A London Runaround

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After finishing up a day of meetings a little after 6PM, I zipped back to the hotel via two different trains in the London Underground (subway system).  While light was slowly fading, I was able to make record time in changing into my running stuff and heading back out the door again.  Thankfully, it was all of 100 yards from the door of the hotel to the entrance to the park.

Welcome to The Green Park:

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Upon my arrival I found plenty of folks out doing various fitness things on the grassy areas.  From boxing to running to sprints to core exercises, lots of folks keeping busy.

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I meanwhile started here on my relatively short 40 minute run.  I figured I’d run around the perimeter of the park first.

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All of about 3-4 minutes later I found myself at a giant traffic circle in front of Buckingham Palace.  Thankfully, those storm clouds were headed away from me (and it only briefly sprinkled on me as I was walking from the hotel to start of run):

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To my right, would be the famous Buckingham Palace, complete with the guards standing out front:

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And even more tourists at the gate gazing inside.  Perhaps all hoping for a brief glimpse of the Queen, should she be inside.

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I left the Queen and all her men behind and rounded the corner down a road called ‘Birdcage Walk’.  This is only interesting in the fact that it’s where The Girl and I spent a fair bit of time during the London Olympics this past summer watching the women’s marathon.  In fact, this very spot below was where we stood.  It’s crazy to look at those photos then compared to now.

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I continued down the road and then made a brief dip through the edges of St. James Park.  This run was becoming a bit of a ‘park to park to park’ run.

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After leaving St. James Park behind I was only a few hundred meters away from probably the most famous cluster of sights in London.  Starting off with St. Margaret’s Church:

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(Sorry for the fuzzie’s, mid-run and dusk ends up like that sometimes)

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Which is part of Westminster Abbey.  That being the place where Kate and Will got hitched just over two years ago.

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As I continue around the traffic circle, we’ve got the most famous sight of all – Big Ben:

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Behind him you can see the London Eye wheel sticking up:

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As I ran under the shadow of him I quickly ended up down along the River Thames, across from the London Eye:

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While running along I saw what would be the probably the 1,328th cyclist that afternoon.  These ones on the city’s bike-sharing program’s bikes.  But, beyond that (as you can see in the photo), there were just tons of cyclists.  Easily putting Paris to shame, where I see what I thought was tons of cyclists there.

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I decided to go ahead and cross over the river:

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From there I worked my way back down to the other side past a bit of some sort of event going on near the Eye.

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Of course, while running past that area I saw one of the famous red telephone booths.  Albeit this one with legs, and arms.  I’d watch out for those ones – nothing good comes of a telephone booth that can run after and tackle you.

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Given my options of bridges to cross back over, I picked Westminster Bridge and wandered back across towards Westminster Abbey:

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From there I made a bee-line across St. James Park again, this time swinging past the pelicans.  They’re on the rocks out in the water, and those buggers are really rather big!

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Definitely would not want to have an angry pelican after me.

Back across in front of Buckingham Palace I went:

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And then up alongside Green Park again.  As was the case all night, massive numbers of running groups out.  You don’t really see much of that in Paris on a normal weekday.  There are some weekend-type clubs you see, but nothing approaching the sheer volume of people and organized groups I saw here.

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Next it was past Wellington Arch and over towards Hyde’s Park.  This is where the men’s and women’s triathlon zipped through during the middle of the bike course.

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A short bit later I found myself running along the Serpentine.  It’s a little pond (mini-lake I suppose).  Where I was running was exactly where the triathlon run portion was held.

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And the swim, was held here in the waters in front of it:

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In fact, just across the other side of this photo (on the other side of the pond) was where I sat and stood watching both the men’s and women’s triathlon last August.  Here’s my spectator report for the Men’s Triathlon, and here’s the Women’s Triathlon.  I got a lot of really fun photos in there.  It’s kinda neat to look back through them.

With my visit to those grounds complete, I worked my way back towards the hotel.  Obviously, a self-shot was in order:

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As I made my way back to the hotel in those last few minutes I got the final two shots needed to properly finish off the post (since apparently neither the Queen nor Kate was going to make an appearance).

First, no London Runaround would be complete unless I had a red double-decker bus in there.  And since there was this old-school red buggy in front of the buses in the background, it was like two for the price of one!

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And lastly of course there’s the legit red telephone booth.  In front of the Hard Rock Café no less.

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With that, I stopped at the below wall, just next door to the hotel.  Seemed fitting if you asked me!

