Tooting Common

Tooting Common today was all about friends and a very important parkrun milestone! As always it’s great to be in the company of such a top Strider chum in Terry Willis! I hope you enjoyed your trip back to your childhood home mate.

Sorry to embarrass you but you are one of the reasons why I think we have such a special club at Stopsley!

Terry _ Me

Also it is great to cross paths again in my capital adventure with Liam O’Hare who I first met as the run director at Wimbledon Common, always a pleasure to bump into you sir!

Liam _ Me

Last definitely but not least was Mike Morfey who celebrated the milestone of his 100 parkrun today by selflessly volunteering as the tail runner for this event!

This what makes parkrun a great institution, he even asked at run announcements the Tooting faithful if possible to donate their time to become future volunteers, top man!

Mike Morfey

Course

Tooting course map

After a short stretch run by the side of Tooting Bec common cafe you run 3 flat anticlockwise triangle shaped laps on almost run entirely on tarmac paths apart from the section by Tooting Bec road is a cinders surface! Once you have finished the final lap it is just a short run back to where you had started!

Couple of points to mention this is a very popular parkrun with just over 400 people running this event today, so as the run director Gemma said in her briefing position yourself roughly in the place on the start line where you think that you are going to finish the run, as for at least the first lap it is difficult to overtake. Trust me it takes a good few seconds to run through the start!

Secondly on the Tooting Bec road section there are 2 sets of bollards that make it difficult for as their website says for wheelchairs and wide buggies access, so be warned!

Personal Stats

My parkrun time was 31:45 not to happy with that after last week, I seem to fall into the trap at the moment of not pushing myself and running 10 minute mile pace for 5K 😦

Important info

If travelling by car there is a small car park at the side of the common but the number of spaces is limited and this is a very popular park, so get there early!

For a nice post run coffee close to the start in the form of Tooting Bec Common cafe!

Post run cafe

Other facilities but not for me today beside the park is Tooting Bec Lido in the right weather a great place to swim and relax after a 5k parkrun!

Final Verdict

A very popular event that course is flat and if you position yourself at the correct place at the start you can achieve a very fast time!

Special thanks to the parkrun director Gemma and her team of volunteers who made me and my friend very welcome today!

Also excellently organised event that coped with ease the large number of runners who attended today! Sorry did not capture a picture of the entire volunteer team my fault 😦

Volunteer group shot

Very well done Tooting, top event and community!

Run on 15-10-2016

Extra News

Looking forward to my clubs hosting it’s inaugural Stopsley 10 mile trail race on Sunday and will be participating in it even if it is hilly but fun i think!

Wormwood Scrubs

Today it was like visiting an old friend as Wormwood Scrubs until this challenge was the only London parkrun that I have ever run before and it did not disappoint!

The reason why I originally run this event was the novelty factor of saying that I have run behind a famous old London prison, but now I have grown very found of the challenge of running on grass and natural surfaces!

Brad barefoot runner

Today I met my first ever barefoot runner today, Brad complete respect to you running in the most purist way possible, top man!

Course

Wormwood Course map

The course is 2 and a bit anticlockwise laps of scrub parkland run entirely on grass! As you can guess the course was rock hard with the serve lack of rain we have had for a prolonged period of time, a consequence of this on the back part of the course quite wide cracks in had formed in a few places that you needed to be careful with running around!

I would defiantly call this a course of 2 halves with running gently downhill section to the far end of the course and a more steeper uphill slope back to finish of each lap!

Personal Stats

My parkrun time was 30:09 which is a new PB for me running on this event by 12 secs and to date is now my fastest Capital parkrun time!

Important info

There is free weekend parking available at the back of the Hammersmith Hospital near the finish of the course!

Toilet facilities may not be available before the start of the race, but there is a lovely clubhouse owned by Thames Valley Harriers that is inside the grounds of the Linford Christie athletics stadium and I thoroughly recommend the flapjacks and the company!

Final Verdit

What I lovely bunch of people that made me feel at home during my visit, excellent organisation from Ben the run director and his team of volunteers manning the event!

Parkrun Volunteers

Ben (in green) we are proof that Luton and Watford football supporters can get on together and I hope you cherish my gift of my slightly sweaty hatters wristband mate!

Definitely come back in the future to beat that 30min barrier!

Extra News

As of this afternoon I have reached my fundraising target of £500 for this capital challenge, eight months before it has finish!

I would like to thank everyone who has donated to my chosen charity Keech Hospice Care, run with me and last but definitely not least the staff and students at the University of Bedfordshire  who help with the man in a dress campaign that finish last week at Harrow parkrun!

I am one very lucky man!

Best

Mark

Harrow

There are times in your life when you realise its about being comfortable in who you are, enjoy family & friends company and on the way help support for a brilliant local charity like Keech Hospice, then the world can be a very beautiful place to live in!

View from Pavillion

Today at Harrow parkrun I achieved it all, this was the final part of three in what I called my Man in a Dress campaign that is part of my London parkrun challenge, it started off with Dare to Donate waxing, next up a man to woman makeover all done at the University of Bedfordshire with the kind help of work colleagues and students! Finally today it was the public running in a dress at Harrow parkrun!

