Review by Jen Harker.
When an email arrived promising me a social running tour of London’s best Christmas lights I roped in my sister for a festive potter around the big smoke – and it was jingletastic!
Shortly before the run we were told to meet at the iconic Christmas Tree in St Pancras train station which was decked with stunning pink flowers and was only slightly less Christmassy than our cheery running guide Ronnie. She dished out Christmas hats to our 10-strong party and gave us a briefing of our 10k adventure and faster than Santa’s sleigh we were off hot-stepping the chilly streets of the capital.
At first I was a bit concerned I wouldn’t be able to keep up – there were three speeds to chose from and I opted for medium – but before I knew it we had reached our first stop The Foundling Museum for a history lesson and a welcomed breather.
Ronnie explained that Thomas Corman founded the hospital to take in foundlings after being so distressed by seeing the number of babies being abandoned by their poverty-stricken parents.
I thought we would be jogging around gazing at dazzling displays but in fact we were also given a whistlestop tour of historic London’s charitable past – the very essence of the Christmas spirit.
As elf-like Ronnie skipped into the night we followed her Christmas pudding hat, jiggling bells and Christmas tunes blasting out through the streets along Drury Lane on to Covent Garden where we were greeted by a giant illuminated deer. There was plenty of time for photos as our Running Tour guide filled us in on the posh shopping spot’s not so desirable past as a place where the dregs of society washed up when they were down on their luck.
A quick pitstop at Seven Dials – which turns out was a great place if you were plague riddled and loved gin – was followed by a festive saunter through the major shopping streets big lights. Oxford Street’s was bedecked with stars raising money for the NSPCC, Regent Street had swooping angels and Bond Street was refrained elegance itself. But the ones which stole the show for me was the riot of colour and glitter of Carnaby Street – a breathtaking un-festive display of tropical flowers and parrots.
Ronnie expertly wound us around the busy shopping streets without getting caught in the crowds and our merry little band raised many a smile and a wave from bemused shoppers and tourists.
Leaving the bright lights behind us we headed up the famous Mall (I may have raised my arms and pretended I was on the final stretch of the London Marathon at this point) and up to Buckingham Palace. Despite the Queen not putting on much of a Christmas show Ronnie filled us in on how Victoria’s husband Albert was responsible for making Christmas cards and trees all the rage.
By this time a light rain had started and as it got heavier we had a soggy final 1k slog to Sloane Square and the end of our run. A restorative KitKat was our reward after our 10k jaunt and if I didn’t have a train to catch I would have headed off to the pub with some of the other runners.
It was the perfect way to get me in the mood for Christmas and help burn off some of those naughty mince pies. I will definately signing up for next year’s tour.
The runs are held throughout December with a 5k or 10k option to choose from so grab your shiny new 2018 diary and jot down a reminder to book up as you will not be disappointed.
Secret London Runs also have lots of other quirky run ideas set for the year ahead which we hope to attend and bring you more reviews from. Catch them here: https://www.secretlondonruns.com/ and check out their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/secretlondonruns/