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Here’s my total route picture, or the link if you want to poke around at it and zoom in/out.

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With that, I’m already back on the high-speed train home to Paris – it was just a quick trip for some meetings.  Fear not, I’ll be back again!  As always, thanks for reading!

Oh, P.S. – For those interested in all my London Olympic 2012 photo-filled posts from last summer, here they are:

My Spectator Report: London 2012 Olympics – Women’s Triathlon

My Spectator Report: London 2012 Olympics–Women’s Marathon

My Spectator Report: London 2012 Olympics – Men’s Triathlon

London 2012 Olympics odds, ends, and fun leftovers

And if you still have more time to burn, start here with my previous Olympics posts

Enjoy!

16 Comments

  1. Yep, we have a lot of runners and cyclists in London, despite the weather!

    BTW, you can swim in Serpentine Lake (Hyde Park), there is a place near Lido cafe where it's allowed, about 500 meters from the place you've turned left ;). Go there next time if you can, it's open every day during summer.

    Reply
  2. Matt Underwood

    "and those buggers are really rather big!"

    Very good.. Picked up a bit of the lingo on your stay in The Smoke did you?

    Toodle pip!

    Reply
  3. Steve

    There's more to the UK than London! Try fell running in the Lake District or maybe even link to theblenheimtriathlon.com

    Reply
  4. rjp

    OBLIGATORY LONDONER PEDANTRY: That's not Big Ben. Big Ben is the bell. That's the Elizabeth Tower (formerly the Clock Tower.)

    Reply
  5. BillM

    I've seen all those sights over the years I lived in UK. However I've never seen all of them in the space of one day. Running is such a good way to get an overview of an area. I wonder do garmin etc do downloadable maps of such tourist hotspots that you can put on your gps watch, if so tourism sites should promote the notion of a run as a way of getting to know an area after you arrive in town.

    Reply
    • portlandpaul replied

      Although not quite that neat, Gamin's website does have the "Explore, Courses" option. It lists routes/events that people have created on a map. For US locations it also has a color-coded "hotspot" map so you can see the most common workout routes. I used it on a recent trip to Phoenix and found a nice canal route close to my hotel. Strava and Mapmyrun/ride have the routes options, but not the funky 'hot-spot' maps.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, you'll see it come to some top international cities soon as well. The heatmaps are cool. I wish we could customize them more though (i.e. see my own heat maps), or be more widely available (like Nike+ has).

      Reply
  6. RV

    Nice run, and even dry. Even better I see sun.
    After seeing this vid: link to youtube.com
    I never ever get near Pelicans anymore (second thought is to know why a Pelican is the logo for many blood donation centers).

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Oh my. That's incredible. The Girl and I just sat here and probably watched that 5 times over.

      Reply
  7. Adam Lewis

    What you may not have realised on your buses photo is that you actually caught the new hop on hop off bus in there. A modern day version of the old school buses on trial by Boris! It has the curved back.

    (I work 2 mins from that picture and run around those parks at lunch / after work. If you fancy a running partner next time shout. I'm a 6:30 min/ mile runner.... with the wind behind me!!)

    Reply
  8. Tuesday and Thursday night seem to be the biggest nights for running clubs in London. There are are pretty decent number of summer races series as well.

    If you are ever in London on a Tuesday nighy and fancy a track session with Kent AC let me know.

    Reply
  9. So pelicans are the new sheep, I gather?
    Nice writeup :)

    Reply
  10. Scott Cowan

    Usually the gate under the arch is open, It's a made dash on a bike because you can just make the light on the other side of the roundabout

    Reply
  11. 'Traffic circle'... awwww.

    Natively I'm a Londoner but I'm away at college on the other side of the country so I'm having to get my fix of the big smoke from blogs - I love that your impression of it was how many cyclists you saw - it certainly hasn't always been like that xD

    Reply
  12. Hey Ray,

    Great site. Inspired by this run, I've done similar on recent run of mine; figured I would share ;)

    An Orlando Runaround

    Thanks for great site; cheers from Orlando!

    Reply
  13. A bit of local trivia for you: the "old-school red buggy" is one of Imperial College London's mascots, and goes by the name of Boanerges. It's maintained by the students, based in a garage on the South Kensington campus. (Other mascots include a very large spanner, and an even larger thermometer - this is what you get when you have a university that only offers science programs!)

    link to wwwf.imperial.ac.uk

    Reply

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