When I first saw the memorial poppies at Tower of London announced I knew I had to go.
As time grew short to get a visit in I knew it would have to be a Saturday.
Knowing I’d be in London on a Saturday I had to indulge in a little parkrun tourism!
So it was that I found myself rising to the 4am alarm, for the 5am coach, to get to Fulham Palace for 9am and enjoy their free 5km.
After a bit of confusion trying to find the start (or rather the congregating point, which is about 150 metres from the start) I received the usual parkrun welcome. Chatting to locals and fellow tourists alike, getting advice on where to stash kit to avoid the incoming rain (which thankfully never materialised) and comparing parkrun experiences. The crowd soon grew, 212 of us ran in all, and just before 9am run director Luke delivered the briefest of briefings and we were marched to the start line. With 200+ runners on the course there was understandably a bit of congestion at the start and the first few corners, so if finish times are important to you or you are PB hunting be sure to get to the front of the pack. The course is a 3 lapper on tarmac, pancake flat, and if the crowds don’t hold you up it could be a very fast course. The stretch back along the river is nice taken at a slower pace though, with views across the water to the boat clubs which feature heavily in the annual boat race footage and lots of river traffic to distract you. Eventually you come to another cheery hi-vised marshal who points you around a few corners and you’re on the finish straight, or at least it will be after another 2 laps!
Knowing the course and with the runners a bit more spread out now I relaxed in to lap two and started to enjoy the scenery, exchange pleasantries with fellow runners and advising a junior about her undone shoe lace and warning her not to trip. Suddenly felt very old and responsible at that point!
In to lap three and almost sad that it was nearly over. Picked the pace up a little and set sights on a few people to beat, received the obligatory compliment on my ridiculously large calves (every race/run!) and settled in for the sprint finish. Great support on the line from the volunteers and other runners and a lovely congratulations chalked on the tarmac (an idea that may come back to Cheltenham with me for our winter course) and it was all over in a far from impressive 27:24 but given the early start and distracting scenery I’ll take it.
Meanwhile at the front of the field Paul White was romping home in 17:04 from Stuart Fraser’s battling 17:12. Among the women Carolyn England (21:49) had a comfortable ten seconds over Katie Ferguson (21:59), both clear of the chasing pack by some distance with Helen Witt next home in 22:23. None of which affected the standings at the top of the points table for the year, shown below. Full results can be found here.
With 212 runners, 46 at Fulham Palace for the first time, there were 40 new Personal Bests to celebrate, and representatives of 29 different clubs took part including one happy Almost Athlete.
If you’re in London there are a plethora of parkruns to choose from, but I’d suggest Fulham Palace is a good one to start with. Thanks for the run guys!
Fulham Palace parkrun points tables:
Current standing in the Men’s annual points competition:
Thomas DALEY (Fulham RC) 285 pts.
Paolo BUSCAGLIA (Serpentine RC) 261 pts.
Bob LYNAM (Fulham RC) 259 pts.
Current standing in the Women’s annual points competition:
Dawn PAYNE (Unattached) 300 pts.
Eliza GAFFNEY (Unattached) 300 pts.
Carolyn SALISBURY (Unattached) 300 pts.
Love Fulham Palace – have been back a few times even though I now live on the opposite side of London (and quite near those amazing poppies :))
It was a goody. Looks like I’m back in town on December 13th, I think Bushy Park is calling…
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