Sunday 25 September 2022

Lancing Beach Green parkrun

Lancing is a village which lies on the south coast of England with the county of West Sussex. The name is made up of either Hlanc (lank or lean) or Wlanc (proud or imperious) plus the 'ing' which means 'people of'. So you end up with either the 'people of Hlanc' or 'people of Wlanc'. There is evidence of settlements in the area going back to the Iron Age, but from the 1800s the area was mostly used for growing flowers and fruit, which were then transported to Brighton or London to be sold at markets. During this period it was also a popular resort for the gentry.

In 1911, Shoreham Airport opened within the parish and is still in operation to this day, it is now also known as Brighton City Airport, and is one of the oldest airports in the country - possibly also the world's oldest continually operated airport. Imports of fresh fruit from around the world made life difficult for the fruit farmers in Lancing, leading to the land being sold off for housing developments during the post-WW2 period between 1945 and 1970. The population steadily grew and the present-day population is around 18,000.

Down at the seafront there is a shingle beach and over 275 beach huts. The huts are privately owned, with plots being allocated by Lancing Parish Council, but only to local residents. You'll also find Beach Green which is an open area of grassland in between the main road and the sea which contains a children's play area and a BMX/skate park. The Beach Green area is available for hire and you'll quite often find funfairs, circuses, and markets on-site. There's even the Lancing Motor Show which I understand takes place in September or October.

During the second world war large concrete blocks called 'dragons' teeth' were installed along the seafront as an anti-tank measure to protect against a possible Nazi land invasion. When the war finished they were due to be removed, however this never happened and the majority of them were buried under Beach Green. There is one still in situ with an information board telling the story along with some old photos. The green also has a beacon which was lit as part of the Queen's platinum jubilee in 2022. As of August 2018 Beach Green is home to Lancing Beach Green parkrun.

We visited Lancing in September 2022 to take part in Lancing Beach Green parkrun's 127th event. For those that drive there are a couple of parking options. The most obvious of these is the spacious Lancing Beach Car Park - this is right next to the parkrun meeting point and costs £1 for up to two hours or £4 for the full day and has a height restriction of 2.1 metres. The other option would be to look for a space on one of the residential side streets on the opposite side of the main road which would of course avoid paying the parking fee.

Travel by train is possible and Lancing train station can be found about 1km away from the parkrun meeting point. The station is served by both Thameslink and Southern trains - some run direct from London while others require a change at nearby Brighton. Trains from the other direction seem to run from either Portsmouth or Southampton via Chichester. For bicycle users there are some bike racks on Beach Green which are located just outside a refreshments hut next to the shingle beach. There are also toilets available and these are located on the western side of Beach Green - I understand they officially open at 9am, however they were open before 8.30am when we visited.

The meeting point for the parkrun is on the open grass of Beach Green just next to the car park (you can't miss it). As with all parkruns you will find a first-timers briefing followed by a main briefing and then at 9ish the participants head off for their regular Saturday morning 5 kilometre run or walk. The course here at Lancing consists of two separate out-and-backs on a mixture of grass and concrete. The course is flat and road shoes would likely always be the first choice. Participants with buggies will be just fine here.

The first of the out-and-backs is the shorter of the two. It covers the first 700 metres of the course and takes place on Beach Green itself - being on the green, the surface underfoot is of course grass. This is quite handy as it helps to spread out the field before the course moves onto the main seafront path. Although I said the course is flat there is a slight incline in between the grass section and the main coastal path. Once on the seafront path the main things to bear in mind are that parkrunners are asked to keep to the right. The path is also part of the National Cycle Network route 2 so be sure to keep an eye out for approaching cyclists.

The section on the coastal path heads to the east for just over two kilometres before reaching the turn-around point and heading back. While on the path, parkrunners pass numerous beach huts of many different styles and colours. During the out section there's a good view along the south coast where the Shoreham Power Station chimney is clearly visible. Plus you can even see all the way into Brighton and Hove where the British Airways i360 observation tower can clearly be seen in the far distance. At the far end of the path is the Widewater Lagoon - a man-made area of brackish water which is home to many seabirds and other wildlife. 

The finish is back on the grass in the same location as the start. Barcode scanning takes place here and the post-parkrun social gathering takes place in the Perch Cafe which has plenty of seating inside and out, and also seems to have a fairly extensive menu. We didn't go in as we had brought breakfast with us and instead hung out in the playground with the kids. I had used my Garmin to record the route and that can be viewed on my Strava account. I also transferred the file to the Relive app where it created a fly-by video of the course. This can be found on my YouTube account.

The results were soon published and 204 people had taken part in event 127. This was higher than usual as the nearby Worthing parkrun (blog7t write-up) was cancelled. On a regular week the event would attract just over 100 people.

If visiting please remember to check carefully for cancellations, as when the green is booked for an event it usually seems to result in parkrun cancelling. As you'd expect the summer is particularly popular and to put this into perspective, Lancing Beach Green parkrun only took place on 3 out of the 9 Saturdays in July and August 2022. Finally a big thanks to all of the volunteers that looked after us during our visit.

Related links:

My GPS data of the course (24 September 2022)
The Relive course fly-by video (24 September 2022)

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