Middlesex parkrun & The Eel Pie Pilgrimage
Back in April I completed my 100th different parkrun event at Hazelwood. What I didn't know at the time was that it was also my last of the 20* parkruns in the historic county of Middlesex. This only became important in the last few weeks when looking for new parkrun challenges to tick off. I'd completed LonDone and the Channel Islands Region in July. Next up would be the South-East England region but there's 84 of them and I've only ran 26 so it will take ages. I needed some smaller, more frequent hits, and the mini-regionnaires of the Historic Counties would do the job. It would also be a nice match with my other current obsession, the UK County Tops.
The Historic County of Middlesex has been chopped and changed over the years and now doesn't really exist except as a legacy in some postal addresses. Most relevant to the parkrun geek, it's also in the address of parkrun Headquarters that can be found at the bottom of every page on parkrun.org.uk. A pilgrimage to the parkrun HQ would be a fitting end to the Middlesex mini-regionnaire.
So, as a part of a different micro-adventure, I headed towards Eel Pie Island. This is a quaint, quirky place in the Thames just South of Twickenham. I'd read about it and its interesting musical history a few years ago and had wanted to check it out. Discovering that it's now the Global HQ for parkrun meant that I had to go immediately. I wasn't really sure what to expect though. I had visions of a sprawling HQ complex, maybe under a volcano, with Paul Sinton-Hewitt at the centre of it, stroking his cat and surveying a huge map of the world, planning his next country to conquer.
As it turned out there were no volcanoes and if there was a sprawling complex it was well hidden. Although you can walk onto the island over a footbridge, there's no access to Phoenix Wharf where the offices are. There's some cute cottages along a quiet footpath but no obvious signs of a global HQ. I assumed that the secrecy was for a reason. They're probably in league with the Illuminati and the Bilderberg Group is probably also behind the fence. Assuming I was being watched by parkrun's crack security militia I decided to retreat before being captured, never to be seen again.
*at the time
Completing Middlesex parkun
If you've done LonDone , you've pretty much also done Middlesex as its only Hazelwood that sits outside of the Greater London region. The other odd exception is Oak Hill. It's the only North-West London event that's not within the Middlesex boundary, due to an oddly shaped scoop of old Hertfordshire that plucks it out from its neighbours. I'm now hoping for a new parkrun to be set up in Wrotham Park as it would have the honor of being the only event that's inside old Middlesex but outside of both Greater London and the M25.
Here's the full list of all parkruns, at the time of writing, that are in the Historic County of Middlesex.
Other parkrun Regions & Counties Completed
More on the web:
Maps and Books: