Parkrun review -Wanstead 

After a hot and humid few days we decided a trail parkrun was in order.

We didn’t want to travel too far as it was bank holiday weekend and a busy weekend with lots of things to catch up with and events to take part in.

One of the benefits of where I live, Essex/London borders, mean I have quite a choice when it comes to being a parkrun tourist.

We decided we would head west for our Saturday morning 5k and chose Wanstead.

It has been about 30 years since I was at Wantstead Flats, and realised that my running buddy also used to have the flats as her stomping ground too. As soon as I laid eyes on the green area I realised not much had changed.

The start/finish field

Wanstead Flats is part of Epping Forest it is common ground and years ago the land was used for grazing. I vaguely remember the cattle and football pitches from my childhood alas the cattle had disappeared but the pitches were still there.

Location wise Wanstead is on the border of Redbridge and Newham and comes under the City of London. This little patch of green has quite a history, records show that it was a central point for many East End families even in the 1800’s.

Green in the City

History is not what I was here for, I was going to run.

Getting there was easy, it was just off the A12, parking even easier with a nice sized car park right near the start.

The heavens had opened, torrential rain, so we sat in the car until it passed a few minutes later. The ground still looked dry and firm.

The sun came out and we made our way to the start. There was no visitors briefing and the normal briefing was very quick, the rain could have been a contributing factor to the rushed briefing. The only thing we were told was it was a 2 lap course and to ensure if you are only running one lap to not go through the finish funnel.

A quick walk to the start line, it was by the tower blocks on the grass. No further chat, we were off pretty quick. 

The first part of the run is around the border of the field, the grass nice and short it didn’t suck the life out of legs. A narrow turn into a wooded part a trail path so care over tree roots was in order. I had quite a pace on and despite the now humid morning I felt ok. Pretty soon you could see the front runners coming back towards you before they go off to run the circuit of the field before the start of the second lap. It was nice seeing them actually, I was able to wave to hubby.

By the time we were on our way back to the field sweat was really dripping from me, my contact lenses were stinging and I had trouble seeing, I elected to run behind my mate who was wearing her orange park run top so I could at least follow her.

The start of the second lap was pleasant enough, you run past the finish funnel and follow the loop again. Not many marshals out on the course but it was signposted and once the first lap was completed you knew where to go, it was pretty easy to follow.

As we approached the field for the last time I started to sing, I felt great I wanted to monitor my breathing. I felt happy and was loving the run, people must think I’m mad sometimes but I was in the moment, I had found my peace.

A nice steady pace toward the finish and we were done and dusted.

175 runners took part, some were really fast (completing in 15 minutes) some were middle of the road, like myself and some walking it. That’s the beauty of parkrun, I have said it before and I will keep saying it but parkrun is for everyone, walk, jog or run.

There was an urn filled with hot water so we made ourselves tea before thanking the marshals and leaving.

Would I revisit? Yes, I really enjoyed the route. The lack of marshals made for a different atmosphere compared to other parkrun events but it doesn’t need huge numbers to marshal this particular route. I liked the trail part and I guess it could be interesting come winter. Parking was great and if you need a toilet break there were some near the start.

On tour
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