It was a great week to run together, and I remain so thankful we are able to do so! Seeing many of you out running– in our six-packs, and socially distant, of course– has been a welcome slice of almost-normal. Thanks to all for being conscientious in following the guidelines and helping to keep our community safe. This week is another long e-mail filled with updated instructions… believe me, I would love to have it just be a breezy congrats on another good week! But these things are important in allowing us to go forward with running somewhat together, so please give the whole e-mail a good read. In addition, you can find our basic Covid-19 guidelines here.
Monday, as you all know, brings a new round of government restrictions to combat Covid-19. It is still legal to meet up and exercise in groups of six or fewer, so we believe WRW can continue to meet if we are very strict with ourselves about how we do our meet-up before runs, what we do when we see each other along the way, and how we handle ourselves after our runs. So, the changes we need to make from how we’ve been meeting the last two weeks are relatively small, but really significant:
Meeting in the Park
- We must continue to wear a mask in the park for the entire meet-up time.
- In the park we will collect into groups of six or fewer upon arrival, and move significantly away from other groups, leaving several meters of spacing between groups. We really must do this right away, not allowing larger groups to form at all! If we fail in this, we may have to suspend our group-organised runs. (And we may find ourselves facing government fines!)
- To the extent possible, we should use our Whatsapp groups to self-organise ahead of meetup times. For example, even if just a couple of people go on and say ‘I’m doing five miles today’ or ‘I’m doing the loop’ (or whatever the variation in route or pace), others will have a marker to look for upon arrival. It probably won’t be possible to entirely organise groups that way, but it may help us self-sort more easily.
- If there are partial groups assembling and waiting for others who are running similar distance and pace, make sure we are spaced into separate groups. So if there are three people from one six-pack and three from another, keeping a space between them from the start will make it easier to avoid accidentally finding ourselves in larger groups.
Out on the run
- We will continue to carefully think through the routes we suggest, to try to ensure we aren’t sending too many people the same way, or going into crowded spaces at the busiest times.
- Within our six-packs, we ALL need to be careful to give pedestrians plenty of room: move to single file when passing someone, anticipate when we will need to move over so we don’t cut too close to them, and just generally try to be polite no matter what attitudes we encounter. Tempers are short in these times, and even if we are doing everything right, there are just going to be people who don’t like what we’re doing.
- If you run into another six-pack while out on a run, don’t linger together. Even though we may feel like we’re still in motion if we’re mid-run, stopping for selfies with twelve people is still breaking the six-person government rule. (So be super quick with those cameras and greetings! And please don’t be offended if, for now, we don’t put photos with more than six on our “official” communications.)
After the run
- Our presence on the St Johns Wood High Street is being noted by the community around us, and even by our own kids. As much as we love our post-run coffees and seeing others we didn’t run with, we need to keep to the rules here as well: no more than six people together, and more than just token space between groups.
- It’s a good time to consider temporarily trying new coffee spots near the end of a route– the park, the other end of the high street, or a nearby area such as Maida Vale or Swiss Cottage. (But don’t get too used to it– someday we will all come together at the end of a run again!)
Running this Week.
We begin the week with our Hyde Park routes. Remember that we have two NEW ways to run to the park, both avoiding the busy Lisson Grove area during school dropoff times (though the loop-routes come back that way later in the morning). These runs have loop options from 4 miles to any distance you care to add in the park. Our ‘destination’ option for this week continues on from Hyde Park to Sloane Square (for about 4 miles), with options on to Westminster (6 miles) or Green Park (7 miles). On Wednesday we are going to try two old standard routes in reverse: Notting Hill (6.5 miles, or stop/walk from St Johns Wood Road for 6) and Camden/Mornington Crescent (5 miles). Both of these routes use the canal towpath for a couple of miles, so we are reversing them to hit the canal later in the morning, when there are hopefully fewer commuters. And, of course, our Regents Park routes are always an option on Wednesdays. Friday we will continue to learn the new routes to the Heath. This week the 8s and 10s will use the Belsize Lane/Thurlow Rd route, and the 9s and 11s will use the Elsworthy Rd route. We have mapped mileage variations from 5-8 miles (see here for our maps, though keep in mind they are routed the old way up Fitzjohn Ave). AND, I keep forgetting to mention that for those not averse to finding a way home by bike, taxi or public transport, our beloved Borough Market routes are always an option on Fridays! See below for more on routes, including links to new RunGo maps!
