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Andy Parsons

These are London’s best parks to run in, according to Run Dem Crew’s Charlie Dark

Kate Lloyd

A good run has to stimulate the mind. It’s got to be a celebration of being alive. You can’t get that from just running a loop around the perimeter of a park as fast as you can. It’s boring. You’ve got to approach the space with the eyes of a child. Kids in the park don’t just stick to the outside, they explore and they play.

It could be the challenge of the gentle rolling hills of Ladywell Park, the primal feeling of getting lost on Hampstead Heath or sprinting past the deer in Richmond Park.

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It could be the view as you head down towards the lake in Hyde Park early in the morning. Perhaps it’s jogging among the other runners in Victoria Park and the little rituals that you go through: do you say hello? Will they reply? Will people try to race you?

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Or it’s the memories you have of a place. Peckham Rye is where I had my first cross-country race, my first game of football and my very first kiss – all of that comes back to me when I run there.

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The Olympic Park is my favourite park. Running there is a bit like being in a computer game. There are these amazing hills that lead up from the bottom to the top of the aquatic centre. There’s the velodrome, and all the bridges and steps you can run up. You can head up to the Olympic Rings. Or, from that East End park, you can run down the canal, all the way to Ladbroke Grove, without ever coming on to the road. It’s challenging and inspiring: a perfect park for inner-city runners.

Charlie is the founder of running community Run Dem Crew. Find out how you get involved here. He's also a Lululemon ambassador. Lululemon has weekly run clubs. Check Eventbrite for more details.

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