Monthly Archives: May 2017

The glamour of Grindleford, getting stylish on the trails…

Digested read:  your personal running mojo can be elusive, but you’ll get by with the help of your friends.  You might get wet as well though, so go out prepared.  That’s my experience anyway.  Running buddies are awesome. Just go run.

You’ll have to wait for the visual punchline to fully understand and appreciate the  ‘getting stylish’ reference of the heading.  I’m not suggesting by the way, it will necessarily be worth the wait, only pointing out that the delay is unavoidable. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles.  Proverbially that is, there are no actual cookies available to readers of this post unless you have taken the precaution of sourcing your own.  Which would be sensible to be fair, but is beyond my area of control or influence.

So.  I’ve been feeling really wobbly about what I euphemistically refer to as my ‘running’ of late. This isn’t only in the literal sense.  Whilst it is true that I increasingly find it impossible-to-ignore the independent motion of my extra layers of adipose tissue that jiggle unbidden whenever I attempt any turn of speed.  I swear parts of my anatomy have developed a life of their own, whole colonies are boiling beneath.  I refer also to my metaphorical negative and wobbly state of mind.  I’m currently in utterly disheartened mode, my ‘running career’ (if that isn’t the ultimate oxymoron of all time) braked completely in Cambodia, and since I’ve returned to the UK I seem to be slower and more lumbering than ever before.  My running mojo has evaporated.  I am too shamed to show my face at running club, and feel more intimidated than ever by ‘proper runners’ bounding by at organised events, or ostentatiously stretching and warming up at the startlines.  To be fair, this latter issue is I know mine not theirs.  In the main ‘proper runners’ have only ever been supportive and encouraging to me.  Perhaps it is just human nature.  Whether or not it is a universal truth, it’s definitely an individual one.  Whatever, my personal paranoia, ensures it is only ever the notable exceptions whose actions and voices spring into my mind.  My negative self-talk hardly needs a mocking chorus of others to reinforce it.   I can be loud enough all on my own. This dear reader, is how negative running cycles start.  Not in the ‘now I must undertake a duathlon as this cycle is so compelling and it’s all running round me as well‘ sense, more in the ‘this sofa is a way preferable option to humiliating myself in public by running‘ one.  Only, with great irony, it usually isn’t. The sofa I mean, really being the better option.  There is no great mystery to running, the only way to get back into it (injuries and over-training aside) is to get back into it.  That is, to go out and run.  Stop/start slow/ fast or otherwise.   It remains true that once completed, I have never regretted a run ever (though I will concede that I have sometimes deeply regretted undertaking a run at the time).  Short term memory failings, brought about by post-run endorphins are in this respect the runner’s friend.

never run again

So it was, that feeling really crap about life the universe and everything in general and running in particular, when a suggestion of hooking up with some slow and steady trail explorers popped into my inbox I hesitated before swiping left.  What if?

In the end, I decided not to over-think it, just go out and try. After all, it was a lovely day, full of promise for evening sunshine in verdant countryside. What’s the worst? ‘Yes please‘ I said, adding a ‘Simon’s Cat’ emoticon for good measure and hitting send… and then I did my research….

So the plan was to do a recce for the Grindleford Fell Race.  I’ve not actually entered this year, well not yet anyway.  But lots of lovely smiley-by-name and smiley-by-nature smiley paces comrades have.  It’s 15th June this year, and not many spaces left at the time of writing.  I know nothing about this event.  I decided to have a little look at the route.  This induced near apoplectic paralytic panic, as I inadvertently happened on the route for the Grindleford Gallop instead.  The Grindleford Gallop is 21 miles and 3000ft of ascent, and requires navigation.  Not at all the gentle confidence-building romp out I’d fondly imagined I’d signed up to.  Cripes!  Fortunately, once I’d mopped up the puddles of tea spat out in shock and disbelief earlier, I was able to find the actual fell race route. That was much more encouraging.  4.5 miles, and ideal for newcomers. The Grindleford Fell race website tells us that:

The Grindleford Fell Race takes place over a 4.5miles route starting on the playing fields. The route takes you up through Hay Wood, the Longshore Estate and back through Padley Gorge. The celebrated river crossing within site of the finishing line offers excellent spectating opportunities (!).

The route is well marshalled and partially taped.

This race is suitable for newcomers to fell racing and requires no local knowledge or navigational skills.

Phew, that’s OK then.

So it was, at the appointed hour, I stood outside waiting for my pick up just as the heavens opened and freezing torrential rain started to pour out of the sky. This was not the plan.  However, dear reader, this is also a learning point potentially. For the conscientious-if-not-keen runner such as myself, making an agreement to meet is half the battle.  I’d never have gone out for a run in my own in the face of such inclement weather, but we’d agreed, so what can you do?  You have to turn out don’t you.

Thank you running buddy for sweeping me up and out of the rain. We peered through the rain beating down on the windscreen and squinted through the mist as we headed out to Grindleford.  The rendezvous point was at the Cricket Club Pavilion, where at 7.30 on a Tuesday evening there was ample parking. We sat waiting for our other Smiley compatriots to appear.  We didn’t risk venturing out the car. Who’d want to step out into that?  Besides, seated where we were, we had a great view of a rather intrepid ground maintenance guy. He was mowing the near vertiginous slopes of grass that were alongside and behind the clubhouse with what looked alarmingly like an electric powered lawnmower.  I seem to remember something in my science O levels about the perils of eletricity and water mixing  in the proximity of a person.  Or was that Frankenstein?  Anyway it was pretty impressive.  It seemed to me reminiscent of that sport of extreme ironing.  You know where people take ironing boards to remote and inaccessible places and then iron random items of clothing. To be fair, this extreme mowing looked more hazardous. Wet slippery slope, and storm overhead.  High adrenalin inducing activity I’d say.  There are no photos of the extreme mowing in action, so here is an extreme ironing one instead.  Enjoy.

440px-Extermeironingrivelin

After a bit, four of us assembled, and we had to leave the sanctuary of the car.  Fortuitously, we had all got some sort of wet weather gear with us, even though we’d all been caught out by the elements.  Beyond my running jacket, I rather stupidly hadn’t brought anything else.  I know it’s summer but it got darker than I expected and with hindsight a head torch, whilst not necessary this time, would probably have been sensible just in case.  I hadn’t even worn my fell shoes.   This is my problem.   Hope over experience.  I have done a few fell races now, but I still am astonished to find that they all involve rough terrain and… a hill! Why is that always such a surprise?  I think I just block out the bad memories otherwise I really would never venture out in the peaks again.

This run was no exception.   We set off at a steady pace down a little road, over a wooden foot bridge and then almost immediately off down a footpath into the woods.  I say down a footpath, but you know what?  It was definitely UP.  A lot of up.  I was puffing and feeling hopeless in next no time, just like I was doing a ‘proper run’.  Fell races have hills, there is a clue in the name.  To be fair, in the grand scheme of things this was by no means the steepest or longest of available hauls heavenwards.  But, it was enough of a challenge to me, trying to drag my weary carcass contrary to the pull of gravity that I was seriously wondering if this ‘joyfully venturing out with others’ was just romantic nonsense.  Running uphill is hard, and this wasn’t the most auspicious of starts.  One of our quartet sped by like a little rocket. Impressive.  I caved in and started walking.  I will concede it was beautiful though. The rain was heavy enough that it penetrated the tree canopy, but it was so green.  Full of moss and ferns, and, unsurprisingly perhaps, we had the place to ourselves.

grindleford moss

As we reached the top of the path, I realised I’d made the rookie error of not having started my tomtom, so all that elevation was completely wasted on me.  It wont be on strava so it never happened, whatever my calves might be telling me the day after.  Oh well.  I had no idea of the route, seeing my role here as follower rather than leader.  The consensus of those in the know was that the fell race would probably carry on through the woods for a bit, but that might take us into private land and no-one was really confident about the exact path.  Instead, we headed off through a little gate and along a path in green, green fields.  Heading towards Longshaw. To my embarrassment, I didn’t realise how these paths all connect together.  It’s in fact ridiculously close.  The fields were beautiful, and this was a gentler gradient albeit still uphill.  I can’t really talk and run, which, made me feel as if I was being a bit antisocial. On reflection though, it was – and indeed perhaps always is – probably a blessing for those compelled to run alongside me!

I don’t really know where we went exactly, but we did end up at Longshaw, and seeing spring lambs cavorting and staring cattle and calves silently observing our progress.  It was a gorgeous route.  With a good flat section on fairly solid paths for those who wished to stretch out.  Hang on, I’ll get the strava route for you. It’s incomplete, but you’ll get the idea.  See if you can spot the missing section?  Not exactly a mensa challenge is it?

grindleford recce route.jpg

We emerged and crossed a road towards Padley Gorge, where we thought we’d have to paddle across a stream, but were able to pick our way across on stepping-stones staying pretty dry. Into more lovely woodland.  Maybe because the uphill bit was now behind me, or maybe because my legs were warmed up by now, or maybe I’d just settled into the new running company this was bit was the most fun.  We hopped and picked our way over the bouncy woodland tracks, and tried to remember to look up and around us not just down at the tree roots and random stones.  We took time to pose for selfies (very important) and agreed how lovely it was to be out and about.  We weren’t out for very long really, but it does transport you to a seemingly parallel universe.  The rain had stopped.  The gradient was in our favour, as the paths ahead led down, ironically, things were looking up.

We emerged, more road.  And then I got very confused about where we went.  We sort of cut across what must have been a very over-grown footpath, alarming various sheep that were clearly unused to pathfinders emerging from the nettles and thistles at all, let alone at seemingly superhuman (er hem) speed.  We ended up on a lovely green, flat flood plain, alongside the river.  My faster companions sprinted ahead.  I take seriously my role in life as ballast at the back, so didn’t deviate too much from that.  I caught them up as they stopped, staring at the alarmingly fast flowing river.  We had to cross it.  The irony that we’d endeavoured to stay dry up top, only to now plunge in water and get completely soaked was striking. Even so, there was little alternative.  Our pathfinder leader espied some steps on the opposite bank, that she declared to be ‘familiar’.  Good enough for the rest of us.

