So it's Parkrun's 12th birthday, and doubtless the merry throng in
Bushy Park is even merrier and throngier than ever, but we're off to
the upper lattitudes again, reliving our recent arctic adventures,
this time in Northolt. (Ok, I may be exaggerating slightly.)
Early morning sun over the archaeological remains of an Iron Age
Err, no, not really. Wikipedia is a great destroyer of illusions
Its an artificial hill, true, but built from the rubble of the old
Wembley Stadium specifically for the Northala Fields 'country' park,
opened right by the A40 (which is not an ancient Roman road) in the
rather less than ancient historical year of 2008!
And the name?
"Northala" is how the old manor of Northall
(Northolt) was recorded in the Domesday book in 1086
Oh, well that's alright then.
Never mind the shattering of my romantic notions, here's our girls
off for a warmup.
Ok, now they're warmed up, they can cool down while the local MP
makes a speech...
TBF, he's actually talking about Parkrun and how cool it is, and how
he's going to be taking part but hopes nobody will laugh at him for
being last (which in the end he isn't quite), but although it was
sunny earlier, the clouds have now mostly covered the sky and it's
getting pretty nippy just standing around.
The start is nearly six and a half minutes late, and words will be
had! Pat knows the organisers and will doubtless be the very model
of tact and diplomacy in gently hinting that THEY SHOULD GET THEIR
@$£)#ING ACT TOGETHER!!!
Anyway, off they go!
It's funny the way our perceptions of Parkrun are skewed by our
local being Bushy Park. We thought Richmond was small, but this is
even smaller; nervertheless, the enthusiasm and commitment seems
absolutely identical. And TTBOMK, we've not had our local MP at
She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes. "For small
values of 'mountain'" as we mathematicians say.
The route leaves the park for a short segment of rather less
picturesque pavement. Pat, as you can see, is doing her best to
smile, having promised that she would be taking it easy and
therefore be able to react in a moderately sociable way to
supporters. It's a touch marginal, but we won't hold that against
Down the rabbit hole she goes, cheered on by an enthusiastic
And Amanda comes through the same hole.
At the end of a long straight, she will go back round the (fake)
mountain again. Unlike both Bushy and Richmond parks, this run is
entirely on tarmac and it's pretty flat too. Pat had claimed that it
involved running up and down the fake mountains, but she really
needs to work on her lying technique if she wants to be believed.
And here she is, taking it easy as she said, which is why she's just
done a PB!
Interestingly, as I'm hanging around the finish line, I notice at
least one person actually collapse, and several looking on the
verge. For all that it's not a 'race' as such, there are plenty of
people taking it very seriously and really pushing hard.
The loneliness of the long-distance runner? Well, 5k and careful
framing of the picture will do. Just out of shot is the finish line.
Not a great time for Amanda (although far from shameful! She's third
in class which is really "second apart from Pat") which she blames
at least partly on the time spent freezing in the cold air before
Yee-hah! I'm wearing trail shoes, so in an almost unheard-of
overturning of the natural order of things, I can run up this hill a
lot faster than Amanda or Pat, struggling in their racing flats.
Post-run, Pat is supposed to be coaching some of her clubmates on
hill reps, but she's suddenly thinking this really isn't going to
Shortly after this, the heavens open and Amanda just manages to get
into the car in time while I get soaked putting my bike back on the
rack. A fit punishment for hubris some might say...
Naturally it will be sunny again later.
So happy 12th birthday Parkrun to you all.