Tuesday nights training session at Ranelagh Harriers running club was tonight an altogether different and fun evenings running. To commemorate the memory of Olympic gold medalist (1956 – steeplechase), pacemaker for Roger Bannister’s 4 minute mile (1954), the inspiration behind the first London Marathon and past Ranelagh Harriers member Chris Brasher (obituaries: The Guardian, Ranelagh Harriers) I was in one of a number of groups running the “20 Ponds Run” – where we sociably run around Richmond Park and try and visit all 20 ponds (yes, there’s 20 of them) in a relatively short time.
Chris created this as a training run with a difference, and its good to keep the memory of him going with this annual event. More information about the run, together with a map of the park (including a suggested route) and descriptions of a number of the ponds can be found at the Ranelagh website.
I was in a group of about 9 or 10 although somehow by the finish we were reduced to 7! The course took us 1 hour 21 minutes (from entering the park by the Ranelagh clubhouse to leaving it at Richmond gate) and I clocked 8.94 miles on my GPS (not quite the 8 miles that it should be nearer to). We clearly didn’t make it close to an hour (the leading “fast” group came in about 65 minutes) and we did stop a few times for “navigational discussions!”
Contrary to rumours that we spent most of the time arguing this wasn’t the case. We just didn’t always know where we were all the time!
The idea is that you should be able to “dip your toes” in each of the ponds or touch the water. I did this for most of them although a few weren’t the easiest to get to with all the nettles etc. around. Although I didn’t see all 20 ponds I did see probably 18 or 19 (some are rather small/hidden away) and I think we did a great job of finding our way around.
Here is a map with our route (I stored a “lap marker” at almost all of the ponds we visited) together with a Google Earth KML file (if the file doesn’t load straight into Google Earth then you will need to save to disk first then load it manually).
The weather was fantastic for this run and I got to see parts of the park that I’d never seen before. We saw lots of young deer and three baby swans being looked after by their mother. I love this park.