Crystal Palace is my ‘home run’, and is also the first Parkrun I ever did. It typically attracts around 250-300 runners. The park itself is pretty large, covering the side of the hill between Penge and Crystal Palace Parade (site of the remains of the Crystal Palace itself, and the location of the famous TV transmitters). There are various features inside the park including a sports centre, café, farm, outdoor concert venue, hedge maze and dinosaur park, and the run – whichever route it goes, takes you past most of these.
Because this is a large park and often hosts events such as funfairs, the route can vary quite a lot:
I had the pleasure of running at the inaugural Hoblingwell event on 15th July 2017, along with 214 other runners. More typically, it has around 50-60. The course is one of the more complicated – on the map at least (it’s fairly straightforward once you get going, especially as the marshals and signage all give very clear directions). The park is called Hoblingwell Wood Recreation Ground and as the name suggests, it’s not a landscaped, ornamental park. It’s a mix of football pitches, a bit of scrubland and some woodland around a series of low, brick buildings, and surrounded by the Orpington suburbs.
Back in March 2016, my friend Geoff persuaded me to get into Parkrun – free, timed 5km runs that happen all over the world at 9am every Saturday, organised by amazing volunteers. Geoff was coming to the end of his mission to run all of the (then) 47 Parkruns within the London Boroughs. I went with him to the last dozen or so on his list – and became a Parkrun tourist myself.