One of the things that surprises me most about touring is the number of times I run into people I know. This weekend’s trip to Victoria Dock parkrun was no exception. In addition to the tourists from Ashton Court, Banstead Woods and Malden Prom parkruns, recognisable by their cow cowls, there were Kirsty, Dan and Liz from Bushy, Steven from Dartford, Simon and Lipeng from Woodbank and Scott from Falkirk, all in addition to Vanessa, my old touring buddy, who I had gone to Victoria Dock to meet.
The course is two out and back legs forming a horseshoe – so instead of only seeing those familiar faces at the start, I also saw each of them twice during the run. It’s been a very long time since I spent so much of a parkrun saying “hi” to people – a perfect distraction from the hard effort my training plan called for.
There are also, so I’m told, a lot of sights to see on the way round: the ExCel centre, the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel, the beach*… the list goes on and on, but of course, I missed the lot. Actually, that’s not strictly speaking true. I did notice the imposing dockyard cranes which line the course, though probably only because the route took you right underneath them.
This is a parkrun with an unusual feel. Rather than a run in a park, it is a run through space which is unapologetically urban. With good public transport links, the flat and sociable horseshoe-shaped course, and free tea and coffee at the end (courtesy of I Love BV), I suspect this parkrun will go from strength to strength and develop a really strong community atmosphere.
Thank you, as ever, to the volunteers and core team who made the event possible. I had one of the most enjoyable parkrundays since… actually, since last week when I was paced by a complete stranger, the week before that when I ran into yet more touring acquaintances, and the week before that when I stayed close to home and ran parkrun with a speed-walking friend.
* the beach. They add sand in summer, though my niece, viewing it from above a couple of years ago, may or may not have described it as “pathetic”.