If we couldn't persuade you to go for a cycle to Brixton last weekend, maybe we can get you to go for a run this Saturday at 9am in Teddington? You wouldn't be alone, you know. Last time out 292 people took part in the Bushy Park Time Trial, a 5km (3.1 mile) weekly run open to anybody, whatever their standard, who'd simply like to turn up on the day and take part.
Last week's winner came home in at 1 second over 16 minutes and the final finisher crossed the line 1 second inside 48 minutes, though the crucial thing was that they'd improved their personal best by 114 seconds. For some winning the race itself is the primary goal, but for many more it's about steady improvement and the enjoyment of running alongside other like-minded people. Since the first event in October 2004, when only 13 people came under starter's orders, a total of 125 weekly races have been held with 116 different winners breaking the tape, 2,859 athletes taking part an average of five times each and around 30 runners joining in for the first time each week.
The event is totally free to all and is staffed completely by volunteers. Weekly, monthly and annual prizes are available, results are usually emailed to each participant by 2pm on the day of running and sometimes appear in local papers. Photos of almost every runner are published on the site each week (you can choose to have pictures of yourself removed if you're publicity shy), with more photographers welcome if you're a snapper rather than a sprinter. Afterwards you are welcome join a friendly group for a drink in the Caffe Nero coffee shop in Broad Street, Teddington "for conversations about running, life and beyond".
The event always starts from the car park (where there is ample parking) near the Diana fountain at the southern, Hampton Court end of Bushy Park. Buses to Teddington or Hampton Court will get you within a ten minute warm-up jog of the starting line. If you do decide to give it a try:
Please register your name with one of the friendly people with clipboards. Please be ready to run at 9.00am prompt. The starter often gives very little notice. The first few hundred metres of the course are very rough. Please look out for ruts, potholes, tree stumps, tables, benches, people, small children and animals.
Picture via wokka's Flickr stream.