parkrun

Events

I've now been to 63 different parkrun events (61 in the UK, 2 overseas) - and often go to new locations to get my count up. All my personal parkrun results are here.

I've made a list of the ones I've been to with my thought and comments about them, along with a 1-5 rating of how tough I think they are!

London

I've completed the 47 parkruns in the Greater London area - known as #LonDone - this includes Riddlesdown (which straddles the London/Surrey border) and the two newest ones in London at Canons Park and Beckenham Place which started in 2016.

If you then include the nine that are inside the M25 (Aldenham, Banstead Woods, Cassiobury, Dartford, Gunpowder, Nonsuch, Rickmansworth, Roding Valley, South Oxhey) but outside of the Greater London boundary, that takes that total to 56 for 'London+'

There are then four more (Lullingstone, Brentwood, Black Park, Reigate Priory) which are just outside the M25 area which some people still consider as part of 'London+', then that brings the 'London' total to 60.

Click on the image below to see a full size map of parkruns in London with their location and gradient ratings.

Terrain

Along the way, I'm also in search of the flattest - and therefore most likely the fastest - parkrun courses. Parkruns rated '1' are the easiest, and the ones where you should be able to record your best times. There is also a list of other events where people have contributed their gradient ratings to other parkruns down below too - can we get all of the UK parkruns listed on here?

Others

There is also the great blogt7 list of London parkruns here, by Steven Stockwell where he has blogged and reviewed all the ones he has been too, along with photos - an invaluable guide if you're going to a new parkrun.

Terrain gradient ratings

1 - Completely flat, or so near to be flat that you don't notice a gradient at all!
2 - Looks flat, but when you run it you then realise there are some obvious gradients
3 - Noticeable gradients before you run it, that you can feel whilst running it too!
4 - A hilly course with several steep gradients
5 - Steep hill course! Lots of gradients!

I estimate that you can add on 20-30 seconds to your time for every increase in gradient over a '1' rated course.

There is also the impossible zero gradient course, but for that the course has to be as flat as a running track!

London Parkruns

This is my comprehensive list of all 47 London Parkruns with a review and terrain rating!

Ally Pally

Alexander Palace has a summer and a winter course - I went in the winter which is supposedly slightly faster, but still found it really tough going! Half on a gravel path, half on tarmac, it undulates a LOT with a tight bend, a narrow get that everyone has to funnel through and nasty slippy downhill part as well makes this an interesting course! Good views though as your high up.

There is a cafe and toilet but they're a walk away from the start. Best way to get there is to use Alexander Palace station, and not Wood Green on the Piccadilly Line. Gets around 150 people, good local friendly turnout with lots of regulars, and would come back in the summer to see what it's like!.

Toilets: Yes, but a walk a away Cafe:Yes, but not not near the start/finish

Barking

Two anti-clockwise laps of a the park, past a boating lake and it's all on tarmac, mostly gentle turns but one sharp bend where a post is almost in the way! I've seen people describe this being as 'As flat as they come', but there are flatter in London - and really this should be graded as a '1.5' terrain, but that might be picky as this is certainly a place to get a fast time and a potential PB, so it's a '1'.

Really nice size - averages around 80 people, super nice volunteers and there were cakes at the end too! The toilets were open but the cafe oddly was not on the day I was here. It's a ten minute walk from Barking station, or two stops on the bus from there, so easy to get to.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: No

Elevation Chart - Goes between 6 and 10 metres, an elevation of 4 metres in total

 

 

Beckenham Place

It's two clockwise laps of Beckenham Place park - mostly on grass, some on trail and a small part on tarmac. There's one narrow part of the course where depending on how slow/fast you are you might meet runners coming the other way!

The west side of the park is right by the railway line, so you can race yourself against a Thameslink train as they pass by.

London's newest parkrun (started 19th November 2016) as Bromley was getting too big, they aren't any facilities yet, but they hope to have some in future. Ravensbourne station is really close by, less than 5 minutes walk to get to the start/finish point. I got the results through by 11am too! Fast processing.

Toilets: No Cafe: No, but there is a coffee place at the station

Beckton

Two anti-clockwise laps of the park, including a straight 'out and back' bit, where you do a 180 degrees turn around a lamppost. The course is half on grass, half on tarmac and for the grass plus a couple of humps in places it gets a '2', but it's relatively fast course.

The start is over by the children's playground where there are toilets, and the finish is a small spur off - again on grass.

When I was there, the lovely volunteers had free teas and coffees and sweets and biscuits, and even book-swap going on! They took all day to process the results though, rather than doing them immediately after the race.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: No

Elevation Chart - Bromley's elevation is between 6 and 24 metres, a difference of 18 metres

 

Bedfont Lakes

Two clockwise laps of the park which is an old quarry meaning that there are several small dips and gradients. There is a car park, but no convenient nearby train station for public transport.

Toilets: Yes

 

Bexley

A surprisingly tougher course than you might first think! It's two anti-clockwise laps (with the halfway almost perfectly at the start/finish point after one lap) on a course that it mainly paths, but then goes to rough trail, and small amount of grass as well.

It is not flat though, and the winter it would get very wet. There is one strange right-hand turn in particular where you almost run into a gate, and you have to slow to turn to avoid it - and this comes immediately before a sharp uphill bit which is a slog, especially on the second time around.

The car-park is a short walk from the start/finish but there are facilities here, although I didn't use them on the time I came. A nice touch is the permanent parkrun markers on the tarmac paths which have been painted on here

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Elevation Chart - Bexley's elevation is between 31 and 54 metres, a difference of 23 metres

 

Brockwell Park

Easy to get to - the start is a five minute walk from Herne Hill station, it's two anti-clockwise laps around this park which all on tarmac except for the last 50 metres when you turn into the grass for the finish, but that hardly counts!