Everyone today were very kind and supportive it felt that I never left Luton Wardown parkrun as I was running with friends! There was kind and fun comments as we run round, a family at the end wanting there picture taken with me, finally a kind lady serving the coffees in the pavilion giving the drinks on the house as I was running for charity!

Community group shot

Me and David

It was great to have Stopsley Strider company again in the form of my good running buddy David Brown and Penny I hope you get better soon, yes he looks very fetching in a pink tutu and don’t think you will be getting it back anytime soon 🙂

Course

Harrow course

The course encompasses 3 anticlockwise laps of the parameter of Harrow Recreational Park and on lap 1 only there is a shorter loop to make up the 5k distance! Apart from the finish funnel the entire course is run on tarmac footpath that has two gradual inclines that I do not think would be to taxing to new park runners!

Personal Stats

My parkrun time was 34:43 a good time considering I was running in drag 🙂

Important Info

There is a 40 space free car park at the park itself but you will need to get there early to guarantee a space if you are coming by car!

Toilet facilities are available before the start of the race in the pavilion and it is a great place to have post coffee afterwards!

Final Verdict

Volunteer group shot

Harrow parkrun lead by the parkrun director Anand Ondhia and his team of volunteers done a brilliant job today in promoting parkrun community that is marking the 12th anniversary of the birth of parkrun today!

Finally well done to Karen Randell who run her first parkrun today at Luton, welcome to the family!

Run on 01-10-2016

Riddlesdown

Riddlesdown is according to Wikipedia is 42 hectares of common grass land that is on the northern end of the North Downs situated in the London Borough of Croydon!

Scrub land view

A 32 hectare section of the common is listed as a site of scientific interest as it is the largest chalk scrub land in the Greater London area!

Course

Riddlesdown Course Map

There is about a half mile walk from the assembly point to the start funnel and then it is nearly 2 laps of the common that is relatively flat and takes in a wooded section at the back end of the course!

gravel path

As stated on their website course description this is definitely a cross country style parkrun that is run on multi terrain surfaces from grass, gravel to stoney path! Special care needs to be taken around the stoney path section as it could quite easily trip you up if your were running at high speed and not taking notice of the surroundings!

In the winter if there is prolonged spell of rain the wooded section can get flooded so make sure you come to the run with a dry pair of shoes and socks if these conditions are the case!

Important also on the grass sections make sure you stay on the worn path as if you stray into the long grass you could be disturbing nesting skylarks!

Personal Stats

My parkrun time 31:19 happy with that considering the kind of terrain not a bad time, feel like my fitness is improving!

Important Info

There is a free car park at the front of Warlingham School, CR6 9YB and toilets are available before the race that is always good!

Did not get chance to join them today as I had to get home but the local post run coffee is a local pub at The Horseshoe, Farleigh Road, Warlingham, Surrey CR6 9EG.

Final Verdict

It is great to run on a flat cross country style grass scrubland kind of course but as already been stated be weary of conditions especially in the winter!

Special thanks to the run director Kenneth Hooks and his team of volunteers for making me very welcome today, much appreciated guys!

Riddlesdown volunteers

Run on 24-09-2016

Extra News: Luton Wardown parkrun

Wardown milestone celebrations

Much admit I am missing out on some special moments at my home parkrun Luton and today is no exception, it was my very good friends Liz Evans (left) 50th parkrun and Elizabeth Mc Ginley belated 70th birthday celebration, you both the reason why I love parkruns and its great community spirt, looking good ladies!

I will finish this challenge but I am starting to feel homesick for my local parkrun and my friends with the great times I am missing 😦

Oh well onwards and upwards next week its the fancy dress event, should be entertaining!

 

 Ally Pally

What a iconic North London building to run in front of for today’s parkrun in the shape of Alexandra Palace build in 1873 with great unrestricted views of our capitals skyline. Wow!

Alexandra Palace view

This building has a very important place in media history as in 1935 the BBC broadcast the worlds first ever public TV transmissions from the palace, it is amazing how far we have come in 81 years in technology terms since that time!

Again it was great to run with friends Martin & Angelica, well done Gabriela in passing your exam today, top stuff!

Course

Ally pally course

The course is 2 anticlockwise laps of the park with an out and back section at the start and back to the finish of the course! Each lap is real multi terrain in nature with large sections of the top and bottom of the lap run on grass paths which is interconnected with either tarmac or lose gravel sections!

There is a lovely wooded section to run around and over the entire course it has a 61 metre gain according to my watch. The odd thing from a personal point of view is the steep parts are reached by a steady incline and then a steep but short kick at the back end of the course! So it you decided to run this course don’t let the height gain put you off running Ally Pally!

Important thing to note there is an alternative route available if this course becomes impossible or dangerous to run on and I hear it is a 3 lap route!

Personal Stats

My parkrun time 33:05 happy with that as I took it easy on some dump parts of the lap and I drove up the uphill sections. Oh well onwards and upwards!