Like the billy goats gruff, we took it in turns to wade across.  It wasn’t massively deep, though a lot deeper than I’d anticipated for sure, well over  my knees.   It also felt pretty firm underfoot – but what was more disconcerting was the current.  I don’t know how experienced fell runners sprint through such crossings. I’m built for solidity, but I felt like my legs were going to be swept from underneath me.  It was fun though.  You feel kind of intrepid, but it’s actually pretty tame in the grand scheme of things.  Even so, I did rather regret my choice of shoes. Inexplicably, despite the fact this was a fell race recce, as referenced earlier, I hadn’t thought to wear my fell shoes, but instead was wearing my new hoka trail ones.  I do really like them, but my fell raisers would have been better.  Water went into my hokas alright, but doesn’t drain out in the effortless fountain I’ve come to expect as the standard response from my fellraisers.  Ah well, we live and learn I suppose.  I may be slower than others on the uptake at time, but I daresay I’ll get there eventually.

The river crossing complete, there were a few short steps and then, the moment you were waiting for, a style!  We aren’t completely stupid, the style was padlocked, necessitating a clamber over.  I’m not sure quite why. We weren’t doing it just for fun or ostentatious ‘tough mudder’ training.   Probably we had committed an inadvertent trespass, but there was no-one standing with a gun making us retrace our steps so that was OK.  Rather just our lovely pathfinder with her phone to capture the exact moment of our stylish exit from the trail.  You can judge for yourself exactly how much the camera loves us!  I know. A thing of wonder indeed!

Inevitably, as I’d spent the whole run completely clueless as to our exact whereabouts, I was a bit surprised to find we were pretty much back where we started.  Just the playing fields themselves to cover with an optional sprint finish.  In the middle of it sat a somewhat incongruously placed mandarin duck.  It pointedly ignored us I felt. This was a duck that would not be moved. It sat motionless, and fearless as we ran by.  I don’t have a picture of the actual duck, but here is one for illustrative purposes, they can sort of make themselves all small and tucked up.  Amazing creatures really.  Gotta love a duck.

george mandarin duck1

And that was it. Run over.  Game over. We were back with the cars.  Grindleford yomp concluded.  By the way, the extreme mowing cycle had been completed in our absence. I must say the ground looked splendid. The mower operative was pushing his mower across the car park and both appeared intact. On this occasion at least it seemed he had survived the challenge and neither tumbled in front of the roaring blades of his run away mower at any critical point, nor been struck by lightning.  He lives to mow another day….. this time.

The conclusion dear reader?  Despite my initial reluctance, poor shoe choice and the inclement weather you know what.  It WAS fun.  My running buddies were supportive, encouraging and great company.   And you know what – sometimes they have running demons to wrestle with too!  Who knew.  I’m not the only person in the world ever to be riddled with self-doubt over running, or to have misplaced their running mojo.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say my confidence to get out and get running has returned.  But I would say that my desire to try to find my running mojo again has.  It is true it seems that:  ‘I really regret that run’ said no-one ever.

regret

So if your running mojo currently seems AWOL.   Worry not, like a long forgotten missing sock, it is probably still out there somewhere, and you can expect to be unexpectedly reunited in time.  No-one expects the unexpected of course, so you won’t believe me.  I’m not sure I do myself.  But in the meantime, surely there is no harm in yomping out in search of it.  The search is part of the fun.

So thank you for the unexpected yomp out and about Smiley running buddies.  You are smiling, shining stars indeed.  Go you!  Go us! Go everyone! Don’t think, just run. There will be cake!

dont-think-about-it

Categories: motivation, off road, running | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A call to capes. Let’s out our hidden parkrun superheroes. Just saying.

Capes would be good.  I mean, I do like the milestone tees, they are a unifying and egalitarian gesture.  Anyone can achieve them, if they turn out on the pre-requisite number of occasions and – in the case of runners at least – are clutching their barcodes at the finish.  This is fine and dandy and altogether delightful.  However, I was a bit taken aback recently, when I discovered what should have been obvious to any of us really,  if I’d actually thought about it for more than a millisecond previously.   I speak dear reader of those tireless few,who have almost literally given birth to new parkruns after lengthy gestation periods and sometimes bloody, prolonged and painful labour too.  All of this pre-parkrun planning goes under the radar in terms of public recognition.  A year of blood, sweat, tears and worse still – planning meetings and fund-raising too, and not so much as a single credit to bring you closer to achieving the much coveted purple volunteering tee.   Yes, yes, seeing the event come to fruition may well be ‘its own reward‘ but, hey, we can do better than that surely?

It is time we gave more public recognition to our superheroes within. Those, who having had the spark of an idea that a new parkrun is needed, actually went ahead and ‘made it so!’  They put in many months of tireless – and let’s be honest, sometimes frustrating and potentially thankless work so that we the many can get out and run.  Their efforts bring new life to the international parkrun community, be it the standard issue 5k or the glorious fun-sized 2k junior option.

It’s not that this work is unappreciated, but be honest, I can’t be alone in sort of forgetting about it over time.  I rock up at my local parkrun or a new venue as a tourist, I do thank the marshals and I do thank the run directors, I volunteer from time to time, and I am on record as being willing to bow down and worship at the feet of P S-H himself, but as to the inaugural start-up teams.  Nope, no idea who they are for the most part.  Currently, it is inevitable that years down the line I have no idea which precise individuals at the various runs I go to got down and dirty (not like that smutty-minded people) and did the hard graft to get it off the ground in the first place.  Maybe it doesn’t always matter, parkrun is a collective community endeavour at its heart and we have all seen in recent months the dangers a cult of personality can bring to the world… however, I think some sort of visual symbol to alert the many of the sacrifices of the few would be a grand thing.  We have our milestone tees, why not something for the parkrun startup teams who have laboured locally?

A symbol that would mean anyone of us could recognise and honour these individuals.  Let’s all celebrate our own Totally Awesome parkrun Startup Superheroes.  I suppose that makes them TAPS?  Well, what we call them isn’t the important thing, think of it as just a working title for now – what matters is how we celebrate their unique contribution to the parkrun family.  Just as a run that isn’t on Strava is doomed to be forever lost from the collective mind (you might as well have stayed in bed, it basically didn’t happen), so too we are in danger of overlooking the contribution of our local TAPS if we don’t set about some sort of recognition scheme PDQ.

There are accolades aplenty to choose from.  Lapel badges (yawn), sashes (bit reminiscent of school netball for me), laurels (not great for running in), bronze statues (would necessitate more fund-raising and committees), carriage clock… blah de blah, but what we need is something more distinctive, life affirming and joyful. Also something that would be absolutely fabulous when running – or for non-running TAPSS standing about in with authority or whilst generally striding about purposefully (with or without clipboard).  Dear reader, the solution is clear. What we need for these super-heroes who move amongst us are parkrun themed running capes.

SONY DSC

No really, I’ve researched it, and the idea is genius.

Think about it.  There is a reason why superheroes wear capes. They imbue authority and flourish, they are available in a variety of colours and FACT they make you run faster, or longer, depending on what you want.   What’s more, any child could tell you the donning of a fine superhero cape enables you to fly!  I think our TAPSS teams have earned that gift just for starters.  I think once we get some momentum behind the idea we can improve the offer too.  I’m thinking they could be customised to leave a trail of glitter in their wake and be accessorised to shoot off fireworks or ticker-tape for example on special occasions.  At the very least, people should be able to choose between long billowing out behind types, or short ripply ones.  I dare say there is already research out there on swishing and swooshing options according to width and length.   Right now, I’m just wanting buy in in theory.   Design specs are details really, as long as we have amazing capes for amazing people.  Just imagine the whoosh of capes as these superheroes come whizzing by or simply move amongst us.  Sigh. Glorious indeed.

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The TAPSS are already superheroes afterall, the cape is just a bit of rubber stamping by way of fabric.  What’s not to like?

Just saying.  Who’s with me?

Categories: motivation, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Silverdale Stampede – reimagining the school run

Digested read:  Silverdale School put on an inaugural 10k trail run on 14 May 2017.  I went.  It was fun.  I went home with a pineapple!*  Will go again next year.  *Note, not everyone got a pineapple, but that’s OK because running in such a lovely setting is its own reward.

It always seems a good idea at the time, entering a trial run. To be honest, that’s how it starts. You see the innocuous looking poster for a local 10k at some vague and distant point in time.  From the sanctuary of your sofa, you imagine the joy you will experience as you cavort through idyllic fields whilst breathing in the loveliness of the local countryside.  I think it’s called positive visualisation. This leads you to believe you will romp round hardly breaking a sweat, before concluding this graceful10k trot out with a seemingly effortless sprint through a perfectly configured finish funnel.  This finale flourish of your glorious finish, will be to a chorus of congratulatory screams from an assembly of awe-struck spectators, who will be crying with admiration at your achievement and tossing victory laurels at you in between shouting your name in adulation.  You yourself will conclude your challenge with a self-deprecating wave of your hand to indicate ‘really, it was nothing‘  subtext ‘see me, super human, born to run‘.  I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Truthfully, the actual experience of participating in the inaugural Silverdale Stampede wasn’t entirely in keeping with how I envisaged it from the sanctuary of my own sitting room some weeks earlier, but it was still well worth the effort of getting my weary carcass up and out on a Sunday morning.  Hopefully it will be just the first Silverdale Stampede of many more, and next year, maybe you too dear reader will come join the fun.  Find out for yourself whether or not ‘fun run’ is the ultimate oxymoron or a cast iron guarantee of grit, glory and gratification, and yes indeed running fun!  Albeit susceptible to type one (genuinely fun at the time) and type two (only identifiable as fun retrospectively) variants, depending on your point of view.  Do your own research people, don’t rely on what others tell you, thereby lies most of the misinformation in the world. FACT.  But obviously, don’t take my word for it.  Way too ironic.

