Daily Archives: December 20, 2015

The bells, the bells… and tinsel toes, jollily jingling along

This is what festive Smilies look like, apparently, you wouldn’t believe it was just the week before Christmas, though I suppose the Santa outfits might be a bit of a give away.  Some things you should know about the photo below

  1. One of our  number is wearing a pair of red bloomers which were at least forty years old, I’d like to say fifty, but can’t be sure, and four decades is pretty god-darned impressive.  They are quite racy, what with their lace ruffled trimmings, and a fine choice for seasonally apt Santaesque apparel
  2. Twenty five of us made this outing, only twenty three are pictured.  One was the official photographer, the other is out of shot having a wilderness pee, we all have our backs to her, I’ve tried playing ‘where’s Wally?’ but she’s definitely not in the frame, normally it is me who misses the photo op, so this is a pleasant change
  3. I did try, what with my skirt getting another outing and tinsel on my toes and ponytail, but others decidedly trumped me with actual battery operated fairy lights (thank you pound shop) and santa hat regalia, oh well, there is always next year to up my game…

Eyam Moor Christmas Jingle run

The occasion was this:

Sunday Jingle off road run with bells on!
‘festive, beautiful yet slightly challenging winter run.  Meet at Hathersage pool for 09:30 start. 6 miles of hills, ancient bridges, moorland, woodland, spectacular views (hopefully) and lashings of mud.  Be prepared for variable weather conditions, undulating terrain, mud, maybe ice, water and slippy areas.  Trail or fell shoes, waterproof protection essential. On the top of Eyam moor the weather can change dramatically, there maybe strong icy winds, rain or even snow, if we are lucky. So please protect yourselves ladies.  Festive attire optional.  Coffee afterwards at Outside cafe’

To be really honest, I was a bit ambivalent about joining in this run.  It sounded a bit scary, what with the warnings of potential snow and ice, dying of exposure, starving to death (I can’t carry the recommended  mandatory extra jelly babies cited in another dire warning post, on account of being vegetarian, I could surely die out there).  As usual, I ummed and aaaahed, and eventually went with the flow as kindly Smilies undertook to give me a lift.  I’m getting into a bit of a parasitic pattern re transport.  More often a recipient of lifts than a giver of them.  I do feel some shame at this, but on this occasion my excuse was I’d had a tyre blow out on the motorway the day before and the very nice man from the AA who changed it for me pointed out that all my tyres are basically useless death traps.  FYI when  asked him if he thought they’d be OK to get me back to Sheffield from Newbury where he rescued me, he non-committally but accurately said ‘well you obviously thought it was possible when you headed out this morning’.  Great.  I’ve never crawled home so slowly, or been so relieved to make it back there in one piece.  In the circumstances I wasn’t offering lifts to anyone ’til they’d been checked out by my local garage.  My local garage by the way said in fact one of the tyres was actually ‘pretty good’ so there you have it.  Only three replacements required out of four.  You have to keep these things in perspective…

So, I faffed about waiting for promised warning text that my ride was en route, when the phone rang to say they were outside.  Guilt engulfed me.  It is very wrong not to be ready when you are beholden to others.  Not quite dependent on the kindness of strangers, but you get the gist.  Seems preparatory text was lost forever in cyberspace, where do such missives end up I wonder.  Maybe that nice Tim Peake will be receiving it up at the space station sometime.  I wonder if he’ll be really confused at a message saying his lift is arriving imminently.  It’s probably quite hard to do an off-road run in a space suit, especially when you’ve become habituated to operating in zero gravity?


Four of us were in a squeaky clean sparkling super mini, and we phutted our way to Hathersage pool.  Our driver did an awesome parallel park into a minute space, I’d have gone for the car park personally, way to challenging to negotiate that.  We sat for a bit watching the car steam up whilst waiting for other festive smilies to appear bedecked in seasonal decorations.  We joined them, meaning we had escaped to the pavement on the opposite side of the road to where we were parked.  This was timely, as we then witnessed an altercation between a local resident, and some bemused walkers who were lacing on their boots from the back of their car which was also parked on the road.  The local resident took issue with this business of walkers parking here.  Tricky one, you don’t own the road outside your house, it probably is annoying if you are a local resident and it gets parked up, but then again that is the price you pay for living in such a spot.  We bravely ignored the whole thing, and concentrated on admiring each others festive festoonery.

The mob assembled, the skies were amazingly bright and clear, and although there was indeed an icy wind, the outlook was good.  Quickly we were off.  A decision was made to stick together as one group.  This was a bit daunting for me as I’m so slow, however slow the fast runners go it’s always a push for me.  The route seemed to head up hill endlessly, and my morale took an early hit.  I was reduced to walking quite early on, well, stomping would be more accurate, hands on my knees to give me some extra stability and leverage heading up.  Eventually though, we got off the road and into the open moor.  It was absolutely stunning.  The views back across Hathersage were amazing, and you do feel like you have the landscape to yourself.  For the first part it wasn’t even as wet and boggy as I’d anticipated, I suppose we were so high up it had all run off.  You had to pick your way a bit, but that suited me, because it necessitates slowing down.   Even though I was a bit dispirited by my general crappiness at maintaining any sort of pace you couldn’t look around and not be glad you were there.  The day before the heavens had opened to pour forth unrelenting rain, it seemed miraculous that today the sun was out and the skies clear.

