Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Nonsuch Parkrun Course Description

Official Parkrun Link:
Wikipedia Info on Nonsuch Park:
Nonsuch Google Map
Nonsuch Facebook Page:

  • Intro
Have you ever wanted to race over Henry VIII's old stomping ground, a place where the former King embarked upon possibly his most ambitious building project? Have you ever wanted to stretch your legs over a course that was named Nonsuch simply because there was to be no greater place of magnificence in the land? Well if so, you have found the right Parkrun course in Nonsuch Park!

Living in Epsom as I do, Nonsuch Parkrun is my local race and I absolutely love it, it's just over 3 miles from home, which means I get to run there for a good warm up (ideal at the moment!), race then run (well crawl) back home for a solid 9 miles on a Saturday morning. It's a little belter of a 5K race, which reminds me of the old school cross-country courses. It's not as easy as Wimbledon or Bushy Park, but it's easier than Banstead, so just be happy with a course PB during this race. It's a timed and measured 2 lap course of pure regal goodness.

So, what's the point of this post? My aim is to provide a blow by blow account of the course to help those planning to run it know the turns, touch points inclines, declines and where to go hard or not..hopefully it helps at least one person :)

  • Parking

When I do need to drive I park in the London Rd entrance car park (see the Parkrun link above on the course page for more details). I then run through the gap just ahead (between the two silver cars below), turn left and head straight up towards Nonsuch Mansion, you won't be able to miss the runners.

London Road Car park

  • Toilets

When you get up to Nonsuch Mansion as shown below, there’s a few bike racks (from memory I’ll have a stab at 6) where you can lock your bike up but also importantly there’s toilets right next door (to the left) where you can rid yourself of any pre-race nerves that you may have..

Nonsuch Mansion

Toilets, next to Nonsuch Mansion

  • The Meeting Area

Once you have been to the toilet, head back to the path following the signs to the start and head towards the main meeting point. If you have a bag that you don’t want to run with, there is a non secure baggage drop right next to the tree, this is at your own risk, so don’t leave anything of value in there if you’d be rather upset should it go missing!

Runner's meeting point (Nonsuch Mansion just ahead)

Most runners hang around here till 8:55ish catching up with each other justbefore being advised by the race director to head to down to the start of therace. If you do happen to see someone new, do that person a favour and say “Hi”,runners are an incredibly friend bunch and this is a great way to meet new local runningfriends.

  • The Start Line

The start line! (Half way along the path)

Once the Race Director (RD) has called everyone to the start line fora 9am start, you will need to wait for a few minutes whilst the RD goes overany announcements and you get a chance to thank the volunteers who without themunselfishly giving up their Saturday morning this race wouldn’t be possible, (soplease volunteer when you can, it’s a very rewarding experience and it’s theonly way to keep these races alive!)

  • First KM

The path is quite narrow at the start as you can see below, so with 100-200 runnersall belting off at the start a lot of runners use the grass on either side, butplease be careful as there are some potholes in the grass near the start line though.This first section before the first right hand turn is about 250m long.

View from the start line

First right hand bend
The first turn is gentle right hander and leaves you facinga longish straight ahead. This section is about 500m in length and has a gentleincline in it, you start the race at an elevation 45m and at the end of this straight(at 780m) you are at 53m so an 8m incline or 1.6% gradient, which doesn’t seem alot on the first lap, but it’s there for sure next time around!

Normally the adrenaline is stillpumping by this point so you don’t normally lose any time, but it does require concentrationon the 2nd lap for sure as you can easily lose 10-15 seconds on the3rd K if you slack off.

The 500m straight section
At the end of the 500m straight, you turn right and are given a chance to pick up speed againduring this section as you head towards the 1K mark it drops back down to 47m elevation so feelfree to give it some welly here. The start of this straight is approximately 810m into the race.

As you head down a further 190m or so down along this straight path, you will hear the resonating sound of everyone's GPS watch informing you that you have now past the 1K mark, probably midway point in the photo below.

Approaching 1K mark up head.

