By Jeremy Smith
We were visiting London at the weekend so that we could attend Saturday’s Anniversary Games (Judith had booked tickets when the Diamond League had been arranged at Crystal Palace and, as a result, we had priority booking when the event was moved to the Olympic Stadium) and thought that we would take advantage of the opportunity and try our first parkrun outside Newcastle. We were staying in a flat in Limehouse and the nearest parkrun was at Mile End – we left early and ran slowly through the East End of London, passing Stepney City Farm and a number of other interesting buildings, until we arrived at Mile End Stadium. The Mile End parkrun appears to have an average of about 80 runners but there were considerably more there this week (about 125) with runners from Devon, Glasgow and Cheshire amongst others (presumably many attending the Games too – certainly that was the case with the runners from Bramhall parkrun to whom we spoke) – we were also introduced to (I think) Danny Norman, who presents the parkrun podcast (I have in the past listened to the podcast but, if I’m honest, found it a little tedious!).
The Mile End parkrun is shaped like a lollypop – a straight run for about a half a mile (including up, and down, a hill) and then a loop that runs along the river Lea back to the lollypop “stick” and then back to the start where we turned around and repeated the route for a second time. I can’t say that I particularly enjoy laps but given that this was a new course it did mean that you knew what to expect when we started the second lap – it’s not a particularly fast course (any course that requires you to run up hill four times is never going to be fast), but we ran on tarmac (pavement) so it wasn’t slow either. I ran 19:23 which was ok given that it was very hot, and ended up in the top 20. My only gripe was that we had forgotten our barcodes (although we knew our numbers) and, despite our protestations that Newcastle parkrun (with its considerably larger attendances) would have recorded our times, the race director refused to record our times manually (“rules are rules”) – a really disappointing approach and confirmed my southern prejudices!
Shame on you Jeremy, every parkrun tourist should carry a copy of their barcode in their wallet! I had a chance to meet the legend that is King Danny myself at a volunteer meet, but skipped it in favour of Monday training.