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Date : 9th April, 2021
Time : 1h 13’ 56”
Number of runners (total to date) : 2 (7106)
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/6577355313
The London Borough of Greenwich* contains so much famous stuff that I suspect most of us could put together a running route taking in the main sights. But it takes a local to really open your eyes to the less well known – but still amazing – hidden quirks that seem to exist around every Greenwich corner. And it’s hard to imagine a better local for the job than Paul Tonks – a Greenwich born and bred ultra-runner nutter and all round nice guy.
We met at the Millenium Dome which, I subsequently learnt, is the 8th largest building in the world by usable space. Created to celebrate the third millennium , it opened on 1st January 2000 (I know, I know – the third millennium didn’t start until 1st January 2001) and was originally seen as a classic ‘white elephant’ before becoming, as the O2 Arena, the world’s most successful arena in terms of tickets sold.
We started the actual run at a ‘Slice of Reality’ – Richard Wilson’s vertical section of a sand dredger which sits on the Line – an art trail that runs between the Dome and the Orbit in the Olympic Park.
From there we ran west along the Thames past ‘Here’ which sits on the prime meridian – the imaginary line which divides East from West. As the sign pictured above says, its 24 859 miles around the world – via the poles – from that point. I suspect that even Paul might struggle with that distance…
We continued south and west along the Thames – with Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs to our west and north – to the Old Royal Naval College.
The Old Royal Naval College is the architectural centrepiece of Maritime Greenwich, a World Heritage Site in Greenwich, London, described by UNESCO as being of “outstanding universal value” and reckoned to be the “finest and most dramatically sited architectural and landscape ensemble in the British Isles”.
If it looks familiar, despite the fact you’ve never been there, it’s because it’s been a location for endless films and TV series including Patriot Games, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Madness of King George, The Mummy Returns, The Avengers Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Spooks Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The King’s Speech, The Dark Knight Rises, Les Miserables. Thor: The Dark World. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. You get the point, it’s been used a lot…
Next up was the Cutty Sark – famed and perfectly preserved clipper ship which set various records for various routes in its day.
And then an extraordinary life sized statue /sculpture of 6ft 8 Peter the Great celebrating his Grand Embassy visit to the UK to learn about shipbuilding and to strengthen the Holy League (an alliance of European countries against the Ottoman Empire). His entourage included 4 dwarves which explains (I think) the middle – shorter – figure in the photo below. (The medium sized bloke on the left is me.)
Back through the centre of Greenwich via Greenwich market, the ‘dead parrot’ in the grounds of the national Maritime Museum
the first shop in the world
the ‘ship in the bottle’
to Greenwich Park famous, inter alia, for being the site of the Royal Observatory.
By JaneArt – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8933484
The Observatory played a major role in the history of astronomy and navigation, and because the Prime Meridian passes through it, gave its name to Greenwich Mean Time. It also has a clock which prompted the following not remotely embarrassing conversation:
Me, “This is the last place I would have expected to find a clock showing the wrong time!”
Paul, “Um, its a 24 hour clock…”
You also get great views north over London from here.
And just south of the Observatory is the area you congregate in prior to the London marathon – which we ran past on our way to the south gate for a picture of the (somewhat non-descript) London marathon starting line. Believe me, it all looks very different with tens of thousands of people setting off on their marathon.
From there we crossed Blackheath – so named for the Black Death victims buried there (or the colour of the soil depending on who you believe) – to Point Hill for another superb view over London before wending our way back through the park, past Henry Moore’s Knife Edge
to Greenwich station.
A simply fantastic 10km – run the route if you possibly can. Ideally with Paul!
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*A little bit of background. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – Run the World – to complete a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world. (I’ve run in 183 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.
In addition to completing a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world, I’m also doing 44 runs in the UK. Taking the global total to 250 runs. Why? Because 250 runs is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. Which is a metre for every one of the two and a half million cancer sufferers in the UK.
All well and good but the question we asked ourselves at Run the World HQ is : where should those 44 UK runs take place? And part of the answer – three-quarters to be exact – is that 33 of them will take place in London. One in each of the 32 London boroughs plus one in the City of London.
We’re calling this the ‘London Borough Challenge’ and I’m hoping to run with as many people – and social running groups and crews and clubs – as possible!