On the run: Over Tower Bridge to run the Southwark parkrun
PUBLISHED: 16:26 03 January 2019
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. This week he heads to South London for the Southwark parkrun
It’s not every day that I cross the River Thames, via Tower Bridge, and return via the Rotherhithe Tunnel after taking part in a parkrun.
But that’s how I chose to see out 2018, or at least run my final parkrun of the year last Saturday morning.
The Southwark parkrun, situated in South-East London in Rotherhithe, in the Borough of Southwark, is only a mile from Tower Bridge and boasts good, distant views of The Shard.
It is not a ‘big’ parkrun, certainly not up there with the likes of fellow London-based parkruns at Bushy Park, Wimbledon Common or Richmond Park.
But size is unimportant, when it comes to parkrun.
Southwark Park, spanning 63 acres, was opened in 1869 and was refurbished 20 years ago, thanks to support from the National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund.
It is certainly a smart and also a welcome retreat from the maze of streets, alleyways and railway arches that characterise the surrounding area of Bermondsey and Deptford.
I know this area reasonably well, having visited the delights of The Den, the home of Millwall FC, on many occasions, both the infamous Old Den and the new one, situated just a mile to the south of Southwark Park.
It was always a very daunting experience, walking to the Old Den. I’m not saying it was scary, but I was always relieved to get back to my car in one piece, and with the car still in one piece!
By contrast, the warm welcome at the Southwark parkrun is not in the least bit terrifying.
The course comprises three-and-a-half laps of the southern section of the park, starting near the boathouse to the west of the boating lake. There is a short stretch on grass, which can be muddy, but otherwise the going is good on concrete paths.
Kent-based Harry Collins led home a field of 155 in 17mins 17secs. Lucy Aldous was the first female finisher in 22:30, in her 48th parkrun.
Paul Martelletti holds many of the course records in the London area, and the New Zealander tops the list at Southwark.
Martelletti, a member of Victoria Park Harriers & Tower Hamlets AC, posted 14:51 at event No. 207, on September 16, 2017.
Adam Holland, a familiar face in West Suffolk – he usually dominates the multi-marathon Great Barrow Challenge – is fourth in the rankings with his 15:36 from April 22, 2017.
Interestingly, the two biggest fields for the Southwark parkrun have both been set on the day before the London Marathon, in 2017 (475) and last April (540).
Isobel Clark (Serpentine RS) has the quickest time for a female, registering 16:52 in August, 2017.
Driving across Tower Bridge, in the early morning, was magical, and the run passed without incident, or injury.
Rotherhithe Tunnel wasn’t quite so charming, but overall I loved the Southwark experience.
Last Saturday featured a couple of remarkable landmarks, in the world of parkrun.
Firstly, Kent’s Darren Wood became the first person to complete 700 parkruns, achieving that feat at his home event at Frimley Lodge. No other runner on the planet has run so many parkruns – he has rarely missed a Saturday morning 5K over the last 14 years, ever since parkrun started with the inaugural event at Bushy Park in October, 2004.
Most of Wood’s appearances have been at Frimley Lodge (371) and Bushy (257) – I have had the good fortune to visit both venues, although I haven’t even managed to get to a century yet – although it will take at least another six years for Wood to reach the magic 1,000 mark.
In fact, 1,000 parkruns equates to about 20 years of parkrunning, because it is only possible to run one per week, with the exception of some bonus events on New Year’s Day and Christmas Day.
And secondly, Alex Yee deserves just as much credit for posting the second fastest parkrun of all-time, at Saturday’s Dulwich parkrun.
Yee, a member of Crystal Palace Triathletes, clocked a scorching 13mins 57secs. He is second on the list only to Andy Baddeley’s 13:48 at the Bushy parkrun (Aug, 2012).
As a side issue, a staggering 40,605,326 parkruns have been completed since the first one (ignoring yesterday’s New’s Year Day events) – yes, I know, I should get out more!