Yesterday i had a great 45 minute steady (!?) run with one of my old friends, and super marathoner, Lucy – who i met back in 2003 when i was training with the legendary coach Frank Horwill. We headed to Richmond Park, which is a stones throw away from both our houses. Richmond Park is a haven of tranquilly amidst the noise and chaos of London, and never ceases to lift my soul, even on a dull, rainy day. The Park changes each day and with the seasons – the sight and smell of spring is particularly heartwarming – as the landscape is coming alive with new growth, as well as athletes eagerly preparing for the triathlon season and the London Marathon in April. The multitude of trails criss-cross haphazardly through the park, and you never have to take the same path twice. They pass through grassland, scrubland, around ponds and lakes, up and down slopes and through copses of mixed woodland. The trees are amazing, like old grandfathers that have seen generations of athletes pass beneath them, and the deer that inhabit the Park are simply beautiful – seeing a regal stag silhouetted against the rising sun never fails to take my breathe away.
It would be amazing if the Park was closed to motorists for part of the day, like Central Park in New York. Motorists could still drive to the park by car, but be required to use the car parks closest to their point of entry – and then be free to explore this amazing landscape and facility on foot, on a horse or by bike. Alternatively, as with Central Park, vehicles could be allowed to go in only one direction around the park, leaving the other lane for cyclists, roller-bladers and runners to use.
But despite this small gripe re motorists, the Park truly is a fantastic resource for everyone living in south west London, and yesterday’s run with Lucy made me realise how lucky we are to be able to experience these special places, under own own steam (and with steam coming out of my ears as i struggle to keep up with Lucy and her ‘steady’ – aka superhuman- pace). Open your eyes and smell the flowers – and run happy everyone!