2 – 4 September 2020 Running Info

Hello Runners!
Another welcome to our 2020-21 running year!  We are so excited to restart WRW on Wednesday, September 2 at 8:15 (see below for more meet-up details!).  Can you believe it’s been nearly six months since we had to abruptly suspend our official WRW runs on March 16th?  We can’t wait to see you all (from a distance) and feel that WRW energy again!  If you are new to our group– WELCOME!  Please bear with us as we work through all of these very specific instructions to find our new normal– I promise it will be worth it!  A few of us will be waiting on the paths inside the Wellington Place entrance to the park, wearing our bright orange hats, to help greet and direct people to groups on Wednesday morning.  If you are new to WRW, please find us so we can say hello and help you find the right group to run with on your first day!  

Hopefully you all received and read the “Return to Running” e-mail a couple of days ago.  If you did not receive the full instructions (one runner received only the map– and you know there will always be text when it’s coming from me!!), please read them here.  That e-mail lays out all the basics for how we will start running together this year, and it is absolutely essential that we all follow it so that we can do all we can to keep everyone safe and to continue meeting.  I’ll summarise it again:

  • Our new starting point is St Johns Wood Church Gardens (at the end of St Johns Wood High St, and on Wellington Road across from Lord’s Cricket Ground).
  • Wear a mask the entire time we are in the gardens.
  • Meet in pace groups (see locations below), gather in groups of six or fewer (6-packs), and observe social distancing.
  • Our pace group gatherings (in the 6-packs) need to be of 30 people or less, so for now pace groups must maintain separate spaces in the park.

Our official routes will be limited to loops to start the year, and there will be two routes each day– 8s and 10s will run one, and 9s and 11s will run the other.  The ‘Hustlers’ group will run their own routes to start (more on this group below!).  We will run in groups of six or fewer (again, the 6-packs) and leave the park at 2-3 minute intervals so our 6-packs don’t converge.  The routes– all detailed below– have been carefully edited to help keep us out of busy areas at busy times, so we will all need to read them carefully and be prepared to help each other navigate!  

Covid-19.  Our general Covid-19 guidelines can be found here.  Please be sure you have read them and are prepared to observe them as we resume running.  In addition, please remember to be especially considerate to other members of the public as we return to the streets.  Everyone has a different comfort level in this time, and tensions are tending to run high.  Give plenty of space to pedestrians on the pavements.  If we are confronted about running together, be courteous and do not allow a negative interaction to develop (even if someone is rude to us).  We believe we are conducting ourselves within government guidelines, but we do not have to make that argument to every critical passersby.

Hustlers (formerly known as the ramp-up group).  We are so pleased that Tamar Brooks will once again lead a very special group for runners who are coming back from injuries or are returning to running after a lengthy hiatus and want to ease back in gently.  She and Fernanda Spinelli will lead a program of running with walk breaks that will steadily build throughout the Fall.  This is Tamar’s third year of leading this program, and it has been a great success!  Please e-mail her at [email protected], or you can e-mail us at [email protected], for details.

Beginner Group.  The first day for the Beginner group will be this Thursday, August 3. Our Tuesday-Thursday Beginner group is for true beginners, women who have never run before.  The program starts out with one-minute intervals at a very slow jog, so is not appropriate for anyone who is able to run even a mile or two.  Please help us spread the word about our beginner group– it’s really helpful if beginners can find their way to us sooner rather than later!  If you know of (or meet) anyone who is interested in the beginner group, have them email us at [email protected].  Amy Grace and her fantastic lineup of coaches– Jess, Melissa, Renata and Paola– are excited to lead another new group of women through this fun and life-changing experience! 

Running this week.  A huge thank you to our Routes Team– Darcy, Erin, Dinae, and Melissa, with support from Amy– for getting us back on the pavements with all new routes for our current circumstances!  Wednesday we will begin as we usually do, with a 5ish-mile run through Regents Park.  We have two different routes below, one for the 8s/10s and one for the 9s/11s.  Obviously this will be our first experiment with splitting routes, but hopefully we can all keep from running into each other in the park!  Also, since it’s so close to home, it’s easy to modify the run if you’re not quite up for 5 miles yet, or if you want to do a bit more.  

