So following the successful Tri on Sunday I planned to visit the Thames Ditton Stragglers group on Tuesday night. The TD group is a very successful offshoot from the main club, usually attracting about 30 runners for a mixed programme. One week is hills, the next a timed mile, then interval training, and once a month a shorter social run followed by dinner and pints in the Angel. But as it turned out a big storm hit the area on Tuesday and for the first time I can remember Merran Sell who organises the group cancelled the evening session. I was pretty keen to get out so decided to go for a run locally and set out to do a lap of Richmond Park.
If you are local in the Richmond Kingston area you will almost certainly have done this lap, but if not and you are visiting its recommended. A very clear path follows the perimeter of the park, mainly following the walls dating back to its enclosure in King Charles II time. Follow it round and you have covered around 7.25 miles and will be back where you started. From my house I normally run half a mile to the Ladderstyle gate which is a pedestrian only entrance, then turn right to follow the path anti clockwise in the direction of Roehampton. The evening was overcast but not cold and it wasn’t raining, but nevertheless there were few people about. I went very steady and just enjoyed the evening, reaching the top of the steep descent down towards Robin Hoof gate at 1 mile, crossing the bridge at Beverly brook at approx 2.5 and then past Roehampton gate for the start of the uphill sections at 3 miles. Whichever way you run in the park you are always sure of a good hill session. The next one and a half miles are not a relentless climb but there are two good hill and some undulations before you reach the top of Richmond Hill by the Gate. Then a swoop down through the woods and on to the Ham gate, and a last mile in the park slightly uphill to Kingston Gate, which then leaves me a steep road section up Liverpool Road and Crescent Road to rejoin Kingston Hill close to my house. In total about 7.75 miles at an average 10 minute pace.
Felt pretty smug as I had done the whole thing without getting wet other than my feet in a couple of puddles. Huh, why cancel the Tuesday session? Funny thing was I met up with some of the Tuesday group at the main club night a few days later. About 5 of them had missed the cancellation email and turned up anyway. They set off on a run and the heavens opened in biblical fashion and within a minute they were soaked to the skin. But they carried on regardless and said it was pretty much fun once you got over the shock of being that wet.