Unlikely sounding I know, but apparently that is what has happened. I have basically just jogged to Jakarta! A.Maz.Ing. This is not even a Wikipedia stat, but a National Trust produced one so it absolutely, definitively must be true. Not that I intend to check it out for myself, I’m not Strava enabled to that level of detail or indeed competency.
What happened was this. Another day, another running anniversary. This time, it was for the Longshaw Trust10 First Anniversary. Doesn’t time fly eh? Though only when you are enjoying yourself, not necessarily when you are actually running in my experience. Nevertheless, it is apparently one year, almost to the day, since the inaugural Longshaw Trust10 trail running event first started. Today, 24th July 2016, was therefore something of a special occasion. Yay! Definitely called for bunting. Actually, I have to concede the festive bunting that was out and about en route from the Longshaw car park to the tearooms, was evidently part of the standard Longshaw summer services National Trust recruitment and Longshaw Estate information display team offer, (not quite the Red Arrows to be fair, but jolly all the same) and not birthday specific for the Trust10 anniversary celebrations, but if you can’t parasitise someone else’s bunting on your birthday when can you? Certainly got me in the party mood on the yomp down to registration. Then again, I’m easily excited and entertained as has been pointed out to me before by say, The Runderwear Ambassador who I encounter out running at regular Sheffield area running events. (She knows who she is, and she speaks the truth).
So, for those of you not in the know (sigh, where have you been), the Longshaw Trust 10 is basically a timed 10km run (twice round a scenic 5km off-road lap), held on the fourth Sunday of each month at Longshaw estate at 9.00 a.m.. Free to participate, just get there in time to register at the tea rooms from 8.15. Keep your number for future events if you can, more blah de blah of the Longshaw 10k calendar is here. Bring money for car-parking (if not a National Trust member) and for post run coffee (allegedly optional, but really, do you want to miss out on a posh latte with your trail running buddies?) Anyway, today, as well as being the fourth Sunday of the month, was the first anniversary of the inaugural Longshaw Trust10 run. Hooray!
In honour of the occasion we didn’t sing happy birthday to us (shame, seeing as how it’s finally legal to sing Happy Birthday on the record) I think we should have personally, but I am guilty of contributory negligence and will concede it could be my fault for not being more proactive and kicking off a communal rendition during the pre-run briefing I suppose. However, we did get a very jolly flier explaining some of the many and various milestones achieved over the past year on the run at Longshaw at the finish. Honestly, I would have preferred a more traditional party-bag with a balloon, stickers and maybe a piece of cake to be handed to me at the end of the run, but let’s not be churlish. The leaflet was interesting too, and may yet provide useful pub-quiz fodder in the future if ever I should be required to say how far it is from Longshaw to Jakarta for instance. Surely only a matter of time before that question comes up!
So, anyway, yes indeedy, we were given some Trust10 birthday facts to peruse. I am assured there won’t be an exam as such, but surely great kudos in regurgitating some of these stats to your running friends (or indeed to your non-running acquaintances should there be any you have been looking for a discrete way to ‘unfriend’ by making them drop you for whatever reason), therefore, for your edification and in expectation of your no doubt unbridled enthusiasm and inadequately expressed gratitude, I will repeat some of the key points below:
In one year 1260 runners have taken part from 46 different running clubs (that’s loads actually isn’t it? Very impressive.) They have covered a total distance run of 11845 km. Presumably the statistician who compiled this leaflet didn’t have their attention drawn to the fact that it’s just possibly one of the ‘runners’- (potentially even me) – might (just might) accidentally on purpose, have walked up some of the steeper bits, thereby slightly shortening the distance of actual running, but the principle is the same. Surely, you wouldn’t be so mean-spirited as to quibble with that? Anyway, assuming you are in fact in possession of a kind heart, and an understanding disposition, then you will perhaps also accept that this is the distance from Longshaw to Jakarta in Indonesia! Ergo, we have all pretty much jogged to Jakarta. (Well, those of us who have ever participated in the Longshaw 10k have anyway.) Go us! That means, if we’d worked together a bit more, we might have ended up there (see picture filched from internet below), but personally I think Longshaw is just as lovely to run round as some tropical paradise, so don’t see that as a missed opportunity in navigation purposes. Actually, whilst we are on the subject of orienteering (yes, we were), I will just mention to anyone thinking of coming to the next Trust10 but nervous about the route finding aspect, that it’s incredibly hard to go wrong at the Longshaw 10k, what with the pathologically friendly marshals to direct and cheer you round complementing the zealous pink-flag marking of the entire route. There is no real getting lost potential here I’m afraid, if you were banking on that as your excuse for not giving it a go…