Friday we will return to the Heath.  However… we will not be running up Fitzjohn’s Avenue as usual this fall.  We simply can’t add to the congestion on that street in the early morning (especially once British schools are in session), so we’ve created two alternate routes for getting to the Heath.  In addition, some of the routes below are slightly different within the Heath both to make the mileage and elevation gain turn out right, and to help us not all be running the same paths.  There are two different distance options mapped for each route below, and of course most of us know the Heath well enough to run longer or shorter as needed.  All of the routes do currently come down Fitzjohns on the way home, partly so that we can avoid sending large numbers directly by the Royal Free Hospital.  After this week we’ll assess whether we need to re-route to take some of us back to St Johns Wood via a different path.  And in the meantime, if you’d rather not do the steep downhill, you can reroute from the Heath to come out at South End Green and cut through Belsize Park.  (For those of you new to the area, just ask a returning runner for help with this!)

Whew!  I hope that all makes sense.  Please feel free to reach out with questions or observations.  We are doing our best to think of all we need to consider in this, but we are open to input if you have ideas or spot potential issues.  As we work toward finding what will work for us in this time, let me just offer a reminder of the advice we usually include in this first e-mail:  take care of yourselves, and take care of each other!  
I won’t be able to give the customary first-day welcome to everyone together, but know that my heart– as with many of yours, I’m sure– will be full and happy to see this group together again!
xx Micki


Wednesday 2 September – Regent’s Park (5 miles)

8s & 10s pace groups – Regent’s/Primrose
From the church gardens, run down Prince Albert Rd to the Charlbert entrance to Regent’s.  Run straight, pass The Hub and at the next intersection after that, make a sharp right and run with the water on your left.  Curve around and then turn left to run over the bridge.  Turn left after the bridge to run past the Boating Lake and keep running around the edge of the park (keeping inside the park).  The path will start making its way to the left, putting you at the fountain at the highest part of the Broad Walk.  Go straight over the Broad Walk and keep to the right to run along the edge of the zoo.  Cross over the Outer Circle and then Prince Albert Road.  Once in Primrose Hill Park, turn right and run to the far edge, the turn left and run at a slight diagonal and make a left to run up to the top of Primrose.  Head back down towards the Elsworthy exit and go out and turn left on Elsworthy.  At Avenue, turn left and cross where you can, then turning right on Acacia to head back to SJW High Street.

9s & 11s pace groups – Reverse Inner/Outer
From the church gardens, make your way to Allitsen Road and run down Allitsen to Primrose Hill.  Enter the park and turn right.  Cross over Prince Albert Road to head into Regent’s Park.  Once across the Outer Circle, turn left to run around the outer edge of the park.  After 1.5 miles, turn right on York Bridge to get to the Inner Circle.  Run all the way around the inner circle and exit the way you came in on York Bridge.  Turn right to continue running around the outer edge of the park, exiting at Avenue Road (NOT Charlbert).  Turn left to run along Prince Albert Road to SJW High Street and Starbucks/Pret. 

Friday 4 September – The Hill!  (5 or 6 miles)

It’s Friday so it’s hill time!  To avoid the school crowd on Fitzjohn’s, we will be running reverse routes that take us up another way and back down Fitzjohn’s after the school run is finished.  The routes also avoid Royal Free Hospital so pay close attention to the street turns to avoid getting lost!

Getting to the Heath – 8s & 10s
From the Church Gardens, cross SJW High Street and take either Greenberry St or Barrow Hill Rd to Bridgeman St.  Turn right onto Allitsen and left onto Charlbert.  Take a quick left and then a right onto Ordnance Hill and run up to Swiss Cottage.  Pass the tube and turn right onto Belsize Lane.  Take the first left onto Daleham Gardens, keeping left onto Akenside Rd.  Turn right onto Lyndhurst Rd and then the first left onto Lyndhurst Terrace.  Turn right onto Thurlow Rd and run straight until you enter the park.  Take the first path on the left and follow the curve to the right between the two ponds. Then… follow the directions below for your distance/hill preference.

Parliament Hill – 6 mi
Keep running straight to go up Parliament Hill the way we normally do.  At the top, take a left on the dirt path and veer to the left at the second path and then turn left at the next path.  Veer to the right and shortly rejoin the path we usually run down (turn right to go up the hill).  At the entrance to the Heath, turn left and run back via Fitzjohn’s and to SJW via SJW Park/Ordnance.