During lockdown, many of us began using the RunGo app, which allows us to take maps and step-by-step directions with us on our phones. Thanks go to Amy Grace for working to bring our newer routes into the app quickly so we can all avoid being lost! Download the app and connect to the group WRW London to see the routes. As we will continue to offer a greater number of routes each week, we may start to use links to RunGo routes in place of some of our basic in e-mail maps in future.
We all know it’s hard to say goodbye, but we don’t expect to have to do it in September! This week we very sadly have to say our farewell to one of our 11s Pace Group Leaders, Ann Sharma, who is headed to the Seattle area. We are sending all of our best WRW love and good wishes with you, Ann!
Upcoming events. As we mentioned last week, if races are happening in the Spring, we will, of course, plan to take WRW to one! In this landscape of unknowns, we can’t say what the exact timing will be– but likely late March or early April, as usual. The Royal Parks Half has announced a ‘surprise lottery’ for places in their rescheduled race, now planned for Sunday, April 11. The ballot opens Wednesday, September 16, and will be open for a week. Another local half marathon planned for that timeframe is the London Landmarks Half on March 28 (not yet open for registration). It is possible that either of these local races might conflict with whatever race trip we might conjure, but we thought we should let you know about them. For some runners, the entry fee may be worth it to hedge a bet on being able to run a race in the spring. (Last year the London Landmarks half was on the same weekend as our Prague half marathon and, in the end, both were canceled).
Finally, I want to say again, that as we consider how to officially conduct WRW during these times, we are aware that there will always be a wide range of individual feelings and comfort levels within any large group regarding how to respond to the pandemic. While our plan aims to respect the letter and spirit of the guidelines, we also respect people’s individual choices about how to respond. As we’ve said before, whether you are comfortable joining a group run or prefer to stick to solo or prearranged group runs, we are here to support you. There are so many ways for us to stay connected now, and our shared lockdown experience taught us all that we can ‘be there’ for each other in all circumstances.
Looking forward to our runs this week, to seeing some of your faces, and to proving to ourselves and to others that we can adapt to these new guidelines and– just keep running!
Monday, September 14 – Hyde Park via two Routes, with Destination Options to Sloane Square/Westminster/Green Park (4 – 7 miles)
8s and 10s pace groups – Hyde Park via Regent’s Park
RunGo link: https://routes.rungoapp.com/route/WV7sVAqTR5
From the church gardens, run down Park St to the mosque to enter Regents. Once in the park, turn right and run along the outer circle of the park and exit at Baker St. Turn right on to Park Rd, then left onto Ivor Place and left again on to Gloucester Place. Run along Gloucester Place towards Oxford St. Once you cross over Oxford St, Gloucester Place becomes Park St. Continue along and turn right at Brooke St and enter Hyde Park. To return to St John’s Wood, turn right and run towards our usual entrance to the park. To make the run longer, pick up any of the regular Hyde Park routes from where you enter. Click here for the routes.
On to Sloane Square/Westminster
Turn left and run down towards the southern edge, following the path to the right before it leaves the Park. Run to the large gated exit (Albert Gate) before the tall ‘One Hyde Park’ complex, cross Knightsbridge and turn right on Knightsbridge, then a left onto Sloane Street after Harvey Nichols. Follow Sloane St until it ends at Sloane Square. Continue past Sloane Sq down Lower Sloane St/Chelsea Bridge Road to the Thames. Turn left on the Thames side of Grosvenor Rd and run along the embankment to Westminster Tube. See below for the map from the edge of Hyde Park to Sloane Square/Westminster/Green Park.
