the run - a tactic which worked very well, as I managed to set a new parkrun PB of 24:17!

Thanks to the marshals for standing and cheering in the windy conditions today!

After the run

Following the run, I took the opportunity to better explore the area. I had noticed some stone hares along the route during the run, and it turned out there were actually 30 stone hares placed around the town as part of a temporary art exhibition, due to end tomorrow (12th September), so I felt really fortunate to have spotted them.

A hare decorated in a floral pattern

The hares reminded me of the Mini Superlambananas dotted around Liverpool in 2008 as part of the Capital of Culture celebrations.

A black hare outside a casino

Aside from the hares, the seafront is also home to a number of landscaped gardens along the cliff-edge.

One of the landscaped gardens on the cliff edge

The seafront is also the location of a funicular railway, which provides an easy way to climb the cliff without exerting much effort!

The Southend funicular railway

Links: Results | Strava

References: Hares About Town

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