This week I ran the Hackney Marshes parkrun. After last week’s driving debacle I decided to walk, and so made the first-timer briefing. There was a lot of parking at the Hackney Marshes Centre, too. Everyone seemed nice, lots of chatting and apparently they go for a post-run coffee too.

The course is simple – you follow the same path to the halfway point, then come back. It is amazingly hard to get lost. The route is mainly on concrete, with a little bit on a trail – and IT IS FLAT. I found myself running a lot, lot faster than I have been recently, it just seemed that the course was flying by. No hills!

I was surprised by how few people there were – 135 at this race, and it doesn’t seem to massively increase in other weeks. For such a strong, flat, fast course I’d have thought lots of people would turn up for PBs. Looking at the ‘First Finishers’ list is depressing – it should be humanly impossible to do a parkrun in 15:41!

My run was surprisingly good (although not 15:41 good…) – I was on the second day of this hangover, could have done with about 4 more hours in bed, and my legs were stiff by restarting barbell squats on Thursday – basically, I was a mess. 2015-10-12 - Hackney Marshes

I walked there to warm myself up a bit, and felt ok at the start line. I decided to push myself at the start, and even though I didn’t feel like it and my legs were fighting back. The course was really nice, and I knew I wasn’t too far from the first runner (which is always a bit of a boost).

After the halfway point I noticed a guy was closing in on me. He was easily over 50, so my pride kicked in and tried to keep me ahead of him. By the final half-mile I was flagging and he overtook me – no shame. I used him as a motivator to keep up, and even managed a slight sprint finish.

I crossed the finish line in 20:08 – so close to my current sub-20 target. If I wasn’t hungover, stiff, and tired I probably would have smashed it. You can see my time here. On an unrelated note, the guy who came first was beautiful. Well done Hackney Marshes.

I think I’ll be running around Hackney Marshes a lot more, Victoria Park gets a bit dull, especially when for the LSRs you need to get into the 4+ laps territory… and I hate laps.

Main points:

  • Laps: 1 (there and back)
  • PB potential: High.
  • Facilities: Sports centre which has toilets, showers, and a cafe. Lots of parking.
  • First-time friendly: Very!