London runners

You unfriendly lot

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17/10/2002 at 14:16
I had a night in London this week and seeing as my hotel was near Hyde Park I got up early for a short run. Every single runner I passed, and there were lots, would hardly even look at me let alone respond to my "Good Morning" or "Hello" or even a nod. After about 10 attempts I gave up assuming that the police were about to be called about the mad person in the park. Don't get me wrong, I love London for many reasons and I was born there, but at home (in Gloucestershire) I have never met another runner without some kind of acknowledgement between the two of us.

Rant over.

Stinky
17/10/2002 at 14:37

Ah, that'll be central London then. Up here in the wilds of North London, you'd get a response!

In the centre any form of eye or verbal contact is seen as an act of aggression - you were lucky to make it back in piece!


17/10/2002 at 14:58
Afternoon...

Must admit I run over at Regent's Park a couple of lunchtimes a week...usually around the Outer Circle...btw I reckon that it's 2.8m, can anyone corroborate that?...and I know what you mean about the lack of camradary...I do persist, with a wave, smile, hello or grunt (if I'm really feeling whacked)and sometimes elicit an acknowledgement, but it is the exception rather than the rule...trouble is I think most people take their commuter mentallity out on their runs...out in Essex it's much more friendly and I always get a smile or a wave from a fellow runner!!
17/10/2002 at 15:00
your not wrong stinky, ive been livin between london and exeter recently and there is a lot more love in the west country.

london can be should a cold and cynical place.
17/10/2002 at 15:04
It's getting bad when you can claim that Essex and North London are much more friendly.

The couple of days a week I usually work in the City I make a point of making eye contact with everyone. I also smile like an idiot at anyone without the least provocation. I would really like to think that as a result I have managed to deeply unsettle someone who deserved to be deeply unsettled.
17/10/2002 at 15:05
Use to run in Hyde Park and I use to get some stange looks from fellow runners if I said morning or waved.
Not so bad when I'm on my cycle in Surrey or in my car.
17/10/2002 at 15:07
As a London runner I can only apologise and try to explain....

When I first started running in Hyde Park I, like you, would offer a cheery greeting. After several weeks of Saturday morning runs and only being acknowledged about one in ten occasions, I all but gave up.

By comparison when I run in my home town in Kent everyone seems positively enthusiastic to say hello as part of the shared running experience.

The problem with London is that there are just too many runners and people out and about at all times of the day. It's the city syndrome where the larger the population the less time people appear to have for each other. It's this perception that makes us city dwellers more insular than we would other-wise normally be. To put it another way - seeing another runner in the park isn't all that big a deal. (Not my sentiment of course.

Another reason for the perceived lack of civility is the not so obvious language barrier. A great number of early morning Hyde Park runners don't speak English as a first language i.e. Foreign business men, holiday makers etc.

The rule of thumb for me now is. If there's no eye contact from the approaching runner then there's no greeting.

I wonder if the ladies who run in Central London have any thoughts on this. Safety issues obviously a concern.
17/10/2002 at 15:17
I run in London down the Embankment/South Bank. I smile at everyone and say hello if they smile back! Most people don't smile at all or don't make eye contact. I have noticed that those who tend to respond are either slow runners (like me!) or women!

I haven't ever felt unsafe running alone in Central London as the areas I use are well lit with plenty of people about. I live in South London and would only run there at weekends when I can run during the day, there are some dodgy estates near where I live and I wouldn't risk running near them in the dark before or after work.
17/10/2002 at 15:20
hey glenn the people your are trying to deeply unsettle, are already seriously unbalanced. and such gestures will result in a long lasting friendship on a park bench over a litre bottle of white lighting:)
17/10/2002 at 15:36
I run in SW London and occasionally along the Embankment whilst trying to avoid all of the cyclists who prefer the pavement to the road! I do acknowledge most people however there are very few who respond.

I will make an effort to say hello to everyone from now on. Sometimes it is quite comical as they have no idea what they should do!

