The usual Friday night exchange of messages with Other Dan as we chose where to visit on parkrunday. I was shattered from a long working week and a planned peaceful Friday night at home descended into yet another evening of working remotely to deal with a last minute customer request. An extra hour in bed followed by a visit to Gunnersbury or Northala Fields would have been fine for me but Other Dan leapt straight in with Beckton parkrun. Decisions made on transport (tube from hanger Lane), meeting time (7:43am), and no discussion on the course (it’s not important, right?).
Our public transport journey took us to Prince Albert DLR station. All fine so far. Neither of us checked for directions although both of us knew it was near by. Of course we choose the wrong way and ended by with a panic jog warm-up until we found the park and all the runners huddled in a small iron bar gated undercover section.
The locals were extremely friendly and we had a little chat before everyone was led out to the start line. Our journey across London had started out in heavy snowfall and it was cold and wet by the time we made it to East London so the warm layers stayed on until the last moment.
The route takes in two laps of the park, consisting of grass parkland and tarmac paths. Neither of us checked the course description beforehand so were wearing road shoes on wet and slippery grass. Oh well. I counted the runners. 1-2-3-4… 22-23-24. Hang on a minute. I could get a high finishing position if I put some effort in. The run started and I counted under 10 runners ahead of me so sticking in the same position would mean my first top 10 finish since… well… since I managed it once before at Old Deer Park.
I had no idea where the course went so I tucked in behind a guy who looked like he knew what was going on. We slid across the grass sections and sighed with relief as the tarmac path took us along the “tunnel” and around the “big lamppost”. With the first lap complete, it meant I knew where to run for the last lap but the pace was about right for my level of fitness so stayed in the same place. The first female finisher overtook me briefly but my local pacemaker put the hammer down and I followed. A top 10 finishing position (9th) and in front of all the female finishers. It’s the small inconsequential things in life that give you the greatest pleasure.
Hot drinks and biscuits were provided for free at the finish by the event team, which meant we stayed for a friendly chat. This is a small gem of a parkrun and the regulars should hold and cherish the perfectly formed community that they’ve put together. It reminded me of Wormwood Scrubs parkrun. A small field of runners and volunteers who truly embrace the parkrun spirit.