I’ve been to this Trust10 a few times now and I love it. Gorgeous trails, mixture of terrain, friendly marshals, toilets for precautionary pee purposes (including nigh on unheard of innovations in the context of other off-road running events, like toilet paper and hand driers), and proper coffee available in the tea-rooms afterwards (with optional cake and other refreshments). Incidentally, the tea rooms today seemed to be staffed by Smiley Paces Sheffield Women’s Running Club progeny to a large extent, so I don’t know when that breeding programme was first thought of, but pretty impressive to see how it has come to fruition. Here is a photo evidencing the availability of toilets pre-run, I resisted the temptation of taking one more ‘in situ’ so to speak, an act of restraint for which you should all be grateful…
Right, I feel I’m a bit out of sequence here, I’m going to return to more traditional chronology. Life has got in the way of my reluctant running adventures of late, so I was a bit ho-hum about Longshaw this weekend. However, when I was reminded a couple of days ago by a proactive Smiley – who shall henceforth be known as The Smiley (with responsibility for logistics), that it was taking place today as she posted on the Smiley Paces Facebook page to see who else might be going. I had a quick check of the Longshaw Estate Facebook page (because it seems I can’t count to four and hadn’t realised it was this weekend), and realised it was not only happening, but it was the first anniversary run. Couldn’t miss that, even if there was a mistake on their info and so they forgot to mention the usual requirement on anniversary runs for participants to wear fancy dress. Still, it’s only their first year, the team are on a learning curve inevitably.
Having mentally committed to doing the run, I therefore dutifully carbed up the night before by eating a four-pack of raspberry mini-magnums (yes I did feel sick afterwards) and downing several large gin and tonics (need to keep fluid levels up too) whilst pinning my brilliant number 999 – onto my Smiley Vest in preparation for The Big Event. (Can’t be bothered to explain again now how I came to be in possession of this coveted three digit sequence, but suffice to say crime pays and life isn’t fair, sad, but true. Just like Brexit).
On waking this morning it was hot, hot, hot. Running didn’t seem quite so appealing. I’m feeling pathetically unfit even by my own standards, but fear of missing out is a powerful motivational force. Coffee drunk, trail shoes donned (and other appropriate running clothing too), Smiley Vest to have an outing, even though this meant I’d need to wear a vest underneath as I don’t have the body confidence to flaunt my upper arms to all and sundry (I know that’s stupid, but at least I’d conceded that it wasn’t going to be a day when I’d get away with running in my fleece). I headed off in my phutting car (MOT on Tuesday, not looking good, wonder if it will be our last shared adventure together) and was at the carpark nice and early. I met the carpark marshal and his dog whilst I was getting my parking ticket. Both were friendly. On seeing me, one crawled towards me almost incontinent with rapture at the very sight of me, rolled on to his back to present his stomach for caressing, and then licked my hand in obvious appreciation and delight as I dutifully delivered the requested tummy rub. I’m not saying which of them it was that behaved in this way, though to be fair, you can probably guess. I wish I had the confidence to get away with such blatant demands for attention in public places.
I’m not good on dog breeds, I think it was a Yorkshire terrier. It was somewhere between a Great Dane and a Chihuahua in size if that helps at all. No? Sorry about that…
On to registration via the bunting and my regular view scenic shot. Still not perfected the composition, but in the interests of continuity here it is:
I was nervous about going today, but felt better as I approached the runners already gathered and saw some familiar faces. Accelerate woodrunners, newt-spotting pond-watching group, and, of course compatriots from Smiley Paces. Not so very many of us, but quality not quantity I think you’ll agree. A few first timers were in evidence, encouraged by The Smiley (with responsibility for logistics) Facebook post to attend. She herself was playing hard to get, and not in evidence. I’m thinking we can all learn from this, by her absence she created a tangible air of eager anticipation as we looked out with bated breath for her arrival. It was a veritable media circus.
