Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Riddlesdown parkrun course description

My first parkrun home was at Riddlesdown, which is nestled on the London-Surrey border just south of Croydon. It is easily accessible by road, being only a few minutes drive from the M25 / A22 junction.

Here is my attempt at giving any of you budding tourists that have not yet visited us a quick virtual tour of the course.

The photos are all from the official Riddlesdown photo account. They are mostly the work of run director, Nicki Clark, but some are from other people, notably Pete Gibson.

Riddlesdown parkrun starts at the southernmost point of the course (roughly indicated by the green marker in the photo below). Parking for the event is located in Warlingham School, where you'll also find the toilets. The distance from the car park to the start line is approximately 700 metres.

The official course map

It is one of the faster parkrun courses in the local area. The course is almost entirely flat. However, there are a few different types of terrain, a couple of tight turns, and one very short incline, which when combined may take a few seconds from your potential 5k finishing time.

The view from the start line
If you were to pass through Whyteleafe using the A22 you would no doubt notice a very white cliff face high above the road. The green fence in the photo above divides the downs from this potentially dangerous area, which, I'm told, used to be a chalk pit.

The View
Once released from the starting gate you head north-west along a grassy path, after 200 metres the fence disappears to reveal a lovely view across the valley towards Kenley. Continuing on you may notice the slightest of inclines until you eventually pass through a gap in the hedge.

The gap in the hedge

Here the course remains flat until just before the corner, where it dips down and then flips you around an approx 120 degree angle right turn. Just to add a little spice, this juicy little corner also then forces you to climb as you are turning. A really interesting corner to negotiate - especially in challenging conditions. You then continue your short incline to our only named section of the course - Condon corner.

Photo taken from Condon Corner (now Barry's Bend), looking along the trail section.

Next up is the 700 metre long trail section. As you'd expect from a trail section, there are parts where you'll find protruding rocks and tree roots to negotiate. It's certainly not the trickiest trail section you'll find, but you do need to remain focused in order to remain upright.

Sometimes it rains and we have some fun puddles to negotiate during the trail section
Once out of the trail section you are returned onto a grassy path, which can become quite boggy when the course is muddy. On the first lap you will turn right after 400 metres and cross the field. The course here has a different challenge, the ridges in the ground run across the path, so it is like running over a hundred sleeping policemen in quick succession.

In the photo you can't see the sleeping policemen, but when you run across you'll know they are there

Once across the field there is another right hand turn, which delivers you onto the gravel path. About 200 metres along this path you will hit the half-way point. Another 200 metres of gravel later and you will be swinging another 120 degree turn back onto the grass, this one is a left-hander, and as it remains flat is not quite as challenging as the earlier sharp corner.

The gravel path
You'll now head back towards the start line to retrace your steps through the hole in the hedge, around Condon corner, through the trail section and along that 400 metre grassy section, where you reach the point where on the first lap you cut across the field. On the second lap you follow the sign to the finish which is conveniently just a 100 metre dash from here.

You'll usually find the finish line around here
The registration desk is at the entrance to the downs. It's 150 metres or so from the finish line, so if you've had a tough run you'll have enough time to recover before reaching the desk to have your personal and position barcodes scanned.

The post-run coffee venue - The Horseshoe - is just down the road in Warlingham. It is 1.8km away from the registration desk and, of course, everyone is welcome!


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