London runners

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.



  • 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!

  • GuruGuru ✭✭✭

    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!!
  • 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.
  • GlennGlenn ✭✭✭
    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.
  • 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.
  • Scotty4Scotty4 ✭✭✭
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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:)
  • 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!
  • GuruGuru ✭✭✭
    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!!!
  • 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 !
  • 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 :-)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.

  • 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 :)
  • 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.
  • I find the same thing here in Krautland....mind you....wearing my England shirt does not bode well for a friendly response, and I am not looking forward to running in the winters dusk down some of my leafy deserted trails. :-))))))
  • It's interesting to see what you all have to say. This is a subject that I have often thought about (usually when I am actually out running). I have been running on and off for about 20 years (and I have just scared myself stupid having worked that out! I must quickly point out that I started running the streets at about 16/17 to keep fit for rugby). Anyway, I have run in a lot of different places. I grew up in Enfield (North London)and still run there when I visit my folks (will be there on Sunday in fact). I went to Uni in Liverpool, I lived in West London, Glasgow and I now live in Aberdeen. On holidays I have run in Italy and Florida.

    Right from the start, I noticed that fellow runners would greet me in some way, usually just a wave or nod of the head. So I got in the habit of doing the same thing. Overall, I have not noticed any regional variation in my "hit rate". I would say about 70% of runners will either initiate the greet or return it.

    I would agree with Gone Away's point about the hierarchy. Usually the runners who blank me are skiny whippet-like ones, ie faster than me. Having said that, there are plenty of them who greet, it's just that most that don't are like that.

    However, I do notice one thing and that is is very rare for lone women to return a greet. No chance of eye contact or anything. It could of course be me, but I do not get the same reaction from pairs or groups of women runners, usually a full round of greets. I mentioned this to my wife (a non-runner) and she said that women out alone would be reluctant to make eye contact with men.

    One thing that I have noticed in Aberdeen is the number of normal people (ie non-runners) who will say hello or smile at runners, especially older people. The only problem with this is having the energy to respond to an old dear who comments on how lovely a day it is (noteworthy in itself in Aberdeen!) when I am dragging myself through the last few miles of a long Sunday morning run that feels particularly hard!

    Anyway, after that ramble, my conclusion is that in my experience most people will "greet" but there are a large minority of rude buggers!

  • Funny what Tony has just said, I completed the FLM this year, and despite the common goal, the pain etc. everyone had, I found that the majority of runners ignored each other, but the spectators were the complete opposite, big smiles, cheers offer of sweets etc.
    After I finished I just came to the conclusion that runners were an odd bunch.
  • Gaz.Gaz. ✭✭✭
    Gone Away,

    I allways say Hi/Good morning to every runner I pass, that is in opposite directions, I never pass anyone going the same direction.

    I agree with your 1 & 2 but I have found that women allways acknowledge me.

    When someone looks at you as though you are an alien with three heads for saying hi, and look straight through you, they get a right mouthfull inside my head.

    It dosn't hurt to speak or nod no matter how shattered you are.
  • Aint' " our Gaz " modest....never passes anyone....he goes like the wind !!!!!
    And the dames always smile at him too, 'cos he's a good looking b*****d aint' he???
  • Gone away

    I concurr with your findings. The main culprits of the blank face are the skinny whippets, no offence to the large number of SW's on this forum:-), if slightly cuddly,old or slow then I always get a greeting.

    As a lone woman runner, a fellow runner would have to look pretty odd for me not to nod, but may be I'm too trusting:-)
  • LarsLars ✭✭✭
    Hi Billyboy in Krautland,

    if I would wear my Krautshirt here in London, the Tommies would probably beat me up ;-) .

    Back to topic: I am not greating while I am running. I have to much to do with trying to breathe. Sorry for that ;-)
  • Gaz.Gaz. ✭✭✭
    BB, I dont pass anyone cos I aint fast enough, as for going like the wind, I usualy have the wind !! and as for good looking, do me a favour.....

    How ya doing bill, well I hope.....

  • GuruGuru ✭✭✭
    Twas a wet and windy Sunday afternoon in Essex...and yep...a 14 miler lay took me 15 minutes to leave the house having got my running gear about 7 miles a young lady was coming in the opposite direction along the seafront - she was the first runner I'd seen (and the only one all run) and I gave her a grin and a wave, which she reciprocated (it was one of those situations where I thought I must be mad out in this but at least I'd discovered someone eqaully as insane).
    Moral of the story I think is that as the winter comes, many of the less friendly runners hibernate - Regent's Park is frantic in the summer and I see very few runners in the winter by comparison...though inbterestingly the ones I do see in the winter almost always acknowledge you!!
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