What’s that? Why was I nervous? Well, just off form really. Granted my form is generally nothing to write home about (do people do that any more?) It was fear of being in Moulin Rouge, or do I mean cafe rouge? Hang on, not cafe rouge, I’ve boycotted them (they must be really scared) ever since a waiter skidded on a chip whilst carrying a bowl of soup to an adjacent table to mine, and sent the whole bowl in a perfect arc which upturned all over me and got in my hair and on my coat and everywhere. I was with my Dad eating out at Cafe Rouge in Leamington Spa (oh the timeless wonders of that place) at the time, and didn’t want to make a fuss (special meal for some reason) so said no harm done, just give me £5 for the dry cleaning bill and the manager (true story) said couldn’t possibly do that without seeing the bill first. I am still seething to this day, not so much at that response, but that I didn’t pursue it and make a scene, they were lucky I didn’t claim for burns and hair-wash etc etc, as it was I didn’t even get payment for dry-cleaning bill, nor so much as a complimentary glass of wine. So NEVER GO TO to LEAMINGTON SPA cafe rouge, or if you must, please speak not of it to me. Yes, I know it was a quarter of a century ago, but I have a long and bitter memory.
So it must be Moulin Rouge then? No, wait, I remember, it was fear of Lanterne Rouge! Easy mistake. For those who are not avid Tour de France followers, or have not otherwise picked up this phrase from cycling enthusiast friends, this is the term used for the final finisher in cycling races. According to Wikipedia
The Lanterne Rouge is the competitor in last place in a cycling race such as the Tour de France. The phrase comes from the French for “Red Lantern” and refers to the red lantern hung on the rear vehicle of a passenger railway train or the brake van (USA caboose) of a railway freight (goods) train, which signalmen (USA dispatchers) would look for in order to make sure none of the couplings had become disconnected
So basically, I was worried about coming last. I don’t know why, I have often been last at running events (Wingerworth Wobble and Bamford Sheepdog Trials Fell Race just for starters) but I’ve lost a lot of confidence with my running, mainly because I started off crap, and have got worse over time. Possibly because I don’t train enough, but that’s probably a knee-jerk judgement, surely it must be correlation with not cause of my ineptitude. I don’t mind being last generally speaking, but I sort of wanted an anonymous run today, and it’s hard to be anonymous when the whole organising party of an event are peering over the horizon in hope of a sighting and wondering at what point they need to trigger the call to air ambulance and/or helicopter mountain search and rescue. However I gave myself a pep talk, and decided that there is great dignity in coming in the final position. It is in fact a particularly important function at any running event. The yin to the yang of the first finisher, last woman or man home completes the event. They should be celebrated, and indeed some are. It doesn’t matter what speed you go at, you are still running the same distance, and arguably showing greater stamina than earlier finishers by more time spent out on the course! You run, therefore you are a runner, speed doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t. The picture isn’t me by the way, though I agree the likeness of our silhouettes is uncanny (apart from the baseball cap, obviously)!
A bit of time was spent doing the runners equivalent of dogs sniffing each other’s arses. In one case this involved trying to remember what we were supposed to include in a warm up routine for a running event. Regrettably, it took us so long to remember the acronym and what the various letters stood for (RAMP – though this version isn’t THE version we’d been working with on wood run) we didn’t have time to do any of the actual exercises, which was just as well, we’d have been knackered before we started otherwise. Then, on the whistle, we dutifully trooped down to the start. There was a triple briefing as we were reminded of the hazards (coos on course had a ranger in attendance, but we were on our own with the boulders, tree roots and uneven ground). Triple briefing because the poor run director can only project her voice so far, time for a whip round and a megaphone purchase I say. We were warned/ advised that a National Trust photographer was present to record this momentous day, it being the first birthday and all. I think it was National Trust not National Geographic, but it was a bit hard to make out so we shall see…
Reasonably punctual start, and awf we went. Blimey it was hot. Soooooooooo humid, I set off at a reasonable (for me) pace, but was soon inelegantly dripping. I do like this run though, you are quickly by the lake and through a couple of gates where smiling marshals are in attendance. Into the woods there was a marshal clutching fronds of fern which she used to fan herself. I was hoping she would create enough of a turbulence in the air to cool us passing runners as we sped by too, but that was not to be. I’m not really sure about the butterfly flapping it’s wings causing a tornado somewhere else anymore to be honest. There was ferocious wafting of foliage going on here at Longshaw and very little obvious airflow as a consequence in my experience.
