Alison and Matthew do Parkrun
27 May 2017

Highbury Fields is an open space about a minute's walk from Highbury & Islington station. This Parkrun involves running five laps around the outside of the park. 252 runners took part this week.

This was my second time running this course and my first time running a course twice (I hope that makes sense) so I was hopeful that I would be able to actually run a PB this time. And I did!

It was pretty hot and humid so it was a tougher run than last time. Matthew lapped me sooner (at the beginning of the fourth lap rather than at the beginning of the last one) so I thought I was doing pretty badly. Even Runkeeper was squawking in my ear about my pace being 12 min/mile or something. So I was really pleased to shave 39 seconds off my PB.

It was very humid, but not a bad run.

Tags: London, UK
20 May 2017

Finsbury Park is a park that is (unsurprisingly) right next to Finsbury Park station. This Parkrun is two laps around the park, including one quite steep hill. 376 runners took part this week.

Just like last week at Hampstead Heath, I set out this morning aiming to set a new PB. For most of the first lap, I was on track. Even though a large part of the lap was on a gentle incline, I completed the first mile in under 8 minutes. But then I hit the hill.

Struggling to recover from the hill, my pace dropped on the second lap, and hitting the hill a second time didn't help me pick it up. I'm going to need a flatter course than this to break my Highbury Fields PB.

After my disappointing experience at Hampstead Heath, I was a bit apprehensive for this new course. I hadn't done any running in the week before and I didn't think I'd beat my first time.

As it turned out, I didn't but I still had fun! Finsbury Park has a lovely Parkrun course with ponds and ducks and only one hill towards the end—which I still walked up. I might have to change my goal from "run a PR" to "run up a hill without walking".

Tags: London, UK
13 May 2017

Hampstead Heath is a very large park to the North of central London. This Parkrun involves running two laps over hilly terrain. 319 runners took part this week.

After the Highbury Fields Parkrun, I couldn't wait to do Parkrun again. I'm a runner now! I'm going to get a new personal best every time! Watch out Matthew, I'm going to start lapping you!


Hampstead Heath has two routes through it, A and B. Because the Affordable Art Fair was happening in the park, we were doing route B.

The route is gorgeous. It's only two laps so it feels less repetitive than Highbury Fields. It begins in a shady path, trees on either side, beautiful and quiet. We ran past ponds with ducks in them and... up hills.

I was walking on the first lap. There is a hill towards the end that just kept going and going up and up. I tried to make up for it on the downhill and flat sections but that just tired me out more. The last 400m is uphill and I spent it walking, despite Matthew waving towards me to run.

I finished with a pace at 12:39min/mile and way over my last Parkrun time, even if it was at a different location. I was disappointed.

I definitely want to run this location again. I'm curious as to how route A differs from route B. Plus there is apparently swimming in the pond after!

Way back in August 2016, I ran my first Parkrun at Hampstead Heath. I distinctly remember the painful uphill just before the finish line, but I'd somehow forgotten how hilly the rest of the course is! I set out aiming to beat my Highbury Fields PB, but quickly realised that there was too much climbing to keep the pace up. Still, I managed to beat my previous Hampstead Heath time. Not bad, plus Hampstead Heath really is a lovely place to run. I'll be back!

Tags: London, UK
29 April 2017

Highbury Fields is an open space about a minute's walk from Highbury & Islington station. This Parkrun involves running five laps around the outside of the park. 235 runners took part this week.

This was my first Parkrun! Between you and me, I actually hate running. In fact, I hate most forms of physical activity and all sports (except chess). However, Matthew can be very persuasive and that is how I found myself at Highbury Fields before 9am on a Saturday.

I would normally be in bed at this time.

The very, very few runs I have done by myself lasted for no longer than a mile and took at least 13 minutes each. I thought, since this was the closest thing to a proper run I had ever done, I would aim for 12 minutes-a-mile and an overall time of 36 and a bit.

Lining up with lots of other people was very exciting. Some were wearing exciting looking T-shirts that said "London Marathon Finisher" and "IronMan Top 3". I stayed towards the back of the group and loaded a Taylor Swift album on my phone (Speak Now for those of you interested).

You have to run 5 laps around the park and then into the park to finish. I forgot to count for at least the first 3 laps, until some super fast people who had lapped me finished. Fortunately, Matthew caught up to me and told me I only had one lap to go!

Finishing was the best feeling ever. I had never got a runner's high before but I did today. I don't know if it was the buzz of half of Islington running together or if I just really like running laps, but I had a massive smile on face. I am still not the fastest runner but I was really pleased with my time. I had run a lot faster than I had planned, managing an average pace of 11:26min/mile.

Thank you for dragging me out with you, Matthew!

This was my third Parkrun, but my first with Alison, so the blog starts here. I've been running for a few years now, and have completed three half marathons. As longer distances have been my thing, my running pace is quite slow, so I decided to start running Parkrun regularly to speed up my 5k time, as well as to encourage me to train more often. And it only took 3 weeks to convince Alison to join me!

On the way to Highbury, Alison and I were talking about how fast we were each expecting to run. I worked out that, as the course is five laps around the park, I should expect to just lap Alison twice as I was approaching the finish.

So the race begins, and I run the first few laps. My legs are aching more than usual, and I realise that I can't see Alison ahead of me, even though I should've lapped her by now. Then I'm worrying that I've been running much slower than I should be; or my running app is broken; or has Alison given up to sit in the park?

Finally on the first turn of the final lap, I see Alison on the straight ahead of me. I just catch her up as I reach the finish (it's lucky I did, as she'd forgotten to count her laps).

When I looked at my time at the finish, I realised that I had been running at the pace I wanted, I'd set a personal best, and the reason I'd not lapped Alison twice was because she was running so much faster than she'd planned.

Thank me for dragging you out with me, Alison!

Tags: London, UK

Parkrun is a weekly free timed 5km run. They take place all over the UK. We like running them and are trying to run every Parkrun in London.

About us

Alison is an interrupted medical student at King's College London. She runs a book blog at

Matthew is a PhD student studying maths at University College London. He blogs about maths and posts puzzles at

Parkruns in London3 / 47
Parkruns in the UK3 / 415
Alison's PB35:10
Matthew's PB26:53

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