Despite living in London for many, many years there are huge areas that I have never visited. Harringay is one such area and I will admit that, prior to today, if someone said "Finsbury Park" all that came to mind was yet another Madness farewell or comeback gig! A little research reveals that lots of people have 'played' Finsbury Park - from Hendrix to Queens of the Stone Age via the Sex Pistols, Oasis and The Stone Roses (amongst many others). The park itself has an interesting history - it was opened in 1869, during WW1 it was the site of pacifist meetings, during WW2 it was military training ground and housed anti-aircraft guns. It fell into disrepair through the latter half of the 20th century, but a lottery grant in 2003 was used to fund cleaning of the lake, building a cafe and children's pay area and repairing the tennis courts.
We were up in London for the very excellent Nine Lessons & Carols for Curious People on Friday, coupled with a book fair for Husbando on Sunday, so we thought we'd make a weekend of it and throw in a parkrun too. The idea was that we would get public transport to the start, run parkrun then run back to the hotel for breakfast.
Finsbury Park station is a third of a mile from the start. We spotted the high viz jacketed volunteers by the cafe and made our way up there. There are loos right by the cafe - which is good to know. They were fairly clean and the ladies loos were very pink - pink tiles, pink paint!
After the first timers' briefing we made our way to the start. It was bitterly cold, I was very glad to have my gloves with me. So long as we kept out of the wind it was ok, but that wind was evil! The start is down hill, on a nice wide road through the park. This is followed by a long, but gentle, uphill then a fairly flat section followed by a short, steepish uphill and then back round to the start. Two laps mean you get to look forward to the hill a second time, but the reward is a gentle downhill to the finish funnel!
We were so lucky with the weather. Rain was forecast - but held off until later in the day. Running warmed us up. It was refreshing to run on an entirely tarmac course for what feels like the first time in about a million years. It was hillier than I'd anticipated, but I was fairly happy with my time. Thrilled to be first in my age category! One thing we have noticed is that the demographic at the London parkruns we have done appears to be much younger than they are out in the sticks.
After we had finished we went to grab a drink in the cafe while we worked out our route back to the hotel. As we sat down at one of the tables two regular Finsbury parkrunners (I want to say Paul and Anna - but I may have misremembered) asked if they could join us and soon tables were being pulled together and we were chatting about all things parkrun! This is the 70th different parkrun I have done, and the first time locals have made us feel so welcome. Thank you!
Thank you to all the volunteers who supported and encouraged us today - a lovely parkrun community with a deceptively challenging route in a great park. Super speedy results processing - our texts arrived during our 3.5 mile run back to the hotel! If there weren't so many other parkruns nearby I'd be back like a shot next time we are in London on parkrun day.