I had been told this this was hilly and was expecting it to be tougher than it was, there are two hill parts easily making it a '3' but it didn't real feel that difficult!

The start is right by the Lido where they grumpily don't let you use the toilet facilities, unless you are a member of pay a charge to get in. Same goes for the cafe too! Meanies.

Also, they don't set up the finish funnel until after the race had started. So people put coats and bags by a tree near to what becomes the finish area.

Toilets: No Cafe: No

Elevation Chart - My Garmin watch refused to get a GPS signal and I was unable to track my run!

 

Bromley

A flattish course that's half on grass, half on tarmac. I say 'flattish' because there is an almost unnoticeable slight incline just after the start, but its there. What really affects it is the grass, which makes it feel bumpy, and hence a '2' rating, although '1.5' might be fairer. It will get muddier and slower in the winter though.

They get lots of people - they average 500. but there is a nice big wide start, facilities, friendly people, place to lock bikes and they give you a free tea and coffee afterwards, which is great! On the day I went, the results came through before 10.30, which I think is the fastest I've ever got my time though, which is rather fantastic.

Toilets:Yes Cafe:No, but they offer tea, coffee and water!

Elevation Chart - Bromley's elevation is between 51 and 59 metres, a difference of 8 in metres

 

Burgess Park

It's the fastest course in London! (And where my PB is) If you want to get a PB - come to Burgess!

It's a long stretch out, two clockwise laps around a lake and then back again. It's almost totally flat, except for one small 'dip' that goes under a bridge - you do in once just after the start, and again just before the finish on the way back. This is a fast course!

There are two 'funnels' at the start but can be crowded, it you are fussy about your time you will want to be at the front, otherwise it will take you a small number of seconds to cross the start line.

Friendly, snacks and drinks were available afterwards - there are toilets and tea and the Tennis cafe as well. One thing to note is that people meet beforehand at the finish, then walk a small way to the start-line - you can leave your possessions at the finish line.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Elevation Chart - The elevation here is between just 3 and 8 metres, a difference of just 5, making it (along with Hackney) the flattest course in London

Bushy Park

The original parkrun! Attracts several hundred people, so the main issue is that you may not get across the starting line for several seconds.

There are multiple funnels and many bar code scanners at the end to cope with the large number of people. It also gets even busier on the date of its anniversary.

Toilets:Yes Cafe:Yes

 

Gradient 1Canons Park

This is a three lap course in an anti-clockwise direction, with half on tarmac, half on hard trail - oh and a small piece of grass too that doesn't get too muddy in the winter.

The start is right by some toilets and there is a serving hatch when you can get tea and cake and crisps - sometimes open before nine o'clock!

I think this is the only parkrun in London, where you can see and hear tube trains rattling along beside you at the Jubilee line up to Stanmore passes right alongside, this making it a doddle to get there on public transport.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Gradient 1Crane Park

One and a half laps of a lovely park on paths, with a small amount of on-street running on the pavement by the roads at each end. Almost completely flat the whole way round, there is a sudden sharp turn to finish at the end. The start and the finish are not at the same place, but the volunteers kindly move any coats/bags to the finish for you.

Getting there by public transport is tricky, better to drive with limited on street parking.

Usually gets under a 100 runners with a narrow start, and one short funnel with one bar code scanner.

Toilets: No Cafe: No


Gradient 1
Crystal Palace

This is a hilly one! It's two clockwise laps where the first half is on tarmac, a bit of gravel and then some steep gradients. Yes you can speed on the way back down, loops through some bollards which you need to avoid, and then go again. There's an extra leg to the finish after the second loop to complete the 5Km.

You get to see the TV transmitter at the top of the hill when you get there! Look out for the performance stage with a lake in front of it too ... oh, and the start is right by a brilliantly large cafe, and a separate toilet block. Great facilities.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Elevation goes between 61-103 metres, a difference of 42 in total, and you get to do it TWICE!

Dulwich Park

A three-lapper, going anti-clockwise around the lovely Dulwich Park. There is a slight incline immediately after the start (and every lap) which is why this is a '2' and not a '1' - maybe it should be a '1.5' ! As it's certainly mostly flat, all on tarmac and fast times are possible here. Friendly people and a cute cafe afterwards too to grab a cuppa.

Usually gets around two hundred people, two bar codes scanners at the end with a funnel.

Toilets:Yes Cafe:Yes

Finsbury Park

Three anti-clockwise laps of the park - it is all tarmac but has a few gradients along the way. No shade on a hot day along one long back straight - too warm to be in the open if you run it in the height of summer!

Toilets:Yes Cafe:Yes

 

Fulham Palace

Taking place in Bishop's Park between Fulham Palace and the football ground, it's three anti-clockwise laps of Bishop's Park. It is all on tarmac and flat and nice and fast, partly along the River Thames, although the path by the river is narrow, and has a few twists and turns.

There's a short walk to the start -which is also narrow - and that's the only negative thing about this parkrun. Leaving your bags in the finish area is safe to do, and the results are processed in the cafe afterwards. Get there by using the 220 bus.

Toilets:Yes Cafe:Yes

 

Gladstone Park

Two anti-clockwise laps in a hilly park - three points where there are loooong uphill gradients which take their toll! I did not enjoy this one at all ...

Dollis Hill on the Jubilee line is under a 10 minute walk away from the park/start point.

Toilets: No Cafe: No

 

Greenwich

Gradient 1Nowhere near Greenwich town centre or train station! it should really be called 'Avery Hill' parkrun. It's a three lap course, ran anti-clockwise, which starts and stays on grass around some football pitches, then onto a smooth flat path, and then onto grass again for the uphill section with undulation. Certainly a stunning park, with good facilities. Free parking on the weekend too if you drive there..

