Queen Elizabeth parkrun
Queen Elizabeth parkrun is a two-lap, hilly trail run around the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, about 15 miles north of Portsmouth. No postcode is provided on the parkrun page, but PO8 0QE is a nearby postcode and then you need to follow the brown signs for the Country Park. The car park is large enough for around 100 cars and it costs £1 for one hour or £3 for 3 hours (Aug 2018). They were just on the cusp of introducing licence plate recognition to the car park, so that should be in operation by now. There was only one toilet open before parkrun and the queue was fairly large, so do factor that into your timings if you are coming from a long way away. The café will be open by the time you’ve finished and it’s a good place for breakfast – there will be plenty of other parkrunners there to chat to.
Although only a few minutes’ walk away, I thought the start point was a bit tricky to find from the car park – you have to go behind the café, through the picnic area and briefly follow the road around to the left. If you don’t arrive too late, you can just rely on following everyone else, as we did. The briefing takes place at the bottom of the hill and then you are walked uphill a short way to the start. The path is fairly wide here and the runner numbers are relatively low (around 100), so you should not struggle for space.
Queen Elizabeth parkrun is a great course if you are into hilly, trail runs. It’s one smaller lap followed by a larger lap. From the start line, you run up a steep hill for a few hundred metres, before heading downhill for about the same distance. The course then significantly undulates for the rest of the lap before you go round and do it all again… taking in a little more of the Country Park on lap two. The whole course is very stoney and uneven underfoot, so I don’t think pram runners would do too well here, but there were plenty of parkrunners with dogs. This is a challenging course, but the views are fantastic almost the whole way round. The volunteer team were very friendly and encouraging also and it was well marshalled throughout.
We were drawn to this particular parkrun to collect the letter ‘Q’ for our alphabet. There are currently only two ‘Q’ parkruns in the UK/Ireland (the other being Queen’s parkrun in Belfast), so Queen Elizabeth is a bit of a target for alphabet tourists. In spite of this, numbers are strangely low at Queen Elizabeth parkrun and I can only imagine it’s because it’s hilly, but I still found it very enjoyable for the views.
Official Event Page: Queen Elizabeth parkrun
Hills: Ascent/Descent metres 114.6
Subjective PB potential: 1/10 – uneven and hilly