Photograph: Bruce Li
Every Saturday tens of thousands people take part in one of the 1,000 parkrun events worldwide and nowhere are you more spoiled for choice than London, the city where it all began. With 47 different events within the Greater London area, there’s more choice than anywhere else.
There are even so-called “parkrun tourists” who attempt to compete in all the capital’s events – an achievement labelled #LonDone. We’re assuming you’re not going to take on this challenge, but it’s well worth mixing things up with a new course every once in a while. Pick from our handy list of the very best 5K runs the city has to offer.
Best For A PB: Hackney Marshes parkrun, E9
The best recipe for a parkrun personal best is a flat course that doesn’t have too many twists and turns, or one that isn’t run over several laps, which can lead to congestion and hinder your record attempt. The Hackney Marshes event ticks all these boxes. PB seekers should also try the Burgess Park, Southwark, Fulham Palace and Dulwich parkruns. parkrun.org.uk/hackney-marshes
Best For A Big Turnout: Bushy parkrun, TW11
The original parkrun now regularly attracts over 1,000 runners, giving it an unrivalled atmosphere. Past competitors include Sir Mo Farah and the fastest parkrun time of all was set here by Olympian Andrew Baddeley, who ran 13min 48sec in 2012. parkrun.org.uk/bushy
Best For A High Ranking: Pymmes parkrun, N18
If you’ve never managed to grab a single or double-digit finishing token, head to Pymmes parkrun in north London, where the turnout hovers around the 50-person mark. The smaller crowd also makes for a very friendly affair. parkrun.org.uk/pymmes
Best For Hill Training: Hilly Fields parkrun, SE4
The area of London just south of the river is awash with fast, flat parkruns, but Hilly Fields is definitely not one of them. The undulating course is a mix of Tarmac and grass and each lap finishes with a sharp uphill section. Other courses to try include Ally Pally, Crystal Palace, Gladstone Park and Lloyd Park. parkrun.org.uk/hillyfields
Best For Views: Ally Pally parkrun, N22
Thankfully neither of Ally Pally’s routes (it changes to a less grassy course in the winter) requires runners to climb to the very top of the park, but both still offer spectacular vistas of London. If you still have energy after the run, you can head to the top of the park to see even more of the city. parkrun.org.uk/allypally
Hardest: Lloyd parkrun, CR0
It’s also in the running for the title of hilliest course, but we’ve instead opted to name Lloyd parkrun simply the toughest event in the capital. The park is used for cross-country running, which means muddy woodland tracks that make the uphills all the harder. Leave your nicest trainers at home. parkrun.org.uk/lloyd