I ran the first ever two Beckenham Place Parkruns in November 2016 and ran again in December 2017. It attracts around 150 runners each week. While Beckenham Place Park is very large – running from Sydenham down towards Bromley, and including a golf course, a wooded area, and some wide open parkland – the run itself takes place in a very flat area on the east side of the railway line that connects Sevenoaks with Blackfriars (and has the benefit of being less than 5 minutes’ walk from Ravensbourne Station). While this has the benefit of making the park relatively quiet, it also means the run is well away from the facilities – so you need to allow plenty of time (at least 20 minutes) to walk from the Mansion, which has toilet facilities and a café, to the run start.
The course is two clockwise laps, and begins in Summerhouse Playing Fields (right next to Millwall FC’s training pitches). Once the runners gather and are briefed, you set off on grass, quickly join a track for about 100m, then bear right onto grass and run round the three sides of the playing fields (all marked with cones), before bearing left through a narrow gate. This is the trickiest part of the course, as the ground here can get waterlogged and very muddy.
Having run through the gate, you bear left again, and follow the perimeter of the northern part of the park, running roughly parallel to the railway line. This is all on grass, and is quite flat until you turn left to cross a tarmac path onto another short section on grass. At the far end, as directed by marshals (and with the course well marked with cones), you then hairpin right and run about 300m along the top of the park on a tarmac path. This can get a bit icy in cold weather, but is very flat.
Where the tarmac path meets a track, you turn right and start heading down a long 1km straight that takes you back through the gate, past the start line and into lap 2 which is exactly the same as lap 1. At the end of lap 2, a little past the start line you bear right onto the grass and through the finishing funnel.
The course is not the most feature-filled in London. However, it is extremely fast and flat, with typical best times around 17-18 minutes. As so much of it is run on grass it might be slightly challenging for buggy runners (I haven’t seen any to date), and as noted above, there are no handy facilities near the start line. Ravensbourne Train Station does have a kiosk for post-run tea, but no public toilets. If you drive, there is on-street parking nearby – the Beckenham Place Park car park is a bit of a trek.
I really enjoy Beckenham Place Park because it’s straightforward and you can just go flat out. It’s also technically my local Parkrun (about 0.1 mile closer than Crystal Palace), and one I will revisit a lot in the future.
Number of runs: 3
Best time: 21:02
Best place: 15
Surface: 2 (track and field)
Flatness: 4 (very flat)
TFL Access: 4 (Ravensbourne Station is less than 5 mins)
Facilities: 1 (nothing within 5-10 mins of the start line)
PB Potential: 4 (very good chance)