Victoria Docks parkrun: the parkrun alphabet continues

On the January 17 nearly eight years ago, I jogged from my shared house in Wapping along the canal to Mile End.

While I don’t actually remember that auspicious occasion, I’m fairly sure that I would have been late and probably hungover, such was the life of financial services marketing manager in his early 30s.

Back in my old hood a few weeks ago, I broadened my horizons in search of a new letter in the alphabet parkrun quest – V for Victoria Docks in East London – but that tardiness and morning after fragility remained.

Ever get the feeling you’re heading the wrong way in life??

parkrun alphabet

Rather than take you through the alphabet to date, you can check out the letters here.

Every time I am lucky enough to be in new location, I take a look at the parkrun website to try and find a new 5k and if I am very fortunate, it will start with a letter I’ve never run before.

Victoria Docks is a short and scenic DLR hop from Tower Gateway, taking in Canary Wharf, the Millennium Dome (showing my age) and out towards the ExCel Centre.

It was a beautiful and bright Saturday as I rushed up the escalator to jump on the DLR and make my way out East. I had a rough idea of where the start was but if in doubt, I could probably just follow the trail of people running towards me.

There was a bemused look on the faces of the volunteers picking up the start line cones as I shouted “is this the beginning?” before promptly turning around and trying to catch up with the runners I’d just past, always knowing that my increasing headache and five minute headstart had probably scuppered my chances of winning.

I’ve never really had a reason to be out this way except for the Olympics in 2012 and picking up my London Marathon number, both from the vast ExCel Centre.

The course starts next to the New City Hall before heading past the cable car formerly known as the Emirates Skyline. If you’re staying for a gig at the O2, this would be the perfect spot for a run before (or after).

But what a morning to dawdle about the docks of East London.

It then passed a street food market in the process of setting up for the day as well as a bus which looked like it might be a bar, possibly by the time I had finished.

Heading further along the royal docks, you run under the towering cranes that once brought so much commerce ashore but now just stand as remnants of a time not so long ago, before the area fell into disrepair and then was reborn.

Approaching the entrance of the ExCel, a huge yacht-hotel stands on the right alongside the imposing Royal Victoria Dock Footbridge with expansive views across the water to the abandoned Millennium Mills and Silvertown.

I once accidentally cycled through the area while training for a triathlon and was amazed by how run down an area so close to such wealth could be. Under the flight path of City Airport, it was a forgotten area of London which is now being re-developed, whether you see that as positive progress or not is another matter.

This morning though, I was just enjoyed myself. Watching security guards patrol the outside of the giant conference centre, and thanking the marshals at the turn point just over half way down its length.

On a cold, wet or windy day (so your typical British), this route could be a tough one but today it was glorious. I had my GoPro so spent plenty of time mucking around with selfies and time delays before running back to catch up with some of the runners.

As I got back towards the footbridge, the lead runners flew past me. One of the benefits of being at the back on a looped course is getting to see how good the front runners really are.

Trying not to take any of them out, I picked a line on the outside and continued back towards the start. Normally I don’t like loops but this felt just long enough and new enough to keep me entertained, trying to spot new things that I hadn’t on the first lap.

It also meant more pictures, more mucking about and more thanking of the volunteers who put on these great, and free, events.

Past the big boat, past the almost omnipresent ExCel and then back again.

One of my favourite things about parkrun is the small, usually one-off relationships you develop and then leave within a few minutes of the finish line.

On this day, it was a father and daughter who had been encouraging each around the course and were clearly struggling towards the end. I ran alongside them for a bit chatting and generally trying to distract them from the final struggle before speeding up slightly and leaving them to their own victories.

It can’t have been more than 50 yards running together but I still had a sense of satisfaction as they crossed the finish line shortly after me.

Talking of finish lines, my tardiness caused this to be a low key but friendly affair with more cheerful volunteers and possibly the shortest finish to coffee distance I’ve ever come across.

I didn’t measure it but I was eyeing up cardamom buns and cortados within seconds and they really didn’t disappoint as I tucked in on the DLR back to central London.

Go for the letter, stay for the views and coffee. A great start to a Saturday morning as parkrun always is.

Victoria Dock parkrun

2 thoughts on “Victoria Docks parkrun: the parkrun alphabet continues

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s