Thursday, 5 January 2012

Wormwood Scrubs parkrun

I recently moved to west London, so I went on the parkrun website to find the nearest event to my new address. O, happy day - there was one within a ten-minute walk: Wormwood Scrubs. It's well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Wormwood Scrubs is a comparatively recent addition to the parkrun canon (29 events as of the end of 2011, with a highest attendance of 34 runners). The course is all off road (ie. grass / mud) and trail shoes or spikes can be handy if there's been bad weather.

Although the fields have been fairly modest to date, there's the usual parkrun vibe: a good atmosphere, a fair mix of abilities and the runners and marshals seem to know each other by name. On the occasions I've attended, the event has been marshalled efficiently and enthusiastically and (as promised) you can get the cheapest cup of tea in London after the run.

The 'two-and-a-bit' lap course begins in the shadow of the prison building. "Fresh fish! Fresh fish!" shout the lags, banging on the bars. "I want lanky!" yells one. I wish I wasn't wearing such short shorts.

Ok, the bawling jailbirds are made up. Perhaps it would be better if I said the run begins close to the Linford Christie Stadium, home of Thames Valley Harriers. The course winds up a gentle slope, then straightens out alongside the sports pitches. At the end of the pitches, you turn left into a muddy corridor which takes you to the north-western corner of the park.

If conditions are bad, this is where a smart footwear choice will really pay off - I've seen people in road shoes go through this bit like ducks landing on a frozen pond. After you exit the corridor, you take another left and wind around back down to the beginning of the course.

At the end of your second completed lap, you continue from the beginning of the course up to the sports pitches and turn right for a short downhill to the line.

Personally, I like the grassy course as I'm trying to do more cross-country running this year, but there are benefits for everyone: although a soft surface can mean more effort, grass is much more forgiving on joints and muscles than tarmac, so there's less chance of shipping an injury (unless you stick your foot directly in a rabbit hole and snap your femur, I suppose). The Scrubs parkrun is on fairly reliable turf though and not too hilly either, so should suit runners of all abilities.

DO: Go for a cup of tea and a flapjack in the TVH clubhouse after the run.

DON'T: Go for a shower in the prison.

Wormwood Scrubs parkrun links
Run Jog Blog


  1. Love it Dan. I knew you were the perfect person for this blog! I'm going to love reading your parkrun posts and I'm sure others will too.

    After reading that I'm sure parkrunners will be heading to Wormwood Scrubs parkrun in their droves.

  2. I don't believe the jailbird bit was made up... Or that those hot pants were an accident... But otherwise an informative piece..!

  3. Dan in hot pants, what a picture! How do I wipe that image from my brain?

  4. Easy! When I went along to a Wednesday training session with my club just before Christmas, I arrived at the gym to find I'd forgotten my shorts. I simply had to rifle through lost property and take pot luck. Now imagine Dan, face screwed up in concentration, striding through a 5k time trial... in a pair of douchebag shin-length 'skater boy' combat shorts.


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