The King of Clap’ham Common

Another Saturday morning, another run around Clap’ham Common.

Cripes.

Now there’s a sentence that I’ve not been able to blog about for sometime, blah blah blah.

Back in the day and I ruled supreme in the King of Clap’ham Common route. Twice round the South Side, Avenue and Long Road circuit, a warm down [URGH] around lovely Larkhall Park and then back at base in time for Football Focus.

But haven’t times changed, Comrades?

My legs limped around one circuit of the Common; likewise for Larkhall, which was a warm up, rather than a warm down. Football Focus has long since lost my interest, ever since it tried too hard to become Soccer AM [URGH, URGH] and not a soft news analysis wrapping up the week in football.

You can take the boy away from the coffee bar lined pavements of SW4, but you can’t take the coffee bar lined pavements of SW4 away from the… hang on.

Instinct is everything.

Clap’ham changes at a pace that my knackered old running shoes can only dream of. This was the case back in 1995 and it has been accelerating ever since.

My inner brain to foot mechanism however remains well tuned. Cross South Lambeth Road before you get to the War Memorial and hit the main traffic; mind out for the particularly steep drop in the pavement just outside Clap’ham Common tube. Look both ways at the nasty South Side corner of Clap’ham where you have two traffic lanes in which to leg it over.

I could get use to this, Comrades.

The well-healed Bright Young Things of SW4 have clearly been getting use to it, leaving my tired old legs trailing as the Clap’ham Saturday morning sprint crowd went about setting new PB’s, probably as part of a race towards the latest lifestyle coffee shop.

The mass-organised colonisation of running has surprisingly yet to reach SW4. The monolithic Park Run movement has taken up residence down Acre Lane in the beauty of Brockwell Park.

You would have thought that the well-healed Bright Young Things of SW4 would be prime recruitment material for the Park Run movement. Squeaky clean and with excess CASH to spend on a lifestyle option that costs me precisely zero pence.

Good luck to the Brockwell boys and girls, I say. I still like the loneliness of the long distance runner and the individual isolation and head clean that a morning spent pounding the mean streets of SW4 can bring. Whooping and high fives are not for those with flat feet.

It wasn’t all regeneration, regeneration, regeneration as I made my way around Clap’ham on Saturday morning though. The pavement clutter of Clap’ham High Street remains, forever eating out into the public realm [GEDDIN] and presenting an obstacle course for pedestrians and runners.

Clap’ham fishing pond was a welcoming site, as was the appearance of Gerry Cottle’s Circus just off The Avenue – a seemingly permanent structure and a circus that doesn’t seem to ever have any customers. Maybe they are all too busy running off to the nearest coffee shop.

The return leg back down towards SW8 also saw some changes. I never really liked the name of The Circle pub but it was a happy halfway house between Clap’ham and Sunny Stockwell. The Phoenix is reborn, it seems.

Once around Larkhall Park and a brief pause to watch some Porto football on the main pitch. The outdoor gym by the new [probably old] football pitch is ACE. ‘Mature’ ladies and gents were making the most of the public facilities.

FREE GYM USE FOR EVERY RESIDENT, etc.

Stick that in yer manifesto in six months time, Comrades.

I failed miserably with the Transpontine tank of a sprint run back along South Lambeth Road. The King of Clap’ham Common mentality was willing, but the legs let me down.

The disappointment was the brief [yeah, right] analysis of the dreaded Strava data back at base. Back in the day, blah blah blah and the only measurement for running was how much milk I needed to guzzle after a Saturday morning session.

A cappuccino in the heartlands of Clap’ham was my reward for recovery on Saturday morning.

Whoops.

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