This week was the first ‘big trek’ to a parkrun; we chose Fulham Palace parkrun, which was a one hour journey door-to-door. I managed to get back into Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales (Part 2), so the journey wasn’t a waste.

The first thing that struck me about the parkrun was the amount of people who seemed fairly well off (I overheard a few conversations which were essentially turbo-charged middle class pains, and saw one guy in a ‘Harrow’ t-shirt). I was not in Liverpool anymore. Regardless of this, everyone seemed nice and the lady doing the pre-run talk was great (I’ve never heard the phrase ‘funnel-duckers’ before). There were a lot of people here, perhaps over 200 (checked – 257).

The course consisted of (almost) 3 laps of Bishop’s Park. Usually I dislike laps, but the surroundings were so nice I didn’t have a chance to get bored. There is one sharp-ish turn per lap, and the park was fairly busy. I saw at least one person have to jump over a dog (yes, I know everyone has a right to use the park, but surely if you see there’s a race going on you’d either put your dogs on a lead or go into the middle of the park which is empty?!). They also go for a coffee in the park afterwards.

This week there was a promotional stand for a local food market, which was giving out bottles of water, Innocent fizzy drinks, hemp coconut biscuits, and ‘Ener-C Powdered Drink Mix’. I’m not actually sure what the latter does, but the water bottles are fancy.

The park is very nice, but the toilets would not look out of place at a crack den. One was out of order, one had no lock on the door (…no comment), and the third looked like it hadn’t been refurbished since Labour last won an election. It was a bit of a contrast with the wider area and park.

The main problem I had with Fulham Palace was that the start was very, very congested. Part of this is due to the paths, which aren’t very wide considering the number of people running. However, most of the issue was caused by slower runners at the front. I don’t understand why people who are clearly not going to run a sub-25 (who from my experience tend to be stubborn, usually younger, men who think they can just show up to a 5k and boss it, or the man who had his young daughter with him, who could barely keep up in the first 100m) place themselves right at the front. It’s selfish, it’s rude, and it makes you look like a tit as people try to overtake you. I wish race leaders would remind people at the start to place themselves based on their ability. It’s a small thing to do, but it could mean the difference between getting a PB or not for some faster runners.

My run went very well (despite the people clogging up the start). I felt quite good by the time I’d got to the parkrun; no hangover, no stiffness, no little twinges. I decided that I would give this one a good go, and hopefully get the same time as I did at the Southwark parkrun last week (this would also help me see if the course was actually 5k).2015-10-24 - Southwalk

Weaving through the pack at the start wasn’t too bad, since it meant that I was running fast to get through and this led to me getting through the first mile in 5’49. This gave me the (crazy) idea that I could do the 5k in 6 min miles, which although a pipe dream kept me going through the second mile (at 12:17, so the second mile was 6’28… dream shattered).

My tactic was to keep overtaking, moving from group to group, since usually I tend to end up running by myself in races which means I have no-one to push me. Once the second mile was done, I knew I just had to hold on. I kept on jumping forward, overtaking a lady who had had a very strong run and who I’d keep seeing overtaking people. I had roughly .5 miles left and decided this was the time to go all out, managing to get some distance between her and me. Now I was just trying to keep this sprint up. I overtook the last guy, who seemed to be inspired by the competition and upped his speed; this was the only time I was overtaken. I tried to hold on, but he narrowly pulled away. I’m glad he was there, since he kept me going for the last 200m.

I crossed the line at 19:23 – very happy, especially when Nike+came in at 3.11 miles too. I felt like I’d given it everything (somewhat motivated by an element of class war, representing working-class northerners everywhere) and it’d paid off. This was my fastest parkrun since November 2014, and I feel like a sub-19 might be possible before Christmas if I keep up this training and gym routine. In other news, this was my 26th parkrun – I am now over half-way towards my free t-shirt!

Main points:

  • Laps: 3
  • PB Potential: Medium – flat course, but the pavements aren’t particularly wide and there are some sharp turns.
  • Facilities: crack-den style toilets, close to the District line, post-run coffee.
  • First-time friendly: Yes
  • Downside: Crowded start

Fulham Palace