So this was the first clue – a poster proclaiming the intention to cause a Stampede at a local school.  There were some surprises in the initial publicity.  Back in my day, schools didn’t particularly encourage stampedes, for example British Bulldog was banned early on in my school career for health and safety reasons – you can have one too many unconsious school pupils on a school playground apparently –  though I’m proud to say at my junior school we continued to play it under the new branding of ‘sheep sheep come home’.  Enterprising peers I had at the time.  I don’t know if British Bulldog is still alive and kicking (literally and metaphorically) in playgrounds today, but it seems that the practise of chasing down a quarry in the name of sport at school is still alive and well.  Feel for the teachers subjected here not only to the pressures of Ofsted inspections and sats but being pursued cross county by a manic mass.  Still, whatever it takes to gather the necessary enthusiasm and momentum to get people along to the event I suppose.   Perhaps students will be lured by the opportunity to hunt down their esteemed mentors.  I expect that on catching them they’d want to thank them for all their educational labours on behalf of their teenage charges.  For me, the push to commit to entering was more the strictly-off-the-record insider information that amongst the (many) spot prizes donated that might potentially be bestowed on participating runners, was a large quantity of gin. Also, at that point in time, more prizes than runners.  Result!  I might yet be truthfully able to claim having one something at a sports day!   Where running is concerned, it really helps to think about what motivates you at an early stage in your training.  The most elite of runners will tell you so.  Check out the strap line for our very own local GB triathletes Les Brutelles for confirmation if you must, they proclaim ‘We swim a bit, bike a bit, run a bit and drink gin quite a lot‘. So fair enough to have them as role models whose lead we must follow. Surely?  Totally legitimate part of a training plan, apparently. (But see note earlier, about always checking out primary resources in research for yourself)

bargain prices

So, I set about entering…. and found to my amazement that early entries required the inclusion of a cheque.  It’s been a while since I’ve had to write out one of them. Not to worry, sourcing my cheque book in amongst the debris of my living space was  a sort of cross training exercise all of its own.  Much squatting and stretching into dark corners before it was located.  The cheque was sent, and a couple of days later my email acknowledgement was duly received.  I was in.  So ever conscientious if not keen, that meant I was going to be running in this Silverdale Stampede, ready or not.  Mostly not, but hey ho.

It has been ridiculously dry of late, so I was impressed that the Silverdale School PTA managed to organise quite a downpour overnight the day before to ensure the off-road trails would be appropriately bouncy and the vegetation newly washed and bursting out with fresh growth.  On waking there was still some rain about, but it brightened up.  In an unprecedented turn of events, my temperature testing ritual (arm out of an upstairs window) indicated it might get pretty hot out there.  Today I would run in a T-shirt under my Smiley vest, I don’t think this has ever happened to me at an organised event before – I always wear a long-sleeved top.  It offers more protection against inclement elements, allergy inducing under-growth and frankly is a more forgiving cut.  I don’t reject it lightly.  However, even I had to concede I’d probably collapse in the heat if I insisted on wearing it today. Well, I would if I was planning to wear a Smiley vest as well, and I couldn’t not wear that.  Hence, a running first in my world anyway.  I would bare my arms to the world in pursuit of glory at the Silverdale Stampede.  Two inaugural events on one day!  The planets must have aligned in some special debut inducing way.

I’d never actually been to Silverdale School before, or indeed any school for years and years, decades probably.  I expect schools to smell of cabbage and carbolic soap, be fitted with huge noisy radiator pipes that will, according to oral history, give you extensive piles for life should you risk sitting on them even for a snatched instant. Toilets will have cracked sinks and corners heaped with tapeworm eggs amongst the dust of ages.  Honestly, in ‘O’ level biology we were told that this was a common finding in the crevices of old school toilets with cracked tile floors.

I was quite taken aback then, to cruise into the car park of the school and be greeted by a grand spanking new building that was more reminiscent of a recently developed university campus than a traditional school.  It was impressive, space age, pristine buildings towering upwards – but also somewhat intimidating.  I parked over in a discrete corner (I was very early) and surveyed the coming and goings for a bit before plucking up courage to check out the registration system for the run.

Once it got to what seemed to me to be a critical mass of people in hi-vis and miscellaneous looking runners, I ventured out.  It was a really efficient set up. There were two tables, one for pre-registered keenies (er hem) like me, and one for enter on the day, fair-weather running chancers.   There was also a sea of marshals donned in epilepsy-inducing orange hi-viz, and a slightly manic looking organiser, but it would be rude to draw undue attention to that.  I’m sure these event days are quite stressful enough as it is without my adding to the trauma with pointing and laughing in a less than supportive fashion just at the point of delivery…

I got my number 303. I found the symmetry of these digits most pleasing.  Accelerate donated the race bibs, which I think you’ll agree was jolly sporting.  I was also impressed by the number of entrants… until I found out that in fact the organisers had deliberately allocated the numbers quite randomly, to avoid people being deterred by the realisation that entry levels were quite low.  It was a slow burn getting people to enter.  I think partly the ‘cheque in the post’ system was a deterrent, and some people deliberately opted to pay on the day as it was ‘more money for the school coffers’ that way.  A noble sentiment, but possibly a misguided one.  They may have felt pushing the organisers to the point of nervous collapse as they had a growing fear there would be nowt by tumble weed to be seen on the course on the day was but a small price for someone else to pay in the circumstances. Next year though people, do the right thing, sign up early.  Give the organisers the gift of sleep in the weeks coming up to The Big Day.  Best start looking for your cheque book now though, to save time.

Number collected, the next great challenge was to collect other runners I knew, and in particular herd together fellow Smiley Paces members for the obligatory pre-event selfies.  I found wood-runners, Monday Mobsters and Smiley Paces in abundance.  Quite a few local running clubs also had a smattering of attendees, but it was a pretty mixed field, which is always good.  I know I’m always going to be the ballast at the back, but I like to think I have a chance of staying in sight of the faster runners for a bit at least…

The next mission was to get an idea of the route.  There was a map of sorts on display, but as usual I couldn’t really make sense of it.  Enough to know that it was 10k, mostly off-road, involving country tracks, up through the Limb Valley woodland trails ‘undulating’ or ‘hilly’ depending on your current levels of fitness and optimism on setting out.  I did romp round wearing my tomtom watch – more for adornment than extra speed, but it means I can upload a view of the route for you here. …. inevitably, I forgot to turn it on until we were already underway, but it gives you some idea of where we went.  Also, on the plus side, it might make my finish time look less lamentable as well…  Looking at the strava map afterwards it makes it seem quite a ‘bitty’ course,  but in fact it flowed really well when running, I wasn’t aware of going round in pointless circles at the time, which is rather what it looks like with the dubious benefit of hindsight.  Does anyone else think it looks like a bad Strava art kangaroo?  No?  Just me then.

Silverdale stampede route

So, basically how it went was this.  Lots of vague milling around when people collected numbers, marshals set off excitedly to stand and point and clap where appropriate on the course.  I don’t like to label people generally, but what can you do when choose to label themselves?  One Smiley was right in the middle of  a venn diagram where ‘smilies’ and ‘teachers from Silverdale school’ intersect.  She therefore was tooled up with a ‘chase me’ sign.  Schools do have to have their targets after all, even if they are not always entirely realistic.  I am pleased to report that she took the precaution of heading off before the majority of the field, disappearing up the hill and out of sight, and from the pictures no doubt retaining that lead until the end! Go Smiley!

As she went on her way, the rest of us were shooed towards the start area.  There was a tarpaulin on which you could leave your stuff, and a bit more milling about, during which time super-keen people did stretches and Jenny drills, whilst the more nonplussed of us blinked into the sun, focusing less on warm up and more on personal energy conservation.

Eventually, aided by a megaphone – always a boon at pre-race briefings – there was the official welcome to this auspicious inaugural event… and then came the health and safety warnings. The gist of the latter was beware below for roots and above for low hanging branches, and of each other, and other route users, and the sky falling in as well I think.  Not that any of this mattered as we’d all signed away all and any liability at the outset anyway.  Yay, that’s the thrill of the chase indeed.  The other teachers to chase were hauled before the crowd for adulation and identification purposes, and sent on their way, the rest of us gathered ready to depart.

I was a bit perturbed by the presence of a beautifully marked out athletic track, but too late to pull out now.  Please don’t make me run 10k in laps!  Soon enough we were off and on our way.  Not a huge field, but a perfectly formed one. Tail marker at the back, and then, set off to chase and overtake all of us, stealth Dark Peak super-runner, picking us off one by one as she made her way through to the front.  Mostly, I got the view from the back, and why not, it was a very fine view, and anyway, I like to get my money’s worth on a race by spending as much time as possible out on the course, plus it’s good to be consistent.  I believe I was, maintaining my position in the rankings throughout.

