One of the brilliant things about parkrun is that when you travel, certainly within the UK, you should be able to find an event near you and be welcomed to run. There aren’t so many events in the US (yet) but there is a well-established parkrun in Clermont, Florida and this year we finally got a chance to head down there and join a run.
Originally the event took place on near enough the same route as the Cool Summer Mornings 5k that we have taken part in so many times at Clermont Waterfront Park, however they recently made a slight move within the park (about a mile or so further along the path) to avoid further cancellations due to the frequent other events in the park and some construction work that’s happening.
We set off around 6:30am so we would have plenty of time to get there, with a little margin for error, and get parked. It all turned out to be really easy and we parked right by the start line where there were also some toilets. It actually reminded me a little of Al Lopez Park in Tampa where we previously did the Run Thru Hell 5k as there were covered shelters with picnic tables under them which were set up as event HQ.
The start was all set up and there was a guest book for international visitors to sign. We then had a few minutes before the briefing to watch everyone arriving.
As is standard, there was a briefing right before the start at 7:30am. What was unusual was that the briefing was split between a visitor (who is a run director at a parkrun in Northern Ireland) and the run director for the event. It was a nice touch and fun to hear a different accent. It certainly drew lots of cheers!
After that, the run. There was a moment of confusion as the RD said “3-2-1 go!” To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure what happened. I was near the front, heard the countdown and, like those ahead of me, began running. Next thing everyone stopped (dad ran into my back!) then we were waved on again. Clearly a false start of some description but not worth getting upset about as it was only a couple of seconds.
The route at Clermont is an out and back along part of the same path we’ve run on for Cool Summer Mornings, but heading in the opposite direction so those two routes do overlap. The first part of the route was in shade and felt quite pleasant as we were also heading into a breeze, but all too soon we were out in the glaring sun all the way to the turn. Dad was quite literally breathing down my neck for the first half of the run but got past me at the turn and sped off just as my legs began to turn to lead!
I actually ran pretty well for the first half, but the heat got to me in the second half and all I could think about was getting back to that shade for the final part of the run. When it finally came into sight I managed to up the pace a bit to cross the line in 25:28. That’s about 5 seconds slower than the previous week’s 5k, but the route was slightly longer and we were running a little later so that’s fair enough. My average pace was actually a bit faster and I held my speed for longer before succumbing to the heat. Any run in Florida in July is always going to be hard work (and it was particularly hot that morning apparently!).
Once over the line I was handed my finish token and made my way over to the shelter which had been set up for barcode scanning. There was also a cooler with some bottles of water which had been provided by a very generous person – a great touch in the summer heat.
I found Steve and dad, who had enjoyed his first ever parkrun, and we milled around for a bit cooling down, chatting to others and getting some photos. Like with my home parkrun, everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming, chatting easily and taking photos for us.
Then it was back in the car for the half hour journey home to get showered and cleaned up. We had offered to take mum and dad out for breakfast so a short time later we were off again to head round to IHOP. We had coupons for free pancakes but added some sides and may have got carried away as each side came on a separate plate and we ended up with FOUR plates each. That’s some serious refuelling! Steve and I walked it off by heading home on foot as mum and dad had some errands to run.
The parkrun results were pretty speedy and we actually had our emails before we left for breakfast. I was happy with mine in the conditions (despite several sub-24 times at home, I’ve NEVER managed to run even sub-25 in a 5k in Florida. It’s something I’d love to achieve one day) and now have an event PB to try and beat in future!
Clermont parkrun was a fantastic parkrun tourism experience. If you’re ever in the area (not too far away if you’re staying somewhere handy for Disney World) then I recommend heading down there on a Saturday morning. We definitely plan to be back next time.
Are you a parkrun tourist?
What parkrun would you really like to do?