  • Second KM

For the 2nd K, you continue on the straight pathfor a further 90m or so before you will be greeted by several orange flags anda cheery volunteer directing you into a right hand turn. The turn is on a downslope which can be muddy if there’s been rain, so mind your footing.

Right hand turn
As you straighten out, you have a flat section of around 200m ahead of your before turning 90 degrees left up ahead. This section can be muddy at the moment, thanks to the rain, proper cross-country running, so lift your knees and give it some.

Start of the 200m straight, left turn up ahead!

At the end of the 200m section there is a 90 degree left hand turn at 1.3KM into the run, there will be another happy volunteer here also, say thanks if you can!

Hard left hand turn and straight ahead
As you head up the small incline (2m) over the next 400m you will approach a hard right hand turn, a full on right hand turn that cuts out the pinch point you can see in the photo below, which is no longer used in the course.

This section whilst tremendous fun, if only because you had no idea if you would still be running the other side of it, was to be fair, quite perilous when the conditions were poor and nobody wants a snapped ankle in these litigious times. So it's a hard right here and run straight on for 50m, a volunteer will be stationed here to show you the way.

Hard right hand turn
After you have turned like a seasoned pro, head straight up for about 50m before throwing another hard left, don't worry though as a volunteer will be here to show you the way, they are everywhere! (which is why we need plenty of them!)

Hard left hand turn just up ahead (just where the people are)

Turned left and straight ahead
After you have turned left you are faced with a 100m dash to the bridge and run straight ahead and then veer right.

Cross the bridge and throw a right
At the bridge crossing you at 1.7KM in and at an elevation of 43m, enjoy this as it's rises gently from here :)

Up the small incline towards the 2nd K marker
Run up the small incline over the next 300m to take you to the 2K mark, which has an elevation of 48m, so you will need to work hard over the later part of the 2nd K to keep the lap times consistent.

  • To the half way point

Once you have passed 2K mark, there's about 170m of running to go (and 3m climb) before a right hand turn at Henry VIII's Logs of Glory (I just made that up).

Turn right for home at the logs
Turn right at Henry VIII's Logs of Glory and peg it towards the path straight ahead, you get a metre or so elevation relief here, bonus!

Run towards the path
Once you're on the path, if this is your first lap you have a chance to pick up speed now you have once again some proper purchase on the road again, run straight ahead.

On the path and head straight up!
You will see here (cruelly some might say) the finish line on your left here, but that's just put there to taunt you as you have another lap of goodness to go yet. So carry on along the path and follow the signs and flags pointing you in the direction of the 2nd lap.

Should this be the end of your 2nd lap, congratulations, you're almost finished, but don't turn around and give your rivals a sniff of weariness, just pick up your knees strain once more and break the (figuratively speaking) tape.

Relax, catch your breath and feel free to engage smug thoughts for just completing something the majority of the country hasn't.

Approaching the finish line on your left (for the 2nd lap), carry on straight past it during the 1st lap.

Finish line is here for those that have completed two laps
Back to reality for the 1st lappers. Run straight past the finish line and head towards the 2.5K marker. There is normally a happy volunteer here shouting out your half way times, carry straight on and head back towards the path where you originally started only those few minutes ago.

Heading towards the 1/2 way point, veer slightly, ever so right here

2.5K maker - Half way point, straight ahead!

Run back to the starting path straight ahead and do it all again!

At this point you are heading back onto your 2nd lap, you are 2.5K in to a 5K race and at 49m elevation, so enjoy the small down hill here before the hard work of the 2nd lap begins, have fun and go hard!




  1. Wow, and I thought some of the other course descriptions were detailed. You have set a very high benchmark here Martin. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together.

  2. as course designer I could't have put it better myself - great job Martin - if you want any more photos then let me know Paul ED Nonsuch parkrun

  3. Brilliant description and inspiratonal. Can I be pernickity... Henry VIII it is.. rather than Henry IIIV...

  4. Awesome! How did you manage to get the park so empty looking? Where are all the dogs and their companion walkers


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