Club members may have heard of the “parkrun” events (formerly known as the UK Time Trials) but not be aware that the number of event locations has greatly increased in the last year. The parkruns are a series of completely free timed 5K running races held in parks around the UK, but with a particular concentration in SLOW’s core area of south-west London. The races are held every Saturday without fail, at 9am sharp.
To compete, you need to register online, this needs to be just once and you will then be able to run in any of the parkrun events. If you aren’t a member of a running club, then select “South London Orienteers” as your club. Every time you run at a parkrun event, you’ll get an email later in the day with your time and position, and the website will graph your performance from race to race. You can also compare results with other people in your club. People of different ages can easily compare results by looking at their corresponding “age graded score”.
Typically 50-200 people run at each parkrun, with a range of runners from elite runners finishing in under 17 minutes, to some taking over 40 minutes. Most people take around 25 minutes to do the course.
Regular 5K runs are a one good way of improving your base-line physical fitness for orienteering races, and because the events take place on Saturdays, your Sunday is still free for the orienteering.
Events in London include:
- Bushy Park – the original and biggest parkrun, it has now been going for over 5 years, with over 250 starts and around 500 people at each one. Bushy Park is also used by SLOW each summer for one of our Trail Challenge events. The course is mainly on grass and gravel tracks, and is very flat, with good PB potential.
- Richmond Park – a hillier course, with a drop down to the centre of the park followed by a long climb back to the finish. Richmond Park also hosts SLOW Trail Challenge events.
- Wimbledon Common – the second most popular parkrun in London, and another area regularly used by SLOW for orienteering events.
- Banstead Woods – an entirely wooded parkrun.
- Roundshaw Downs – in a nature reserve just south of Croydon.
- Bedfont Lakes – near Feltham in west London.
- Finsbury Park – North London’s first parkrun.
Other nearby parkruns are in Bromley, Basingstoke, Reading and Slough (the last in Black Park, another orienteering area.)