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On the Run: how not to warm up for the Harrow parkrun

PUBLISHED: 16:35 31 January 2019

Runners and joggers assemble in front of Harrow St Mary's Pavilion befoe the start of last Saturday's 195th Harrow parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Runners and joggers assemble in front of Harrow St Mary's Pavilion befoe the start of last Saturday's 195th Harrow parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. Here he heads to the Harrow parkrun in north London

Harrow Recreation Ground, the home of the Harrow parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONHarrow Recreation Ground, the home of the Harrow parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

How not to warm-up for a run/race/parkrun … see below for a step-by-step guide.

Firstly, take a wrong turn in the car (in north-west London), get delayed at a torturous four-way set of traffic lights, and arrive (at Harrow Recreation Ground) less than 10 minutes before the start (of the Harrow parkrun).

Secondly, snap a lace while tying up the trainers, and then fail miserably to insert frayed ends into impossibly small eyelets.

Thirdly, tweak a still-cold calf muscle while dashing back to the car to collect a spare lace (my one bit of good organisation, having a spare lace!).

Runners set off at the start of last Saturday's Harrow parkrun. Picture: MIKE LEPPS/HARROW PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGERunners set off at the start of last Saturday's Harrow parkrun. Picture: MIKE LEPPS/HARROW PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGE

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Fourthly, remember having left the iPhone in the changing room, beside the broken lace, so necessitating a mad sprint back across a squelchy football pitch to remove the aforementioned valuable item from any prying eyes.

Your columnist, Carl Marston, seen here fiddling with the camera on his iPhone before the start of last Saturday's Harrow parkrun. Picture: MIKE LEPPS/HARROW PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGEYour columnist, Carl Marston, seen here fiddling with the camera on his iPhone before the start of last Saturday's Harrow parkrun. Picture: MIKE LEPPS/HARROW PARKRUN FACEBOOK PAGE

And fifthly, get caught in the act of taking a quick picture of the start, while the quick ‘three-two-one’ countdown is completed to unleash a 200-plus field around a 5K course, before I can react.

As you can gather, then, from the above, my build-up to last Saturday’s Harrow parkrun, in the London Borough of Harrow, just under two miles from the famous Harrow School, did not go according to plan.

The run-down

Runners line-up for the start of last Saturday's Harrow parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTONRunners line-up for the start of last Saturday's Harrow parkrun. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The most famous landmark at Harrow is, of course, Harrow School, founded in 1572 during the Elizabethan era.

It is one of just four remaining all-boys full-boarding schools, the others being Eton College, Radley College and Winchester College.

Notable Old Harrovians include prime ministers Stanley Baldwin Sir Robert Peel and Sir Winston Churchill, actor Benedict Cumberbatch and singer James Blunt, though I encountered none of the above last week.

In fact, the local weekly parkrun does not go near the school.

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Instead, the Saturday morning free 5K ritual takes place at the more down-to-earth (I wouldn’t say mundane) venue of Harrow Recreation Ground.

But there is a connection – the facility was opened in 1885, after funds raised by one of the Masters at Harrow School to buy the land.

It now boasts three football pitches, two cricket squares, a bowling green (Harrow Bowls Club was founded in 1902), tennis courts and a basketball court.

And every Saturday morning at 9am, ever since the inaugural event of May 9, 2015, runners and joggers from the locality (and beyond) meet for the parkrun next to the Harrow St Mary’s Pavilion.

Last Saturday’s results

Sam Adcock led home a field of 231 runners, joggers and walkers in 17mins 07secs, which was a personal best for the course.

Second was Kevin Fini, of the University of St Andrews, who was just six seconds adrift in 17:13, which was also a PB. This duo were well clear of the field.

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Regular first time female finisher, Rache Porter, of Clapham Chasers RC, maintained her good record with 21:41. Porter, who has a PB of 20:36, was running her 91st Harrow parkrun.

Records

Nine women have eclipsed the 20-minute barrier at Harrow, led by Lucy Ashe, of Harrow AC, who posted 18:05 in February, 2017.

Damien Nevins, also of Harrow AC, set the course best of 16:14 at Event No. 147, last February. He tends to run the event once a year,

Looking down the list of the top 500, there are several East Anglian athletes, including Harwich Runners’ Simon Day (19:08) and the Newmarket Joggers duo of Henry Hamilton (19:28) and James Thomson (20:32).

Carl’s experience

Well, such was my haste to make the start-line, and my need to get back home swiftly to prepare for football reporting duties at Heybridge Swifts later that afternoon, that I did not get time to explore Harrow on the Hill or Harrow School.

But at least the calf held out, over the three laps, which meant the stopwatch was stopped before it had time to display the 22-minute mark.

In truth, the course is not the most awe-inspiring, basically amounting to three laps of the perimeter of Harrow Recreation Ground, with a mini loop of 600 metres thrown in for good measure on lap one.

But the route is relatively fast, on good tarmac paths, with just a couple of gradual ascents.

In fact, the surface is so good that if ever I return, and my lace snaps before the start, I might just run with one trainer.

Roll on this weekend!


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