It’s that time of the year once more when I pop to London for a day of overindulging in food, Christmas lights and the company of friends. As is now my way, this involved a 4am alarm call to get the coach to London in plenty of time to make a parkrun before the feasting and frivolity began.
This trip I chose Southwark parkrun, having already ticked off Fulham Palace, Mile End and Burgess. The decision was made easier by the location (no more than 12 minutes from Victoria!) and the willingness of Seven Islands Leisure Centre to let me use their facilities including stashing my kit in a locker and getting a post run shower…thanks!
The Southwark parkrun venue was really easy to find, but as with all London parkruns I’ve attended so far there was no one to be seen before 8.30am. I’m not sure what we’re getting so wrong in Cheltenham that the core volunteers need to get on site for 8am, but I’m eager to learn from our friends in the capital and earn us another half an hour in bed! Once people started to arrive though I received the perfect welcome, as I have at every parkrun I’ve toured at. Laurent the Run Director was particularly charming and made me feel right at home instantly. There was plenty of fancy dress on show for the last run of the year; reindeer, santa, a Christmas tree and tinsel galore! The run briefing was quick and efficient, and while I’m never going to be leading a parkrun and in danger of getting lost it’s always nice to hear the course explained clearly! A few announcements for milestone runs, an invitation to coffee afterwards and we were off!
The run is on wide tarmac paths, pancake flat but with enough corners to keep it interesting, running past park buildings, ponds and a running track (under repair, which is great to see as there is a lack of decent track facilities in this country). There is even a short out-and-back section, and I’m a big fan of out-and-back sections. It’s nice to be able to exchange a smile or even a grimace with fellow parkrunners as they go the other way. For the record, Southwark, all smiles!
A 3 lap course but it never got boring, helped by friendly and encouraging marshals and some great support as we passed the line each time. I wasn’t aiming for anything more than a finish but found myself picking off a few people, albeit slowly. It’s a good course for chasing down the people ahead of you if you’re the competitive sort. When I did make it to the finish (in a shade under 27 minutes) there was a great reception from quicker runners who’d gathered around the finish funnel to see everyone home. Southwark is everything a parkrun should be, and really has the parkrun community vibe that makes touring so much fun.
Just time for a quick photo with Laurent before I headed back to the leisure centre for a shower. Sadly I couldn’t hang about for a coffee but I really wanted to, and Southwark is definitely a parkrun I’d consider returning to next time I’m in town, especially if I had a little longer to enjoy it. Thanks for having me.
Male – Christopher HOLDSWORTH – SM20-24 – Clayton-le-Moors Harriers – 16:04
Female – Kate RICHARDS – SW25-29 – 21:50
123 runners with 7 first-timers and 12 more new to Southwark with 7 new PBs.