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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Carl Marston's parkrun tour: Hilly Fields parkrun, as a warm-up to Ipswich Twilight

PUBLISHED: 12:25 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:25 16 May 2019

A procession of runners taking part in last Saturday's Hilly Fields parkrun, in South-East London. Picture: CARL MARSTON

A procession of runners taking part in last Saturday's Hilly Fields parkrun, in South-East London. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. This week he heads to Hilly Fields parkrun in South-East London

The view looking towards Central London from near the start of the Hilly Fields parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONThe view looking towards Central London from near the start of the Hilly Fields parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Hilly Fields parkrun - the clue, as it dawned on me during the event, was to be found in the name.

I ventured into South-East London last Saturday morning, at the beginning of a long day of 5K orientated running activities.

Having kicked-off with my own lukewarm attempt at a half-decent 5K, by visiting Hilly Fields parkrun in Ladywell, in the Borough of Lewisham, I returned to Suffolk later in the day as a spectator and reporter at the prestigious Ipswich Twilight 5K.

It was quite a day.

Hilly Fields Park, the home of the Hilly Fields parkrun in the Borough of LewishamHilly Fields Park, the home of the Hilly Fields parkrun in the Borough of Lewisham

I was quietly content with my own very modest 21mins 11secs showing, over the testing undulations of the Hilly Fields parkrun, looking down towards the centre of London, considering my own compete lack of training (and I mean 'complete').

But this was put into perspective by what unfolded later that evening, at The Waterfront in Ipswich.

Nick Goolab led home the elite men's field in a staggering time of 13:34, the joint seventh fastest time recorded by a Great Britain athlete over 5K on the roads.

Runners tackle a grassy section of the Hilly Fields parkrun last Saturday. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners tackle a grassy section of the Hilly Fields parkrun last Saturday. Picture: CARL MARSTON

- Carl Marston's parkrun tour - Southwark parkrun

That was precisely seven minutes and 37 seconds faster than my own lamentable effort, south of the River Thames in Lewisham.

Now I know that the latest Ipswich Twilight extravaganza was blessed with a fast, flat course, large and enthusiastic crowds, and perfect weather conditions (evening sunshine with no wind), while the Hilly Fields parkrun boasted three stiff climbs per each of the three laps, on a mixture of grass and tarmac paths, with no crowd and a distinct chill in the air.

The first female finisher at last Saturday's Hilly Fields parkrun. Leanne Meredith. Picture: CARL MARSTONThe first female finisher at last Saturday's Hilly Fields parkrun. Leanne Meredith. Picture: CARL MARSTON

And I know that Nick Goolab is 24 years younger than me.

But seven minutes and 37 seconds!! That's a huge difference, over a mere five kilometres.

I had the pleasure of catching a quick interview with Nick Goolab after his Twilight success. He was very modest and, rather annoyingly, not the least bit out of breath or even showing any signs of exertion.

Indeed, if I had had the misfortune of interviewing myself after the Hilly Fields parkrun, then I fear I would have displayed more signs of fatigue.

- Carl Marston's pRkrun tour - Ally Pally parkrun

I take my hat off to Nick Goolab, Laura Weightman and the rest of the elite men and women who cruised around the Twilight course on Saturday evening, and to all the club runners who posted such a dazzling array of personal best times.

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Clearly, I have much work to do.

The run-down

Hilly Fields parkrun, first started in September 2012, features three clockwise laps of the park, beginning on top of the hill by the flagpole.

On a fine, clear day, this provides excellent views of the City, although it was a bit hazy last weekend, following some heavy overnight rain.

- Twilight 5K at Ipswich - course records smashed

A field of just 94, with eight volunteers, took part in the inaugural event, led home by one of the most famous parkrunners in the world, Danny Norman, who has gone on to rattle up more than 600 parkruns - I note he completed his 634th parkrun last weekend (at Millennium Country Park in Bedfordshire).

Last Saturday's results

Jan-Hendrik Hadeler led home a field of 308 at the 356th staging of the Hilly Fields parkrun, followed by runner-up Nicholas Ostrowski, of Kent AC, in 18:26.

Leanne Meredith, also of Kent AC, was the first female finisher in 22:34 at her 117th parkrun.

Records

Shaun Dixon, of Highgate Harriers, set the course record of 15:31 on Christmas Day, 2014.

Paul Martelletti, who holds many of London's various parkrun records, has the second quickest time of 15:39, ironically posted on the same day.

In fact, Christmas Day seems to attract the best out of visitors to Hilly Fields - the female record holder, Amy Clements (Kent AC), set her 18:10 on December 25, 2017.

Carl's experience

This was my first-ever visit to Hilly Fields, opened in 1896, a district of South-East London which was the birthplace of Sid Vicious (bass player with The Sex Pistols) and Bill Wyman (bass player with The Rolling Stones), plus where singer Kate Bush lived.

I was therefore following in the footsteps of some esteemed company, if not esteemed runners.

Alas, Mr Wyman and Ms Bush were nowhere to be seen, and Mr Vicious has long since passed away. But I'd like to think that whenever I listen to Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill,' I will now think of Hilly Fields parkrun.

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