Running the London tube lines – Part 2: The Victoria Line

Posted: November 25, 2016 in London underground, running, running tube lines, ultra marathons, ultra running

The Victoria Linetube-map

Total distance run: 14.5 miles

Time taken: 2hrs 25 mins

I am planning to run the London Underground. Not in a Transport for London kinda way you understand, but  in a trainers on feet and iPod shuffle in ears kinda way. I’m not the first person to try this (these guys have done it too) but I couldn’t find that much info about people who have. So if you’re thinking of taking it on, or if you’re just interested in some dude running through various parts of this great city of ours and writing about what he saw along the way, read on, my friend.

The Victoria line seemed like an obvious place to start; only a little more than a half marathon, it wasn’t too challenging (some of the lines, I had discovered, are really, really long) and it was one of the lines that runs through my part of town in north London. It was only a short hop to get to my starting point of Walthamstow Central.

It was a glorious Sunday morning, with the sun high in the sky and not a cloud on the horizon. I knew the route fairly well and was sure that once I’d made it through the Badlands of Waltham Forest, to somewhere around say the Badlands of Seven Sisters, I’d  be able to get myself all the way down to Brixton without having to spend much time on Google Maps.

Things did not begin well.

walthamstowI emerged from the underground into Walthamstow Central bus station and looked for what I thought was the road I needed  to get me to my second stop, Blackhorse Road, but… nothing looked quite how it had on my phone five minutes earlier. I crossed over the road and back again. I consulted the many maps indicating exactly where I was, but then I couldn’t find the actual roads. Less than five minutes in to my new venture and I was already freakin’ lost.  This did not bode well.

Eventually I found my bearings thanks to a helpful old lady who’d spotted my confusion and offered her local knowledge

Walthamstow is rather pretty. A little like a lively rural town, with teashops and hanging baskets outside the pubs and an air of quiet sophistication. Which was somewhat misleading because within a few minutes I’d left all that behind and found myself running along a grimy industrial corridor with a of canal of toxic effluent on one side and the imminent danger of being flattened by lorries thundering past on the other, lorries whose drivers were clearly not expecting to see any kind of pedestrians and had consequently taken the position that running one over could not reasonably be blamed on them.

But it was barely ten minutes to Blackhorse Road and from there about the same to the transport hub of Tottenham Hale. None of this part of the route was pretty. But then pretty was not necessarily what I was after. I was keen to see the parts of the city that would otherwise have remained merely dots on the tube map. To be honest, I wasn’t going to be heading back here with the family for a day out any time soon, but running through it was great. It was exactly what I’d been hoping for.

For the next section I was back in familiar territory, running down past Finsbury Park and then along the hidden pathway by the railway line, coming out by Arsenal tube station. At Highbury and Islington I stopped in at Costa Coffee for a macchiato and a bacon roll. One hour down, six miles done.

From here it was a route right through the centre of town. Kings Cross, no longer the dilapidated, crime-ridden location of a thousand “your mum…” jokes of the days when I’d lived there in the early 90s, now a stunning development of arts centres, restaurants and beautifully designed public space. Euston, Warren Street, Oxford Circus and Green Park where I stopped to refuel, this time just a Lucozade Sport from Boots¹. I basked in the sunshine of Green Park and dodged the hoards of chirpy foreigners in front of Buck House before heading done the long road that led past Victoria to the river. And it really felt long. I was at mile 12 by this time and starting to feel it.  But the site of Vauxhall Cross up ahead spurred me on; the British Intelligence Service was not built on an attitude of quitting just because your feet were starting to hurt a bit, oh no. Once across the river I was back in uncharted waters; I live in north London, we don’t venture this far south unless there’s a compelling reason. But rather than stop to check Google Maps I trusted my wolf-like navigational instincts and ran on into the unknown. This was in part due to a desire not to be set upon by a gang of thirteen year old hood-rats, beaten to the floor and robbed,  a fate more than likely to be befall anyone in this part of town seen in possession of any item of value, who is not themselves in a gang or obviously armed.²

Keeping my wits about me I ran on through the surprisingly charming, wide leafy boulevards of Kennington and Stockwell, taking a left turn at Stockwell tube. A mile further and I was on Brixton High Street. 14.5 miles, 2 hours 25 mins and the first line was done.brixton

¹Not entirely sure the bacon roll at mile 6 had been a good move.

²Authorial postulate.

 

 

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Comments
  1. […] Running the London tube lines – Part 2: The Victoria Line […]

  2. […] far I’d run the entire length of the Victoria Line, the Bakerloo Line and the  Circle Line¹. Not insignificant runs, for sure, and at just under 17 […]

  3. […] following, I’m attempting to run all the tube lines of the London Underground. Above ground. I’ve done a few so far and have learnt one or two things along the […]

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