Shortly after our departure, the fun runners were sent on their way to do the 4km route, dragging panting parents in their wake.  Some of the younger participants were also sporting local running club tops – who knew Dark Peak started them so young?  Perhaps that explains some of the single-minded resolve of those fell runners you glimpse vanishing into the hill mists in these parts, as elusive as any mysterious mountain yeti.   They are drawing on decades of self-discipline to keep them going on like the machines they are.   I didn’t see the photos of the fun-run start until afterwards, but my, they looked at the take off as if this running malarkey was a serious endeavour indeed. Go them!   Ooh – and I see a Smiley in the throng too. That’s grand!  We get everywhere.  Hallamshire Harriers too!  A veritable rash of them.  Well supported run I’d say!

dark peak starting young

Although the start makes it seem flat, in fact you immediately have to heave-ho up a hill, which wouldn’t matter quite so much if it weren’t for the fact that you are being waved off by the fun runners so have to keep running for fear of ridicule and shame if you do not. Friendly marshals did indeed line the way. Some were really communicative and encouraging, some young women early on (students I presume) were excellent ambassadors for the school with the claps, directional pointing and encouraging comments.   Their male counterparts a bit further up the gravel track didn’t do too badly either.   I do always try to thank marshals on every run I do, but sometimes I am able to communicate my breathless appreciation more eloquently than others.  May I thank all you lovely marshals here at least.  You were fab!

The route was well-marked, but the field spread out quickly.  The overwhelming majority of runners pulled out of sight from me within minutes, I had a couple of runners in view for a while, but as soon as we got to twisty turny bits I couldn’t see them any more.  A few runners behind me were soon out of earshot, so I did most of the run on my own. That was OK.  There were interactions with other people out and about. There were two women on a bench early on who, seeing I was struggling a bit,  stated emphatically ‘well, you can see we aren’t running anywhere!’ which I took as encouragement rather than rebuke as I hauled on past them with their cheery raucous (but benign)  laughter still ringing in my ears.  There were a few dog walkers, some other runners – which was confusing, as they were coming the other way.

The route went up and down, and in and out, and it was really, genuinely lovely.  I did have a couple of nervous moments navigating, one early on as I romped down a footpath that terminated at the roads near to Whirlow Hall but a marshal did appear out of the woods in my peripheral vision and sent me on up limb valley. I’ve only ever run down that before, when it is a lovely bouncy woodland trail.  It seemed a lot longer on the way up, running it in reverse, but it was scenic.   I did nearly asphyxiate it is true, but that was only because I inadvertently swallowed a larger than I’d have liked insect of some sort which got caught in my throat.  Earlier a smiley first aider had headed out clutching a first aid kit, but I reckoned I wouldn’t make it to that point on one breath, and seriously feared I’d have to flag down a walker at some point and somehow communicate to them that they needed to carry out an emergency tracheotomy with the tube from a biro.  This sounds a bit alarming, but fortunately it is such a commonplace plot device on everything from Casualty to Doctors that I reckon most of us would happily have a bash at doing a DIY tracheotomy on someone else given the chance.  Just imagine the bragging rights.  I suppose it would have to be successful if you were to dine out on the story to be fair, but you aren’t going to get good at it if you don’t take up chances to practice are you?  In the event my obstruction cleared itself, so I could spend the rest of the run not worrying about death by suffocation, but rather hating myself for inflicting death on some poor unwitting insect.  Not compatible with my claim for vegetarian credentials.  Dark thoughts can often come upon me when I run, but that’s OK, I get to work through them and replace them with jollier ones in due course.  I think that’s quite common.  Although now I write it down I have induced a wave of personal paranoia that no, it is only me on whom this tidal wave of negative thought has landed….

Up, up through the valley.   Between you and me, I might have caved in and walked for some of the uphill bits, but I think you’ll find if you walk and no-one is there to see you, it doesn’t really count.   Then, at exactly the point I most wished for it, there was a smiling marshal holding out plastic cups of water.  I never carry water when I run, and it didn’t occur to me until I was under way that there might not be water stations on this route. It was only a small event after all.  I was very glad of it at this point, and the excuse to get my breath back before heading off.  I didn’t want to gulp down too much though, so just had a few sips before handing the cup back.  Don’t want to litter these precious routes.  As you emerge from the woods of Limb valley, there was a path to the left, almost doubling back on yourself, that I’ve never noticed before.  You head off along this, over some wooden boards, and up and over a couple of styles and then  you get to green, green meadows that were like something out of an award-winning costume drama set in the English countryside. Verdant fields of swaying grasses with gamboling lambs skipping about them in all their late-spring gorgeousness.  Even better, I realised that I was in fact still in sight of other runners.  Yay, no need to navigate, only blindly follow. The views were stunning. It might not have been the best running weather in that it was a bit hot, but my it was really gorgeous, and lovely to be introduced to a local route that I hadn’t discovered before.  No particular reason, I suppose I’ve just got used to running the trials I usually run, and have become lazy about exploring new footpaths.

Joy on joy – another Smiley marshal ahead, also brandishing water and throwing out words of encouragement. Initially somewhat unnervingly even greeting me by name!  Closer inspection revealed we’d met before at a Trust 10 Longshaw 10k some months ago, yay.  Small world, Smiley solidarity goes a long way.  Mind you, I genuinely believe all local runners will support other runners, but it’s human nature to have an extra soft spot for you own running club especially one as all round awesome as we Smilies.  A group built as much around coffee and cake stops (sometimes prosecco and gin) as it is about social running rendezvous!

The woods were lovely, but pretty empty…

to the woods

At one or two points there were photographers lurking.  Mixed blessing.  At one point in the empty woods, when I thought no-one was about I resorted to hopping for quite a way. It’s a great running drill as running is basically a one-legged sport, might as well give it a go whilst no-one is watching.  Anyway, another Smiley was in situ, lurking ready to snap me in action.  It may not be an entirely graceful sight, but hopping off-road for that sort of distance is harder than you think, especially when there are loads of tree roots to be negotiated.

action shot LM

There weren’t any km markers on the route, and my tomtom wasn’t set properly due to operator error.  However, towards the end the route became a bit familiar again. Some fo this was because you do go back along partially the same tracks, and some of it is because it takes similar paths to the Dig Deep Whirlow 10k, which meant I wasn’t quite so caught out by the sneaky uphill towards the end.  You emerge from the woods to a style where the route was confusing, do you go left across to the next style or down the hill?  The path went in two directions.  There was a marker but it had clearly fallen down and wasn’t pointing anywhere.  I saw other runners ahead and decided to continue my sheep like following, it is a strategy that has served me well before.  It was a good call.  It really was nearly home now.  A few twists and turns, but lots of marshals, and soon I was back in the playing fields and could see the finish.

The last bit is all down hill and a pleasing ‘weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’ moment.  Less pleasingly, everyone else was assembled round the little tent where the prize – giving was underway, so although the event wasn’t entirely done and dusted, there was no mistaking that I was definitely a comparatively late finisher.  I could hear the announcements, and then the presiding official espied me and encouraged everyone to cheer me home!  That was pretty cool.  I may be shallow and misguided.  In fact, I almost definitely am.  However, rather than weep at the humiliation of my slow time, I chose to celebrate and embrace the shouts that helped speed me in.  It is fun!  My five seconds of fame.  Even more pleasing, I had no sooner come through the finish, than my number was pulled out of the raffle for a spot prize!  What?

Couldn’t have timed it better if it was scripted.  I picked up the fastest turn of speed I’d managed all day and sprinted  over to the tent to choose my prize. There was a ridiculous number of offerings, eye-popping choice.  I went for the fruit and veg hamper, because that seems the sort of fell-race appropriate local produce option.  Though I don’t think Waitrose necessarily grew the pineapple in the Sheffield area.  Very fine hamper though.  Yay!

Hamper of goodies (1)

Loads of us got prizes, and we managed to gather a few Smilies for a post race shot.  Not sure why it looks like teacher Smiley has dropped her trousers especially for the photo, but I don’t suppose anyone will notice. There’s always one with exhibitionist tendencies though isn’t there?

Smiley winners all ish

The prize giving and raffle was speedily concluded, and then, right on cue, the wind picked up and icy rain started to fall. This brought about the rapid dispersal of most of the runners, whilst the many marshals huddled together for bodily warmth.  All great team building I’m sure.

seeking bodily warmth

After a few more minutes, eventually the final finisher and back marker came into view.  The timer rushed back out to put back up the funnel which had blown over in the sudden unexpected storm and those of us around got into position to cheer then home!

I’d rather ostentatiously left my hamper at the finish, as a sort of lure.  I think she earned a hobgoblin legendary ruby beer at the finish as much as I did.  Lucky there were two bottles, one each perfect.   She wasn’t immediately effusive as to the degree of fun she’d had en route, but I’m sure the post run endorphins kicked in eventually!

For my part, home, and the next project was to work my way through as much of the produce as possible starting with the new potatoes (which I did cook first) and hobgoblin beer, which was actually pretty fine.  Also, I think I have a similar profile. Perhaps it is my kindred wood-spirit finally found?  So, since I’m here drinking from the sanctuary of my sofa once again, flushed with alcohol and a post run high, no harm in having a little surf to see what other runs are out ther is there… now let me see…

So there you have it.  Inaugural Silverdale Stampede.  Done.  Only one person got lost, and they were found again so that’s fine and dandy. A grand morning out, and a fixture that I hope will run and run (see what I did there).

See you there next year?  Hope so, ’til then, we have our memories…  Didn’t we do well?  Thank you Silverdale PTA for an excellent initiative, and the just the first of many more I hope.

Happy running y’all.  🙂

Categories: 10km, motivation, off road, race, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Terrific Run, Unexpectedly Nice Considering Everything. Trunce #3. Yay!

See what I’ve done there with a forced acronym?  Genius!

Digested read.  Today I finally made it back to The Trunce for the first time in 2017.  It still makes a splash, pretty busy but speaking as a slowbie that just made it all the more companionable.  Aren’t the Barnsley Harriers lovely.  (Rhetorical question, they are, one even took this group photo for us!)

