As I was sat planning for a long weekend of eating rubbish and drinking too much at the London Rugby 7s in Twickenham, my friend suddenly came up with the brainwave of trying out a local Park Run whilst we were in London (you know you have succeeded in truly converted your friend into fitness/running when they suggest doing a Park Run on a weekend away and not you!) So that's what we did - entering into the world of Park Run Tourism!
Locating a Park Run was not difficult, the Park Run website handily lists all those within a specific postcode region. The difference between London and Lincoln soon became very apparent at this point. From our hotel in Osterley there was approximately six Park Runs we could do, all only a few miles apart. In Lincoln we have one Park Run to serve the entire county! Osterley Park Run itself was postponed for the week so we discovered that a place called Old Deer Park Run in Richmond would be our best bet in terms of tube connections. So Saturday morning we left our hotel bright and early, trainers, barcodes and alien onesie outfits in tow...
Alien onesie outfits are probably not what most people would think to take to a Park Run, however the London Rugby 7s has a fancy dress theme each year (this year's being space) and therefore with the intention of heading to Twickenham Stadium straight after the run, the onesies had no choice but to come along for the ride!
Arriving at Old Deer Park we did feel a little nervous, not about our times for once, but in case we were a bit out of place, or felt a bit silly amongst the other runners. We need not have worried though as we were instantly made to feel very welcome, and lets face it people could not really miss us! We even had the company of another fancy dress runner, wearing a onesie with a Welsh flag and daffodil hat, who was on his stag weekend and also heading to the Rugby after.
Old Deer Park Run is a lot smaller than Lincoln, there was around 100 runners compared to Lincoln which usually has over 300 runners. But this made the run feel a lot more like a community, it was clear everyone knew each other well and they were a committed bunch of friendly and enthusiastic runners. The volunteers organising the run cheered 'Alien 1' and 'Alien 2' on as we ran and truly made us feel at home.
The run itself was an enjoyable challenge. Wearing a thick fleece onesie was unsurprisingly very hot. I also could feel the effects of the alcohol I had already consumed Friday evening in my system. On top of this my legs still felt a little jaded and definitely not back to their pre marathon pace. However I was pleased to complete the run in 24min 52sec - over a minute improvement from my last Park Run in Lincoln - which was onesie-less!
Post run the friendliness of the Old Deer Park Runners was demonstrated further as we sat in the local café chatting. We were even asked by one young Park Runner for a photo; clearly she wanted to remember the day Aliens came to visit her Park Run! Our alien outfits were unintentionally quite suited to the fact this was our first venture into the Park Run 'world' outside of Lincoln, and it was certainly an experience that has made me want to try other Park Runs. Although I think I may leave the onesie behind next time!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...