Happy New Year, dear Runners!
Welcome back to London! I hope you had a wonderful holiday break, spent with your favourite people in some favourite places! I’m so excited to start this year running with you, and so grateful for this community that helps make this amazing city feel like ‘home’– even, or maybe especially, when we’ve just come back from wherever else we call home!
Running this week. We’ll start off with our Big Ben/Westminster run on Monday. It’s a great route for flexible mileage, so if you managed to run over the break, consider doing the 8-mile return route back to St Johns Wood. But if you weren’t able to run much the last few weeks, you can ease back into it with the 4- or 5-mile options. Don’t overdo it right away if you weren’t able to run during break, but do be aware we will start to up the distances on the Monday runs over the next few weeks. Wednesday we will do the Regent’s Park/Primrose Hill Loop for 5 miles, and Friday we’ll get back to the Hill. We’re suggesting the Highgate route this week, but as always, you have several options, all detailed in the link below. As always, the route descriptions and maps are included below. Look for some speed and interval training options on Wednesdays in the weeks ahead, and next week I will also share the schedule for some of our key Monday runs.
Announcements and Shoutouts. A big thank you to all who contributed cash or baked goods for our annual holiday appreciation gifts to the cafes we frequent in St Johns Wood. Special thanks to Laura Beal for coordinating the cash collection and gifts (thirty personalised cards and envelopes this year!). And a huge thank you to Susan Farrell for coordinating the baked goods and creating two beautiful gift baskets– one for Starbucks and one for Pret. I don’t have the full list of all who baked for the baristas, but I know that many of you stepped up at the busiest time of the year to keep our tradition going, and it was much appreciated by our cafe friends as well as by your WRW organisers. And finally, thanks to all who went along for the delivery– with special kudos for singing! Finally, I can’t resist adding a belated shoutout to a group of the class of 2019 Beginners who quietly ran a chilly Royal Parks 10k back on December 8– well done, ladies! It’s beyond great how you’ve made running such a part of your lives in the course of just over a year!
The sign in the photo collage (thanks for spotting it, Magali) says it all. I have a feeling 2020 is going to be a fantastic year for us– and I can’t wait to see you all at Barclay’s and get it started!
Monday, 6 January – Westminster/Big Ben– 4-8 miles
This is such a fun route! We run right through the heart of London to the now-undercover Big Ben for 4 miles. A turn back to Green Park will get you to 5 miles, or you can run back to St Johns Wood for 8. We head to Hyde Park via the usual route: start heading west on Circus Road and turn left on Grove End and follow south as it becomes Lisson Grove. Cross over Marylebone Road and continue on Seymour Place until the end. Turn right and cross over Edgware Road and then left to enter Hyde Park at the intersection with Stanhope Place. Run along the eastern edge of the park to Hyde Park Corner, under Wellington Arch and down Constitution Hill. Run along the edge of Green Park, past the Victoria Memorial and cross The Mall at the traffic light. Run down The Mall and enter St. James Park. Run over the bridge across the lake and out of the park, turning left onto Birdcage Walk and down into Parliament Square to Big Ben. From there, either take the tube back, run through St James Park to Green Park tube station, or retrace your route back to SJW.
Wednesday, 8 January – Primrose Hill/Regents Park (5 miles)
Start out as if we’re headed for the Heath, running down St Johns Wood Terrace until it reaches the T. Turn left, then right, then left again at Avenue Rd. At the crossing just a short distance up Avenue Rd, cross over and run down Elsworthy Rd a short distance until you see a small road on the right that ends in the entrance to Primrose Hill park. Once in the park take the path that angles to the left, then bear right at the first fork and left at the second. This will take you up for a fantastic view from the top of Primrose Hill. After you’ve caught your breath, take the path that goes down on the right (if you are looking out toward London), then curve around to the left at the first split. Follow this path all the way down the hill to the crossing at Prince Albert Rd. Cross at the zebra and head straight into the park via the bridge and across the Outer Circle (NOT a zebra, please note!). In Regents Park, take the path that angles to the left, running behind the zoo. Cross the Broad Walk by the fountain and continue across on the path that heads toward, but not all the way to, the perimeter of the park. Follow this to the far corner, and then turn right to run along the southern edge of the park, inside the fence. Continue to follow this around the boating pond to run across the little bridge at the far end of the pond, then bear right to follow the contour of the pond to its end. Continue on the same path until it meets the diagonal path that runs behind the zoo (the same one we ran in on). Turn left to follow that to its end and then turn left onto the Outer Circle and follow it for a short distance to the crossing at Charlbert. Exit the park and take Charlbert to St Johns Wood Terrace to finish at our Starbucks/Pret corner of the High Street.
Friday, 10 January – Highgate (7.5 miles)
Head up Fitzjohn’s, as usual, and continue past the Hampstead Tube and Whitestone Pond to stay on Spaniards Road. Do not enter the Heath at the normal entry point, but stay on Spaniards Road as it wraps around the outside of the Heath, past Kenwood House and past The Bishops Road where Spaniards Road turns into Hampstead Lane.
Continue on Hampstead Lane as it edges around the outside of the Heath in a gentle rise until you reach The Grove, where you turn right. [The Grove is a pretty, tree lined street just before the Highgate roundabout.] Run to the first right turn, a lane called Fitzroy Park with a traffic barrier across the road. Pass around the traffic barrier—this is fine! And continue down the road, past lovely homes and a famous allotment on the right side. This road curves downhill to the left and takes you to the entrance of the Heath on your right side, near a set of bathrooms and just before Merton Lane to the left.
Enter the Heath, run past the loos (on your left) and take the path to the left as it runs along the model boating pond, the men’s bathing pond and a third pond. When the sidewalk dead ends, take a right to run along the exercise fields and running track. Exit the Heath past the paddling pool, crossing over the bridge onto Constantine Road. Take a right, running past South End Rd/Fleet Rd, past the Royal Free Hospital and cutting up the path to the left just past the Royal Free’s entrance driveway to take a short cut to Haverstock Hill. Go left on Haverstock Hill, crossing at the pedestrian stoplight to the other side, then turn right on to Belsize Avenue. Stay on Belsize Avenue (its name changes to Buckland Crescent) to Fitzjohn’s where you turn left to run towards Swiss Cottage Library, then scoot over to St Johns Wood Park Road and back to Starbucks.
Or, choose your own Heath route! This link will take you to all of our standard Heath route descriptions and interactive maps.
4 miles: A great way to ease into running the hill. Run up to the Hampstead tube station and back. If you have trouble running up, think about how easy it will be running down!
5 miles: The Betsy Route
6+ miles: The partial Heath route OR the Reverse Heath route OR Pergola route
7.5 miles: The Highgate route
8 miles: The full Heath route