With a new week comes a new Moving Meet… Alongside the Bristol to Bath Canyon event, Aspire had been planning a running-focused meet to be led by ultra-runner and well-known London running figure, James Poole. And, on Tuesday 23rd July, the latest meet in the series took place.

We invited four members of the Aspire community and four runners from James’ running club, Advent Running, on a trail run that centered around a mid-distance route through Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. The goal was to take seasoned road runners off tarmac – and away from their comfort zones.

James had pre-planned a stunning 12km route that took the group over undulating terrain and through beautiful forest surroundings. We made our way along a number of pretty off-road paths, up some steep climbs and down challenging hills. And the beauty of it is we remained within South West London; showing that quality trail running can be done in cities.

The group assembled at the Green Man in Putney at 6.30pm, and were all welcomed with an ice cold Tenzing – a natural energy drink company that supported the event. Also awaiting everyone was a brand-new pair of On Cloudventure trail running shoes. What more could you want pre-run on a hot and muggy evening?

The temperature outside was around 30 degrees, so it’s safe to say plenty of fluids were drunk before we set off. After some mingling, James led the pack into the woods of Wimbledon Common to discuss effective ways in which to traverse trails. The route meandered through the trees and up and over the ‘Alps’ of Wimbledon, so this briefing was needed!

At the halfway point in the South East Corner of Richmond Park, Aspire staff set up a water station to combat the heat and snacks for re-fueling. After a quick stop the team set off into the Park, heading for the Isabella Plantation and northern meadows. Photographer Bruce MacAlpine was waiting in the fields, snapping sunset action shots of the runners.

The final stage of the run navigated the western side of Richmond Park, up and down the hills and through the ferns. The last, steepest hill of the evening awaited the group at the very end of the trail. We were all pleased to reach the top, of course, but were totally inspired by the amazing scenery of the overall route.

A general feeling of surprise and appreciation for London’s green spaces was apparent for everyone, which is just what Aspire and James had wanted to achieve. The evening was wrapped up with a sunset group photo on Richmond Hill, followed by cold beer and post-run chat at the Marlborough pub. Another Moving Meet successfully completed!

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