Route: Capital Ring (London, UK)

Location
United Kingdom
Distance
76 mi
Vertical Gain
4,200 ft
Description

sanderson posted the route:

The Capital Ring is a 78 mile (126km) path around London, linking up parks and green places. It officially starts at Woolwich Foot Tunnel but the circular nature of the path means that it can be started and finished at any place. I have researched an FKT for this path but as yet have been unable to find any record of an attempt. 

Mick Warwick posted about a possible FKT:

Found some notes and photos by a guy called Sark Kenny he claims to have done the entire run in 20 hours and 40 minutes (supported) [Oct. 19-20, 2013]
Photo evidence enough? His captions are more of a history of London and less of a run log. - www.adventuresinbetween.com/capital-ring-run-photos?lightbox=imageqae

GPS Track
Images

Comments

My friend Rob Dougall and I ran this for my Birthday last year. We had to go around some of the parks that were either not open or closed when we passed through but in all instances we took a longer rather than a shorter path. Here's a Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/1028291459. Here it is on Garmin Connect: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1787023699. Our duration for the whole run was 17:40 but 18 minutes was running to and from the trailhead - so let's go with 17:22.

There are photos on my Strava track. It was a fun way to spend the day and see some of London I would have never seen otherwise - but I enjoyed running around Mount Rainier much more in terms of scenery. It's a pretty urban slog. I think beating this FKT would be relatively easy for someone who is in good shape and has a nice summer day to spend circumnavigating the capital - our pace was not super fast. Summer is better as paths are dry and days are long - this trail can get super muddy in the wet weather.

Hi Matthew. Thank you for all the details, it’s been really helpful in my planning (and inspirational!). I’m giving this a go in a couple of weeks time, so will let you know how I get on. 

I've posted on the old site, was hoping to do this last year but didn't get chance. I'm aiming to have a go at the record this Thursday 28th June starting around 6am.

Rob and Matthew's time is a hard act to follow especially during a heatwave!

I've completed a full recce of the Capital Ring. I'm expecting to have to detour off the Greenway and around Highgate woods but will ensure I take a longer route than the main one for these sections.

I'm running self supported, i've asked a couple of people to witness me as proof but they won't be providing assistance.

I tried out a spot tracker but found it unreliable so i'm recording the run with my Suunto Ambit. Hoping that Runkeeper also holds out on my phone but phone battery may not hold out the full duration. I'll try and use Runkeeper Live - this should be the link to follow my progress but couldn't get it working on a test: http://runkeeper.com/user/superstorr or it might be http://runkeeper.com/user/superstorr/activitylist

I'll be tweeting my progress at @superstorr and posting to instagram at superstorr with the hashtag captialringfkt

Fingers crossed!

On my 28th June attempt, starting at Green Lanes by Finsbury Park, I managed 19hrs 05min solo self supported so a little way off the latest FKT.  

My Runkeeper livetrack worked until about Harrow then froze up. I have full .GPX files from my Sunnto & Runkeeper phone app.

Amazing day and just about recovered now. 

I'll post a bit more detail about the run here when I get chance in case its helpful for anyone ready to have a go.

Hats off to Rob & Mathew, their time is impressive.

Great attempt Superstorr - fantastic time! I’m trying this next month, hoping cooler weather may help! What part did you find most challenging?

Thanks! Sorry for the slow reply, not looked on here for a while. The hardest part was 79 miles close to the end up by East Finchley. I'd checked the route run by the record holders and it looked like I could get back onto the Ring route after a detour but actually couldn't. I ended up doing extra distance when my feet were really hurting. Other than that I found it tough after around 60 miles after Brentford. The terrain wasn't challenging, it was just hard to stick to a run/jog rather than a walk after so many miles.

Did you manage an attempt? Interested to know how it went if you did.

Great time David.   Going it alone is undoubtedly tougher than either supported or as a pair.  

I’d be very interested in a more detailed report, specifically about parts which are not accessible during certain hours.   I’ve been keen to do this complete route for the last 18 months and run know about 50miles  of the route.   I’d be starting a few hundred metres from my house in Crystal Palace and yet to decide on which direction.  

Any advice would be appreciated.

Peter 

Hi Peter,

If you click on my time above on the FKT listing there's a link to more detail and a race report at the bottom if that helps.

The closures I experienced were Clissold park, Abney park Cemetery, Highgate Woods and the path above Cherry Tree Wood after East Finchley tube.

Given you're starting the opposite side from me if you go for an early start you'll experience quite different park closures to me I think.

If you go anticlockwise you'll likely find Richmond Park closed which would mean a substantial detour.

I recce'd the last 15 miles which I knew i'd be doing in the dark so I could figure out where i'd have to detour & also what it was like in certain bits with a headtorch in the dark. I'd suggest doing that depending on which way you decide to go to make sure you know the closures and good detours for that last bit. Also helps to have done the last stretch so you know what to expect when you're exhausted near the end! 