Imagine that - people being polite in London, I do not think it will catch on!
17/10/2002 at 15:37
Also think you do get groups of people running together in London and less lone runners, particularly lunchtimes...which can be quite intimidating I suppose for oncoming runners...

I have noticed women runners are much more willing to acknowledge you the second time they see you...and men generally just look straight through you as if you're not there!!!
17/10/2002 at 15:47
Trouble with central London is it doesn't contain many Londoners ! I think also that there can be quite a few strange characters in London so people tend to be a bit more wary about acknowledging people. I travel a fair bit with work and run wherever I am. THe comment on foreigners is interesting because I often run in Germany (just outside Frankfurt) and try to acknowlege people (well even I can manage Abend) but it never seems to get a response. When I went running with a Belgian along the waterfront in Izmir (Turkey) we definitely got the look of they must be Mad Northern Europeans ! If you really want to get a good response in London then try the Marathon - it proves Londoners can do it when they want to !
17/10/2002 at 17:39
I used to run in central london and only smiled etc if a fellow runner would catch my eye. I definatly think it is the commuter stance coming out. They may be terrified you want to talk to them :-)
17/10/2002 at 18:17
Ian, I run around the outer circle as well, and have it down for 2.7 miles. Measured by car and a fancy gizmo that measures distances on maps.

During summer, for a southern hemisphere boy and total beginner I found people very unfriendly and people didn't acknowledge other runners. But now it's getting colder at nights, the odd runner is starting to lighten up and say hi.
OB
17/10/2002 at 20:03
Big City mentality - don't be surprised. The point about the support real Londoners give at FLM is very valid, so its nothing to do with London/running per se. I do all of my training in and around Shrewsbury and in such a relatively small community you get to see the same runners over again and we will exchange nods and pleasantries. Occasionally, even here I meet someone new and my cheery "hi" is met with silence and not a hint of eye contact.
17/10/2002 at 22:13
I've been running in and around Greenwich Park for the past six years and I can safely say that my fellow runners/joggers are a miserable old bunch! It takes nothing to to say 'hi' in return. I've already had a big rant about this in a previous thread. However, to be fair, I was working in Edinburgh for a few days a week about six months ago for about 3 months, and got a similar response then ! City syndrome maybe?
17/10/2002 at 22:34
Conducted a serious scientific experiment on my run this evening. I've just done 7 miles, which included a lap and a bit of the Outer Circle at Regent's Park. I said "evening" (very imaginative eh?) to 9 other people around the park, 6 of whom replied. I reckon that's a very good response rate, especially given it was pitch black and not very well lit around much of it. Further research may well be required to validate these numbers though...

On the whole I agree about London runners being miserable though - in summer you see scores of runners in Regents Park, and it's only the old guys who will ever acknowledge your presence.

venom
18/10/2002 at 00:18

Venom, my theory is that there is a hierarchy among many runners on the subject of greetings.

Many runners will acknowledge their equals or betters, but won't condescend to acknowledging runners who are lesser mortals than themselves.

So, if this theory is correct, then, for example, slow fat slobs can expect to be ignored when they try to say "hello" to many of the faster, sleeker runners. The sleeker faster runners will however acknowledge other runners who are on parity with them in terms of ability and prowess.

Perhaps you could run this model through on your next sample run, and let us have the data from your further research...

18/10/2002 at 07:37
Hey Stinkytrainers,

I thought it was just me! I had exactly the same experience a couple of weeks ago. Went down to London for work, got up to run in Hyde Park, blown away to see so many runners, but not one of them would smile back at me! All looked at me as though they thought I was about to attack them!! I thought maybe they were just unused to seeing a little piglet trotting round the park, but maybe it's a more general malaise?

Well, I'll be there again in the morning, so I'll see if there's any improvement :)
NTL
18/10/2002 at 09:43
I think it really is just a central London thing to be rude and not answer. I have lived in various parts of west London during all my running times and as such have covered an area spanning from Kingston to Tower Bridge and can safely say that the further west you go the friendlier runners are. I still don't understand it though, it takes no effort to say hello or good morning.
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