Event 3 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 Verdict

What I lovely bunch of people who 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!

Report on 08-10-2016 (second visit)

Best

Mark

Event 20 Harrow

There are times in your life when you realise it’s 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 their 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!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on 01-10-2016

Event 19 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

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

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 spirit, 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!

 

Event 18 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

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on 17-09-2016

Event 17 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 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 on site facilities, top location!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on 10-09-2016

Event 16 Richmond Park

Wow this is one very beautiful royal park that it was a pleasure to run in today, was marvellous to see the deers grazing so close to me on the run that I had to stop take in the view and take pictures!

Time seemed to stand still that I forgot that I was doing a parkrun, times like this it is great to be alive!

IMG_0942

Today was great again in the company of running friends Liz, Stewart and Philip, I hope you enjoyed your run’s today and excellent running Philip a time to be proud of posting!

Friends group shot richmond

Course

Richmond Course

This course because of the size of this park is one single anticlockwise lap of just a small section of the park.

The race starts off with a small incline up to the roundabout where you turn left down Sawyer’s Hill that is a tarmac path, then you turn left again onto Sheens Cross and this time you are running on a grass section! The final part your turn left before Sheens Gate onto Tasmin trail that surface changes again into loose gravel and follow the undulating trail to the finish!

My watch said there was a 32 metre gain on the course but it is my view that at no point did I feel that the uphill sections were overpowering to run up compared to places like Hampstead Heath!

Overall I really loved this course, great to run on a single lap parkrun, multi terrain surfaces and seeing beautiful wildlife in the shape of the parks deers!

Personal Stats

My parkrun time 37:43 – Time was not important for me today just happy to be out running and standing still taking pictures of the wildlife!

Important Info

There is free parking Pembroke Lodge, with toilets open before the start of the race and a very nice post run cafe attached as well, this is all about only half a mile from the start of the race!

Final Verdict

Richmond Park Heard shot

This is one vast beautiful royal park to run in, great to run on a single lap parkrun course, excellent wildlife, but could be challenging in the winter though if there was a prolonged period of rain on the course!

Thank you Alastair and your team for making me and my friends very welcome for today, top stuff!

Volunteers Group Richmond

Would I recommend this parkrun to a tourist, completely YES!!!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on the  27-08-2016

 

Event 15 Greenwich

At this moment in time with Rio 2016 games almost coming to an end it is great to run in Avery Hill park Eltham that has benefited from legacy money from our own London 2012 games!

Excellent to see legacy money spend on projects that help local communities 🙂

One of the most striking buildings is the famous University of Greenwich Winter Garden a hothouse that has many species of plants from around the world with this magnificent building perched beautifully on top of the hill!

Winter Gardens Avery

Today it has been another great day of running with friends, great to have you onboard as always Martin and love the t-shirt Cool Runnings, Ellie one of our clubs top young runners and her boyfriend Sam, good to meet you mate!

Also bumping into Lynette and Richey who I first met last week at Peckham. Hope you both enjoyed todays event!

Friends Group shot

Last but definitely not least I met Francis Lee Greenwich parkrun director legend who retired today. Top service sir and from the applause you got you will be very fondly missed!

Francis Lee

Course

Greenwich course map

The course is run over almost 3 anticlockwise laps, starting by the cafe and finishing in front of the Winter Gardens. The running surface is almost a 50/50 split between grass and tarmac paths, the first section is run downhill on grass followed by an uphill tarmac around the back of the course with the small section to the finish back on grass again! Overall my watch says there was a noticeable steady rise of 36m gain around its entire length!

Today the wind made it difficult to run with strong gusts what seemed permanently head on! The challenge I see from my point of view is what running footwear would you use if there was a prolonged period of rain on the course leading up to the event?

Personal Stats

My parkrun time 40:49 (pacing Martin)

Important Info

There is parking available inside the park that is very close to the start, excellent post run cafe and you can use it’s toilet facilities before the race!

Final Verdict

Volunteer Group shot

It is very good to run  on this very interesting multi terrain course that will test you! Special thanks to Francis, Connor and all the volunteers to make me and my friends extremely welcome, top work guys!

Francis enjoy your retirement as Connor says go for that 200 parkrun target, been a pleasure to meet you and commitment you have shown to your parkrun community is one of the main reasons why I love parkruns so much, sir!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on 20-08-2016

Event 14 Peckham Rye

This is a beautiful park to run in with a lot going on from open playing fields, ornamental gardens, common land, a woodland section with streams running through it. An excellent place to unwind and take your family!

Playing fields

The additional pleasure to running in great London parks is that you get to make new running friends and today was no exception!

new friends

I had the pleasure to chat and have a coffee with Lynette and Richey who are friends through running and parkrun directors of their respected events with Lynette is Chichester and Richey is Dartford.

Who knows when I finish this challenge I might take up our offer of running your parkruns and you are always welcome at Luton, Wardown anytime!

Course

Peckham course

This is a 3 anticlockwise lap takes in the scenic parts of the park that includes ponds bridges and gardens.

