Kingston parkrun

The one that’s not in Jamaica! It’s been an odd week with an extra day off which sort of made me feel off kilter. Is it parkrunday yet? No, no, it’s actually still just Friday! Ah! Anywho, it actually is now Saturday morning, I’ve collected a partner in crime for this weeks trip, fellow Portsmouth Jogger, Pauline, and driven 55 miles up the A3 to score myself a K in my spell-a-word Challenge. I’ll have a K please Bob, yes I’m touristing to Kingston-upon-Thames to visit Kingston parkrun. With last weeks trip to Reading parkrun that makes two consecutive weeks parkrunning alongside the Thames. I wonder how many riverside parkruns there are and how many there are on the bank of the Thames, answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Getting to Kingston parkrun is simple, navigating to the YMCA Hawker centre (using postcode KT2 5BH) is very straight forward and there is ample free parking available, always a bonus. The centre opens up at 8am and has all the facilities a parkrun tourist craves, free parking, clean toilets and a cafe that sells coffee and ice cream. Even more of a brucey bonus is that you get a 15% discount if you flash your barcode at the cafe, lovely jubbly. Wandering around the Hawker centre you should quite quickly make the aviation connection behind its name.

As this is another riverside run it’s a fast flat out and back course and road shoes are the order of the day. It passes by Teddington lock, which older readers may remember as the home of Thames Television studios, Monty Python fans will know it for the infamous fish-slapping dance. Quite an amazing thing anyway, multiple locks and a weir, love the noise it makes, really nice to run along past it. One of the joys of running somewhere new each week is viewing and experiencing things for the first time. It’s often things that others may take for granted as they see them everyday.

As 9am approached the number of people on the Towpath increased to 221 runners, some with buggies, some with dogs, all are welcome here. There were 11 first timers making that tentative step into the parkrun world we know and love. There were also a further 19 first time visitors to Kingston, travelling from Havant, Roundhay, Reigate Priory, Bushy, Black Park and Wimbledon to name a few. There was a only one milestone reached today with young parkrun tourist Thomas WILLIAMS choosing to run his 10th at Kingston, well done young man, wear that tshirt with pride.

So, with the runners ready, the RD got proceedings underway for the 372nd episode of “Kingston parkrun”, episode one being way back on the 20th May 2010. It’s a nice established event with a great number of long standing parkrunners, looking through the results list you can see some seriously impressive numbers, there are plenty of 50/100/250 shirts on display. The RD thanked the volunteers, welcomed the tourists and the first timers, whipped through the safety brief and with a very strong 3-2-1 countdown we were underway.  The throng of runners soon thins out as people get up to pace, the Towpath is accommodating and easy underfoot as we head out along the Thames, past the lock to the turnaround point. There’s a slight mixture of surfaces and the odd root to contend with, there’s a small incline up over a bridge but other than that it’s flat. The turnaround point takes you off to the right and round a little loop before returning you on to the Towpath to head back, sort of like the eye of a needle.

The return leg is slightly shorter than the outbound leg, which could help if you were pushing for a fast time. It also gives you the opportunity, should you so choose, to give some shouts and cheers of support to runners going in the opposite direction. The path is plenty wide enough to accommodate this as long as everyone keeps left. The finish funnel is located on a larger grass patch outside the YMCA so you have space to push hard for the finish and power over the line.

I think I’m quite hooked to running by rivers, there’s something about the noise of a river, the roaring weir, the sound of rowers skulling, the burbling motor launches, I dunno, it takes my mind off to a place with famous five adventures, swallows and amazons and other such romanticising. I must go back another day and run this course again and push for a PB, today was a lovely social pace as I’m under strict instructions to take it easy. Kingston parkrun is in a great location with everything you need to hand. It’s warm and welcoming and very established, a great place to make your home parkrun if you’re looking to start. The coffee after is good and there’s plenty of seating both inside and outside of the centre so plenty of socialising possible after, not forgetting to use your discount on drinks!

I had thought my luck was in on the Cornetto front as I had spied a Walls Ice Cream freezer by the counter, but my hopes were dashed as it was almost empty bar a couple of lonely looking Callipos! Never mind as we found some a short distance away! #parkruncornetto

Next week the challenge continues, three weeks to go until it’s complete. I’m thinking Rickmansworth next week to tick off that final R. Tune in this time next week and find out!

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