In praise of Decathlon

There are probably more fun things to do on a Thursday night than visit a sports superstore in the soulless wasteland that is Canada Water. Retail parks are often bleak and characterless places, but even its prime location on the river overlooking the financial quarter doesn’t help, nor do the posh flats. The words ‘polish’ and ‘turd’ come to mind.

It is, however, home to London’s only Decathlon store, which stocks gear for every sport imaginable. If you’ve never been before you’d be forgiven for assuming it might be a bit like Sports Direct. Sports Direct is a horrendous shopping experience. There are no changing rooms so you can’t try things on, yet they have a no refund policy. All the small sizes seem to be placed on the top rail (which is about 8ft high – blatant discrimination). Plus I don’t want to exercise in head to toe in Karrimor, thanks.

Kalenji stuff

Where Sports Direct fails re. cheap sportswear, Decathlon excels massively. Their running brand, Kalenji, has technical t-shirts in all colours for about a fiver. They also do a wide range of running shoes, which, while I am yet to be persuaded away from the Adidas Adizero range, look like they’d be pretty good. Triban 3 AKA the red baron

Their cycling stuff is great too, including Italian-built road bikes with aluminium frames and carbon forks from £300 (I don’t know much about bikes, but apparently these are all good things for the price). My colleague rides this one which he affectionately calls ‘the Red Baron’, after the WW1 German fighter pilot (but he is a history geek).

(I’m pretty sure everything comes with a two year warranty too but don’t quote me on that.)

So I dropped by last night and picked up an armful of stuff as Christmas presents for my running friends and family (I won’t say what, as the nosey buggers will probably look on here and it’ll spoil the surprise).  If it’s not too late to pay it a Xmas shopping visit, I’d definitely recommend it.

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