My first Bushy Park Time Trial

I imagine many runners who take part in races, or read any of the regular running magazines, will have heard about the growing phenomenon that is the Bushy Park Time Trial. A small, regular and most interestingly of all, free, 5km timed trial. Since it’s inaugural race in October 2004 (with only 13 participants) it’s grown, such that last Saturday when I turned up, 439 other runners were taking part. They’ve also expanded with three other events, and there’s talk of a time trial starting up in Leeds soon. More details at the UK Time Trials website.

My friends David and Sharon Rowe are regular participants (Their most recent write-up here). David is currently 2nd in this years points competition, and Sharon is currently knocking chunks off her Personal Best times almost every week. So it was inevitable really that as I’m currently in London, and was attending a wedding reception on Saturday evening, that I try and make the effort to go and see for myself what all the fuss was about. So I was up bright and early, and rattling on a train out to Teddington arriving in enough time to get a good warmup run in for the 158th Bushy Park Time Trial.

The race itself was great fun, and it’s a great course – delightfully flat too, so in the end I was just four seconds off my own 5km Personal Best (I finished 188th out of 439, so completed it in 23:45, against my PB of 23:41 at The Bella 5k), which I don’t think was too shabby on an unfamiliar course with a lot of congestion at the start – especially at the first corner (well, tree!). My first 1km was somewhat slower than my other splits, so think there’s definite potential to knock a my time down further before too long. I’m running the inaugural Barrhead 10k race next Sunday, and am even wondering if a sub-50min 10km might even just be within my reach.

Afterwards it was off to Cafe Nero for a coffee and chat with Dave and Sharon and some of the regulars, before heading back into London Waterloo. I figured it would be fun to run back to our hotel near Tower Bridge, so ran the 4.5km along the South Bank. Despite the wonderful city vista, it proved tough going given it’s concrete and paving slabs most of the way, and quite slow because it was full of tourists and Londoners enjoying the nice weather, as well as having a clunky and uncomfortable backpack on! It enabled me to get a bit more mileage in this week: I often struggle to get as much running done as I’d like when I’m London given I’ve a lot of work (and the inevitable socialising) I have to squeeze in, as well as limited space for all the extra gear I need.

I also can’t help but wonder if the Time Trial format/idea will make it’s way up to Glasgow before too long: There’s certainly a lot to be said for more ‘free’ races using their clever timekeeping mechanisms, marvellous volunteers, and an informal atmosphere. I know there’s a big Glasgow running community, as a result of Jog Scotland and the many existing running clubs, and there are certainly plenty of super locations in which it could take place. On the strength of the fun I had at BPTT, I’d certainly be amongst the first to sign up 🙂

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