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Grovelands

Gradient 1A straightforward three anti-clockwise laps around the park with a lake in the middle. It undulates a fair bit with a steep hill at the beginning of each lap. All on tarmac, but I wouldn't say it's a PB course. Went to Southgate tube on the Piccadilly Line to get there, and although there is a cafe in the park, I was told that it doesn't open until 10.30! Couldn't see any toilets either.

On the week I went thought, there was frost and ice on the paths, so we ran on the grass alongside the tarmac! Would love to go back on a summers day when it won't be such a slog.

Toilets: No Cafe: Yes, but not open at 09.30!

 

Gradient 1

Gunnersbury

This is my spiritual parkrun home! The first parkrun I ever did was here, and is the course I've run most (Over 100 times).

A figure of eight (one lap) course that goes in a clockwise direction around the edge of the park. Slightly uphill between 1Km and 2Km with the last 500 metres also uphill.  Mostly on paved paths, but with some sections on grass that can get muddy in the winter, so an alternative winter course is run usually between November and February.

Averages between 300-400 runners, with a short funnel and three barcode scanners. There are Kilometer markers and a marshall giving you halfway times too!

There is a car park, but the E3 bus stops right outside, and Acton Town tube station a five minute walk away. There is a cafe in the park where the organisers go to process the results afterwards.   You can safely leave your bag/coats at the start as it is the same place as the finish.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes, where the organisers go to, to process the results right after the race

Elevation Chart - The elevation is between 14 and 35 metres, a difference of 21 metres in total

 

Gradient 1

Hackney Marshes

A simple 'there and back' course along a tarmac path, a small part of trail that takes you to more tarmac by the canal and back again - all in the shade of trees. It's super flat, and you could likely get a PB here ... as I did, when I came! Got my fastest time in over two and a half years when I came here, this is the second fastest course in London, and I loved it - everyone was very friendly.

There is toilets and a cafe nearby which does excellent bacon sandwiches! Oh, and it's by a canal - you can't beat running alongside a canal in London.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes, including excellent bacon sandwiches!

Elevation Chart - It goes between 7 and 12 - a difference of just 5 in total.

 

Hampstead Heath

An interesting one this, they have two courses shown on their page and I assumed that course 'B' was their winter course. From chatting to a regular, turns out they changed it when it became too popular as the old 'A' course had a smaller/narrower start, and they may never go back to the 'A' course, which apparently was easier and a little faster!

It starts on a downward muddy trail, then two clockwise lap - most of which is on tarmac which is nice - but then you have to run up the muddy slope again to the finish and that was hard!

Nearest station is Hampstead on the Northern Line, but everyone goes to a cafe down by Hampstead Heath on the Overground after - there are NO facilities on the heath itself.

A challenging course, you won't PB here but nice varied scenery made it enjoyable to run.

Toilets: No Cafe: No

 

Harrow

Three laps (anti-clockwise) of the park, including an additional smaller loop the first time round to make up the distance to 5Km. A lovely park - all on tarmac, but a couple of long gradients which you end up doing three times each - six in total.

Takes less than 10 minutes to walk from Harrow-on-the-Hill station, and starts and finishes by a pavilion where you can leave your coats and bags and has facilities, great little setup..

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Harrow Lodge

Not to be confused with 'Harrow' (above!) Harrow Lodge Park is out in East London - nearest tube is Elm Park, it's a 5-10 minute walk. The course is a beautiful one-lapper (which is rare in London), on mostly grass (which gets muddy when wet) but small parts of it also on tarmac. There's a lake in the middle with ducks and swans which you come round at the end as the finish is in sight which is lovely.

I was told that a white building in the middle of the park was a cafe with toilets, but we we checked it out after the run, it was all closed with no sign of life, so no facilities here as far as I could see! I ran this in the winter, and would definitely love to come back and do it in the summer again.

Not flat, lots of undulating parts, gets a '3' for its rating therefore.

Toilets: No Cafe: No

 

Highbury Fields

Five (yes, five!) anti-clockwise laps, where the first half is slightly uphill, and then the other half of the lap is all downhill. There's then a small 'leg' at the end to complete the 5Km. Can be dispiriting if you're not the fastest runner as it's quite likely that you will get lapped!

Really near the tube station - easy to get to - no facilities in the park, but loads of places nearby to get fed, watered, and use the loo. It's all on tarmac, and despite this being a '2' you can get a fast time here if you push it a little on the downhill stretch.

Toilets: No Cafe: No (But lots of local shops nearby)

 

Hilly Fields

"The clue is in the name!" joked the lively, and very fun run director as we lined up for the briefing here. I ran it on the hottest Saturday of the year, and I was feeling it by the end ...

It's three anti-clockwise laps around the delightful Hilly Fields, which is a mix of tarmac, trail and grass, it undulates throughout and at the each of each lap there's a nasty sharp uphill section which by the third time is so so draining and I almost walked it!

Superb cafe here as well with toilets, and some lovely friendly organisers here too. If you're OK with a non-flat course, I thoroughly recommend you visit here, it's great!

Kingston

It's a simple 'out and back' (with a loop when you turn) course which is run alongside the river Thames. You don't actually run along the towpath, but a path next to it slightly higher up. It's not totally flat, and it's all on a path/trail, and some bits that would get muddy in winter, so hence it's a 2 and not a 1.

It's right by a sports centre though with cafe and toilets and seating area, and on the day I went they were handing out free bananas to people at the end!

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Elevation Chart - It goes between 6 and 11 metres, a difference of 7 metres.

