Third time lucky, soft toy heaven, mind the handcycle, late start, puddle hopping, and out sprint the double buggy.

 Our London parkrun tour swung back into action this week as we finally made it to Kingston parkrun. We scheduled this run three weeks ago but then Other Dan’s 100 shirt arrived at Gunnersbury and the following week Other Dan wasn’t well so I headed back to Gunnersbury again with The Son.

Kingston parkrun starts at the rear of the YMCA Hawker Centre, just outside Kingston, next to the Thames towpath. The Centre provides ample car parking, access to toilets, and various other facilities. We spied a fantastic looking kids soft toy adventure area that had us both wondering if we could sneak in and throw ourselves around the ball pool. The sign only “recommended” children between the ages of 3-10 used it… several minutes of discussion led us to the conclusion that “recommended” did not technically exclude us but it might be frowned upon.

Runners, volunteers, and spectators congregate near the finish funnel before walking the short distance up the towpath to the start line, which stretches across the towpath. This required some careful crowd management so that the path was kept clear for the other towpath users to get through while the run briefing was taking place. The start has to account for other path users and a handcycle appeared in the distance so we waited for him to pass through the middle before we were set off on our run.

The course is a simple out and back along the towpath with only one marshal required, located at the far end so that runners know where to turn round on the loop back onto the same towpath. The strategic placing of sawdust, as laid out by someone amazingly running the course before 9am,  guides the runners on the correct path at the far end loop.

We were busy picking out routes that dodged the muddy puddle sections or in some cases leaping the puddles when we were not paying attention. The finish funnel was in sight when we realised that a double buggy runner was quickly catching up with us so a burst of speed saw us cruise through the funnel to collect our tokens before the buggy had a chance to overtake.

The Centre has a cafe inside that offers a discount to parkrunners so I scoffed down a bacon sandwich as we watched the final runners cross the finish line. Kingston parkrun had a lovely homely feel about it and an enjoyable out-and-back course. I plan to come back in the summer to target a fast time after I have banked my marathon training.