It had been three-and-a-half years since my first visit to Avery Hill Park, in Eltham, which is in the Royal London borough of Greenwich (which lends its name to the event). At that event, I ran with my daughter in her running buggy, my phone's battery failed and didn't record the run data, and the course was a little different.
This time around I was standing on the start line sans-buggy, and decided to have a run that was not eyeballs-out fast, but quick enough to get the heart rate up before the rest of the day's indulgences kicked in. The start area is exactly the same as it was at my last visit, with the run heading off over grass via a short incline.
The course is run anti-clockwise, so features mostly left-hand turns. The first of these comes after the football pitches where there was a marshal and some tape to help runners avoid any temptation of cutting the corner. Now on the other side of a thin line of trees, the course heads ever-so-gently downhill to the southern end which is where we find the first of the changes..
|a few snaps near the start/finish area|
Previously, the southern border was run on grass which had lots of bumpy tree roots to negotiate. This has now been upgraded to a proper path, so the course that was previously 75% grass / 25% tarmac is now around 44% grass / 56% tarmac. The path meanders a little and rises ever-so-gently along the southern and eastern borders of the park. The final section of tarmac is the steepest section of the course and this leads runners from the eastern edge towards the highest point of the park.
Returning to the grass at the top, the runners head past a circle of large rocks and then hit a short, sharp downhill which returns them to the start area. The course is still run over three laps, but the final change since my last visit is the positioning of the finish funnel. Back in 2013, it was at the bottom of the downhill whereas it is now at the top, just before the stone circle.
With the run complete, the finishers head back over to the meeting point, which is outside the Avery Hill Park Cafe where a couple of fab volunteers took care of barcode scanning. There was quite a lot to take in as the event had also just had a finish line marriage proposal (congratulations) and a new course record set [full results].
This time around, my GPS did not fail, so if you want to see the course in detail, you can have a look at my data from the run, here: Greenwich parkrun event 363. With all the parkrun excitement out of the way and it being Christmas Day, I found my wife and daughter, and after a brief period taking selfies and playing in the leaves, we jumped in the car and headed home to see if Santa had dropped by while we were out (for the record, he had).