Important info

There are a number free car parks around Ally Pally and for convenience to the start of the parkrun we chose the East car park.

If you need to use the toilets before the start we used the ones in the main building itself that are easy to find!

For cafes we used the ice rink one before the parkrun and is locate in the main in the building and it seems to be open early as we arrived at 8am, later on we used Lakeside one that opens up at 10am, wow the smell and look on their full English breakfast looked to die for 🙂

Lakeside cafe

There are so many thing to do at Ally Pally including a pitch & put golf course, boating lake, and off course the ice rink available to the general public!

Ice rink

Final verdict

This is a very enjoyable undulating multi terrain course to run that in parts it feels you have entered a cross country race that is great fun!

As always special thanks to the Ally Pally volunteer parkrun team lead by Janet Smith that made me feel extremely welcome! Specially mention to the lady marshall that cheered as all on with vigour on the toughest part of the course, your enthusiasm is what makes me come back week after week!

Ally Pally Volunteers

Run on 17-09-2016

Spitfire 10k – Hendon

Review

Today it was great to run in a such cool race that you have never run in before and walk around the RAF museum seeing all the magnificent planes that were on display!

A very poignant touch was each runner was given a Battle of Britain honour card of a pilot who fought in that battle, with so many of these fine men that got killed in this battle in was my honour to have Pilot Officer Merrick from the 610 Squadron displayed on the back of my running vest!

Spitfire honour card

Again it was very nice to meet up with fellow Stopsley Striders friends running in the race today Amanda, Carly, Kulwinder, Siobhan and Valerie always a pleasure to be in your company ladies!

Spitfire 10k Salute Group shot

Course

Spitfire 10K course

The race started just outside the hanger that contained the Lancaster bomber, last year the start point was actually inside the museum but this was changed as quite funnily the runners could not get a GPS signal for their watches/apps.

The first 1km is almost entirely lost in the perimeter of the museum complex, then you run 2 x 4km clockwise laps of the local roads keeping on the footpaths. The final 1k is run again around the perimeter in the opposite direction with the finish in front of the main museum entrance!

There are a few extra points that I need raise about the course,

  • A 25 meter gain on the entire length of the course.
  • Prudently flat but a steady incline up Watling/Woodcroft Ave that is replaced but a welcome decline back to the museum!
  • Around a section of Lanacre Ave there is seems to be no footpath so you have to run down the side of a short steep grass bank to get to a setback pedestrian path, this bank could be quite dodgy in wet conditions!
  • The trees along Watling/Woodcroft Ave have broken up the tarmac path to an extent that you have to be quite wary of not trip up when running on that section!

Important Info

There was amble paid cheap parking at the museum, it has as you would have hoped excellent restaurant and toilet facilities and a shop to buy souvenirs! The really cool thing is you get to look around the museum and soak up the history of the planes on displayed once you have finished the race!

Final Verdict

Lancaster bomber

I would definitely recommend the Spitfire 10km Hendon race to you all, very well organised, excellent volunteers and a finishing medal that you want to add to your collection 🙂

Last point the money raise from this race will help fund the museums running and renovation costs so future generations of people can be inspired by men like officer Merrick!

Top race guys!

Run on 03-09-2016

Hackney Marshes

Today’s parkrun Hackney Marshes has two important meanings to me for the following reasons;

River Lea

  1. The river Lea that is a major feature flowing on the outside of this course. This river has a close meaning in my heart as it starts in my home town of Luton and is a major feature of my beloved home parkrun Luton Wardown. On the subject of my local parkrun I would like to wish good luck to Lisa, Kate, Kathy and Zena on your Luton purple parkrun today for the Willow foundation, all the best ladies!
  2. I am just a stones through away from the Olympic park that inspired me after watching a number of events at London 2012 to get fitter and live a more healthier lifestyle!

Today was no exception it was again great to have company running today, along with my great buddy Martin joining us was Angelica (red jacket) who is a fellow lecturer at the University of Westminster and Gabriela one of his top students, great to have you onboard I hope you have both now have got the parkrun bug!

 

Group freinds Hackney

Course

This is one fast flat course that is simply an out and back route that is run almost entirely on tarmac footpaths around the perimeter of Hackney Marshes with the river Lea flowing by the side of the path!

 

The paths are wide enough to allow for plenty of overtaking and I love running these kind of out and back routes!

Personal Stats

My parkrun time 30:12 – My fastest capital parkrun time to date but I am slightly annoyed as I could have easier got under 30 mins if I pushed it a little bit more today!

Important info

Hackney Marshes centre

There is free parking on site very close to the start at Hackney Marshes Centre, it also boasts an excellent cafe and there are toilets facilities available before the event starts that is not always the case!

Final Verdict

This is definitely a course you should go to record a your overall parkrun PB it is very flat and fast in nature!

I would like to thank Graham and his parkrun team of volunteers for making me and my guests extremely welcome today, greatly appreciated guy’s!

Group volunteers Hackney

Finally would I recommend Hackney Marshes completely YES a must for PB hunters with great onsite facilities, top location!

Run on 10-09-2016

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