Thursday, 5 April 2012

Inaugural runs: Ally Pally parkrun (3 December 2011)

There are three things that I love about parkrun: the courses, the people and the stats. Ally Pally parkrun started on Saturday, and its inaugural run ticked all three boxes.

The course... at the challenging end of the parkrun scale. Underfoot is a mixture of tarmac, grass and mud and the course is far from flat.

You start in the centre of a bell-shaped loop, and begin by running out to the edge and round. This bit is fairly benign: a bit of up, a gentle down, lots of opportunity to chat, if you're that way inclined.

Then comes the hill, which runs from point 1 (sharp left turn which we nearly missed for chatting) up through some trees, across a road to point 2 (hello lovely marshals) and then diagonally up a steep grassy slope to point 3 (aaargh!) after which it's a gentle rise to point 4.

As you turn the corner at point 4, the road descends quite sharply leading to a welcome stretch of flat and the beginning of loop two.

The people...

...were strangely familiar, not because they were typical parkrunners, but because I knew so many of them. Tim and Rick (Grovelands and Oakhill), Danny and Rebecca (Gunnersbury), Roy (Nonsuch), Dave (Wormwood Scrubs), everywhere I turned there seemed to be a familiar face. Not to mention Paul and Joanne Sinton-Hewitt, who I recognised from Iceland but had never actually spoken to.

And there were also new people to meet. Vanessa, a regular volunteer and runner at Wormwood Scrubs, was indulging in a little parkrun tourism. Prashan was making his debut at parkrun, accompanied by Grovelands regular, Reggie. Stephen (the chap I was chatting to when we nearly missed the turn up the hill) is based at Oak Hill, but is now halfway to a place on the table of doom*. Helen, who kindly ran back to Finsbury park with me afterwards, showed me a couple of great running routes that were far, far more enjoyable than the road route I had planned.

The stats...

19 of the 49 runners were 50- or 100-club members, and between the 49 of us we have run 2,345 parkruns.

17 of the 49 runners are on the table of doom, including the unmissably fluorescent Burnham Joggers, Dave and Bob.

And 18 of the 48 runners have run at least one other parkrun on the same day as me. This, I will grant you, is really only of interest to me, but does show quite what a small world parkrun is.

*Old rules.

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