Sunday, 23 February 2014

Running London (7): Burgess Park

I ran for my second time in Burgess Park parkrun yesterday, joining 128 runners on a 5k around the London Borough of Southwark park. The park, which is bordered by Camberwell, Walworth, north Peckham and the Old Kent Road, is one of the largest in inner London.

The course is flat and fast (I got a PB), on tarmac throughout, starting off with a long stretch that follows the line of the now vanished Grand Surrey Canal under the 'bridge to nowhere' (a relic of the canal period, it looks good but you can't actually get on it as the stairways are blocked).

The parkrun route then features two circuits of the picturesque lake, with its swans, geese and ducks. before heading back to the finish.

Unlike many London parks, Burgess Park is not a surviving patch of former country-side but a post-World War Two creation on land that was previously covered in dense housing and industrial sites - some of the rubble remains on site under the park's landscaped features. Laid out incrementally between the 1950s and 1980s, in the past few years it has undergone major renovation, with features including an expanded lake, a new children's play area and a BMX track. 

I worked on a project on the neighbouring Aylesbury Estate in the early noughties and at the time a major concern was that the park was under-used by local people. There was even a proposal to drain the lake and build a secondary school there. Today the park is very busy, especially in the summer, with big groups of friends and families having barbeques and lots of informal football games. Oh and a 100+ people running round it every Saturday morning. As well as parkrun, Burgess Park sometimes hosts other running events - earlier this month for instance Southwark Schools Team Road Running Championships took place there. 

Burgess parkrun starts at 9 am every Saturday morning at the Camberwell Road end of the park, not far from the tennis centre. Lots of buses stop next to the park on Camberwell Road or Albany Road, including the 12, 35, 40, 42, 45, 68, 148, 171, 176 & 468.  

(photos of finish at Burgess parkrun taken February 22 2014, other photos of park taken in November 2013)

View Burgess parkrun in a larger map

Previously in the Running London series:

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Songs about running (2): Running Up That Hill

So it was a muddy Saturday morning yesterday and I went for my usual 5k parkrun in Hilly Fields. Due to flooding part of the course is closed which means a diversion and an even longer run up that hill than usual. Not only that but the lower reaches of the hill are getting like a bog so that the foot has to be lifted from the mud. 

There's only one song that will do and that's.... 'Running Up that Hill' by Kate Bush

And if I only could, 
I'd make a deal with God, 
And I'd get him to swap our places, 
Be running up that road, 
Be running up that hill, 
With no problems.

Kate Bush actually lived very near to Hilly Fields in Wickham Road at the start of her career, so no doubt visited the park. No evidence that she ran there though! In fact while I think that running is the height of cool, some people are too cool to run and I imagine Kate Bush is one of them. But the song did feature in the closing ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics, a new version of it being played while the dancers/performers built an actual hill (well it was more of a pyramid really).