Walmer and Deal Seafront parkrun
Affectionately known as WaDS, Walmer and Deal Seafront parkrun is currently the longest-named parkrun in the UK. Based on the Kent coast, this is essentially an out-and-back course along the promenade. There are a few car parks nearby and the nearest and largest one is free, but a good 5-minute walk from the start. We actually parked in a tiny car park, which only held about 6 cars, but once we started walking to the start-line we soon realised the main car park was just next to where we’d parked. There is a small toilet block at the car park, which was open before the run. There is also a small café along the course which the parkrunners visit afterwards for breakfast, which did a lovely full English.
The start and finish lines are in the same place, on a section of lawn behind some hedges (as you walk from the direction of the car park). From the start, you head north towards Deal Pier for about 1.5km. When you reach the green statue (there will be a marshal there), run around it and then head back. Once back at the starting point, head south for 1km, turn at the marshal and then run 1km back to the start/finish. There are a few corners on the last 2km, but they are marshalled and it’s impossible to take a wrong turn. Walmer and Deal Seafront parkrun is set back a little way from the beach and in fact I couldn’t really see the beach for most of the course. We were all warned beforehand that the Lifeboat Rescue crosses the route and we must give way should there be a Lifeboat emergency, but we were fortunately uninterrupted on the day. Keep an eye out for the castles on the route; Deal Castle at the northern end and Walmer Castle at the southern end.
If you are foolish enough (as I was) to visit WaDS parkrun in winter, you’d better wrap up warm. The conditions were absolutely bitter and there was a very strong wind which made progress difficult. It would definitely be a good course to do in spring or autumn though (summer may be too hot, as there is no shade along the course). In fact, if you pick the right day for it, this could easily be a PB course because the course is totally flat, wide and all on hard paths (apart from the first and last 20m or so, which are on grass).
The WaDS volunteer team were very friendly, welcoming and surprisingly cheerful and enthusiastic considering what a freezing cold day it was. In spite of the bitter conditions, we really enjoyed the whole experience at Walmer and Deal Seafront parkrun.
Official Event Page: Walmer and Deal Seafront parkrun
Hills: No data, but a very flat course
Subjective PB potential: 10/10 – fast and flat