Stayin' Alive: a parkrun challenge in homage to the Bee Gees
PUBLISHED: 10:25 03 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:25 03 December 2019
Athletics correspondent Carl Marston is travelling around the region (and beyond) running in different parkruns. Here he heads to Gunnersbury parkrun and reveals his Stayin' Alive Challenge
Back in the day, I was often likened to a member of the Bee Gees (Barry Gibb, I believe), by my esteemed colleagues in the Archant newspaper office, on account of my beard and longish hair.
Sometimes, not often, but occasionally I would hear strains of 'Stayin Alive' or 'Tragedy' as I walked through the office, all very good-natured banter. I have endured worse, over the years!
Personally, I am not actually a huge Bee Gees fan, although I have been known to tap my foot along to a few of their many hits of the 1970s and 1980s, whenever their tight harmonies grace the airwaves.
And you can't really argue with a band that has sold more than 120 million records, worldwide.
But what has this got to do with parkrun?
Well, quite a lot as it happens, prompted by my visit to Gunnersbury parkrun in West London on Saturday.
There are many unofficial 'Running Challenges' which inhabit the world of parkrun, some of them obvious, others more obscure.
The 'Stayin' Alive' challenge is one of the more obscure - basically, it requires a runner/walker to complete three 'B's and three 'G's to join this unofficial group.
I am a member, a Bee Gees look-a-like member, if you prefer.
Other 'Running Badge' Challenges exist, in the fine world of parkrun, including Stopwatch Bingo (finish-time ending in each second, from 0 to 59) and the Alphabeteer (locations starting with each letter of the alphabet).
But, for the moment, this is all about 'Stayin' Alive.'
I don't have many reasons to go to Beckton, a recently developed area in the Borough of Newham, just to the north of the River Thames - but the Beckon parkrun is one of them.
The site was unpopulated marshland, up until the 18th century, since when a local sewage works, then a gas works and more recently the Docklands expansion has seen the population rocket.
The numbers at the weekly Beckton parkun have not really 'rocketed,' since its formation in the summer of 2012. Average fields hover around the 50-mark.
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There was a field of 62 when I rolled into this corner of East London, at Beckton District Park South, a couple of weeks before last year's London Marathon.
The course is great. Two laps, including an out-and-back section along the Beckton Corridor. Fast, low-key, friendly, the lesser known older brother of the more popular nearby Victoria Docks parkrun.
It was a foggy drive down to West London, to take part in last Saturday's 415th edition of the Gunnersbury parkrun, in South Ealing, first staged in the autumn of 2011, just over eight years ago.
But the fog eventually lifted to reveal another appetising parkrun course, in the Capital, two flat laps skirting the boating lake and then the Potomac fishing lake. Some of the paths are a little bumpy and uneven, at the far end of the park, but you can see why fields of around 500 flock here every week.
I started far too quickly, and lost count of the number of runners who glided past, as if I was standing still. Will I ever learn?
The father of all parkruns, I made my pilgrimage to this grand Old Master almost exactly a year ago (December 15, for event No. 765).
It was an icy morning, but that didn't stop 1,107 of us charging around Bushy Park, in Teddington.
The last 15-and-a-bit years have seen Bushy Park mature, not wilt. In fact, only last weekend it had the biggest attendance (2,181) of all the 1,565 parkruns worldwide.
Hemel Hempstead is not an obvious venue to run in the Bee Gees Stayin' Alive Challenge, but it does play host to the Gadebridge parkrun in Gadebridge Park.
I tackled this tough cross country circuit, which includes a steep grassy climb the other side of the chalk stream (River Gade), at the beginning of the year. And my legs are still feeling the effects.
It was blowing a gale when I attempted to storm around this four-lapper in Lake Meadows Park. The red cones were even pegged down with tent pegs at the finish.
The wind was a 'Heartbreaker.'
3G Grovelands, Enfield
Bliss. The serenity of Grovelands Park, a haven in the Borough of Enfield, and a worthy member of any Stayin' Alive Challenge.
It visited in February of 2018, but be warned - it's no stroll in the park. The steep hill to The Priory Hospital has to be negotiated thrice.