Smiley smileys

Yay, back to The Trunce tonight. We do all know about this now right?  If you don’t basically it’s a super fun and friendly trail race with three river crossings.  It’s about a 3.7 mile romp cross-country. The same route is run nine times at approximately three-week intervals over the summer months.  Points are awarded in some mysterious way I’ve not bothered to find out about because I’m just enjoying it for what it is. Basically, you are trying to beat your own PB I think.  It’s £1.50 to enter, and the first time you do so you get given a number that is yours in perpetuity.  You are from henceforth forever part of the collective Legend that is The Trunce. This is a fine thing.  By turning up you also get to hobnob with fell-running celebrity Nicky Spinks, though if you are like me you will be too awe-struck to speak to her.  Actually, that’s not strictly true, I did tell her my number as I approached registration holding out my £1.50 carefully counted out in 20p pieces (and one 10p piece), and she said ‘I’ve already noted it, thank you‘.  Which is an interaction of sorts but hardly me bowing down in worship or asking if I could take a plaster cast mould of the tread of her fell shoes is it?  Both of those would seem more apt, albeit socially inappropriate, ways to behave in the circumstances.  Basically, celebrity spotting aside, you should come along and give it a go.  No really you should, it’s doable, challenging if you want to be challenged, but with a big enough field that even the slow and steadies, such as myself,  should not find themselves running alone.  Be prepared to get wet though, and if it’s been raining you will need trail shoes – though today the ground was so dry and hard it was like running on concrete, road shoes would have been fine.  Unless they were super posh ones you didn’t want to submerge in water.  If so you’d have had to hope someone gave you a piggy back over the river crossings, or risk losing time by taking your running shoes off before paddling across and heaving them back on again once you are safely over the other side.  Three times.  Not great for achieving PBs, but it’s up to you.

Oh, and if you actually want to know the Trunce route it’s here – and one of the most encouraging and entertaining descriptions I’ve seen of a run route.  Lots of useful info in there from handy manure pile landing hints, and warning newbies of the risk they take should they overtake queuing runners at one of the inevitable bottle necks.  The ire of fellow runners is not to be provoked lightly.  It’s worth noting though that the course description isn’t quite accurate for 2017.  This year the route is starting a bit further on the usual course, the other side of the bridge.  For me this is an improvement, it doesn’t make too much difference to the overall length (though it is a bit shorter) however, it does cut out that punishing hill start that for me at least was not the most auspicious beginning of a race to be honest.  Hardier folk may miss that opportunity to shine and gain competitive advantage by sprinting up the 45 degree gradient as effortlessly as if they were rocket-propelled.  Not something I have ever had to worry about being something less than a living deity myself.

Anyway, this was the third Trunce of 2017, but the first I’ve made it to this year. I’ve been putting it off due to being horribly unfit.  However, I’ve decided I’m only ever going to get fit by actually doing some running, and I always try harder when it’s an event of some sort.  It’s not that I’m competitive, it’s just that I gain support and motivation from running in a group, plus I don’t want to be the one to cave in and walk when everyone around me is still charging off at speed.  Embarrassingly, if I go running on my own I can easily drop back to a walk within the first kilometre, yet mysteriously I always run the entire 5k at parkrun, so I know I can do it, it’s just my default activity setting is inert.   What is it they say, running is as much in the mind as in the legs?  Something like that.  I mean the state of my legs, lungs and general decrepitude is undoubtedly a contributory factor to my running performance, but I do surprise myself by doing more than I think I can when caught up in the tide of other runners.  It seems that  I require peer pressure to gain momentum.  Having said that, I still can’t run the whole Trunce, not even close,  those hills are steep, but that’s OK, just hoiking my weary carcass up gets my eyes popping and lungs bursting out nicely.  It’s got to help my fitness if I keep on trying to move forward and through it.

Sooo, first stop Cheetah Buddy’s house where three of us Smiley Paces People assembled for a group outing to Oxspring.  It was a relatively speedy drive over, not too much traffic, though it was distinctly nippy on arrival.  I rushed over to pick up my laminated number (a fund raising innovation by an enterprising teen) and en route got jumped by the mischievous Sheffield region’s Runderwear Ambassador.  She literally shouted ‘boo’ or something equally imaginative, and I jumped out of my skin.  She was really chuffed, it was a great reaction, though she expressed some concern about the extent to which my pelvic floor held out under such stress.  It was fine, I mean, I was wearing my Runderwear so doesn’t matter if they get wet because you don’t get chafing anyway. Plus the adrenalin surge warmed me up nicely.  We were both winners, I got an instant warm up she got the best laugh of the night to date.  Result!

Here are some laminated numbers, in case you can’t work out what they might look like. Remember, a Trunce number is for life not just for Christmas, worth laminating and nurturing them then.

laminated labels

Also available were leaflets on Lymes disease and some local gala running event, I picked up neither.  Worth mentioning Lymes though, it being Lymes Disease Awareness month apparently.  Nasty and debilitating illness acquired through tick bites.  It’s not common, but one to be mindful of.  I tend to wear full length running bottoms anyway, partly because they are my only pair (don’t panic, I do have access to a washing machine) and partly because I like the protection on my legs as I get an allergic reaction if a blade of grass so much as touches any coquettishly exposed glimpse of ankle, let alone calf.  I shudder at the very thought of exposing even a millimetre more flesh than I need to in rural settings, and don’t get me started on what a meal of me mosquitoes and midges can make!  The great outdoors is all well and good, but there are some downsides too.  Despite my general precautionary principles,  I hadn’t really considered the risk of tick bites particularly before, but it is a real one in some areas.  Loads of runners sprint care free through long grass like they are undertaking a re-enactment of their own personal timotei ad – can you still get that?  They do so wearing little more than speedos or compression shorts (which we all know is basically like running in a thong after the first few metres) and so maybe we should think about it more.  Just saying.  Anyway, thanks to the person who noted on the Trunce Facebook page that they have Lymes, and in so doing reminded us all that it’s worth paying attention to.  This timotei model is really taking her life in her hands as exposed as she is in that meadow!

timotei

So leaflets missed, and laminated number collected, the next task was to join the queue for the loo.  Women can use both the women’s and men’s but actually there was a huge queue for both anyway. Still, managed to do the necessaries before going back to the car to dump our fleeces, and then heading up the hill towards the new start line.   There’s a big flat field for parking, and alongside it part of the space was being used for some youth coaching session.  It was pretty busy. To protect crops you are asked to keep to the paths, which people did I think, rightly so.

There is a reason why start has moved, but I’m not sure what – presumably to protect crops?   I think as The Trunce series has grown, the mass start risks trampling the grass on either side of the track as people endeavour to find a route through, starting higher up there’s possibly a bit more space?  In any event it was a pretty big gathering through the bridge.  From the ground, if you looked up you could see spectators on the top peering down on what must be a great aerial view of it all. As well as the adult runners, there was a big junior contingent milling around.  Thanks Paula Moffat from Strideout in anticipation of you letting me use your photo.

PM trunce start 8 5 2017

As this is not really my home patch, it was quite fun seeing loads of new running club vests. There were of course the familiar Strideout purple army; the yellow and gold of Steel City Striders and the occasional retro Dark Peak visible.  However, also huge contingents from Hallamshire Harriers and, not Easyjet as I first imagined, but Barnsley Harriers who got my vote for friendliest flash mob attendance of the night.

The start line was noisy and chaotic. There must have been a run briefing, but I couldn’t hear anything over the chit-chat.  I don’t think people were being deliberately ignorant, it was just impossible for the Race Director to attract enough attention to command silence. Because of this, I think a fair few people missed some of the directions about the correct route at certain points.  I certainly did, but was saved from a breach of course etiquette by my instinct to follow other runners coupled with being in sight of the better briefed Barnsley crew.  More of this later.

Some kind person took a video of us all charging past at the start of Trunce #3 2017, it takes a while. (Thanks Caroline Saunders).  It’s quite a lot is it not?  438 (including the juniors) according to the results, that’s an extraordinary turn out for a Monday night romp surely.

Shortly after the senior race heads of, the junior runners, who do a slightly shorter route, were set off behind us.  They came hurtling along whilst I was still making my way up the first track.   They then take a sharp right and do a loop round, coming back up the path the adults are still running out on.  Early on in the proceedings, I spotted a Trunce-number wearing adult walking back towards the start. Whether he was hurt, had missed the start or just abandoned the race because he wasn’t feeling the love I have no idea, but it wasn’t the most confidence imbuing of sights to be honest!  I was finding the path under foot incredibly hard on my arthritic feet, it had turned to concrete in the dry, and dust flying up filled my lungs.  This was feeling tough and I was barely 500 metres in.

There is a kissing gate on the first path, and there is no way to pass through this other than one at a time.  The sheer numbers of people means this created a significant bottle neck, with a queue stretching back a long, long way.  For some, this is a pleasing resting up point. You can have a chat with other runners and get your breath back before setting off again.  However, one person’s blessed relief is another person’s blooming irritation, so possibly some frustration amongst faster runners.  Around me people were good-natured.   Pointing out the field which had pigs in last time out, and enjoying the curiosity of the horses that had come across to peer at us in something resembling incredulity.  They didn’t seem at all perturbed by 400 people suddenly appearing alongside their field, rather treating us as some sort of habitat enrichment laid on by their owners, which to be fair, might well be what is behind the whole Trunce enterprise. Who knows?

It was a long wait, soon the front runners from the juniors race were storming back home and I was still queuing to get through the gate. This is even more complex running etiquette.  It seems only fair to give the juniors right of way as they are racing, but you have to let the odd senior nip through or we’d never have got back in daylight.  Some walking juniors responded to our cheers and picked up running again to whizz through the gate, others started to look a bit defeated and I think were quite glad to let a few seniors nip through whilst they tried to get their breath back.  It was all good-natured though.  Nice people off-road runners I think.  Unpredictable terrain is a great leveler, and fell running requires humour – specifically self-deprecating humour in bucket loads, no big egos in evidence here.

