Posted on 16/04/2019
You’d be hard pushed to find a stretch of canal in London that doesn’t host half-a-dozen joggers at any one time, bravely pounding the towpath in their dedication to health and wellbeing. Whether plodding through central London’s Regent’s Canal during lunch breaks, or out along the more expansive reaches of the Lea and Grand Union on Sunday mornings, runners are as much a part of canal life as dog-walkers, cyclists, boaters and anglers. As well as these regular runners, there are also several dedicated running events taking place along London’s canals such as the Grand Union Canal Half Marathon from Uxbridge to Watford, and the Run Fest at Lee Valley, which has 10K and 13.1-mile options.
If a half marathon sounds a bit exhausting, perhaps bear in mind that London is also the final destination for two epic 145-mile endurance runs – the Birmingham-London Grand Union Canal Race, and the Kennet & Avon Canal Race, which starts in Bristol. By contrast, the Grand Union Canal Half Marathon is a relatively gentle 13.1-mile point-to-point race taking place twice a year, in April and in November. The race starts at Cowley Recreation Ground in Uxbridge and ends at Cassiobury Park in Watford. The distance is flat and scenic, with the constant presence of the water an appealing bonus. It’s also almost entirely traffic-free, other than one minor road crossing. As the race is held twice a year, it’s usually possible to get discounted entry for both events providing you book before the spring race. There are several good places to watch competitors during the event, and the final destination is a large public park with café and other facilities.
On the opposite side of London, Run Fest At Lee Valley is an annual event held every March that starts and finishes at Lee Valley White Water Centre and takes place within the River Lee Country Park that borders the river between Waltham Abbey and Broxbourne. The course is flat and traffic free, and events include a 10k and a half-marathon road race. If all this running sounds exhausting, there’s also lots of other things to do in the River Lee Country Park, which is a beautiful regional park and well worth exploring.
Canal & River Trust