If you do go clockwise and start early you'll be in the dark beyond Gallions Reach round to the Woolwich tunnel which might feel quite isolated at night. Worth a recce to get familiar with this - not sure if they close the path over the lock gates at night here.

Happy to advise further if I can help. Feel free to email me at superstorr@hotmail.com

Cheers

David

Thanks for good advice from all above. I'm planning on running this on 16th March this year. I've recce'd it all so far and feel confident with the route. Got some friends joining me for sections of it.

Good luck! - interested to see how you go. Well worth a recce even though it's signposted well.

Hi folks. I made my own attempt on the Capital Ring last night (7.4.19), setting off from the Viewtube in Stratford at 4am (1 mile walk from Stratford station with an all night service and buses).

In 2017, I ran the route in two days, and I have been building up to complete it in one shot ever since!

I completed a self supported attempt in 17hrs 02min 32sec overall (stopping at shops, cafes and water fountains on route for hydration and nuitrition- just me and a trail vest!).

The following parks were closed, so I had to run around them:

Beckton District Park

Maryon Park

Hornfair Park

Abney Cemetery

And I've added my Strava data here: https://www.strava.com/activities/2273422911

Garmin connect:
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3535764268

If anyone is looking to try it themselves, I'd be happy to answer questions about logistics!

Amazing time David & Darren, read your race report - glad you got lucky with the warden at Abney Park.

Well done on the FKT!

Did this on Saturday, with three friends keeping me company for different sections, but carrying my own kit. 19 hour 27 (including a wait for Dominos to cook my pizza at lunch time!!! They didn't seem keen on my custom!!). Hats off to all who have completed this, I cannot fathom doing this in some of the times that are recorded - immense stuff!!

 

My log, https://www.strava.com/activities/4208620585 

I've just got around to uploading the video I shot during my recce: https://youtu.be/XT2LkD12rzo this might be useful for someone planning a run :)

Hi all,

 

I will be attempting this on 16th July - aiming for less than 24 hours with a combination of running and mostly walking. I feel prepared and I have completed the route in sections over the last few months. However, one thing I overlooked at the time was re-filling a hydration pack. Aside from the McDonalds and pubs on the route, does anyone know which parks contained water fountains?

 

Thanks,

Jack

I completed this on Friday 16th July 2021 (at more of a walk than a run) in 21 hours and 56 mins. I admire everyone who has done this route, some of the times listed on here are incredible!

Here is my Garmin activity: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/7138074487

And I wrote a report in case anyone is interested for future reference:

 

The ring tries to wear you down, but you have to wear it on your finger like the little bugger that it is. The ring is a living, evolving route that changes weekly. You never know what it will throw at you. Closures and diversions are part of the game.

At 5.45am on the 16th July 2021, I was sat in the Uber on my way to my starting point at one of the sign posts a few yards before Hendon Park (section 11 of the Capital Ring). This was probably one of the most nervous moments in my life, as I knew what was ahead for the next 24 hours. Setting off at precisely 6.13am, I knew that I had planned this meticulously to avoid all park closures, with only the Richmond Lock Footbridge due to be closed, requiring me to cross the Thames at Twickenham Bridge instead. I also knew that all drinking fountains were turned off due to Covid precautions, so I planned to fill up my soft flasks and reservoir at particular pubs and cafes and with bottled water bought at shops.

I knew from emailing the Highgate Wood Team that the gates would be opened at 7am rather than the 7.30am stated online, and I was relieved to find this to be correct as I arrived at the woods at around 7.10am. I was resisting the urge to run as I travelled through sections 11 and 12. I had done half of the route the week before and ran quite hard in intervals, ending up burning out at Crystal Place, so I planned to walk at 4mph for as long as possible and maybe try to run near the end. At Stoke Newington I had 2 friends that joined me for moral support up until Beckton District Park. I stopped for my first water re-fill during this part, with a tap by the Old Ford Locks on the River Lee (it was locked in a box, but if you know the trick you can turn it on by reaching underneath the box), just before the turn off onto the Greenway. The Greenway was one of the most boring parts, just a long stretch of straight tarmac path with no change in scenery for miles. Coming out of Beckton District Park towards Gallions Reach, I could feel the heat starting to ramp up, and I knew this was only going to get harder. I stopped at the Gallyon bar for another re-fill. I knew from my recce the previous week and from the latest guides from the Inner London Ramblers that part of the route at Gallions Reach was closed for construction work, so I had to take my first diversion here. I was gutted as I knew that the view out over the Thames at the most easterly point of the route is fantastic and I would miss this due to the diversion. My dad joined me at Woolwich south foot tunnel, and we moved forward. At around 35 miles, just before Crystal Palace, I started to suffer really badly with what felt like a stress fracture in my foot. I knew that I wasn't even at half-way yet and I was really struggling mentally, so I was extremely close to quitting. What kept me going was the thought that if I did quit, I would suffer hugely with regret and anxiety at not finishing the route and I knew I would end up forcing myself to complete it at a later date. But I just could not face doing the first half again for the fourth time (due to already walking it in sections, doing my 40-mile practice and then attempting the real thing) and this fear was what kept me driving forward. I also bought some painkillers and more bottled water to decanter into my flasks and reservoir and cracked on, and all felt well again.

