The Runner’s World London Peaks Relay

We recently spoke to the adventurer Sean Conway – he of mighty beard and swimming around Britain fame – for the next episode of our podcast, and the cost of adventure came up. Namely, how much do you have to spend to do something new and different?

The answer is, very little. The cost of a couple of tube fares and a very welcome taxi, in fact, can see you out the door and exploring places that you may never have even considered running to or from.

This line of thinking and some meticulous planning from section editor Rick Pearson led us to a weekend of running around London, attempting to run to the highest point in each of the 32 London boroughs.

The secondary aim was to do it in 24 hours, covering the distance and setting a benchmark time for the 150 miles, but the primary aim was to remind us all taking part (and hopefully those following it on Strava and social media) that you don’t need to venture to pastures new to find a challenge.

Our team was an eclectic mix of ultrarunners, comedians, authors and magicians – all united by a love of running in the capital, and a willingness to get involved in daft, do-it-yourself adventure. The race began at the stroke of midnight on Friday 23 March, with the hope of completing it by midnight on Saturday 24 March.

Oxygen is not required to scale the summits of London. The highest peak, in Westerham Heights, Bromley, is 245m; the lowest, in Shoreditch, Tower Hamlets, is a mere 16m. But that’s not the point. This was about adventure – looking at the familiar in an unfamiliar way. And through a mix of good humour, hard running, (mostly) sound navigation and industrial amounts of caffeine, we did what no group of people had done before: we scaled the summits of London, finishing in a time of 22hrs 14mins. The baton (in this case, an RW mobile phone) was handed over at the apex of each London borough.

In the process, we’d run through fields, alongside A-roads, and climbed the Alps (the Beckton Alps, that is) – all without leaving the M25. Truly, some of the best adventures can happen right outside your front door.

It wasn't just a London ting, either. On the same day, Jonny Muir – a man who once ran to the highest points in each of the 12 inner London boroughs, and in doing so inspired this whole idea – was leading a team around the peaks of Edinburgh. Follow Jonny on Twitter for more details.

And what about you? We’d like these challenges to inspire others to explore their towns and cities in new ways. So what do you say, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Belfast? The mountains are calling...


The legs and the runners...

Bromley – Croydon (13.5km) Rick Pearson & Stephen Pinkster

Croydon – Sutton (8.5km) Chris Pearson & George Bull

Sutton – Kingston (14km) Tom Suddaby & Jonathan Cowie

Kingston – Merton (15.8km) Susie Chan & Cat Simpson

Merton – Wandsworth (2.5km) Tariq Knight & Georgina Pearson

Wandsworth – Richmond (6km) Kate Carter & Adharanand Finn

Richmond – Hounslow (10km) Tobias Mews & Vassos Alexander

Hounslow – Ealing (10km) Anna McNuff & Brother

Ealing – Brent (2.8km) John Carroll & Alison Hamlett

Brent – Hillingdon (8.8km) Dan Hallam & Damian Hall

Hillingdon – Harrow (6.6km) Anna McNuff & Brother

Harrow – Barnet (8.5k) Ben Hobson & Francesca Menato

Barnet – Enfield (6.5k) Georgina Pearson & Tariq Knight

Enfield – Waltham Forest (16k) Andy Dixon & Paul Tonkinson

Waltham Forest – Redbridge (12k): James Poole & David Smyth

Redbridge – Havering (4.5k): Ben Hobson & Francesca Menato

Havering – Barking (5.6k) Tobias Mews & Helen Couchman

Barking – Newham (12.5k) Dan Hallam & Damian Hall

Newham – Greenwich (15K) Tom Suddaby & Jonathan Cowie

Greenwich – Bexley (7.3K) James Poole & David Smyth

Bexley – Lambeth (14.5K) John Carroll & Alison Hamlett

Lambeth – Lewisham/Southwark (1.6K) Chris Pearson & George Bull

Lewisham/Southwark to Tower Hamlets (13.4k) Susie Chan & Cat Simpson

Tower Hamlets – Hackney (6.8k) Adharanand Finn & Kate Carter

Hackney – Islington (4K) Sam Murphy & Jeff Pyrah

Islington – Haringey (1K) Sam Murphy & Jeff Pyrah

Haringey – Camden (2.8K) Joe Mackay & Helen Couchman

Camden – Kensington & Chelsea (6.7K) Andrew Simms & Vassos Alexander

Kensington & Chelsea – Hammersmith & Fulham (0.2K) Brian Otten & John Pickup

Hammersmith & Fulham – City of Westminster (4.4K) Brian Otten & John Pickup 

Photography by James Carnegie Photography.