Various people were out and about, some were probably family and friends of runners (special shout out to the kids in their white shirts covered with red-spots, very cool attire referencing tour de France); two women sat deep in conversation on a rock at one point apparently oblivious to their positioning right on the migration route of runners passing directly in front of them. Some slightly startled dog-walkers either gave way to the moving tide or didn’t, runners negotiating them like water round stones in a fast flowing stream. There were also lots and lots of ants en route. Not running as part of the throng, but being pissed off about having runners thunder overhead I expect. Imagine finding your previously quiet rural escape was now on a flight path for fighter jets. That’s the best analogy I can imagine. I’d be annoyed, bet they were too. I quite like insects, they get a bad press. These were I think wood ants, but I couldn’t help wondering if maybe the high heat and humidity (did I mention it was HOT) might have brought out some flying ants too, but I didn’t stoop down to inspect closely enough to confirm. Now flying ants are spectacular insects indeed, coming out on certain days of the year in their hundreds to find new homesteads.
Incidentally, have you seen that Stephen King film The Mist, with those massive scorpion flies? They remind me of flying ants. Those people in the shopping mall were stupid though, what did they think would happen with all those bright lights wedged against a plate glass window when it was all dark outside? Have they never encountered the phenomenon of moths to the flame? Nor indeed ever watched a horror film? Idiots. Here are some gratuitous wood ant and flying scorpion ant creatures shots to break up the text. You can google The Mist film yourself and live with the humiliation of that coming up on you internet search history at some future point in time and work on your own excuses as to how it came to be there… I’m going with the wood ants identification for now, until I hear to the contrary. Hope they weren’t too disrupted by our pounding on their patch.
Shout out to regular marshals (man with bike) and some new faces too. The parking marshal with the dog, and with the tummy to be rubbed, had relocated to keep an eye on us coming through the mini car park you have to pass through en route. Spoiler alert – I had thought we’d hit it off, me and that dog, what with sharing the tummy rub moment, and all that euphoric licking, but I can report it completely ignored me when I passed him again en route. Maybe he was playing hard to get.
I can’t talk and run, and because of my pace (pretty slow to be fair) I did a lot of today’s run on my own in zen like meditation. This does reduce the scope for anecdotes, unless I make them up, but that’s hard. I will say though that I was disappointed not to see Pokemon Go trekkers in action. Everyone is going on about this like it’s some kind of plague, but I haven’t really got any idea what the appeal is. Mind you, as I don’t have a smart phone I guess I’m not their target audience. Even so, I was a bit disappointed by the omission of this particular demographic group at the Trust10 event, as I was wanting to make the point that there is an incontinence product being advertised regularly ton the telly just now hat I would swear has a Pokemon character randomly appearing in it as a speaking bladder. Or is that just me?
So, back to the run, without Pokemons. There was the haul up the hill which was a killer in the heat. Only the flies stirred up from the bracken provided motivation for me to halfheartedly pull away at a half-run half-shuffle pace. The tracks today were the driest I’ve ever known them. I was in trail shoes, which I always wear for this run, but in honesty you possibly could have got away with road shoes today. At the top of the hill is a dry stone wall. There is always a marshal stationed here. I like to tell myself this is because it’s a sensible vantage point from which you can survey much of the run, inwardly I fear it’s because it gives the marshal a good laugh watching weary runners heaving their drooping carcasses up the steep gradient of that killer hill… The marshal today was encouraging though (as they invariably are) and on the second circuit even offered water. I took her up on the offer. She handed over a sports bottle warning that loads of others had slurped it previously. Heading her words, I unscrewed the top, and tried to pour water untainted by contact from other unknown and sweaty runners, directly into my mouth. Turns out I’m a terrible shot, most went down my front. I risked looking like a wet T-shirt competition, but you know what, it didn’t half cool me down. Thank you saviour marshal. I don’t normally carry water on a 10k, but today was ridiculously tough in the heat. Time for a contour shot I think. Let me see if I can get one from Strava. 610 ft elevation, which doesn’t sound much when you write it down, but felt like it today, and obviously 6.4 miles, ever so slightly over 10k.