As stated on their website it is run entirely on tarmac footpaths and almost entirely flat along its length, there is only a slight uphill section towards the end of each lap. I am still struggling to work out where the 14m elevated gain is coming from on my sports watch!

Only thing you have to be careful on this course is the downhill section to the pond that in a couple of places tree roots are breaking up one side of the path. This was make very clear in the new runners briefing so you knew what to look out for!

Personal Stats

My parkrun time 31:45

Total accumulative miles 82

Important Info

Always welcome a free car park inside the park and next to that an excellent post race cafe called Cafe on the Rye

The park toilets for some reason were closed but the staff at the cafe kindly let me use their toilets even though it does not open to 9am, thank you guys!

Final Verdict

Volunteers peckham

This is a hidden gem of a parkrun with a lovely course that is definitely PB territory if you are looking for a fast time, also there was just about the right amount of runners not to get in each others way!

As alway I was made very welcome by the Peckham team, thank you David and Kevin and all the volunteers to making this an enjoyable event! Special mention to the volunteer who cheered us all on even though her leg was in a cast, this is why parkruns are a such a great positive advent!

Definitely recommend Peckham!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on the 13-08-2016

PS

No I did not find Delboy’s Peckham Spring but there was a streams running through the park 😉

Peckham Stream

Event 13 Fulham Palace

On a beautiful sunny day to run Bishop’s park that is a lovely well maintained park next to the river Thames. This park  is very close to two iconic London landmarks in the shape of Fulham football ground and the start of the University boat race at Putney Bridge between Oxford v Cambridge.

Bishop_s Park

Craven Cottage

It was again great to run with company from my club Nikki Cox & Kelvin Chadwick, I hope you enjoyed the parkrun today guys!

A special mention to Fulham Fire station that kindly allowed us to park in their car park and made us feel very welcome, for the record Nikki is a fire officer with the London fire brigade, you do a brilliant job in keeping us all safe!

Fulham fire Station

Course

Fulham Palace course

The route is almost 3 anticlockwise laps of Bishop’s park that is entirely run on tarmac paths, just after the start you run alongside Fulham Football ground then along the footpath that is treelined by the river Thames, at the end of the third lap you finish in the central court area.

Fulham Palace is a very flat course with only a 4 metre gain on its entire length, it gets a bit congested at the start but soon thins out, defiantly a PB course to set a fast time though!

Personal Stats

My parkrun time 32:04

Important info

There is an excellent cafe for a post run coffee inside the park, not the one they normally use as that was closed for an event. There is also toilet facilities but were closed before the start of the race, we think due to tidying up after the football match that happened the previous night!

Lucky I did not need it on this occasion but if you come by car street meter parking is available on Bishops’ Avenue next to the park.

Final Verdict

Group photo Fulham

A beautiful park to run in and is definitely a flat fast course to get a PB on! Thank you very Richard and all your volunteers in making me and my friends very welcome today, top stuff guys!

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

Run on the  06-08-2016

Event 12 Wimbledon Common

Wimbledon Team photo

Review

Today running around the beautiful Wimbledon Common parkland was nice and refreshing in cooler conditions than of late with a light drizzle in the air at the start of the race!

With Peter _ Patrick

It was great to meet Peter Collins (in red) today in the flesh after chatting to him on a post that I placed on Runnersworld.co.uk website about my parkrun adventure! I ended up running with his brother in law Patrick (in white) in this race and trust me it will not be long before you break that 30 minute barrier, well done in getting a new PB today!

Special Mention to Liam todays run director apart from everybody making me feel welcome you have a great dry wit! The line that i loved when you introduced me to the Wimbledon parkrun community will stick in my mind forever, “Mark is running all 45 parkruns in the Greater London area in one year and this is event 6 and as you can see he is not running them in alphabetical order 🙂

Course

Wimbledon Route map

Run over two and a bit anticlockwise laps of trail paths that is for a large part run under a canopy of trees. This is a very flat course with only an 8 metre gain through its entire length but as stated on their course description with a large amount of rain it would be advisable to run in trail shoes!

Also an important note be very aware of the exposed tree roots on the course as the could be a potential trip hazard, to be fair to the team though they have sprayed white the most dangerous ones on the course!

Personal Stats

My parkrun time 31:57

Important Info

Park Facilities

Wimbledon Windmill Museum

There is amble free parking catering for 300 cars and toilets are available before the start of the race. There is the windmill cafe available for a post race cuppa and all of these facilities are very close to the finish of the parkrun that is great!

Shame that the windmill was shrouded in scaffolding today due to the fact it’s blades are being refurbished with a lottery grant, been nice to have looked around the museum!

Final Verdict

Thank you for the very kind reception from everyone that I received on my visit today, keep reading my blog Peter and Liam do not change you have a priceless rare sense of humour that should be treasured!

Will definitely recommend,

Run on the  30-07-2016

Best

Mark aka Silent Runner

 

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