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Southend parkrun

With all of the terrible world events this week, one positive has been the official confirmation that Southend-on-Sea became a city as of 1st March 2022. With all of the previous 6 events I attended being off-road, I was quite pleased to see that Southend was also run on tarmac, which meant I could push for a low time too! Another bonus was that Southend will give me a "South" for the compass club challenge!

The area

Southend parkrun takes place in Gunners Park, Shoeburyness, on the outskirts of the city of Southend. Following a fatal attack on the area's MP, David Amess, the town was granted city status as a memorial. Prince Charles presented the letters patent to the county borough council on behalf of the Queen on 1st March 2022, which was then followed by an immediate vote to change the name of the council to Southend-on-Sea City Council to reflect it's new status.

Gunners Park, Shoeburyness is a former Ministry of Defence site, formerly playing host to rifle ranges specifically, while the wider Shoeburyness area is still host to Ministry of Defence training areas, with large swathes of the area (including the beach adjacent to Gunners Park) being off-limits to the public due to being part of an active training and testing site.

Gunners Park, overlooking the lake

The course

The course is a simple three-lapper around the very well marshalled paths of the park. The vast majority of the paths are tarmac, with a short section on gravel/mud path, which on the day was quite muddy. Despite being on the seafront, the park is actually quite sheltered for the majority of the route, with only a short area with more exposure to the elements.

Free parking is available in Gunners Park car park, although sat nav will suggest you try to enter the car park through a house. The main entrance to the car park is on New Barge Pier Road (not Magazine Road or Boundary Way). Public toilets are available next to Uncle Tom's Ice Cream Parlor, around 1km from the park (reachable as part of a warm up / cool down). Being close to the tourist hotspot that is Southend, a range of refreshment options are available after the run.

The run

I set out to run fast this week, which was helped from the outset of the event, with runners being asked to seed themselves based on target finish times. I had spotted some bigger puddles on my warm up, which I managed to mostly avoid during the run, however, I was suprised how slippery the gravel leg of the out-and-back section was. Fortunately, it didn't have any real impact on my run, but I did see one rather muddy runner heading back to the car park after the run, who had obviously slipped in the mud.

My efforts were rewarded at the end of the run however - I ran my official lowest time of any event this week, finishing in 22:38 according to the timers. I also managed my highest position and age-range finishes too (excluding Mersea Island, when I finished 3rd of 26 runners), finishing 10th in a field of 160 runners, and finishing 1st in my age range!

Ian dodging muddy puddles along the gravel path

Thank you to all of the marshalls and volunteers this week, your cheering and high fives definitely helped!

After the run

After the run, I took the opportunity to both run along the promenade to the fun fair, and took some time to explore some of the the military artefacts in Gunners Park.

Southend Pier is a focal point from the south.

Southend Pier from the south

Along with the beach, Thorpe Bay Gardens offers a pleasant and scenic place to relax.

Thorpe Bay Gardens

The Heavy Quick Firing Battery is perhaps the most dominant of the landmarks within Gunners Park, and as with all of the armaments on the site, it was built to help defend the Thames Esturary from unfriendly advances.

Heavy Quick Firing Battery

Links: Photo album 1 | Photo album 2 | Photo album 3 | Photo album 4 | Results | Strava

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