Here in England, we’re half-way into #Lockdown2, and we’re back to those strange days from earlier this year of staying at home and minimising social interactions. Zoom fatigue may be starting to get to you again (hey, we’ve all been there), but not all virtual events need be a drag. This week, Burgess Run Director Madeleine MATOS looks back on her experiences of running together with the Burgess family, whilst still staying physically apart. It turns out, you can take the parkrunner out of Burgess, but you can’t take Burgess out of the parkrunner.
What is the ‘virtual’ Southwark Slam?
Some of you may have heard of, even partaken in, some of the previous editions of the Southwark Slam - an unofficial parkrun challenge organised by some Burgess regulars. It’s a simple concept - there are four different parkruns in the London borough of Southwark, namely in Southwark Park, Peckham Rye, Dulwich Park, and Burgess Park. You become an official ‘slammer’ if you complete all of them in September - be this running or volunteering (in BC - before COVID - times).
It all started in 2015, but there have already been some deviations. For example, last year the Southwark Slam took place in November rather than September due to lots of people being away and the volunteer roster looking a bit too thin. Surely then parkrun being on pause would not be able to thwart the 2020 Southwark Slam!
Lo and behold, parkrun having launched (not)parkrun, Aqasa NU was quick to adapt the Southwark Slam to this (not)parkrun world. To complete the 2020 Southwark Slam, you had to change your parkrun profile home event to:
- Southwark parkrun in week one (05/09/20);
- Peckham Rye parkrun in week two (12/09/20);
- Dulwich parkrun in week three (19/09/20); and lastly
- Burgess parkrun in week four (25/09/20).
This would give you a full virtual Southwark Slam!
How it took a pandemic for me to become a ‘slammer’
I had never managed to complete a Southwark Slam, as I had never been in London for all weekends in September (or November last year, for that matter). This year, I thought I would finally be able to make it, especially given all the travel restrictions. However, life had some different plans, and due to some unforeseen circumstances, I found myself in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg from August. My aspirations of finally becoming a ‘slammer’ seemed scuppered - yet the Southwark Slam going virtual actually enabled me to do it! (There’s almost always a silver lining...!)
I set myself the target of running a different 5km route each week and submitting it as a (not)parkrun for the relevant parkrun that week. Things were looking a bit dire at the start of September, though. I was nursing an injury and unable to run - but that’s where the brilliance of parkrun comes in, as I was able to walk the 5km instead! And so, I completed the first leg of the 2020 virtual Southwark Slam in a time of 53:45 with a Southwark (not)parkrun logged that Sunday. I did have the company of my dad throughout, even though I’m not sure he’s aware he completed a (not)parkrun. (He’s not registered with parkrun, something I’ve been trying to correct for a while, but to no avail!) Perhaps it has something to do with there being no parkruns in Luxembourg or Portugal... at least, not yet!
Now, for the Peckham Rye (not)parkrun, my injury was improving and I managed to complete it in 29:39, this time unaccompanied. However, I hadn’t quite perfected my 5km loop planning. As my (not)parkruns took me into some unchartered territory up some hills and into some forests, so I just stopped the watch when I reached 5km. For your enjoyment, here’s definitely (not)Peckham...
For Dulwich (not)parkrun, I had pretty much recovered from the injury, was breaking in some new shoes and managed to perfect a 5km loop in 30:24, again unaccompanied. Moreover, I did it on a Saturday, so a bit closer to the BC parkrun…! Here’s what my (not)Dulwich looked like...
For the grand finale, Burgess (not)parkrun, I was running out of 5km loops around my parents’ house, so I just used my mum’s 6km route and stopped the watch at 5km (again). I managed to get round in 26:13 and on a Saturday, too. There seems to be something about running your ‘home’ parkrun, even when away and nowhere near the course, that just makes you go that little bit faster than for all the previous ones.
It has been pretty amazing that this strange set of circumstances has led to me finally becoming a ‘slammer’. It’s also shown how we can still be connected to our community - even when far apart. I must confess, I was always a bit nervous about changing my home parkrun away from Burgess to take part in the challenge - what if I forgot to set it back? But it was all worth it, for the chance to feel a bit of the Burgess magic in Luxembourg!
Who else was ‘slamming’ it?
Every year, many people accidentally complete at least one leg of the Southwark Slam, by being in the right place at the right time. A grand total of 76 parkrunners completed at least one leg this year. How many of them were intentional slammers and how many of them just happened to be running at their home event in any given week, we’ll leave to your interpretation…
Sean O’SULLIVAN and Jo MEEHAN both completed a half-Slam, joining in all the fun with a Southwark (not)parkrun and Peckham Rye (not)parkrun.
Petra EGAN and Carol HUSTLER went one further, with both racking up three out of the four weeks. Petra ran at Southwark, Dulwich and Burgess, and Carol ran at Southwark, Peckham and Burgess.
Another four people completed the entire Slam! Now, you already know that I was one of the four who made it to the end. It will come as no surprise that Burgess legends Aqasa NU and Josephine OCAKA also completed all four weeks. It wouldn’t be a Burgess endeavour without at least one Andrew turning up, and it was great to have Andrew BROWNLEE representing the very many Burgess Andrews.
After several months away, I’m back in London, albeit all locked down. As good as I may have made virtual parkrunning sound, I do still really miss Burgess - and all the other parks in Southwark too! When this latest lockdown is over, I’m really looking forward to seeing you all again.
Until then, take care,
#SouthwarkSlam #TogetherApart #BurgessFamily #loveparkrun #virtualrun