Long Slow Wet Muddy Hilly Run

This isn’t really a blog about running. It’s actually a blog about the weather, in which I have to go for a run occasionally to truly experience weather at it’s most weathery and come back with material to moan about.

I woke this morning to fresh looking skies, a dry garden and a mild weather forecast.   Woo hoo, I thought, I can get on a train and go somewhere a bit more interesting than Tottenham Marshes.  Maybe some nice HILLS!  And I trotted happily out the door with a view to catching the Overground to Gospel Oak and having a nice little bimble over Hampstead Heath.


As I got on the train, the drizzle began.  As I reached Hampstead, it reached the “raining” threshold.  Knowing that the weather forecast had clearly stated that it was going to be dry all day, I assumed that this would soon blow over and set off up Parliament Hill.  By the way, I ran all the way up without walking for the first time since 2016 and got a gold medal for my Strava segment!  By the time I got to the top, the drizzle became a deluge, a December downpour, and I filled with woe as the water trickled down my face and my 2018 Brighton Marathon Finisher t-shirt stuck uncomfortably to my torso.

A panorama of Parliament Hill viewpoint

Once you’ve started, you’ve got to finish, though, and so I trudged obligingly all over the Heath (and I must say that I got less water in my shoes than I did at parkrun this weekend) and then crossed Highgate to get on to the Parkland Walk.  An observation:  for a posh place Highgate has really shit pavements.  They must spend all their budget on gentrifying shop fronts and putting up hanging baskets.  It is full of trip hazards and I am not going there again.


I stopped for some water near Highgate Station.

“Jogging in the rain?” said the shopkeeper.  “You look very wet.  If you’d left an hour earlier you’d have missed it!”

I forced a laugh but actually wanted to punch him.  Also he had a big vat of Yellow Bellies on his counter and I really really wanted one.  When is someone going to invent vegan Yellow Bellies?

The next bit was all downhill, which was very nice.  Parkland Walk is a disused railway line that runs between Finsbury Park and Highgate (and there’s another bit further north but I haven’t been there).  It’s a fairly solid trail now, but you can still see the railway bridges and even a small platform halfway down.  It is very popular with dog walkers and graffiti artists.  Some parts were extremely muddy and I wished I had worn my trail shoes, or better still that I had a minion who could follow me round as I am running handing me changes of clothing and footwear as appropriate and providing me with water so I don’t have to deal with smart comments from shopkeepers.

The final three kilometres of the thirteen were extremely familiar to me: a single lap of Finsbury parkrun!  It felt very odd to be doing this on my own.  I tried to muster up enough self delusion to imagine I was a sixteen minute runner leading the field but it might have been more realistic to have been a forty-six minute runner who had lost sight of the nearest runner.  It was, unsurprisingly, my slowest ever orbit of Finsbury Park, but I will blame that on the fact that I kept stopping to take photos of the new parkrun kilometre markers (which I will now be able to use to illustrate my blog entry next time I am there).


I was absolutely amazed at the end of this exercise to find that this moist, muddy, mountainous meander had actually been conducted at a faster pace than last week’s slightly shorter dry, flat amble around the marshes.  That has to mean I am getting fitter, right?  I cannot think of any other reason for it.

It has also reached the time of year when any long runs away from Tottenham Marshes necessarily end with the purchase of some kind of warm garment to keep me warm on the train home.  Today’s number is a very fetching turquoise v-neck from the charity shop on Seven Sisters Road.

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