I enjoyed the second loop. Longshaw is really gorgeous to run round, I don’t know why I’m so tardy about going there spontaneously to run or walk in between the Trust10 events, oh hang on, yest I do. Terminal inertia, that’s it! On the second loop, as I approached the finish a random passer by was cheering us last few runners home, ‘you’re the best looking one I’ve seen so far‘ he called at me as I rushed past. Now, I’m very aware this sounds incredibly inappropriate and creepy when I write it down, but it weirdly enough felt encouraging at the time. He didn’t specify of what I was the best looking example of the day, so maybe that’s partly why. Anyway ‘you too‘ I cried out in response (only seemed polite to do so) as I romped along the final few hundred metres. It’s fun once you have the end in view. There is always a little clutch of volunteer marshals and organisers and sundry earlier finishers to cheer you in which is a very cheering sight. With the warmer weather there was a quartet of Smiling Smilies waiting too, which was extra nice. I retrieved my camera from the cafe and got to cheer a few final finishers too. Including, our elusive The Smiley (with responsibility for logistics) who had done a Zorro like secret arrival just as the runners departed and joined the back of the throng as we set off apparently. Hooray!
I also took the opportunity to get the organisers to pose for a mother and daughter shot. I’m not entirely sure of the ethics of this, does my desire to capture this relationship on film amount to collusion with the practise of elder abuse? Mum claims to be happy enough, but really, standing out there in all weathers noting the times long beyond the point where her fingers have gone numb and for no recompense beyond the breathless thanks of passing runners… it’s hard to be sure. She seemed to be genuinely chuffed by the recently acquired timing technology though, might look like a manual adding machine to you and me, but in reality it is the secret of how they record timing successes of the Trust10 team. They look happy enough though don’t you think? Thanks for organising, you are a great team, great motivators, and great cheeriness whatever the weather.
As the final finishers came home, the National Trust/ National Geographic photographer was on hand to record the returners. He recognised our logistical smiley as they had previously met at some event ‘Ah it’s The Smiley‘ he said warmly. Hence I have a frame of reference for logistical Smiley henceforth. The Smiley, it shall be. How very apt.
I downed the bottle of water I’d brought with me whilst waiting in the queue for coffee. Eventually I was suitably accessorised with a freshly brewed latte elegantly served by Smiley Paces Progeny as previously referenced, I then joined my other Smiley compatriots. In my absence they too had been accessorised. Not with conventional party hats, but with much coveted Trust10 shocking pink bobble hats. I hadn’t brought mine with me, it was at home with Fraser Bear (I wonder if he might be a bit hot in it actually now I come to think of it, maybe I should take it off…) They were looking suitably chuffed, and indeed in party mood. Who wouldn’t be in similar circumstances. Cue, much posing with hats. I think we shall probably all have to wear them at the next possible opportunity, mid-summer or not. August bank holiday Trust10 run? Bring. It. On.
As we sat, the temperature dropped a bit which was a relief, and we managed to get a willing passer by to get a whole group shot. Well, I say ‘we’ actually it was one more assertive member of our group acting alone who facilitated this, but we were grateful for both her negotiation skills and personal initiative in doing so. Nice photo, aren’t we all lovely and suitably smiley on this occasion:
So coffees drunk, the need to return to the realities of life forced us eventually to make our move, stiffly. Creaking my way back up the grit path to the car park I was a bit confused. I seemed to be making such heavy going of just that 200 metre stretch it seemed nigh-on impossible that I’d lumbered round the 10k earlier, even at a PW rate. Ah well, that’s one of the mysteries of Longshaw I suppose. You really should give it a go if you haven’t already. Next fixture Sunday 28th August 2016, diarise it now, you know you want to!
So that’s all for now. Thanks for reading…
If you feel like acknowledging the bounty of Longshaw and the National Trust for putting on this free event, they state on the same flier that:
‘We do not charge for the Trust10, but if you would like to donate to the upkeep and protection of the Peak District text PEAK to 70123 to donate £3.’ they add small print to the effect that ‘This is a charity donation service. You will be charged £5 for this call plus one message at your standard network rate. The National Trust will receive 100% of your donation’ (which presumably means the reference to £3 above was a typo). ‘If you’d rather we didn’t contact you in future, text NOCOMMS NT to 70060. If you wish to discuss this mobile payment call 0203 282 7863. A Registered charity in England in Wales (no: 205846) nationaltrust.org.uk/sport‘
So now you know.
Oh, and if you are bored, you can read all my posts about Longshaw Trust10 events here: https://runningscaredsite.wordpress.com/tag/trust10/ or not, you choose.