At some time, all keen parkrunners feel the need to make a pilgrimage to the home of parkrun at Bushy Park. It was here, back in 2004 that injured runner Paul Sinton-Hewitt decided to organise a 5 km time trial for his fellow athletes. On that day 18 years ago, just 13 runners took part. Today, it has grown into a global phenomenon spanning 20 countries. Last weekend, for example, according to Elliot Line, saw 1,760 parkruns plus 363 junior parkruns, take place with a total of 235,439 parkrunners. While Bushy parkrun itself regular gets over 1000 runners per week, sometimes over 2000.
The 1000 acre Bushy Park, one of Eight Royal Parks, is close to Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace on the outskirts of London, around 15 miles from the city centre. Nestled between the M3, M4 and M25, a few miles from Heathrow Airport, it is easily reached by car. The parkrun starts close to the Diana Fountain. Hampton Court Station is on the edge of the park, around a 15 minute walk from the start. Cycling to Bushy Park is also a popular choice.
There is free parking in the park close to the start at Hampton Court Gate and Diana Fountain. However, with such large numbers of participants, this fills up quickly. Another alternative which works well is to park at The Pheasantry Café car park. This is handy for post run refreshments. Bike parking is available at both Diana Fountain and The Pheasantry.
The Royal Parks Pheasantry Cafe has car parking, toilets and is ideal for post run refreshments. It is around a 10 minute walk from the start.
Aside from The Pheasantry, there are toilets at the play area next to the start.
The course consists of a kind of squished anticlockwise loop (to use the technical terminology) around the park, starting on the grass close to the Diana Fountain and finishing on the grass near to the start.
It’s a very flat course. The start is on the grass, before turning and continuing along paths and trails for most of the remaining route, then back onto the grass to finish. The park is home to deer, so you are likely to pass some as you run. Here is a photo of some deer in Busy Park, which I didn’t take because frankly, they terrify me and there’s no way I’d go close enough to take a photo.
Probably trainers, unless it’s been raining for days and days… Then probably still trainers, although the start, and particularly the finish (as you can see from the picture below) can get a bit muddy.
Run Britain rankings for UK parkruns places Bushy Park as 86th fastest out of 706. It has a total elevation of 34 metres.
Bushy Park is a beautiful park, particularly in the morning when the mist often hangs above the dewy grass. I love the idea of running at the ‘home’ of parkrun, surrounded by a thousand or so like minded individuals. Despite the large number of participants, it is well organised and doesn’t feel too congested with its wide start and multiple funnels at the finish. Add in the novelty of running surrounded by deer (as long as they don’t get too close!) and Bushy Parkrun has to be one of my all time favourite runs.