Peckham Rye parkrun: introducing Del Boy’s parkrun


Stick a barcode in me pocket.
I’ll fetch the trainers from the closet.
Cause if you want the best parkrun
And you don’t ask questions
Then Peckham is your one

Where these runners come from
Is a mystery.
It’s like 9 in the morning,
At least it’s free.
But here’s the thing that’s driving me beserk,
Why do owners allow their dogs to lurk?
La la lala – la la la la la (etc)

To a boy growing up in the West Midlands in the 1990s, my only knowledge of Peckham was from Only Fools and Horses. I wasn’t alone, I’m sure. Peckham was dodgy market traders, dingy cafés and Nelson Mandela House. If London seemed big and scary, Peckham was its microcosm.

Peckham has a parkrun now. Or, should I say, Peckham Rye. Big difference that. Like adding Hill to Streatham or South to Croydon. Parkrun is an inherently good thing. David Cameron must love it. Parkrun screams Big Society. Remember that? People independently doing stuff to help themselves, each other and their communities. That is parkrun.

My motivation for running today – I’m not allowed to say racing – wasn’t altruism. It was a fast time. Or a first place – and, as this was the first event, a course record. I had to do something. Those running the 95 miles of the West Highland Way race were making me feel lazy.

Off the field – a perfect 200 – went, down a gentle hill and away on lap one. I picked my through the early enthusiasts to gain second and began to chase down the leader. The course? Three laps. Lots of twists and turns. Gently undulating but enough to see off personal bests. The fast, local boys will still go to Dulwich. It was undoubtedly pleasant.

I was on the other runner’s shoulder with a lap to go, only for him to nudge ahead again. My post-Man v Horse legs were done by his spurt and once onto the lower half of the lap we were both caught in running traffic that prevented excessive recklessness. I settled for second. No first place. No fast time. No course record. Not for me, anyway. What would Del Boy say? He who dares wins. He who hesitates… doesn’t.

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