 

Lloyd Park

Two anti-clockwise laps of an extremely hilly and rugged landscape in a park that is also used for cross country running. Even more horrendous to do when muddy after it's been raining. You have to climb through a rise of 44 metres all on muddy grass ... ouch! Averages around 200 people.

Lloyd Park tramlink stop is literally 60 seconds walk from the park entrance and the start position, the trams pass by you to your right at the start of the run. The organisers are brilliant here setting up early with everything in order, and free drinks and sometimes cakes to snack on too, and if that isn't enough, there's a really good cafe immediately next to the start/finish.

Yes, it's London's toughest course - but a very rewarding one once you've done it.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Elevation Chart - Goes between 72-96 metres, a difference of 44 metres.


Mile End

As part of this parkrun in east London is by the canal you'd be forgiven for thinking that it would totally flat, but it's not. It's a two loop 'out and back' run which takes in two gradients, and then one small but steep hill (the green bridge) that goes over a road - and you run that four times in total! Only a short part of the course is flat, near to the canal, and because of that, Mile End get a '3' rating. It is all on tarmac though, no problems here in the winter.

The organisers were superb, and whilst there's no facilities (I couldn't find any toilets!) a Coffee Cart van comes along especially to cater for the runners and do good trade. Nearest station is Mile End, a couple of minutes walk to the top end of the park, then a couple more minutes to walk down to the start/finish area..

Toilets: Couldn't find any...
Cafe: No, but a Coffee Van Man comes along!

Elevation Chart - Goes between 10-16 metres, so it sounds flat, doesn't it with just a difference of 7 metres! But because of the bridge that you have to run over four times, that's what makes this a '3'.

 

Northala

Two laps of a nice flat park, with one odd part where you have to 'dodge round' a piece of mental fencing that is in the way on the footpath.

Northolt tube is about a ten minute walk away from the entrance to the park. There is a great little cafe to go to afterwards, and a couple of nearby 'mounds' to climb for a view and a good warm-down exercise afterwards.

Toilets:Yes
Cafe:Yes

Oak Hill Park

In north north London lies a parkrun with the world 'Hill' in its name that is not at all hilly! In fact, it's easier than Wanstead Flats, which has go the world 'flats' in its name. It's all on tarmac, it's three anti-clockwise loops, and there is a slight gradient up towards the end of each loop, but it's not a lot of effort.

I came by car, ample parking space and people gather at the end point, and at 9am prompt there is a 5-minute walk down to the start point. There is a building with toilets and cafe, and the usually get around 150 people. One tricky part of the course is where you 'S' bend across a narrow bridge, apart from that, it's all on tarmac and is a straightforward lovely run, and I definitely want to come back here and do it again.

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes

Elevation Chart - Goes between 42 and 50 metres, an elevation of 8 metres in total

 

Old Deer Park

Oh how I loved this one! It's a three-lap clockwise course around the grass of Old Deer Park in Richmond, with a tiny part of the course on tarmac path - mostly flat - and doesn't get too muddy in the winter either. It's on the flight path to Heathrow though so expect planes roar above you as you do your laps!

What's great about it is that it's one of the few London parkruns to still get less than 100 people, so it's still got that beautiful friendly small vibe about it, which other parkruns used to have but have lost as they've grown too large Many friendly people here, and they even have a 'Tea & Coffee Kitty' meaning that you might get a cup of tea free one week! Or you can contribute to that fund as well. One that I will definitely go back to in the summer once I've completed all the London parkruns.

Toilets: Yes, in the sports centre
Cafe: Yes, through a serving hatch outside

Orpington

Steeper than it looks! This is mostly on grass, clockwise around the park, and the first two laps you run around the rugby pitch, which you don't need to do on the third lap - you just head straight for the finish! In the winter, it gets muddy and would easily make it a '3' in terms of terrain.

The park is quite a way from Orpington station, you have to get an R9 bus if you're using public transport. Once there, the start finish is by the local football club building, and inside there are toilets and a cafe which sells snacks and drinks and is open before the run.

On the course, there are three odd moment where a small piece of tarmac has some concrete and wooden bollards are right in the middle of the path! They stick up huge bright yellow 'Mind the Bollard' signs though, so that you don't run into them!

Toilets:Yes
Cafe:Yes

Elevation Chart - Goes between 86-101 metres, a difference of 16 metres.


Osterley Park

Three anti-clockwise laps ran along woodland paths, with a few tree stumps to avoid in places which makes the course bumpy and tricky, and definitely not great in the winter when it's muddy.

There is parking and is easier to drive here, if you go to Osterely tube it is about a 10-15 minute walk away from the station. There is a great cafe area in the grounds to gather afterwards.

Toilets: Yes
Cafe: Yes


Peckham Rye

On the Parkrun website, the course description is '...entirely on tarmac is mainly flat and therefore a potential PB course' - which is not the case, as there's a significant slope at the end of each lap by which the third time, you feel it! It's a delightful park though, but the course is very twisty-and turny, which also makes it a non-PB course. Dulwich has less bends (as is nearby) and Burgess and Southwark are almost certainly faster, but a great park, friendly setup and one I'd go to again.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Elevation Chart - Goes between 23-35 metres, a difference of 10.

 

 

Pymmes

Three anti-clockwise laps in a small park, very flat and all run on tarmac. Usually gets only about 20 runners, a small but super-friendly parkrun!

I went here hoping for a low-numbered placing as they only average around 25 people per week, but the Saturday that I went a local school was doing a charity run and they had their most runners ever! I still managed to finish 21st though, on another week I might have been in the top 10! Definitely one I am coming back to once I have completed all of London.

There is on street parking, and the nearest public transport is Silver Street Overground station which has trains which aren't that frequent - check the timetable before you travel.

