Sunday, 12 August 2018

Orpington parkrun

Orpington is a town in the London Borough of Bromley with a population of about 15,000 people. Up until 1965 it was part of the adjacent county of Kent, and is still often referred to as Orpington, Kent. The area was once occupied by the Romans and the remains of Crofton Roman Villa, which was at the centre of a farming estate, have been protected and can be visited.

The first recorded name of Orpington was as 'Orpedingtune' in 1038, it remained a small farming village until the railways came and made commuting into Central London possible, which ultimately lead to it growing into the town we see today.

goddington park

As an interesting note, the All Saints Church churchyard has a burial area called Canadian Corner. This contains a war memorial and is unique in the UK for being laid out on the style of the French and Belgian First World War cemeteries. Worth a visit, I think.

Over the years, Orpington had a number of manors, and one of these was Goddington. This manor was first recorded during the 13th century. It was owned by Simon de Godyngton whose family held the Manor of Great Chart with the family home a Godinton, near Ashford.

orpington parkrun start

The manor at Goddington was once large enough to cover areas beyond Orpington. In 1893 Goddington House was built and this still stands, but was converted into flats during the 1930s. It has now been renamed Goddington Manor - I tried to get to it to take a photo but it is behind a locked gate.

Part of the grounds of the estate now form Goddington Park which is mostly open grass with some clusters of trees. Football and rugby pitches are laid out, and there are a couple of children's playgrounds. On 15 September 2012 it became home to Orpington parkrun, and that was the date of my only other visit to this venue. You can read my original blog here - Orpington parkrun event 1.

beware bollards - three of them

I decided to pop back down to the venue purely for the purpose of writing this updated blog post. So, I drove over and parked in the on-site car park, which is free-of-charge. As I was early I sat and watch plenty of dog walkers come and go while I waited. As I mentioned above, there is a railway line, and this stops at Orpington Station, which is roughly 2km to the west of the park.

As parkrun o'clock drew closer, I headed across to the meeting point, which, if you are in the car park, is a few hundred metres across the open grass area in front of you at the Orpington Football Club pavillion. This building has toilets and refreshments are available post-run. The fence around the pavillion is perfectly suitable for locking up your bike if you have cycled over.

goddington park

The run starts at the pavillion and takes place over a two-and-three-quarter-lap clockwise course. It's mostly on grass/dirt paths (approx 3.5km) and the rest is tarmac. I would stick on trail or mixed terrain shoes in the winter, but when it's dry, road shoes are just fine. It's not totally flat, but to describe it as undulating would be unkind.

From the start, which is lovely and wide, the participants head towards the eastern end of the park on grass and can enjoy the pleasant vista across the park as they head ever-so-gently downhill. Those with an especially keen eye may spot the tiny glimpse of the olde english, timber framed front of Goddington House through the trees at the far end.

through the trees

After fiddling around a few corners near the car park, the course changes to tarmac and follows a tree lined path to the north. Be very careful on this path as it contains three posts (one after another, not across the path) which are set in the very centre of the path - they are marked with warning signs, but on the first lap when things are congested it would still be pretty easy to run into one of them.

At the end of the path, the route turns and heads along the park's northern border where it rejoins the grass. At the northern tip of the course the surface underfoot changes and features a large number of tree roots as the course proceeds along a line of trees. This is over pretty soon and the next turning features another line of trees, but with much fewer tree roots.

cutting through to the rugby field

The course has now done almost a full loop of this section of the park, and as the pavillion comes back into view, the route swings through a short single file section which leads onto an area of marked rugby pitches. A three-quarter loop of this field and back into the main open area brings the full lap to an end. This is full lap is repeated once more in the same way.

On the third lap, instead of swinging through the single file section, the participants simply carry on towards the pavillion where the finish funnel and the majority of the volunteers will be awaiting their arrival. Barcode scanning takes place at the finish, and as I mentioned earlier, refreshments are available in the pavillion.

the rugby field

I recorded the course using my Garmin and you can find the GPS data on my Strava account, here: Orpington parkrun. That data was then converted into a video using the #relive app on my phone. You can view that here: Relive course fly-by. Although I had enjoyed my original visit back in 2012 I hadn't been sufficiently motivated to head back over, but upon revisiting I must say that I have a renewed appreciation for the course and the park.

An interesting fact about Orpington parkrun is that up until the point of this post, they have apparently never had to cancel, which makes it a good venue to keep in mind during the winter when cancellations are rife. However...

around the finish

... on the flipside of that information, it was announced at the start that the event's very first cancellation would be happening a few weeks later (to make way for the inaugural Mini-Soccer pre-season tournament, which may become an annual event), one week before their 6th anniversary, which incidentally falls on the 15 September - the exact same date as the inaugural.

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