A friend then joined me at Crystal Palace as my dad departed and my spirits were high, as I felt pain-free and knew that I had reached the half-way point - the tip of the psychological pyramid where it will all be downhill from there down the other side of this fictional pyramid. It felt like I made really good time to get round to Balham, where my friend left and I continued solo to Wimbledon Park to meet another friend. The next point I can remember was the end of Richmond Park going down the steep hill on the dusty path/grass and finding it extremely tough to keep my stability and balance. Things got worse just after we crossed the Thames at Twickenham Bridge (due to Richmond Lock Footbridge being closed for the night) as I felt hugely fatigued and became emotional about ridiculous things. I checked my phone and saw so many supportive messages from people following my vlog on my Instagram story, and this gave me a massive boost, so again I pumped my arms and marched on.  By this point, I was celebrating every time my Garmin pinged with another mile completed. It was also getting dark at this point and by the time we reached Syon Park it was almost pitch black, but there was some moonlight. Another friend joined me on the canal by Hanwell as the previous friend left, just before the turn right towards the Wharncliffe Viaduct. Then, as a complete surprise, my friend and his partner turned up out of nowhere to wish me luck! They had been following me on Glympse and lived close to the route, and this was an amazing buzz for me. They joined for a short bit until somewhere in Brent Valley Park. Luckily I had a headtorch at this stage because the moon became covered by clouds and it was extremely difficult to follow the signs for the route. I also had my Garmin watch with a GPS file of the route so I was trying to navigate with that as well. I became nervous about the giant Horsenden Hill which was coming up, however when we arrived, I managed to have the energy to skip up the steps and keep a good pace to the top of it. There was a group of people gathered up there which was a bit concerning considering the time of night but they just seemed to be innocent people speaking in French.

Coming out of Harrow School, I suffered a huge psychological blow as the entrance to Ducker Footpath was physically blocked off with felled trees and a sign saying 'footpath closed'. I was so close to the end and this was the first unplanned diversion. I had to look on my phone and re-route, which added a small amount of distance, but it could have been worse I suppose.

There were some really sketchy areas in the darkness, particularly through Fryent Country Park which is arguably the most rural and remote part of the route. Visibility here was absolutely zero outside the light of the headtorch and this was the location of two murders last summer. But all we saw were a couple of suspicious cars in the car park. Without my best mate with me, I think I would have bottled it here. The grass was also pretty long and was covered in dew as this was the early hours of the morning, so my feet became soaking and I developed an awful blister underfoot. But I was thankful that I had stayed dry until this final last slog. Navigation here was the most difficult as the signage is hard to find in daylight, let alone pitch black, and the paths aren't the clearest.  Going through Brent Reservoir was also not enjoyable, as my headtorch died and I had to use my phone torch. Again, there was no moonlight and the area is not the most pleasant, although it felt like daylight was starting to return as I reached about halfway through the reservoir path. I was nervous about dodgy characters along this part, but luckily the only people we came across were a couple of teenagers sat by the end of the path watching videos on their phone. I knew at this point I just had to follow the route across the A5, the train tracks, the M1 and the underpass under the A41. I was running pathetically in 100m bursts, but the fracture in my foot was too painful to run any longer. The distance from crossing the M1 to the A41 felt so much longer than I recalled, it felt never-ending for a short period. But, of course, and as with all things in life, it did end. I came out the other side of the A41 with a run up the underpass ramp, walked into the side road and when I was on Cheyne Walk I knew that this really was the final sprint finish. I mustered up all my energy to run downhill down the road to touch the same signpost I tapped 21 hours, 56 minutes and 38 seconds earlier.

My gear was a Garmin Fenix 6 Pro watch, Salomon Active Skin 8 hydration vest with an added 2litre reservoir, Stance Run Crew Staple socks and Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 trainers.

I'd like to thank my knee surgeon Mr Miles and my physio Mr Amin. Without those two there's no way I'd be able to take this on after having an ACL reconstruction 11 months ago. Further thanks go to CrossFit Harrow who have helped me build my strength and fitness back up, which has done wonders for me on this challenge. I'd also like to thank Mandy Cheung, Alice Graham, my dad Billy, Sam Vaux, Tom Dagley, James Lawrence, Alice Beecroft and Tommy Yeomans for joining me on the way. These are the true heroes who kept me going when I was in some really bad places. Particular thanks to James, joining for the night section in pitch black darkness along canals, secluded paths, Fryent Country Park and Brent Reservoir where I would not have had the bravery to keep going solo. I'm also gonna shout out my dad who did nearly 20 miles at a fantastic pace at the age of 61 and with 2 knee dislocations under his belt!