We headed down to South London today to run at Brockwell parkrun as part of our London parkrun tour. My non-scientific approach to selecting this weeks run was based on me trying to make the first section of my London parkrun spreadsheet green. My spreadsheet is in alphabetical order (Other Dan has his own spreadsheet but is ordered in some other mysterious way) so I offered out Brockwell as my first choice for the week simply because it’s closer than both Barking and Beckton.
Brockwell Park is a 125 acre park located between Brixton, Herne Hill and Tulse Hill. It’s resplendent with amenities; tennis courts, bowling green, BMX track, a miniature railway (didn’t spot it!), and an open air swimming pool (Brockwell Lido). There is plenty of free parking in the surrounding roads and we parked just outside the Lido, which meant a short walk to the start area.
This week I remembered to check out the Brockwell parkrun Facebook page, in case there was a cancellation, and spotted that it was their 4th birthday run today. I also had a quick read of the ever excellent blog7t to check out his previous Brockwell parkrun run report. You might think that me and Other Dan would be carefully planning out our parkrun tourism, always checking event pages for updates, making sure we knew the location, parking, amenities, social media updates, directions, and checking out blog reviews. You obviously don’t know me and Other Dan! On Friday night we exchange a couple of Facebook messages to see where we feel like going the next day. I note down a postcode and road name for the satnav while Other Dan occasionally checks out earlier results to see how many other runners we’re likely to see.
The event birthday celebrations meant a later start due to the presentation of the male & female points winning trophies, recognition of the amazing volunteers, and finally the usual run briefing. We then shuffled the short distance to the start and we we off. Somehow we found ourselves at the back of the field. The tailrunner and a guy with a dog were the only people behind us. No problem for me because my running is not really happening at the moment and Other Dan is only just getting back into serious training following a hamstring twinge.
The course is nearly all on tarmac path (as usual the finish funnel is off to the side on grass) and consists of 2 unequal laps of the park. The first lap is longer and includes a hill within the first km that offers great views across London. Except the views are all behind you. Still, we craned our necks round to look at the London skyline. We were there on pacer day so chased down the 29, 28 & 27 minute pacers as we chatted our way round the park. We spotted the 26 minute pacer about 50 metres ahead of us with half a mile to go but neither of us fancied a sprint finish. That turned out to be a wise move because we noted the pacer enter the finish funnel at 26 minutes and 30 seconds.
The sharp left turn onto the grass section caught us out because the grass section had gone all cross-country and we weren’t ready for the brief slog through the bog. A nice run though and our thanks go out to all the fabulous volunteers.
We checked out the Lido afterwards, as we looked for the café, and found that several swimmers were busy ploughing up & down the swim lanes. Good for them. We snuck pool side to dip a finger into the water. I’m sure it did not feel cold to the swimmers but it felt bitterly cold to me and Other Dan.
The café next to the Lido looked fantastic but we’ve now christened it the “poshest parkrun café” thanks to the waitress service and the fact that nearly all the tables were booked in advance. However, the food really did look cracking and I would loved to have stayed for the delicious pancakes but I had to be back for family lunch.
The drive back through Brixton prompted some reminiscing about our well spent youth and the various nights that we spent in Brixton. Other Dan used to frequent the Dogstar while we both used to tumble out of gigs & club nights at the The Fridge, the Brixton Academy, and Brixton Mass in various states of inebriation. We realised that we had never seen Brixton in the cold light of day before – exiting a club at 6am into daylight didn’t really count!