My first-ever seven miler - along the enchanted Tamsin Trail

My first-ever seven miler - along the enchanted Tamsin Trail

When I started C25K last year I stumbled across a runner’s blog where she wrote about the Tamsin Trail (what a lovely poetic name!) – the full circuit around the inner perimeter of Richmond Park. She had posted some atmospheric photos and described it so well. Since then I’ve been fascinated by it – my own personal yellow brick road. But – it’s 7.3 miles! 11.8km! Would I ever be able to run that far?

Almost a year on, it was finally time to find out. I had a free morning, as I was working from home today, so last night I decided this would be the big day – I was really excited about my adventure.

I set off early (not Miles Yonder early, but it's all relative). It was a glorious morning and by 7.30am it was already hot and sunny. I started from Sheen Gate, heading west in an anti-clockwise direction. The idea was to go at a comfortable, easy pace – no racing.

The first couple of kilometres make up the second half of the Richmond parkrun – and how different it feels when you’re not going hell for leather. Then at Richmond Gate there is a lovely long descent down to Ham – I couldn’t help but speed up here. It is fairly tortuous doing this in the opposite direction, particularly at the end of a long run – but I promise next time I’ll tackle it the other way around!

Until today, I'd always gone east at Ham Cross, through the middle of the park to complete a 10k loop. But here’s where I took my first steps into the unknown… sharp right, downhill towards Ham Gate, still following the trail.

As I crossed the road by the gate and started along the trail, south to Kingston, I became aware of a Tasmanian Devil-like vortex of yellow dust approaching. It was two runners, a man and a woman, sprinting, all-out. They were FAST. They propped to a halt, pressing their Garmin buttons, grimacing in pain. The woman in particular was obviously a bona fide, elite athlete in training: super-low body fat, washboard abs, small and light with that long-torsoed build you see on long-distance runners. I wonder who she was? I did feel like a riding-school pony trotting past a racehorse.

At Kingston Gate (6k) began the dreaded climb up the fantastically named Dark Hill. It wasn’t quite the gothic horror I was expecting, actually – I took it very steadily, kept going and made it to the top without walking! But just as I was feeling invincible and victorious I was overtaken by a 30-something man in tiny shorts, zooming along, casually shirtless, showing off his triangular, muscly torso and gleaming tan. Meh.

The view at the top of the hill is glorious – I could see the city in the distance, flickering through the heat haze. What goes up must come down, however – and after a plateau with some blessedly cool tree cover, the trail snaked back downhill again. It’s pretty steep and quite difficult to run – though I’m not looking forward to trying it in the opposite direction.

Robin Hood Gate, 9k – and I’m back on familiar territory. I briefly stopped at the drinking fountain there before carrying on. By this time the sun was beating down on my head and I just wanted to finish this run – so without quite realising it I sped up over the next two kilometres.

At 11k, past Roehampton Gate – so near the end – it all went a bit pear-shaped. Here you have to cross a footbridge over the brook that runs through the park, but I could see it was closed and swarming with workmen. So I headed north towards the walls of the park – silly mistake. I was confronted with a fenced-off section of water and no way to cross. So I had to retrace my steps back over the tussocky grass to Sawyer's Hill, cross the traffic bridge there, then stumble back over more grass to the trail again, all in the relentless sun. As I picked my way past the bridge a couple of the men turned and looked at me in mild interest, with a sort of amused, I told-you-so expression on their faces… I was SO close to having a hissy fit at this point!

I paid for my faster pace earlier and was really tired for the last kilometre. I always think at the end of a 10k: ‘could I do this all again (plus a bit) and make it a half marathon?’, and today I idly wondered ‘could I just tack on the parkrun route now and make it a 10 miler?’ The answer to both is still ABSOLUTELY NO WAY!

So with the extra faffing around the whole thing was 12.11km, 7.52 miles – the longest distance I’ve ever run. It took me 1hr 14 mins. It feels great! And look at the map – I went all the way around! I’m really proud of that.

Happy running y’all!

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15 Replies

  • Woweeee - get you! 7 miles - that's pretty damn amazing! You should be rightly proud, well done :)

  • Thank you!

  • Congratulations! Truly inspirational - being on week 6, blogs like this really keep the fires lit!! :-)

  • Thanks Panda, it took a while but I got there. And week 6 is a big milestone - enjoy it! After that anything's possible.

  • Thank you :-) looking forward to w6r2 in the morning.

  • Congratulations for getting through the dreaded w6r1. I had to take ibuprofen and have a lie down after that one!

  • I really enjoyed r1 - thankfully I didn't know that was the dreaded one! Haha

  • Wonderful! What a brilliant run! :-) Just reading about it makes me want to sling my gear on now and get out! I had to chuckle at the runners grimacing in pain while pressing their Garmin buttons! :D Maybe they bought colours they don't really like and grimace every time they interact with them?!

    It sounds a fantastic run, Turbo; very well done indeed. :-) Richmond Park is huge; I didn't realise it was quite so big. Happy resting!

  • Ha, love the idea of the wrong-coloured Garmins. Do you know I was considering the purple Forerunner 10 and decided it was the wrong sort of purple - shouty violent violet rather than delicious lush plum. I would indeed grimace whenever I looked at it if I got one, I think.

    Richmond Park is pretty big, yes, and hilly - and there's Wimbledon Common just over the A3 for extra-long runs, if I ever get round to doing those. I feel really lucky to have such great places on my doorstep.

  • Mornin' TT ... what a fanTastic looking /sounding run .... sooooo far!!! .... sooooo hilly!!!

    Brilliant - yet more inspiration pouring down on me! Thank you! (and good to know a year is a suitable time period to extend distance/time/speed etc etc!)

    Loved your riding pony moment - there are always horses for courses right?!?

    I don't really know anything at all about running but your green pace bar chart thingie is amazingly constant, to my eye, a really relentless internal tick tocking metronome going on there! One of the secrets to your success perhaps!

    Thanks for sharing your delight :-)

  • Thank you BoPeep! It's a beautiful run - does go on and on though. I graduated last July but didn't start upping my distances till January, so was pretty conservative about that - lots of people work up to 10k and beyond much sooner. With the pace I was trying to do around 6'30" minutes per km, but I speeded up too much - naughty me. I find it really hard to fight the urge to go as quickly as possible, but I know it's not the way to approach long runs.

  • Wow, well done you, and thank you for a wonderful description of your run. It put a smile on my face, and it makes me want to train harder and be able to do something similar. Thank you :)

  • Thanks Tomas - it's such a beautiful park, but such a long way!

  • Well done and with such a lovely description it has made me quite jelous

  • Thank you Mummysaurus.

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