Note – for anyone wanting more mileage, you can easily continue on from Parliament Hill to do the regular Heath 8 mile route – just follow the normal route after running up the hill.

Reverse Betsy – 5 mi
Take the second path on the left and run to the normal Betsy intersection.  Turn left and keep running straight to exit the park on Well Walk.  Keep running straight until the Hampstead High Street.  Turn right and then left to run back to SJW via Fitzjohn’s and SJW Park/Ordnance.

Getting to the Heath – 9s & 11
sExit the church gardens at the gate on the St Johns Wood High Street side, cross the street, and run a short distance to make a right on Allitsen Road.  Make a left on Townshend Road and follow it to its end, then make a right on Acacia Road and a quick left on Avenue Road.  Cross Avenue at the first crossing to run down Elsworthy Road.  At the end of Elsworthy, turn left onto Primrose Hill Road and follow it until you turn right onto England’s Lane.  At the end of England’s Lane, cross Haverstock Hill and go right just to take a left onto Parkhill Rd.  Follow Parkhill to its end, then take a right onto Mansfield Road and a left on Roderick Road.  At the end of Roderick, you will see the Heath entrance across the street.

Elsworthy to Heath Reverse 6 – 6.4 miles
Once you enter the Heath, turn right and run along the path above the track.  Turn left after you pass the cafe on your left.  Run straight along the path until you reach the end of the second pond.  Turn left and run straight along the path until it reaches a T.  Turn right and follow the path as it curves gently and then joins up with the path we take to enter the Heath on our standard 6-mile route.  Exit the park at Spaniards Road and turn left to run down Heath Street and Fitzjohn’s Avenue to Swiss Cottage.  From Swiss Cottage take St Johns Wood Park to Ordnance Road and turn right on St Johns Wood Terrace to end on the High Street.

Elsworthy to Heath Reverse 5 – 5.3 miles
Once you enter the Heath, turn left and stay to the left until you cross the pond, then carry on taking a basically straight path to exit the park at Well Walk (where the normal Betsy route enters the park).  Follow Well Walk until it turns into Flask Walk, and then carry on to the Hampstead High Street.  Cross the street and cut through Oriel Place to Heath Street, and then turn left to run all the way down Fitzjohn’s Avenue to Swiss Cottage.  From Swiss Cottage take St Johns Wood Park to Ordnance Road and turn right on St Johns Wood Terrace to end on the High Street.

WRW Return to Running

Hello runners!
I’m so excited to be writing to you again, and I want to start right in with giving all the welcomes and love… but I know you are anxious to hear the bottom line, so here it is:  We are planning to try to resume running together in a safe, limited way starting this Wednesday, Sept 2!!  As with everything in 2020, however, it’s complicated.  So please, please read the following thoroughly, because we have to make a lot of changes to our normal routine to do this in a safe, legal, and responsible way, both for ourselves and the wider community.

The Plan!  Below are the basics, to be followed by another e-mail with our first week of routes.  Please see here for a summary of our Covid-19 basic adaptations.  They are also covered throughout this e-mail in the context of our weekly running routine.

Meeting Place and Format.  We will no longer meet at Barclays!  Our new meeting place is the St Johns Wood Church Gardens, at the end of the SJW High Street, and across from Lord’s Cricket Ground on Wellington Rd.  The easiest entrance from St Johns Wood is on Wellington Place or on the High Street.  We will continue to meet at 8:15 for an 8:20 departure, but will plan to give a little extra time the first week to be sure that still works.  
Please wear a mask while in the park, and stay within your pace group.  Within the park we’ve designated areas for each pace group to meet (see map below).  It’s very important that you stick to these areas and maintain a significant distance between groups!  Current government guidance makes it illegal for groups greater than 30 people to meet even in public outdoor areas unless they are organised by a Covid-secure organisation, which we are not (see below).  We can be fined and effectively shut down for not observing these limits.  So as much as we’d like for everyone to be able to mill around as we normally do, we need to stay in separate pace groups– separate gatherings– for now.  And within these groups please keep social distancing, stay in groups of six or fewer (more on this below), and wear your mask until we leave the park to run.
“It’s against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes (including gardens and other outdoor spaces), or in a public outdoors space [emphasis added], unless planned by an organisation in compliance with COVID-19 secure guidance. The government will be introducing fines for those who facilitate or organise illegal gatherings of over 30 people.”  (“Meeting People from Outside your Household.”  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/meeting-people-from-outside-your-household-from-4-july updated 14 August 2020).