9s and 11s pace groups – Hyde Park via Westbourne Terrace
RunGo link: https://routes.rungoapp.com/route/j7nkmylery
From the church gardens exit towards Wellington Rd, cross at the zebra crossing and turn left. At the traffic lights turn right on St John’s Wood Rd. Run along St John’s Wood Rd and turn left at Cunningham Place and right at Aberdeen Place, which turns into Blomfield. Run along Blomfield towards the canal. Do not get on the canal but instead cross over it and take the Westbourne Bridge under the Westway (A40). Run south on Westbourne Terrace and, at the fork, bear right to enter Hyde Park at Lancaster Gate. From here you can take any of our Hyde Park routes (click here for the routes).
On to Sloane Square/Westminster
Turn left, run up the hill and cross Carriage Drive. Start running towards Speakers Corner but quickly take the first diagonal path. Follow this to Serpentine Rd, cross it and run straight to the large gated exit (Albert Gate) before the tall ‘One Hyde Park’ complex, cross Knightsbridge and turn right on Knightsbridge, then a left onto Sloane Street after Harvey Nichols. Follow Sloane St until it ends at Sloane Square. Continue past Sloane Sq down Lower Sloane St/Chelsea Bridge Road to the Thames. Turn left on the Thames side of Grosvenor Rd and run along the embankment to Westminster Tube.
Wednesday, September 16 – Reverse Notting Hill OR Reverse Camden/Mornington Crescent
8s and 10s pace groups – Reverse Notting Hill (6.5 miles)
RunGo link: https://routes.rungoapp.com/route/G4FcjiR2h9
Run down Circus Road and turn left on Grove End. Turn right on St. John’s Wood Rd and then left on Cunningham Place. Make your next right onto Aberdeen, cross Maida Vale and continue on Blomfield Rd. Turn left onto Westbourne Terrace Rd to cross the canal and immediately turn left to enter the canal, keeping straight. Just after you pass under the Westway, turn right and then left into Sheldon Square. Head out of Paddington Basin, going up the steps, and turn right onto Bishop’s Bridge Rd. Run for about a mile and turn right onto Ledbury Rd. Make your second left onto Colville Terrace. Turn right onto Ladbroke Grove and run to the canal, entering where we usually exit. Turn right and run on the canal until Westbourne Terrace Rd, exiting to cross the bridge and turn right onto Blomfield. Run back the way we came – left onto Cunningham, right on St. John’s Wood Rd, left on Grove End and right on Circus Rd.
9s and 11s pace groups – Reverse Camden/Mornington Crescent (5 miles)
RunGo link: https://routes.rungoapp.com/route/2wR1WTbGbe
Run south on Wellington Rd, cross at the zebra crossing and turn left onto Prince Albert Rd. Enter the park at Charlbert and turn left to run around the Outer Circle. Head out of the park at Park Square, turning left onto Marylebone Rd. Turn left onto Osnaburgh St and then right into Triton St. Take the second left to connect through to Stanhope St. Continue on Stanhope and turn right onto Varndell St. Then take a right onto Hampstead Rd. Turn left onto Mornington Crescent and then left onto Arlington Rd. When it ends, cross the street and go straight to get to the canal. Cross over the bridge to the left and run straight on the canal. Exit the canal at Charlbert and head to St Johns Wood, or take a detour in the park if you want to extend your distance.
Friday, September 18 – Reverse Heath Routes (5-8 miles)
8s and 10s pace groups – Hampstead Heath via Thurlow Rd
RunGo link: https://routes.rungoapp.com/route/i8RgRtOTQE
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 miKeep 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.
9s and 11s pace groups – Hampstead Heath via Elsworthy Rd
RunGo link: https://routes.rungoapp.com/route/OGdOHtpFkK
Exit 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 milesOnce 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.
Click here for maps of all of the Heath routes.
Facebook Group: Women Running The World (request to join)
RunGo Group: WRW London (https://routes.rungoapp.com/group/wrw)Email: email@example.com