On the run: Finding serenity at Grovelands parkrun

Grovelands Park, the home of the Grovelands parkrun in the Borough of Enfield.

Grovelands Park, the home of the Grovelands parkrun in the Borough of Enfield. - Credit: Archant

Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond!), running in different parkruns. Here he heads to Grovelands, in Enfield

Runners with buggies, and also dogs, are a common sight at the Grovelands parkrun in north London. P

Runners with buggies, and also dogs, are a common sight at the Grovelands parkrun in north London. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

The popularity of parkrun continues to spread, a bit like the plague, but in a good way of course.

The quicker you rattle through a few different parkruns, up-and-down the country –- though you can only take part in one per week with their standard 9am start-times on a Saturday – the quicker that new ones keep appearing.

I note that the landmark 500th parkrun in the UK officially started last weekend, confirming that the parkrun phenomenon is here to stay … and flourish.

The first Cirencester parkrun took place from the Royal Agricultural University last Saturday, with 208 runners, joggers and walkers turning up to this Gloucestershire town in the Cotswolds to mark the occasion of the 500th event in the UK, along with the many volunteers.

Runners congregate for the start of last Saturday's Grovelands parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Runners congregate for the start of last Saturday's Grovelands parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant


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The first parkrun (Bushy parkrun) was held back on October 2, 2004, at Teddington in south-west London, so that’s from one- to-500, in just over 13 years. That’s an impressive growth.

The latest of these ‘500’ which I tackled, last weekend, was one of the older ones – the Grovelands parkrun in the Borough of Enfield, north London.

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Run-down

A runner in front of The Priory Hospital, in Grovelands Park

A runner in front of The Priory Hospital, in Grovelands Park - Credit: Archant

Last Saturday was the 394th staging of the Grovelands event, staged in the resplendent surroundings of Grovelands Park, in the districts of Winchmore Hill and Southgate.

I am getting to know this area quite well now, having run the Pymmes parkrun in nearby Edmonton (just 2.2 miles away, to be precise), just a fortnight before.

Both are very handy for Lee Valley Athletics Centre, which is where my step-son Harry (a sprinter) likes to train on a Saturday morning, under the watchful of eye of Mick Graham (Suffolk coach of the year in 2016).

Runners enjoy a downhill section during last Saturday's Grovelands parkrun, in the Borough of Enfiel

Runners enjoy a downhill section during last Saturday's Grovelands parkrun, in the Borough of Enfield. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

- On the run: three middle-aged men bound for Kettering parkrun

Over at Grovelands, this was a cracking venue to stage a parkrun, amounting to two-and-three-quarter laps on tarmac paths within the confines of a park which used to be a private estate, with a mansion built at the end of the 18th century.

That mansion is now part of The Priory Hospital, where, apparently, General Pinochet (former Dictator of Chile) was held under house arrest, while a patient at the clinic.

Runners in action at last Saturday's 394th staging of the Grovelands parkrun. Carl Marston was in th

Runners in action at last Saturday's 394th staging of the Grovelands parkrun. Carl Marston was in the field. - Credit: Archant

But I digress.

Starting from the north corner of a lake, under some trees, the parkrun course actually offers quite a test, with a steady climb from some tennis courts up to The Priory Hospital, and then a steep descent back down to the lake.

This hill has to be negotiated three times, so it’s no stroll in the park.

The Grovelands parkrun goes past The Priory Hospital, in Grovelands Park

The Grovelands parkrun goes past The Priory Hospital, in Grovelands Park - Credit: Archant

Last Saturday’s results

Despite the presence of an amazing 10 other parkruns, within a seven-mile radius, Grovelands is a popular event.

A field of 177 toed the line last Saturday, while three weeks before a record 222 completed this 5K challenge.

Two members of London Heathside, a club spread across several venues in North London, set a cracking pace last Saturday.

- On the run: braving the elements at Pymmes parkrun

Charles Hardy was first home in 16mins 18secs, followed by club-mate Richard Macauley (16:40). Both celebrated personal bests for the course, while teenager Ben Beckwith completed his 109th parkrun, all of them run at Grovelands, with 17:30 in third.

Vanessa Anthony, of Trent Park RC, was another to set a PB (21:42) in her 132nd Grovelands parkrun. She was the first female finisher.

Records

Tom Adams, of Ilkley Harriers, has the distinction of setting the fastest time at Grovelands, thanks to a scorching 15:22 from January 23, 2016. Andrea Bradshaw, in her only ever parkrun, has the female course record of 17:29, posted back on June 11, 2011.

The event was first held on July 24, 2010, attracting 79 finishers, although it was not until the 213th meeting that a field of more than 100 assembled (110 in Oct, 2014).

Carl’s experience

I must say that this is one of my favourite parkrun venues, to date – and I only have another 475 of the current 500 to visit!

Grovelands Park is a haven of calm and tranquillity, a million miles away from the nearby North Circular Road and the hustle-and-bustle of Enfield, Cockfosters, Barnet and alike.

Dogs are allowed to roam, off their leads – the start was delayed for 30 seconds while a couple of canines strayed onto the course – and there are plenty of wooded areas which betray the fact that you are in north London.

After the previous weekend’s hobble around Wicksteed Park at the Kettering parkrun, a week off training allowed my sore adductor to accommodate a more natural running style last Saturday. The result was a satisfactory 20:35.

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