Once I finally got through the gate, the people just ahead of me Barnsley Harriers, opted to wait for some of their other club members behind so I had a brief section of running on my own.  It was a fairly steep downhill on a narrow track.  I’m not massively confident down hill so I wasn’t fast but I had a go.  At the bottom was the first river crossing, it was pretty shallow and solid under foot so quite fun splashing through. It makes me feel like a ‘proper’ off road runner.  Plus it cools your feet and it’s good to get your shoes full of water early on, as thereafter you stop faffing about trying to stay dry.  So I splish sploshed through with what was for me satisfying speed.  Then there was a little style, and I knew I was going the right way because the path was now sodden with what I like to think is just water spilling out of trainers as their wearers ran on, but on reflection it could have been blood-soaked as a consequence of the injuries of the fallen earlier on, I never checked.

Just over the little style, and then, perplexingly, I found myself chasing a guy in hi-viz wheeling a bike.  Hilariously, he sped up as he saw me, endeavouring to keep out of my way.  Honestly, I wasn’t really a contender in the catching up stakes, but I appreciated the thought.  I emerged from the narrow footpath onto a road and found the Runderwear ambassador in situ again. She seems to have perfected the art of the impromptu pop up. Whether she has done this purely to spook me, or whether from her perspective this is just a happy coincidence I honestly know not, but it was good to see her. She pointed me in the right way, and as I sped (eh hem) away, shouted after me to make sure I took the same turning coming back (worth being reminded, people have run on by before, and I nearly did myself the first time out).  Amazingly I found I was still in sight of the other runners after all.  Chasing them, I found that pretty soon the front runners of the senior race were charging homeward before I’d even got to the start of the proper uphill climb.  I tried to clap and cheer the first few, but there were too many, and it got a bit exhausting cheering them all, not to mention demoralising.  It was the inevitable consequence of earlier bottle neck. Tricky one, the only way to avoid this would be to position yourself right at the front, but if I did that I would impede faster runners. Also, in honesty, I quite like having a bit of a rest mid race (it’s why I like the Round Sheffield Run so much I think).  Upshot was, I rested up as I queued to pass through, but paid a price in terms of minutes passing.  I do wonder if the junior race could start a little later though, it would stop seniors having to give way to so many when we are just heading out.  Having said that, I fully appreciate the Trunce organisers have been doing this a while, and probably have come up with what is the least worst option.  There’s little you can do with narrow paths and a mass running event, just have to embrace it for what it is.

After a brief road stint, you have what seems to be a sheer drop off the path to the right.  It is a signed footpath, but honestly it felt like jumping off the edge of the world.  Maybe the flat earth society have a point.  Immediately after this there was a little bridge.  I scampered over, only to find at the other side was a guy holding a massive tree trunk over his shoulder waiting for me to pass. That was very sporting of him, I wondered if he really should have had right of way, but perhaps he recognised he’s used to carrying logs and makes it look easy and effortless whereas look at me running and ‘effortless’ is possibly not the first adjective that comes to mind.  The question ‘why?’ being altogether more likely.

What follows is a BIG hill.  It is seriously steep.  I didn’t run up it.  I had a sort of half-hearted jog early on, but quickly abandoned the attempt.  I was puffing enough just power walking.  I make no apology for this.   After all, walking is the way to go apparently. Only today, I read about Evan Dunfee who walked a whole marathon in 3.10.35.  That’s pretty respectable I think.  Gives walking at ‘runs’ a whole new legitimacy.  I kept going as best I good, periodically offering other runners the chance to sprint on by should they wish to do so.  None did.  I think all of us at this point in the field were not-so-secretly grateful for the excuse of being slowed by ‘runners’ walking at this point.  Plenty of people do run the whole thing though.  Here are some downhill runners courtesy of Neil Smith.  Go them.

At some point I somehow found myself running alone again, having been overtaken by stronger participants and pulled ahead of the few that were slower than me.  I decided to at least try to keep in sight of a group of very lovely Barnsley Harrier runners.  They were  resplendent in their orange tops like a burst open Terry’s Chocolate Orange where the segments were constantly trying to regroup into a whole as if pulled by an invisible magnetic force. They were supportive to each other and later on to me too.  There was one particular point across a fairly open field where the stone path went ahead to a gate, but there was also a trampled diagonal grass path to another point, ending up at a cattle grid. I seem to remember going down the short cut last year, but the Barnsley Harriers were shouting out to each other that the correct route was to the main gate, so I followed them.  Speeding up to get in calling distance of them (seems I can put on a spurt when I want to) as I know that I found the route confusing at other points too last year).   I mentioned I was glad to be following them as I wasn’t sure of the route.  It’s not that it’s complicated, but nor is it obvious.  Even though I have run it before, it seemed unfamiliar.  Not sure if that’s because maybe I did take a wrong route last time (I think I may have done through the wood bit, it seemed much more straightforward today) or if it is because I ran my first two Trunce races through a mist of blood and tears.  Both are possible, probable even.  Anyway, subsequently they kept a friendly eye on me, gesturing which way to go if it wasn’t obvious.

For the next stream crossing, after you’ve ducked down through some woodland (I’m sure it was a different and more direct route to the one I did at the last trunce of 2016) it was really deep. My Barnsley Harrier friends went in first forming a human chain. Great team work. I was only a bit behind, but it was helpful to get some warning of how deep it was, I know I’ve only got little legs, but it was way over my legs and ice-cold.  The Trunce can offer up an arctic enema quite as effective as any Tough Mudder methinks, and for a fraction of the cost.  It was weirdly quite nice.  Like a race horse enjoying having its tendons hosed, the plunge of cold really helps your legs.  I couldn’t run through though, not that it was slippery, but the depth of the water made it impossible.  I was surprised it was so deep, it’s not like there’s been any rain or anything.  Weird, could even hear it sounding like a raging torrent as you approached, I don’t remember there being a waterfall en route before…

I didn’t see any photographers out and about this time (often there are some) so here is one of a previous Trunce splash through, to give you the general idea of the river crossings along the way …  Trunce #1 2017 I think.  Thanks to Steve Frith of Mossienet for turning out and taking these at numerous events, in exchange for donations Those Dark Peak Running Vests are badly designed in terms of avoiding nipple chafing by the way.  If you havent yet joined a running club and are thinking of doing so, I do urge you to check out the design of the vest you may be required to run in.  Wish I had.  I love Smiley Paces I really do, but we have the most unflattering top in the world  It’s fine if you have an ‘athletic’ physique, but it does me and my assets no favours at all.  Oh well.  I’m not including a photo of me in that.

Dom Trunce 1.jpg

On the one hand, I’m a bit disappointed that I have yet to get a proper action shot of me at a river crossing, but on the other it’s probably a blessing.  It would take considerable artistic licence and photo shop skills to make me look like I was doing a graceful skip through clear babbling brook waters.  I think the reality would be more like a dumpling wearing the aforementioned deeply unflattering  Smiley vest belly flopping into a deep fat frier.  Lots of splash back, due to the impact of dropping a heavy solid object from height into a liquid but not an altogether elegant sight.

So, second river crossing successfully negotiated, and my lovely Barnsley Harrier friends looked back to check I was OK before heading off up the next hill a bit in front of me.  It was a bit of a haul, and my legs were wobbly by now.  Through narrow gates, over styles, past some more interested looking equines in a stable this time and eventually you emerge back onto the road.  My trail shoes were a bit sticky for this, and that slowed me down, but the road was pretty, lovely views, and I was enjoying the scenery.  I had runners both ahead and behind.  There was one solitary car, with a terrified looking learner driver crawling along, seemingly in constant terror that a runner might suddenly jump on the bonnet of their car.  One random pedestrian passed me coming the other way, and made some sort of generic kindly remark.  ‘Well done‘ or something, which was encouraging and supportive.  It was genuinely lovely being out.  Cattle grazing in fields, pretty little houses with trees laden with blossom outside.  Spring lambs, picture postcard stuff.

This final third has a longish road section, but it’s very flat.  I could see the moving orangery ahead of me, and slightly behind me was a companionable guy in blue. I think he may have been a Penistone Footpath Runners and Athletic Club person, they were well represented too, I suppose it’s their patch.  They have a reputation for being super friendly, and if my deduction skills are correct, that was my experience too.   Anyway, when we got to the bit where you turn off the road down the easy-to-miss narrow footpath, which takes you back across the first stream, the orange army waved to check I knew to take it, and I did the same for the runner behind.  For those of you who think this is over-cautious, I heard later that in fact four runners did overshoot on a previous Trunce, I believe they are still running now.  Shame.

After the splash through, more upward and onwards, clambering up the slope you run down as you set out.  I was seriously flagging. There may have been more walking than running at this point, but I told myself I was saving myself for the flat path which we’d eventually return to. When I reached it I did begrudgingly put on a bit of a jog.  However, I was re-energised by the site of another labeled Trunce runner apparently heading back out.  At least I’m pretty confident it was her going the wrong way not me.  What was she doing?  Sweeping?  Going round again just because?  I have no idea, I was just glad we were heading for the downward hill.  Me and my following friend exchanged exclamations of incredulity.  She looked fresh as anything – surely not a late starter…!

The woman ahead of me seemed to be limping a bit, and I made a mental note to check she was OK when I caught up.  I never caught up.  Not that badly hurt then.  Or maybe that is her running style?  No idea, it’s hard to maintain grace and elegance on trails, but it’s a lot easier to smile, especially for the downhill final weeeeeeeeeeeeeee bit down to the finish funnel.  Now that finish is fun.  No sneaky uphill to the end, which happens way too often at events for my liking!  Instead, a wide open finish funnel, flanked by my Smiley Buddies, who’d been back for ages, and other people looking out for their returning club members. All very social.