Running in packs of 6 (6-packs!).  To follow current UK government guidance, we must run in groups of six or fewer (see below).  Pace group leaders have recruited ‘6-pack leaders’ to lead runs on any given day.  With these leaders making themselves known (put up a hand!), we can organically group into packs as we arrive.  If you feel comfortable doing so, mix it up and run with different people on different days– one of the wonderful things about WRW has always been building new friendships.  We will need to leave a 2-3 minute space between 6-packs departing, so once a pack is assembled and ready, they can start off on the run (but delaying a couple of minutes if a group has just gone before them!).  And don’t forget to maintain social distancing within the 6-pack as much as possible.
 “activity can take place on a one-to-five basis only (i.e. one coach or leader and up to five athletes or runners OR up to six athletes and runners with no coach or leader present). These individuals do not need to be from the same family household, but all must adhere to the latest social distancing guidance.”  (“England Athletics Return to Activity: Guidance for Road Running Coaches.” 

https://d192th1lqal2xm.cloudfront.net/2020/08/EA-return-to-activity-guidance-road-running-coaches-04.08.2020.pdf_0.pdf, updated 4 August 2020).

The Routes.  To start, we will be running a limited number of 5-6 mile loop routes on a rotating basis. Our Routes team has put an incredible amount of thought into how to get us out and running together without overwhelming the pavements and severely annoying and/or frightening pedestrians.  In addition to their efforts to reroute us to avoid busy areas and busy times, we need to make sure we keep spacing between packs.  Even with the spacing, wave after wave of runners will create stress on the streets we’re using.  So we will be naming two routes each day:  the 8s and 10s will run one route, and the 9s and 11s will run the other.  The “Hustlers” (ramping up) group will be running its own routes to begin the year.  For the time being, Mondays we will be running in the direction of Hyde Park, Wednesdays will be runs in the direction of Regents Park, and Fridays will be in the direction of the Heath.  Runners are welcome to take other routes, or organize destination runs for small groups, but please pay attention to where we are already sending runners, as well as to the UK rules about spacing and group size.  We just feel that we cannot organise destination runs, including public transport, on behalf of the entire group at this time.

The Public.  As always, we want to be considerate to our community.  Anytime you are near other pedestrians, move to single file and make room for social distancing as best you can.  Even if we are model citizens, there will undoubtedly be times we are addressed or even yelled at by members of the public whose paths we cross.  Please take the high road with these individuals, and do not engage in a negative way.  We are easily identifiable as WRW.  Not only do we NOT want to be perceived as poor local citizens, but also, even one disgruntled person could cause enough trouble for us that we lose the opportunity to run as a group.  Please help us preserve a good reputation!

Our WRW Community.  It almost goes without saying that if you or anyone in your household is experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, you should not come out to run until you and your household have been cleared based on current UK guidelines.  If you develop symptoms after running with us, please notify us at [email protected] AND notify anyone with whom you have run in the past week.

Everyone involved in creating the WRW restart plan understands that each of us has our own personal comfort zone in this pandemic, and we respect each runner’s feelings and decisions regarding if and how they will interact within WRW.  We are here to be a supportive group of friends for all, so whether you are comfortable running in small groups with us or you prefer to keep to a more distanced routine at this point, WRW is here for you.  Through these e-mails and our WhatsApp groups, we will do our best to continue to support each other whatever the next weeks and months hold.  And we will keep looking forward to the day when we can all run and socialize together with less restrictions.

Okay, finally, finally, on the more personal side… Welcome back to all those just returning to London, and a big welcome to those new to London!  I’m looking forward to seeing you all– a few at a time and from an appropriate distance, soon!  Here on Day 13 of my quarantine, my nose is pressed against my front window and my toes are twitching to put on running shoes (or any shoes) and get outside.  I imagine some of you are similarly confined and ready to finally hit the pavements again.  Let’s focus together on how wonderful it will be to get back a little more WRW–it may all sound complicated and hard, but I know we can do it!  Stay tuned for the regularly scheduled, weekly WRW note– including routes and photos– later this weekend.
xx Micki