Today was the start of my ‘run every parkrun in London’ challenge with my pal Eleanor Parker, beginning with Beckton Parkrun (for no reason other than it was close to where I’m living at the moment).

There’s a carpark on site, and plenty of space around the park to… well, park. This being London most people walk since there’s always a parkrun fairly close by. Public transport-wise, Beckton Park and Royal Albert DLRs are right next to the park, as is the bus stop for the 300 and 376. If you’re flying in, City Airport is very close (don’t fly in).

I met Parker there around 8:30, chatting as we watched people turn up. This is one of the smaller parkruns I think – last week there were 37 runners (with a strong showing from the East End Road Runners club). If you’re often in the top ten in a busier parkrun, coming to Beckton might be a good way of finishing first for a change (keep dreaming, David). One of the nice touches here is that they have a book swap area, no donations needed. I like little things like that, it helps build a sense of community.

There was no first-time briefing, but the pre-race briefing covered everything – although the way the course was described was a bit confusing, once you were running the marshals made it clear.

The course is two laps (bloody laps, they’re everywhere), the first slightly shorter than the second. You follow the inside of the park on grass until you come to a path. Follow it round and then run down a long-ish path, and then go back on yourself. This bit’s nice, since you get to see other runners and give encouragement/scope out who’s chasing you. Following this, you turn right and carry on on a loop around the park. The second lap is the same, until you exit the long-ish path – then you carry on forward and then follow the cones to the finish line. Once you’re done, there’s free tea and coffee – AND SWEETS – provided in a little shelter.

According to Nike+, there is literally no elevation. That’s not true – but there isn’t much of it. One problem I did have with the course is that it only came to 3.03miles. Perhaps that’s my GPS messing up, but I think it’s more likely that you’re meant to be much closer to the trees when you run on the inside of the park than I was. Ideally, there’d be some cones or something making people stay closer.

Overall, the course was good, no hills tricky bits. Alternating between path and grass was nice, especially for those with weaker knees etc. I think there’s good potential for a PB on here, but make sure you do the whole distance, and watch out for big branches and stuff on the route. I’d happily do this parkrun again – and with the numbers being lower than other parkruns, there is a nice community feel.

2015-09-05 - Beckton Park

My run was terrible. I had gone out the night before – I was trying to be good with my low alcohol wine, but once I finished that I moved on to tequila and water, white wine, and even had a beer at one point. I took the night bus home, but my phone died and I didn’t know where to get off… so I ended up in McDonalds, chatting to some police officers, and then jumped into a taxi. Got into bed about 4am, and then got up at 8. I would have given up if it wasn’t for the fact Parker was doing it too, and she was travelling much further than I was. Guilt got me out of bed.

So, there I was at the starting line, 9am, probably still drunk. The aim was to get round without throwing up. I set off at my usual pace, and I felt like I could hold on. Clearly I didn’t, and my run was about 30s/mile slower than usual. At the first turning I stepped on a branch and did something to my foot – I did a mixture of hobbling and running for about 50m, shook it off, then got back into the run. This was a mistake. I felt I finished fairly strongly, finding it in myself to have a bit of a sprint towards the finish line. Overall, I came 8th – clearly due to the small turnout rather than a strong time.

I felt fresh afterwards, but by the time I got back and out the shower the hangover had returned – or perhaps it had only just started. Then my foot started to hurt, and now I have bad heel pain when I try to twist my foot inwards. Not ideal. The lesson here is DON’T DRINK AND RUN KIDS! See my times here.

Main points

  • Laps: 2
  • PB potential: High – if you do the full distance.
  • Facilities; Parking, tea, coffee, sweets, book bank.
  • First-time friendly? Very!
Beckton Parkrun
Parker and me, looking fresh at the finish. There’s also a moody filter going on.