Flushed with endorphins, I set about hugging everyone in reach, or even in sight. Took a while. Was that inappropriate? Don’t care really, felt OK at the time.  Anyway, I’d made new friends, shame not to capitalise on that.  There was the guy hot on my  heels just behind me for starters, as well as my lovely new Barnsley Harrier friends who were fabulous ambassadors not just for their club, but the human race too.  There is hope in the world people, remember that.  I can’t find any Trunce photos of this running club, so I’ve nicked this group shot from their Facebook page so you can appreciate them in all their orange glory. Distinctive kit that, give them a cheer if you see them out and about.

colourful harriers june 2016

Reunited with my Smiley Buddies we embarked on an immediate post race de-brief as we removed shoes and socks and then realised it was absolutely freezing. Top Tip, do take a change of socks and shoes for the journey home and a fleece too.  It’s way colder than seems possible at the end.

As we compared tales, it became apparent that of we Smiley trio one of us had gone down the diagonal grass track (WRONG) only to be faced by barbed wire.   Another of us had heard that we were directed not to at the pre-race briefing, and obediently followed the required route, and me, Smiley three, I was fine because of having no personal initiative and just sticking with following the BH crew at a respectful distance.  It was their lead rather than my navigational choices that kept me on track.   Wayward Smiley who took a detour regaled us with tales of watching others ahead of her appearing to fall into spontaneous combat rolls ahead of her.  She thought they’d added in some sort of random physical challenge just to make it all a bit more interesting.  Little realising as she blindly followed that she’d end up having to do her own forward/combat roll under or over barbed wire as she got to the same point.  Actually, was it combat rolls or commando rolls?  I get confused.  It’s not like gym class at school, there is no pre-race knickers inspection.  Nobody checks you are wearing standard issue navy blue passion killer pants before you are allowed to take part, so you can’t honestly tell who was going commando and who wasn’t.  Personally I don’t have to go commando, because I wear Runderwear. In actual fact, my current pants had their debut outing at The Trunce, and I was wearing them again today.  Yay.  I forgot to tell the Runderwear ambassador this.  She will be thrilled when she finds out.  It was her persuasive skills that encouraged me to buy them in the first place, hence she is now always known to me as the Runderwear Ambassador, a title of which I like to think she is rightly proud.  Then again, I carry many delusional thoughts with me as I move through life, this may yet be just another one of those…

Anyway, bottom line (no pun intended) is that we’d all had a grand old time.  Going to take part in The Trunce on a Monday evening is like having a cheeky mini-break, it really is.  It’s good fun and is a great distraction from whatever might be getting your proverbial goat elsewhere in life.

Even better, the joy of the event extends beyond its finish.  On return home, you can extend the pleasure of the Trunce experience by stalking local running club Facebook pages and indeed The Trunce Facebook page as well for accounts of thrills and spills that took place on the night.  ‘Thanks to those lovely runners who helped me after I did my faceplant in the stream/ fell and broke my nose/ got cornered by a cow/ stuck on a fence/ went the wrong way‘ you get the idea…  If you are lucky, there are photos too.  Not so many tonight, but hey ho, we have our memories, and we have next time out.  Yay.  Hit those trails.  Go on, you know you want to!

So, conclusion. The Trunce is fun.  Glad I went.  Will go again.

🙂

For all my Trunce related posts see here and scroll down.

Categories: off road, race, running clubs | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Cease your slumber – get to Clumber! Clumber park parkrun tourists up and at it!

Digested read:  lots of inspirational running stories doing the rounds today, so great to spend the morning at parkun. New venue Clumber park, home of celebrity triathlete Bailey, glory by association. Friendly run, great coffee. What’s not to like?  🙂

I might have stolen that rallying cry from the Clumber park parkrun Run Director to be honest.  But, couple of points:  Firstly, I wasn’t the only one giving him grief during his pre-run briefing, and secondly, I think you’ll find that it isn’t plaigerism if you properly reference your sources.  Oh no, it becomes ‘modeling’ and helpful triangulation of primary sources, probably so that’s all fine.  Don’t worry about the ethics of this post on that account.  Feel free to fret about the post contents on many other areas of dubiousness if you so wish.  But on that particular point, I’m most definitely in the clear….

So, to business.  It being Saturday, it is parkrun day, obviously, but I felt in need of a bit of parkrun tourism today.  Much as I love and feel loyal to my usual Sheffield haunts, it’s good to ring the changes from time to time. And besides, keep this up, and one day there may be a cow cowl in it.  Plus, entry through those elusive wrought iron park gates into the UK parkrun tourists group.  I can but dream.  In search of a new venue, I settled on Clumber Park.  I was hopeful of a scenic route, maybe some woodland tracks, and it’s far enough away to constitute a pleasing ‘day out’ but near enough not to be a bit too extreme for an early start.  Bearing in mind that I do like to be paranoiacly early to things, especially parkrun.  Plus, free parking apparently (always a boon) and toilets for my precautionary pee.  What’s not to like?  Oh, and it’s a National Trust property, so high hopes for post run refreshment opportunities.  Also, bluebells in season, and you know what?   There were!

bluebells

So my day actually began with watching somewhat erratic live streaming of the much-hyped  sub 2 hour marathon attempt. I only watched the last ten minutes or so (I’m not that committed/stupid as to get up at 4.45 a.m. or whatever it was).  But it turned out to be surprisingly compulsive viewing.  However passing your interest in running in general and marathon running in particular, you’ve got to respect the nigh on superhuman effort that went into that.  Not just the running very fast for a very long time part, but the maintaining elegance in running form and coping with having a camera trained on your running face in high-definition colour for the duration.  No way would I subject myself to that.  Though I suppose on reflection, the fear of that image being on display somewhere for the duration of my time in motion would probably speed me up quite a bit.  The other point of interest, is that it seems – somewhat surprisingly –  that I do in fact have much in common with the last man standing.  Or more accurately running.   Because, even though I know parkrun is a run not a race, and it doesn’t matter what speed you travel those parkrun paths at, in my heart I too would have been very disappointed not to get a sub 2 hour run at my parkrun effort  today. Really, the only discernible difference between me and Kipchoge is that I achieved my time goal, but he alas missed his. Still, he did jolly well though.  Really he did.

Kipchoge

Seeing an inspirational runner first thing in the morning did put a spring in my step.  I do get motivation from seeing what limits other runners will push themselves too.  It makes me work a bit harder, and today seemed full of inspirational runners stories.  The news as also full of Mr Gorilla  AKA Tom Harrison who has raised nearly £50,000 for gorilla conservation by crawling around the 26.2-mile London Marathon course in costume over six and a half days.  Not my chosen way to move forward, but you have to admire the tenacity of that progress.   I find it hard to stand upright again after bending down to tie my shoelaces, his back must be either honed to steel or completely broken.  I fear the latter.

gorilla man

And if that wasnt inspiration enough, arrival at Clumber park brought me into the same space as another inspirational runner and celebrity triathlete in these parts.  The amazing Bailey Matthews.  I had quite forgotten this is his home parkrun, but more of that later.  The point is, that if you, like me, sometimes find your enthusiasm for running flagging, take heart, courage and inspiration from all those amazing athletes out there.  Be they Kathrine Switzer – not only first woman to run Boston marathon, despite officious man trying to drag her off the course, but also running it again, fifty years later!  Local hero Corin Leach, Fastest marathon dressed in a Ghillie suit (female): 3:58.57 (2016); the woman in this year’s marathon who attempted to break a record for the fastest tree.  (Didn’t quite make the record, but not the point, nor did Kipchoge) or Mary Keitany of Kenya who broke Paula Radcliffe’s women’s-only world record to win the London Marathon in two hours 17 minutes one second, the second-fastest time in history.  That’s really, really fast.  Or how about, Mahsa Torabi and other women, still making history by running at all in contexts where women are not supposed to be visible.  Running might feel hard, but at least we can take for granted our right to do so.  Time to get up, get out, and get running.  Yay!

So, upshot, out and at it. I drove to a friend, who drove us to Clumber park.  We were a bit confused about where to go. Turns out the park is pretty big, with multiple potential entrances and parking point. We just headed to the visitors centre, which was in fact fine, and easy to get to, with a massive car park where the main problem was which space to choose of many at that hour in the morning.  Shortly after we arrived, a couple of high vis parking attendants arrived, so I ambled across to check out whether we were in the right place, and whether or not we had to pay. Basically, I grilled them with parkrun related questions until I’d established that we were indeed in the right place, and we didn’t have to pay – as long as you display a spare barcode somewhere prominently (or are a NT member). Good to know.

Just as I turned on my heels and walked away, another potential parkrunner turned up with an identical set of questions.  I heard a brief exchange: ‘are you wanting parkrun?’  enquired the helpful parking attendant, to which the upbeat and direct response was ‘it’s not a question of want, I need to be here, because I’m fat.‘  We all have our own running motivations it is true.

So after a bit of sitting in the car, and sellotaping the barcode to the dashboard, we ventured out in search of the start.  We headed off, basically following a couple of runners ahead who looked like they were parkrunners. Soon there was another two people in our collective wake who’d made the same location finding calculation.  That is, follow others in trainers who look like they know what they are doing… However, as we seemed to be led ever further from the signs to ‘The Burrow’ me and my running buddy eventually bailed, leaving the two behind us in a state of confused indecision. For those who come after us, just follow the signs to ‘The Burrow’ not the speed merchants who are running a quick lap of the route in reverse as their parkrun warm up. Well you could follow them I suppose, but do so at your own risk.  Turns out bailing was a good move, we found our way to the cricket pitch instead, and almost stumbled across an unexpectedly huge gathering.

As we headed up the not-too-steep hill to the start area, we found ourselves at an already big, but ever-growing assembly. There is a cricket club there (which was having an open day), lots more parking (though I don’t know quite how you find it) and an extraordinary number of runners and hi-vis heroes.  I hadn’t expected this particular parkrun to be so big, I don’t know why. It was very well attended, with 334 runners this week.  As we arrived, the volunteers were in a circle formation, from afar, it looked like they were engaged in some pre-run initiation or building up to some sort of Maori haka inspired posture dance. I really hope they were.  Though if they did, I missed it, probably due to having temporarily disappeared in order to avail myself of the facilities.

volunteer haka

We managed to nab someone to take our ‘proof of presence’ obligatory team shot, though I concede it could have been taken practically anywhere.  Good to see we have mirror image people on our shoulders.  We are working towards doing a complete Zaphod Beeblebrox at some point, but I think there is still some way to go, you get the idea though.