Toilets: No Cafe: No

 

Raphael

Pronounced 'Ray-Fell' this is an undulating course that is all on tarmac. It's two clockwise loops, then half a loop back to the start/finish. At one point the volunteers put out guiders to stop you running into people coming the other way! The friendly team meet you at the the parks bandstand, and there is a great atmosphere. Not as flat as I thought it was going to be! There are TWO cafe with toilets in the park, only the northern one was open before 9am. Parking is to the south, across the other side of the road, or the nearest station is Romford from where you can walk in under ten minutes. Definitely one for the summer.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Richmond

One of the earliest (fifth in the country?) parkruns to be established, set in stunning Richmond park too with the chance of seeing some deer as you run round. It's a one-lap anti-clockwise course that is all on trail, with some grassy bits, no tarmac at all - this is not a a fast/PB course. It undulates, although it mainly on a downward slope for the first half on the way out, and then it curves around and is then obviously on a mainly uphill slope towards the finish, with a small steep section just before the end!

The nearby toilets cost 20p to use, and they meet after in a cafe outside of the park. It was strange that almost no one was there at 08:45, but by 08:55 everyone had showed up. I heard one of the event organisers mention that they're not always the promptest of parkruns!

Toilets: Yes Cafe: No

Elevation Chart - Goes between XX metres and YY, a difference of ZZ.

 

Riddlesdown

'1.6 laps around the top of the hill!' it was described to me - and it is. Mostly on grass trail which can get muddy, and terribly muddy in a wet winter. There is no tarmac at all here, and some undulation making at least a '2', but the tough terrain take it to a '3'.

It's flattish - but to GET there you have to come up a steep hill, which is hard if you're on foot or bike! If you drive, park in the school opposite.

There is a 'registration' desk right by the entrance to the park, but the start is a good 10 minute walk away, The finish is also a 5 minute walk back to the 'registration' desk area.

Small though, and VERY FRIENDLY on the day I went, the numerous volunteers were all great to chat to. Liked that.

Toilets: No Cafe: Not in the park, but just down the road there are various shops and cafes to meet afterwards..

Elevation Chart - Goes between 150 - 164 metres, a difference of 14 metres

 

Roundshaw Downs

Two anti-clockwise laps around grassy trails and some woods - none of this is on tarmac, and there are some definite gradients here! I wouldn't like to do it after it's been raining either, thankfully it was mostly dry on the day that I went.

It's a small setup, but I liked how low-key it was, not over-organised like others I've been too, really liked it. And as the 19th Parkrun to be setup in the country, it still has one of the original timers - a box that's the size of your hand!

Toilets: No Cafe:No, Instead the lovely and friendly organisers go to the nearby LA Fitness, or McDonalds to get a coffee and process the results.

Elevation Chart - Goes between 73-93 metres, a difference of 20 metres

 

Southwark

Three anti-clockwise loops around the edge of the park. Almost totally flat with several bends - one hairpin. Completely on paved fasts, a nice fast circuit, one of London's fastest and a favourite of mine.

Averages around 200 runners each week, with a short funnel and two barcode scanners. There nearest station to the entrance is Surrey Quays on the Overground, it's less than a 5 minute walk from the station to the start point.

Toilets: No Cafe: No, but it's a really short walk (back by the station) to The Surrey Docks Wetherspoons pub who serve breakfast and where everyone gathers afterwards to process the results.

Elevation Chart - The elevation is between 1 and 8 metres, a difference of 7 metres in total

 

Tooting Common

The only parkrun in the London Borough of Wandsworth! Let's hope it leads to a couple of others. It's a simple three anti-clockwise loops in a triangle shape with a small 'leg' which you do at the start and finish. It's almost all on tarmac apart from a short section on hard trail, and one odd part where you have to jump over a kerb and avoid a bollard. The paths though ARE narrow, meaning a very squashed start, and if you're trying for a PB here you'll have to fight your way to be at the front. There is an excellent cafe though and toilets too, good facilities.

Toilets: Yes Cafe:Yes

Elevation Chart - Goes between 31-36 metres, a difference of 5 metres.

 

Valentines Park

Jump on the tube to Mile end, or the train to Ilford and Valentines Park is in-between. It's two anti-clockwise laps pf the park with a spur at the start and the end to take you from/to the start finish in the middle of the park.

There's one part across a tiny wooden bridge which gets icy in the winter, and one part which reminded me of Northala - where you have to run around a gate the blocks the path. But it's all on tarmac, and hardly undulates - in other words, it's a fast flat course - which may just be the only place though where I've to avoid Geese waddling about from the nearby pond!

There's an excellent cafe at the end, and a proper toilet block too - so good facilities.

Elevation Chart - Goes between 13-22 metres, a difference of 10 metres.

 

Walthamstow

Good things: The people here are warm, welcoming, lovely, community driven and has an excellent atmosphere

Bad things: The course isn't in a park, it's three dull anti-clockwise laps of a football playing field (parts of a sports centre) all on muddy grass, with no interesting views. Very uninspiring - sorry Walthamstow! I came in the winter, maybe I should be fair and come back here in the summer ...

It's rugged and slopey, and has one 'mound' which is difficult to negotiate up and be careful not to slide back down it!

There are toilets (and even changing rooms!) that you can use in the adjacent sports centre though, but no cafe .. instead there are vending machines which you can use which is better than nothing.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Vending machines

 

Wanstead Flats

Wanstead Flats is two laps of the flats, half on playing fields and half in woods. Although it's flat it's not a tarmac course meaning it will slow you a little.

Also it is terrible in the winter when it's been raining and it is horrendously muddy. The best time is in the spring and autumn, at the height of summer it is too overgrown. Friendly though, with home made cakes for free when we visited!

