As I mentioned yesterday, Victoria Dock was my 20th parkrun venue and I am now an official parkrun Tourist. My first parkrun was Finsbury Park on 4th March 2017 and I did it twice before thinking that I might like to try one that was slightly less challenging on the hill front – so off it was to Hackney Marshes. However, that week I found I missed the hill and returned to Finsbury Park. Around this time, I found myself in Chelmsford doing things not related to running and took a walk through Central Park.
“This is where they have parkrun here,” I thought to myself. “What a lovely park! I suppose everyone would think I was weird if I went all the way from Walthamstow to Chelmsford for a parkrun though!”
Little did I know that there was a whole culture of parkrun tourism and that most tourists would not even bat an eyelid at this journey – in fact, some have been known to fly all the way to Poland for the sole purpose of getting a parkrun starting with “Z” for their “alphabet challenge” (a parkrun starting with every letter of the alphabet). However, some of my friends, particularly hardened tourists such as Mike (currently on 198 events) and Rosemary (291) opened my eyes to the error of my ways and assured me that not only would I be welcome at Chelmsford, I’d probably be considered “quite local”.
A photo from each of my twenty parkrun venues (either by me or of me on the actual day of the run)
It was, however, a few months before I actually made it there, but in the meantime I started to get around a bit. First there was Pymmes (a small but perfectly formed run in a pretty but unloved park in Edmonton, not far from home), Hove Promenade (during a weekend in Brighton celebrating a friend’s birthday), Valentine’s (where I got lost and nearly did a third lap), Maidstone (a slightly overcrowded towpath run which coincided with a football match), Bromley on Christmas Day, the five lap hell of Highbury Fields, Dulwich (where I got my parkrun PB of 35:19) and finally my long awaited trip to Chelmsford in torrential January rain. Next it was on to Wanstead Flats (in the snow), Barking (a surprisingly pretty and well maintained park that I highly recommend), Beckenham Place Park with my mother, Grovelands (a mediumly hilly route in the uncharted wilderness of Southgate), Newcastle (the only run briefing to include a warning about stampeding cows), Hadleigh Hill Hell, Hampstead Heath (the only run briefing to include a warning about stampeding posh locals), Burgess (a sneaky parkrun before work), Richmond Park (more like “Richmond Desert”) and finally Victoria Dock which has the dubious honour of being the only parkrun that left me bleeding.
My parkrun awards are as follows:
- Favourite Course: Finsbury Park
- Hilliest: Hadleigh (107m)
- Flattest: Hackney Marshes (0m)
- Fastest: Dulwich (35:19)
- Slowest: Hadleigh (44:08)*
- Best tarmac: Dulwich
- Best views: Richmond
- Best toilets: Hadleigh
- Hottest: Richmond (27.6c 14/7/18)
- Coldest: Wanstead (3.7c 3/3/18)
- Smallest: Pymmes (66 runners)
- Largest: Newcastle (716 runners)
- Closest to home: Pymmes (3.6km)
- Furthest from home: Newcastle (436km)
- Nearest Event Not Yet Done: Walthamstow (2.3km)
- parkruns I really want to do soon: Southend, Hilly Fields, Ally Pally, Crystal Palace