There were indeed brick-built loos, (no need for brick s**t house puns though) and some handy parkrun innovations that may or may not be unique to Clumber park parkrun.  Like a special trolley for the safe keeping of personal paraphernalia; a Bailey Board (outlining his latest achievements); a map of the route.  All sorts.

There was an absolute first-timers briefing, and then a more generic run briefing, which was a hoot.  In my opinion it was improved by heckling of the incumbent Run Director, by the young pretender, celebrity triathlete Bailey, who had taken on the role of Run Director last week it seems.   Not content with melting hearts and defying expectations, turns out he is also a dab hand at the pre-race briefing.   The usual RD put on a good show of not minding, but clearly he’s going to have to up his game to hold onto that position.  It was less a master class in managing heckling, and more like watching an impromptu double act in the making, whilst being a little unsure who was going to be the ultimate fall guy…   There was even audience participation ‘Have you got your barcodes?‘ the RD shouted out ‘yes!’ we chorused in crazed union; ‘Will you go through the finish tunnel just once?’ ‘Yes!‘ we screamed back delightedly. I was going to call it a  ‘runner centred’ delivery, but on reflection, maybe I was experiencing the early stages of being groomed in preparation for signing up to some sort of cult of personality (I’ve already crossed over into the benign cult that is parkrun I know).  It felt inclusive rather than scary though.  I wonder if that is how these things always start?

first timers briefing

The route was run through (two laps); tourists were welcomed (Whitley Bay parkrun rather trumped our Sheffield offering).  We were reminded to be respectful of other users, though personally I never came across any cyclists, horse riders or indeed the promised naked rambler.  Maybe I misunderstood the descriptions and just didn’t recognise them as they appeared?  After these cheery formalities, we all turned around and started a migration to the start.  I was a bit confused about which direction we’d be facing, so had a brief panic I’d inadvertently find myself in the front of the pack, but that didn’t happen. I joined the mass moving to the start, which was a little round the corner from where the briefing as held, and then, soon enough (though a bit later than 9.00) we were all awf.

For those of you who like to properly know the route, the Clumber park parkrun course is described on the Clumber park parkrun page thus:

Our route is clockwise and starts and finishes close to the Burrows café.
Runners head east into woodland, then turn right following a downhill path, turning right again onto the lake shore path. You then run back towards the main carpark and turn right before the cycle hire point towards the start / finish area.
Remember it’s two laps

This doesn’t help much. It doesn’t convey that it’s quite a lovely route. The paths were mainly hardcore, with just one short bit of springy forest track.  Road shoes would have been fine, I wore my hybrid trail ones.  You run past mature trees, see bluebells, green meadows and at one point have  a great view of an artificial lake that appeared seemingly out of nowhere.  There aren’t that many marshals going round, but those that were, were very encouraging, and clapped a lot.

I’m a slow and steady runner, but even so, with a much bigger than expected turn out, I did get a bit boxed in at the start, which didn’t bother me, but faster runners probably do need to position themselves a bit further forward.  There were also lots of children around me, that rushed about like ball bearings scattered across a dodgems’ rink.  That is, somewhat speedy and erratic.  Kept me on my toes.  Incidentally, have I ever told you the story of my childhood friend’s most mortifying day on earth ever?  It was when she accidentally spilled the entire contents of a tampon packet out of her pocket whilst on the dodgems during a teenage group outing to a local fair. As they spun off in all directions she wanted nothing more than to die.  It became the stuff of legends.  Try it and find out why for yourselves.  It’s worth it.

I digress, off we went. One parkrun walker was carrying the tiniest baby imaginable, start ’em young indeed.  It was great to see!  It took a while for the field to open up, and I uncharacteristically even started to overtake a few runners ahead of me, although the novelty of that wore off disappointingly fast.   I was having a few unexpected twinges when running.  My regular reader knows I have a lot of problems with foot pain from arthritis, but today I think it was due rather to a change in gait.  I was running in some new Hoka One challenger shoes.  They have fantastic cushioning, and for the first time in years I’m allowing my toes to take the running force, and even risk bending them a bit, rather than crabbing onto the side of my feet which is what I tend to do instinctively to avoid that and to minimise pain. Ultimately, I think this will be a good thing.  However, it has shifted how I run, and I was getting some strange tugs as I moved my feet and legs in unfamiliar ways.  I am used to running in pain, but not these random ‘stop!’ signals that felt like nerves being trapped and released as I mobilised my foot in new ways.  It’s only their second time out, I probably need to get used to them.  I like them, but they require adjustment.  I still could really do with some running shoes with a really big toe box though.  I have yet to find some that properly accommodate me and my disproportionate plates.  Basically I need clown shoes, but with lots of cushioning and decent grip for off-road. Any ideas of where I can source them, please do let me know…  As of now, my quest for the perfect shoe continues, though I do rate the hokas a lot.  They feel bouncy, but in a good way, not in a ‘this bra isn’t working as I hoped‘ way.

 

A contributory factor might also be that I’ve finally made it back to the Accelerate Woodrun sessions.  (Every thursday in Ecclesall Woods – I’ve not been in months due to working away) upshot is I was trying really hard with my form.  I know that sentence will cause those who know me to spit out their tea in disbelief, as I’m not known for paying attention to my running technique, but dear reader, it is true.  I was concentrating on pushing off, and not over-striding, with the inevitable consequence of starting to over think things to the point that I couldn’t sustain it, and rapidly started falling over my own feet, and getting my leg and arm swings out of rhythm to boot.  It becomes alien.  I have started volunteering at junior parkrun recently. The way those children run, effortlessly, and with grace, charging round with an instinctive good form is extraordinary.  I wonder if I’ll ever crack doing what seemingly ‘comes naturally’ to the very young. When did we all unlearn that?  Such a shame….  I also found out recently that I skip wrong too.  Disappointing.  Discouraging even.  Oh well, best to know the worst and be able to tackle it, than run and skip on in ignorance perhaps. …

So, pain aside, good views made for a good run.  One extraordinary feature of this run, is that it appears to have more downhill than up.  I have no idea how this is possible, but it really does. There is a lovely long stretch where you run down towards the lake, and the first time I sped (cough) along there, I enjoyed it, but was a bit fearful of what uphill might come later, but it doesn’t really. There is a long gentle incline, but that held no fear for me coming from Sheffield where the word ‘hill’ has an altogether scarier meaning.   The other cheery fact about this run for me, is that I didn’t get lapped, which these days is unusual for me on a multi-lap course.  I suspect it’s because this isn’t an especially fast parkrun, and for me that is a good thing.  You get your monies worth if you are out and about enjoying it all for a bit longer!

I was able to parasitize the motivational talk other runners were shouting out to their accompanying children.  One father was saying ‘I’m so proud of you my girls, you are brilliant‘ and it put quite a spring in my step as I tried to keep up with them on the off-chance he might be up for adopting me at the end – or at least making me up a personalised compilation tape of motivational phrases.  Another runner, catching up with a young sprinter who had temporarily slowed similarly tried to encourage.  ‘Come on lad.  Imagine the shame if you let me overtake you – look at the state of me, you can’t let me get ahead!‘  It was most comical, gentle and effective.  The youth looked at the runner, assessed the situation, and set off at a sprint with renewed vigour!  Incidentally, just to be clear, I am extremely mindful that slowing and walking is perfectly fine, and nobody should be pressurised to do more than they want at a parkrun, or made to feel like slowing is failing if that is what they need and want to do – however, what I witnessed was a lot of good-natured banter.  This seemed a very friendly run.  Great atmosphere.

The turn into the finish was quite remarkable.  I’ve never seen quite so many marshals at the end. There was a whole wall of hi-vis to direct and cheer you in.  I was fast through the funnel and quickly scanned, and then I joined the cheering of some of the people coming in behind me.  I love this bit. There is something joyful about being at the finish line of parkrun, and that novelty doesn’t diminish.  Ever.  There is always drama and glory on display.   One eventful finisher was the woman with the dog who came charging up to the finish, seemingly giving his handler a running edge, until it suddenly dived to the side, dragging the woman with it as it went to greet a familiar face.  She recovered, but it was a powerful argument against those who maintain running with a dog brings any kind of an advantage!

After a bit of clapping and cheering, time to go in search of post run refreshments. There is a coffee shop right at the finish. Which includes a tempting soft play area!  Alas, the coffee machine was broken. Disaster!  However, no worries, we headed off to the visitor centre area, which was a good move.   Squishy chairs and a lake view to enjoy along with our lattes.  There might have been scones too.

Refreshments taken, we then had a wander about taking in the delights of the discovery centre (tadpoles and sticklebacks); local art exhibition (ho-hum to unexpectedly good); history of the site (genuinely interesting); garden centre and second-hand book shop.  All in all a grand day out.  With parkrun too – pretty  much a perfect saturday morning!

So there we go. Clumber park parkrun?  Tick.  A really good morning, best run briefing to date for entertainment value (which is high praise indeed, Sheffield Graves parkrun briefings are awesome always).  Nice route, super friendly, and great facilities.  Not for speed merchants perhaps, but I really liked it, worth the trip for sure.  If you want to read the official report of the Clumber park 6 May parkrun you can do here.

Thank you Clumber park parkrun lovelies for your warm welcome and slick organisation. I’ll be back!  ‘Til then, happy running y’all.

🙂

For all my parkrun related posts, scroll down through this link

Categories: 5km, motivation, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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