Toilets: Yes Cafe: No

 

Wimbledon Common

Two anti-clockwise laps ran along woodland paths, with a few tree stumps to avoid in places! Not the fastest of courses, and the '2' becomes a '3' in the winter when it's been raining, as it gets muddy - none of it is on tarmac.

There's a short walk from the meeting point to the start, the finish is back near where people congregate for the briefing.

Toilets/Cafe: I forgot to look!

 

Wormwood Scrubs

Two laps of grassy paths that gets very muddy and cross-country like in the winter - so probably easier in the summer. Usually gets less than 50 people, a small but friendly event. The course is rugged though, and I would say a little uninspiring - I've run here twice though, and have run it in reverse as well which they did on their first anniversary.

Toilets: Yes Cafe:Yes

 

How to get there

Also, just for fun I created a parkrun tube map, that show you also the nearest tube stations to the London parkrun venues.

[Click on image here for a much larger version!]

 

London 'Plus' Parkruns

These are the parkruns that are outside the Greater London boundary, but inside the M25 ... some people see that as still being 'London' !!

Black Park

A long course ran along a woodland path surrounded by tall trees. There is no convenient public transport though, but there is a car park which you have to pay for!

There is a seating area/cafe at the end, but there is no good place to put your bags/coats unless you leave them in your car, as the start and finish points are at different places.

Toilets:Yes Cafe:Yes

Dartford

Two anti-clockwise laps of the delightful Central Park, a less than 10 minute walk from the railway stations.

It is on tarmac, and then with some section on grass/trail which I imagine would be sticky in the winter on a wet day. On the second lap, you do an extra 'leg' down to the Marshal known as Mick Jagger - you'll have to go here to see why! Am giving it a gradient rating of '2' but on a bad weather day this might be a '3'.

The start/finish is next to the Dartford Harriers running track and building where there are toilets and a cafe which is open before the run! Get a cup of tea beforehand if you like.

On the day I went, I got my results email by 10:07, and results text through by 10:12, which is the absolute fastest that I have ever have it come through! Great stuff.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Elevation Chart - Goes between 6-22 metres, 16 meters in total but never feels that tough..

 

Nonsuch

Two laps of a nonsuch park, a rugged course mostly on a dirt trail - some section of which obviously get really muddy and slow you down after it's been raining, and then several section on grass too. This is not a fast course!

A large friendly turnout of people though, often attracts several hundred and gets very busy. There is a great cafe though, toilets and facilities..

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes

Elevation Chart - Goes between 42 and 52 metres, an elevation of 10 metres in total

 

Preston Park (Brighton)

There are four parkruns in Brighton and this is one of the easiest ones with it all being on tarmac, and only one short (100m) section that goes uphill slightly.

You run anti-clockwise to begin with, do a U-turn, and then two clockwise-laps back past the start and do the U-turn again two more times before finishing hear the start. Gets about 400 people, and there is a cafe and toilet immediately next to where everyone meets to start and finish. Nicely organised too with a good vibe.

Toilets : Yes
Cafe : Yes

Reigate Priory

It's a tough one, and I went in the winter when it's even tougher! At one point I slipped, tripped and fell and cut my leg open. It starts flat, but soon goes up a hill into the woods, through a rugged landscape that underlates and gets muddy and then down an awkward sloping hill the other side... oh, and you do it twice, anti-clockwise.

There is a paid-for car park in the nearby Morrisons, but a brilliant cafe and toilet in the park itself..

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Other UK Parkruns

Other parkruns I've ran at around the UK ...

Edinburgh

A 'run out, turn around and run back' course all along the stunning coastline - almost totally flat on tarmac, but it's cold in the winter when the wind whips in! Note that as a Scottish parkrun it also starts at 09.30, and not at 09.00. Don't do what I did and turn up at 08.30, and be an hour early ...

It's a little over-organised, with music, tents, and hundreds of people and signs telling you what to do. Completely lacks the charm of a 'local park' parkrun.

There is parking and a cafe nearby. Volunteers often bring cake and drinks for sale before and after.

Hove Promenade

One of three parkruns in Brighton & Hove, this one is right on the seafront and probably as flat as they come! Flatter than Southsea? Maybe the magical '0' terrain? Well, no - but it's clearly a '1'. Two laps where you head west first, do a U-turn, run back past the start and for a bit, and then another U-turn back to the start again, and that's half way - do it again for the whole 5Km.

I went on a nice day in September with little wind. I bet come winter this is going to be cold with the wind coming in off of the sea! But a great course for fast times if that's what you're after.

There's a brilliant cafe here too, and the registration area uses one of the beach huts which is brilliant!

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Elevation Chart - It goes between 4 and 11 meter, a difference of 7 in total

Kings Lynn

Three anti-clockwise laps of The Walks in King's Lynn, couple of tight turns and momentary gradients but mostly flat. Averages around 100 runners a week, with a cafe afterwards. Lots of local streets for on-street parking.

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Portobello

Three laps of a a lovely cut path, with a a river run it through it which you cross a few times. The start is on an immediate downward slope, but you have to run up it later! Gets a bit narrow under a bridge by the river, and an uphill slope to the finish! This might arguably be a '2.5' on the terrain rating.

There are no facilities though which is a bit of a pain, but a great park. Come here instead to avoid the crush of 500+ people at the main Edinburgh parkrun, which has now grown too large.

Toilets: No Cafe:No

Elevation Chart - Goes between 14-24 metres, a difference of 10.

 

Milton Keynes

This parkrun is now on its third course iteration. It's a one-clockwise lap which undulates a little, takes you over a footbridge over a road, past some lakes, and would be a '2' were it not for a 'ZigZag' section that is quite steep, and thus it becomes a '3'.

