The Tropic of Clapham ... Je Ne Regrette Rien

Posted on: 15 Dec 2013

My elder daughter recently announced that she wanted to move somewhere warmer. I braced myself for the devastating news – Southern Europe? The Caribbean? As someone now making her way in the world of finance maybe the Cayman Islands? … “I'm moving to Clapham Junction – the flat's got double glazing” (followed closely by something along the lines of) “I won't mind if you say no – but will you help me move?” Well how could I refuse?

So Saturday morning I set off from Weymouth at 5:45. What a great opportunity I thought to take part in the mother and father of all parkruns – the Bushy parkrun. I did have a particular reason for wanting to do this run. If the London Marathon is sort of my “home run” and the Great North Run starts in the great city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne where I “studied” (for want of a better word) Geography in the 1970's I did live about a mile from Bushy Park for about three years after leaving Newcastle.

I have been in Bushy Park before. I use to go through every Saturday morning when learning to drive. I remember that, as a royal park, the instructor had to remove all advertising from the car before passing through the gate. And after passing my test I often used to drive through on the way to meet my friends (invariably at a pub somewhere). But that was all. Never ever got out of the car. So it was quite a pleasant surprise to find out what a magnificent place it is on a beautiful and sunny December morning.

A few people have asked if I regret not having discovered the “joys” of running somewhat earlier in life. To which I answer a considered “no”. As my late dad would always say, “what is the point?” Clearly, attempting to run a marathon is an incredibly time consuming project, to have done this years ago would surely have been at the expense of many other things. But having said that there are things that, if I had my time again, I might have done differently. And I definitely would like to think that maybe I might have appreciated Bushy Park for more than the quality of the roads that pass through it.

For the record, there were 791 finishers at Bushy Parkrun #494. It is a very flat course, mixing grass with gravel paths. Starting near the back it took me some time to get over the start line, and the first km was fairly slow going. But after about 2km I was overtaken by a lady with a dog in tow (or was it a dog with a lady in tow) who seemed to be going at a good pace, so I followed them, meaning that my pace increased steadily through each kilometre. I was finisher #251, in a time of 23:35 (having re-passed the dog with the lady towards the end). The dog probably needed a comfort stop.

After that both Madeleine and I were totally shocked by the amount of stuff she had accumulated meaning two trips across London followed by numerous trips up four flights of stairs to the new flat. Totally shattered today (hence no early morning run, though I did get out this afternoon for a very wet ten miles or so). Hmmmm bugger the double glazing. Suggest somewhere with a lift next time.


P.S. oh yes - forgot to mention - you could always have a look at my solo assault on the greatest Christmas song ever at Keith Sings Kirsty and the Pogues.

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