Sunday, March 18, 2012

Running in England

Sunday, March 18, 2012
Landed Heathrow Airport just after 5AM.  With 8 hours layover before my next flight, what should one do?   Before I left, I asked a colleague who had taken a similar flight.  He said he just stayed in the airport security area, as it’s far too difficult to have to clear UK customs, security, etc.  Wrong answer for me!  I would go bonkers sitting in an airport security area for 8 hours.
Canal towpath
Crossing through cornfield
Well marked trails
Farm animals along trail
Nice wooded section of trail
Next looked online to see if possible for a local race.  Thought I had found one with the Adventure Trail Run out in Dorking (yes, that’s really a place!) where you cover as much as distance as you can in one hour (sound familiar?), but with a late race start of 11AM, it didn’t give me enough time.  Too bad; according to the race website, after the event, you get to “download your dibber and collect your results whilst enjoying a cup of tea and a biscuit”.  How about that?   A UK colleague of mine speaks of the US and UK as “two countries separated by a common language”.
Part 1 (of 2):  Colne Valley Trail – 5 miles.  I’ve run many of the parks and tourist areas in downtown London (according to my passport stamps, this is my 6th visit to London in 8 years).  This time I wanted to get out to the countryside, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Took a train out to Langley station.  The trail started out as a towpath along the Slough canal built in 1882 to connect local villages.  After a bit, the trail crossed over the canal, and then went through farmlands.  A photo above is crossing through a cornfield, the only place I saw another runner. 
Muddy section before bridge
The trail went through muddy sections, through fields with turnstiles you had to open and close to keep stray farm animals from leaving their "tenanted farmlands", and on wooded paths.  Was concerned on the time and when I ended up back at the train station after 5 miles, decided to end the run (or so I thought...)

Part 2 (of 2):  To get back to Heathrow Airport, had to change trains at Paddington.  Looked at my watch and saw I had about 40 minutes to spare.  I am familiar with the Paddington area streets, and know it's less than a mile to Hyde Park.  Ran to and through Hyde Park, where the place was teeming with runners, families picnicing, kids playing soccer and rugby, cyclists, etc.  It was a crowded and different experience from running in the countryside, but certainly very exuberant!
Serpentine:  site of 2012 Olympics
triathlon and open swim
Didn't have time to run the whole of Hyde Park (several hundred acres dating back to the days of Henry VIII, with multiple criss-crossing paths).  Thought of running to nearby Buckingham Palace, but just too busy and too little time.  On the way back through Hyde Park, ran past the Serpentine, a body of water so named for its serpent-like shape.  This will be the venue in August for the 2012 Olympics triathlon, including the swimming start and 10K running end with four laps around the Serpentine. 

Hyde Park

Runner in front of Victoria Gate
at edge of Hyde Park

I fan faster than this winged
guy on top of pedestal
 By now, I had to high-tail back to Paddington to make my train.  Made it to Paddington with just a few minutes to spare to find the right platform (there are 14 of them).  It was a fast packed morning, but I took the "lemons" (long layover) and turned it into lemonade (a really fun morning of exploring and running in England).

Paddington Station, London: 
end of a really fun run in England


  1. Wow Jeff! Fantastic adventure running. I can't wait to see where else you'll be this week.

  2. Wow! Jealous! Way to seize the day!