It gets very busy with around 500 people, and it quite a distance from the train station if you come by public transport.

Toilets: Were closed when we tried to use them!

Elevation Chart - Goes between 65and 75, an elevation of 11 metres in total

 

 

Sheffield Castle

Three anti-clockwise laps with a long slog uphill on the last lap which is very hard to finish on! All on path/tarmac it undulates a fair amount, making this a reasonably challenging course.

It's a lovely cute little park (with no actual castle!) and afterwards there is a kitchen/lodge area which serves up tea and biscuits and a nice garden with benches to sit on and chat to people and recover!

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

 

Southsea

A 'run out, turn around and run back' course all along the seafront - almost totally flat on tarmac, but in the winter it is cold when the wind blows in off of the sea. Might this also be the closest parkrun to a possible '0' in terms of gradient, because it is extremely flat! If you can't get a fast time here, then you can't get a fast time anywhere...

Toilets: Yes Cafe: Yes

Tonbridge

A lovely beautiful, scenic, flat course around a park and a lake. There are a couple of narrow bridges and one slight hump bridge that you run over near 1Km going out, and 4Km coming back. Had an odd 'spur' with a sharp 180 turn, but it nicely marshalled, well organised (in danger of perhaps being too organised?) although the start is on a narrow path, and a lot of people have to run on the grass until it spreads out, and then it's mostly on tarmac, some rough terrain paths which might get muddy in the winter.

The week I went they were selling cakes, and there was a mobile coffee cart too! Very friendly atmosphere, and a short walk from the station if you're going by train to get there.

Elevation Chart - Goes between 20-28 metres, a difference of 8

York

A very fast and very fast course! It's based around the inside path of York racecourse, and it's one and a bit clockwise loops around the inside of the track. It can get quite busy with 500-600 people as it's the only parkrun in the whole of York - a lovely city - people told me that they were looking to add another. There are however no facilities - people (men and women!) were taking a pee in the trees & bushes nearby before the run. A coffee cart/van does turn up though to serve drinks at the end.

Unfortunately, on the week I went (April 1st) the organisers decided at the last minute to run the face in reverse. There was no mention of this on any of their social media, and just when everyone was geared up and warmed up at the start (marked with a permanent line) at 9am, we were then moved 500m down the course - but not told why - and then told to turn around, as we were running it in reverse.

This cause much confusion, people were out of place, and got cold in this time, and lost my concentration for having a good run. At the end, the barcode scanners were then immediately after the finish funnel, and asked you to be scanned the moment you've collected your finish token. This is ridiculous - most people i know don't run with their codes - I don't and went to go and get it so that it could be scanned. The queues for the scanners were then getting in the way of people finishing.

Overall, my experience was that this one of the most poorly organised parkruns I've been to.

Toilets: No Cafe: Coffee van

 

International Parkruns

Parkruns that I have done outside of the UK, when I've been on international travel!

Bois de Boulogne (Paris)

Started in 2016, this had only been running a few weeks when I made a trip over specifically so that I can here here.

It's a 'heart shape' run where you run a clockwise loop 'outside' first, and then two small 'inside' anti-clockwise loops. It's in park with trees and is part on path, then trail, then a wide road-like stretch. Small but friendly, and there are usually more English people there than French!

Couldn't see any facilities nearby. The start is also a 10-15 minute walk from the Metro Station Porte d'Auteuil (on Line 10).

Crissy Fields (San Francisco)

The world's most western-timezone parkun! If you are the person to finish last here, you have the dubious honour of knowing you are the last parkrunner in the whole of the world that weekend.

So this is down by the water, right by the Golden Gate bridge and attracts a small number of runners. The course is a simple out and back with a loop at the end and on a stoney trail a little bumpy in places, but is extremely flat! The day I went it was hot already which slowed me down otherwise you can easily get a very fast time here.

Afterwards there is a coffee/donut kiosk where everyone congregates afterwards.

Elevation Chart - Goes between 1-7 metres, possibly the flattest parkrun I have ever run

 

Additional parkrun Reviews by Andrew Chilcraft and Matt Scrivins

Aberdeen is a 2, you run along the bleak, exposed shoreline. Upward slope to start, then flat along the top prom, down to the lower prom with a few ramps to negotiate. Also- lower prom is covered in sand which can get thick & tough to run on

Aldenham is a 1. Two loops of a reservoir, taking a shortcut on the second lap. short section on grass (where the run starts). very shaded course with some nice views over the lake. very small & friendly, but beware the unfortunate £4.50 parking charge. 

Aylesbury is a 2. No proper hills in sight but somehow you finish 20ft higher than you start. just one rise to go over a wooden bridge, which you do twice, as it's on the loop. The course is out, 2 laps and back all on hard paths, the course has permanent parkrun km markers!

Banstead Woods is a 3. Only one serious hill that lies between lap 1 and 2 so is only done once. Really satisfying long downhill drag to finish!

Barnsley is a 4. Two significant climbs per lap on a three lap course. All hard surface.

Bognor Regis is a 1. The course is set in a very nice little park - it's a 3-and-a-half lapper, is flat and on tarmac or good paths, but is quite twisty, and narrow in some places. Friendly people and well organised.

Birkenhead is a 2. Three laps - mostly flat and thus fast. It has the gentlest of slopes which is why it's not a '1', and there's one right turn per lap.

Buckingham is a 2. Starts high, the out is downhill, 2 laps, then the back is uphill to finish, entirely on tarmac.

Cassiobury is a 2. Most of 3 laps on hard paths. really simple route in a nice park, and with a nice cafe. the park is on a slight slope, so you run gently down before gently back up again.