Our route took us up to Eyam moor.  Eyam of the plague stories.  I feel I should make some witty and insightful comment here in reference to it, but I can’t, it is a sad sad tale, though a remarkable one too.  A village that sacrificed itself essentially, to contain the outbreak.  Oh well, we skipped over that, and jollily jingled onwards, across the moor, alongside a crumbling stone wall, bog hopping.  It was about this point that, leading from the back (well, tailing the rear anyway, I can spin it how I want I was always going to be bringing extra ballast to the back-marker) I made a serious miscalculation and ended up ankle deep in freezing bog water.  In a way, this was almost a relief.  In the early stages of off road runs, I always try to avoid getting wet, but inevitably eventually do.  After that you stop pussy footing around and taking futile detours, and can just embrace the mud and puddles and charge on through.  The downside though, was that wet socks at such a stage probably contributed to subsequent blister formation, which was  a bit grim, and did reduce my overall joyfulness during the run.

Sore feet aside, scenically speaking it was absolutely spectacular.  I also got to have some good chats with people I don’t usually get a chance to connect with.  They were taking it in turns to back mark I think, but it was companionable.  I also enjoyed eavesdropping on other conversations.  Favourite observation of the day was made by one of our awesome ultra trail runners who remarked ‘two sets of eyes would be ideal really, one for looking at the ground so you can see where you are going, and one for admiring the view‘ this is the kind of  wisdom you can pick up from more experienced runners, you have to acknowledge she had a point!  I wonder if it might even be a case of the more the merrier?  If I could just get over my spider phobia (which is possibly even more embedded than my running shop phobia) we could use a selective breeding programme, or genetic engineering, to create a super race of smiley runners.  Spiders have heaps of eyes, and actually, they are pretty nifty on their feet too.  This idea could yet be a runner (pun intended).  I’m not great with spiders – though I have missed my house spider flat mate Christopher recently, he seems to have vanished, in any event, I’ve found a picture of a cute jumping spider to make the idea more palatable to any sceptics out there.


What goes up, must come down, and so it was with us.  Coming down was actually more challenging, it was muddy and skiddy, and quite a few Smilies took a seasonal tumble.  I did a mud slide of my own, but suffered no ill effects.  I got good stories though from a fellow runner who recognised the route from a previous outing.  ‘Actually, I have a feeling we ended up losing someone last time we went out‘ she commented with alarming nonchalance, definitely implying they were never found again.  I mean, I know the Smiley Paces membership has exploded exponentially, but I still like to think that losing a member in the hills somewhere would not be seen as helpful natural wastage.  I really believed Malthusian principles had been discredited by now.  Just as we shouldn’t see poverty and starvation as great ways of limiting population control, I don’t think we should be condoning abandoning slower runners on the open moor as a legitimate tactic to make membership numbers more manageable.  I’m not just being politically correct for the sake of it, I actually believe this.  Consequently I pressed her for what happened next.  Apparently, ‘it was fine’, they noticed eventually, and the missing runner was someone who knew the hills well, but had to keep within a certain heart rate for health reasons, so had not been able to stay with the faster group as they picked up speed sprinting down the hills in drier weather.   Eventually they just sat down and waited for her to catch up.  Oh good.  I’m glad I didn’t lag behind too much. I’d have quickly laid down sobbing and given up entirely.  Though I do fervently believe my silken layer greatly increases my personal chances of survival for quite a while. Anyway, fortuitously this didn’t arise.  The fallers were scooped up,  the stragglers (me basically) waited for, and we made it back to the start without major injuries or losses.  I say without major injury, but a got a leaked photo of one bruise that had matured nicely in the days following the outing.  How’s this for a thigh bruise (I’m not revealing the owner of the bruise nor breaking my journalistic integrity by disclosing the source, but impressive, eh?)  Seems that running can be a literally as well as metaphorically bruising undertaking!

bruising running

I was actually most at risk of being separated from the group when we wound our way from where we’d parked to the cafe.  I was chatting to a friend and we were mindlessly following the people in front as we didn’t know where we going.  So it was we ended up following some random walkers who were headed in quite literally the opposite direction to that in which we were supposed to be going.   Fortunately some more observant Smilies hailed us and brought us back to the pack.  I wonder where we’d have ended up?

Coffee at Outside cafe was possibly the slowest service in the world, but it was a festive gathering nevertheless, and handy to know that this store has a pretty big cafe that was able to cope with seating a group of our size, plus it has parking out the back, which I never before knew.  So it seems you really can learn something new every day.  Also, I had a warmed scone with clotted cream and jam and a coffee for just £4, I consider that worth the wait.


Coffee was drunk, hail Happy Christmases shared, and then we scattered our separate ways once again.  We are so lucky to have such beautiful landscape on our doorstep.  I do want to find ways to explore it more, but I also need to find slow paced runners to do it with, I was knackered by the end.  Full marks though to the organising committee for taking us on such a gorgeous trail.   Thanks to to our nominated driver.  We did remove our shoes prior to re-entry into the sparkly interior, but mud will out.  Hope the damage wasn’t too bad.

As for our trail – it was this one, just so as you know for next time – note the early escape route – that would indeed have been an emergency ejection at the first sign of trouble!  Fortunately not needed today, because we are all awesome.  The actual route was over 7 miles too, which makes me feel less pathetic for finding it a challenge.

jingle run dec 2015

Categories: off road, running, running clubs | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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