The rise and rise of Hilly Fields Park Run

The popularity of our wonderful local park run shows no sign of slowing down

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As if ruing a gloomy week for climate watchers, January today put on its most glorious show so far.

Hilly Fields was resplendent. It was as crisp and beautiful a winter’s morning as you could ask for; earth crunched under foot, and the chimney tops, churches, and glass and steel of the skyline basked in the gentle winter sunshine.

The fine conditions and still intact good intentions of the new year galvanised a record number of finishers at the park run, Mrs Lewisham Lately among them.

Participants are now racing towards the 300 mark. Today 286 people completed the winter course, gritting their way to a hat-trick of runs up the park’s longest slope and pipping the previous record set a fortnight ago by one runner.

It is just the latest milestone for our lovely local edition of the greatest grassroots running movement ever.

I crunched the January statistics to see how far it has grown – not including the New Year’s Day runs where there is, for some strange reason, a much lower turnout.

(I am almost certain that someone among Hilly Fields runners has superior patience and maths skills to give a broader picture across all months and years. Please do share if so!).

In its first January in 2013, there were an average of 60 runners each Saturday.

In 2014, that figure rose to 109, an increase of 82 per cent on the previous year.

In 2015, it was 156, up 43 per cent.

In 2016, the number stood at 199, up 28 per cent

In January 2017, it stands at an average 283 so far, an increase of 42 per cent – with the caveat that one more week remains.

So unless hardly anyone turns up next week, there’s still no sign of a plateau. Which may remind some runners of that winter course hill…

Author: lewishamlately

I'm Jolyon and I started Lewisham Lately after fretting about the lack of news coverage for the borough. An avid runner, I also used to be a guide book writer, then worked on the travel desk at the Daily Telegraph for the best part of a decade. I have lived in south-east London more than anywhere else in my adult life, including Lewisham since 2009.

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