Colby is a 4. A hilly, three-lapper, but in a beautiful and atmospheric woodland garden. also has a hairpin turn on each lap, it's a challenging course that is all on gravel paths and the cafe is great- right by the finish and to National Trust standards.

Coventry is a 2 Only grass was the start/finish, with gentle slopes.

Cheltenham is a 2. A small but pretty park- meaning laps. 4 laps in winter all on hard paths- though the summer (normal) route is 3 laps including a grass section. pretty flat, but not quite pancake flat.

Conwy is a 2. Out & back course beside the estuary, all on hard paths. The only climb is over a  bridge over the railway line, done on both out & back. The setting is stunning, but can be cold & windy due to the exposed nature.

Daventry is a 2. The single lap is pretty much flat, but both the start & finish are a bit uphill, though nothing too taxing. pretty, mostly on trail paths- could get muddy in winter.

Delamere is a 4. Undulating but gets a 4 due to one particularly steep hill. Very scenic, a wonderful course. Trail paths, out, one long lap round a lake, then back. Very sheltered, in woodland. For a very rural area, Delamere railway station is remarkably close.

Ellon is would be a 2. Pretty fast all tarmac route until you get to the uphill finish. Beautiful riverside location, you run over a great bridge, and on narrow winding paths by the river, plus an 800m loop round the town's small grassy park. Prone to cancellation due to both floods & ice, being so far north.

Gadebridge is a 4 - A very tough run, 80% grass, and a hilly course which features a narrow underpass under a road, which is marshalled with running lanes either side with a small space for pedestrians in the middle. It's two laps long. A small river runs between both sections of the lap. The cafe overlooks a grand 12th century church.

Hatfield Forest is a 4. There's no huge mountain to climb, but the whole thing is VERY cross country, and is never flat! you are running and no two feet land at exactly the same elevation, it seems, as the ground is so bumpy and undulating. 95% grass, with the option at one point to run on a wooden boardwalk (and the leap off!).  There is an energy sapping slope right near the end, too. Just the one lap though. Oh, and mind the ditch!

Hazlehead is a 3. Generally upwards on the way out & down on the way back. compacted gravel paths round the edge of a golf course, through truly beautiful woodland

Long Eaton is a 1. Two laps - very flat, and on hard surfaces. Mostly tarmac, with a short (and unexpected) trail section! The hills consist of a bump not dissimilar in size to a speedbump. great course, and fairly close to the station.

Luton Wardown is a 3. It's a three and a half lapper, that's all on tarmac except for the hill- which you do four times! The lap encircles a lake, and the Wardown Museum, which you could visit afterwards. The cafe is at the cricket club. Oddly the meet is the other end of the park to the start - partly due to the noise from the road adjacent to the start. 

Ormskirk is a 3. Two laps of two sections on various hard surfaces (trail, brick and some weird rubbery stuff), including a short switchback climb. Noticeable slopes but nothing that'll make your legs fall off.

Panshanger is a 3. Has a very nasty finishing hill but is actually mean-downhill. One lap round an expansive park- on trail paths and grass. Another great venue.

Penrose is a 5. Totally scenic, but very tough! The first 400m are up hill then it undulates but gradually climbs around onto the coast path then from just after half way you start the climb with the worst of the climb just after you turn off the coast path. You climb from 75ft to 215 ft in half a mile with the steepest grade at 15%. Once you reach the highest point it undulates down to the finish with the finish line 200ft above sea level.

Perhyn is a 3. Two big laps and two small laps, with the top section shared by both. Has an awesome start and finish utilising the castle gates, with magnificent views. All hard surfaces, gravel and tarmac. steep-ish slope down on the shorter lap, the rest is more gentle but definitely not flat!

Princes is a 2. Most of three laps, a little bumpy. Bizarrely seemed to be more downhill than up, but it couldn't have been as they were laps! Completely paved and in a nice park.

Preston is a 3. A fairly nasty hill near the start of the lap (3 lap paved/gravelly course) but it's all down and flat thereafter. Really friendly bunch, recommended if you're in the area!

Skipton is a 3. Thankfully now all-tarmac, it's a four-lap course that climbs for the the first part of the lap, drops down and then climbs again before the end of the lap.

Tring is a 5. Oh yes it's a '5' ! But an absolutely stunning parkrun & a must visit. There's a stunning view to have but you have to climb for it. The first Km contains a massive hill, and once you have done the massive downhill to compensate the rest is undulating. Permanent Km markers here too, and a very swish cafe to visit afterwards. Mostly on grass one lap, and did I say the park is stunning?

Whitley Bay is a 3. You'd think a seaside parkrun would be flat! really nice route mainly on hard paths, but also some gravelly paths at the far end of the course. sort of 2 laps, but the end is slightly different meaning you only run over (yes, literally over!) the cafe once (although the meet is at a different cafe after the event). The steepest climb is to rise above the cafe, but there are more gentle slopes elsewhere too.

Worcester is a 2. Two laps of the woodland country park with shaded trail paths except for the start which is in a field! Gets quite busy and is congested at one part over a narrow bridge.

 

parkrun

 

parkrun is a free 5Km that takes place every Saturday morning in local parks all around the UK (and in fact now, all over the world)

It started out as the Bushy Park Time Trail in 2004, and has since grown from there, completely run by volunteers, and gives everyone an opportunity for everyone - no matter what your running pace is - to get out, be active, social, and best of all be healthy every weekend morning!

Many people just run at their local parkrun, but others (like myself) have become a little more obsessive about it, and are being parkrun 'tourists' and running at as many different venues as possible.

At the moment, I'm just trying to get round all the London ones, and list/map them all here...