Digested read: twas the parkrun before Christmas, and at Sheffield Hallam parkrun the first finisher was most definitely a turkey of a runner. I tried to inculcate the joy of parkrun into an Australian visitor, it didnt work. Oh well, we have to respect the right of everyone to participate (or not) in parkrun in their own way. Ho ho ho everyone. My those turkeys can move.
Every turkey has its day. To be honest, whilst I can’t really speak for all turkeys, I’m going to take a wild punt and put it out there that they probably prefer that their day isn’t Christmas day, because I’m inclined to think they like to take centre stage in a different sense. Today, dear reader, The Sheffield Hallam parkrun was led out by a complete turkey of a runner, it was quite something to behold. Eyes a bulging, it fair shot round. Anyone would think it was trying to run away from something. They can run pretty fast, wild ones can reach speeds of 25 miles per hour apparently, so maybe it was hardly a surprise this turkey was first finisher, having maintained it’s pacing throughout. This is my new favourite parkrun photo of all time by the way Mr Carman, you got that turkey legs of the ground and right in amongst the elite athletes from the start. Job done. No-one else had a chance with a flying start like this really did they.
They can fly quite fast too, if the internet is to believed. 55 mph. This might account for why Father Christmas did give them a go in an early prototype of his sleigh, but I guess ungrateful people kept nipping out and stealing them for their Christmas tables whilst he was otherwise engaged down a chimney somewhere dropping off presents on Christmas Eve. Something like that. Anyway, he ended up with just the two, and it just wasn’t sustainable, loads of kids didn’t get their presents, people complained, that kind of thing, so he went with the reindeers instead in the end. Reindeers know how to handle themselves a bit better too I guess. Big antlers, that sort of thing. Point is, you tend to see turkeys trussed up rather than running free at Christmas these days, which is why it was a novelty to witness one in motion at Endcliffe Park.
This all goes to show that just when I think I have exhausted parkrun in general, and Sheffield Hallam parkrun in particular as a possible source of new material to write about, I learn something new. I suppose it should come as no surprise to find that turkeys are on the run pre-christmas, it is after all the last chance these sensitive intelligent creatures have to make a final bid for freedom – but I didn’t previously appreciate that a ‘turkey run’ is quite such an actual thing. Albeit in America, and we don’t want to rush to embrace everything that comes from over there now do we? Did you know turkeys appreciate music too by the way. That’s why turkey whisperer is an actual job, trust me, I’m a qualified careers adviser, I know about these things. Plus it was in The Guardian, so that clinches it.
Whereas turkeys show their appreciation of music by clustering around and joining in. parkrunners show their appreciation a bit differently, by running on by. We did all like it a lot though. Live music at our pre-Christmas Sheffield Hallam parkrun has become something of a tradition in recent years, and even though we ran past rather than gathered around the musical trio, it was rather lovely. Oooh, spot the santa dashing round the back… Most festive. Kudos to these young musicians for turning out on a Saturday morning to perform as well. I doubt I’d have been community minded enough to volunteer for that back in the day. Not that anyone would have wanted me to do so, as I never really got beyond a most pitiful rendition of ‘Go and tell Aunt Nancy‘ on the descant recorder, which I concede would be a bit of a limited repertoire for an impromptu al fresco Christmas concert of even the most modest expectations… This trio on the other hand, had a long play list of seasonal carols. Impressive! Thanks guys 🙂
Where was I? Oh yes, turkeys running. Well, according to the online urban dictionary (USA based) , so it must be true:
How very charming and festive. Not. Alternatively, Wikipedia tells us the Turkey Trot is more of a thanksgiving tradition, with less actual purging of the stomach and more with having a run to burn off some calories with the winner traditionally getting the prize of a frozen turkey. Think Percy Pud but with celebration of mass slaughter of turkeys as the focus of the occasion rather than the acquisition of a Christmas pudding. Confusingly though, some turkey trots are runs of actual turkeys, as opposed to people dressed up as them. I suppose on reflection, that shouldn’t be confusing, since in the former case the descriptor is rather more literal and accurate than in the latter, but as a parkrun regular, I’m more familiar with the concept of people running around wearing random fancy dress for the most flimsy of reasons or none at all, so would lean towards expecting the latter. Food for thought isn’t it? Working out what a turkey trot is, and actual food for you non-veggies out there too as well perhaps.
The point is, 23rd December was the last official parkrun before Christmas Day. Whilst there are some Christmas Day parkruns available, for us Sheffield Hallam parkrun regulars, this was last chance saloon for a festive trot out on our home course. A case of dusting down the santa suits, digging out the tinsel and generally getting in the Christmas groove according to seasonal requirements. I suppose it was inevitable turkeys would be playing a most active part too.
Naturally, I was quite excited. This Saturday promised all sorts of jolliness. Not only festive fancy dress, but parkrunners celebrating milestones. Specifically, our very own runderwear ambassador was running her 250th parkrun, either that or getting married. Possibly both. They look a lovely couple in the photo don’t they. Congratulations, either way…
Adding to my excited anticipation, I had brought with me a guest from Australia. I was looking forward to seeing the smile on her face as I introduced her to the parkrun magic. After all, fancy dress, musicians, parkrun, post parkrun breakfast, the beauty of Endcliffe park, all my favourite people in the world gathered in one spot. She would be bowled over by the inherent wowiness of it all, her life would never be the same again. How lucky was she never to have been to parkrun before because she was about to do the parkrun equivalent of stepping through the back of wardrobe and entering Narnia. How would she ever be able to thank me… and yet I wouldn’t need to be thanked, because welcoming a new participant into the fold is absolutely its own reward. What could possibly go wrong?
We set off, armed with a box of Christmas Crackers, because you never know when they might come in handy on an outing to parkrun in December. I was wearing my seasonally appropriate santa skirt (still not sure which way round it should go, bow at the front of bow at the back?) and my santa hat, which turned out to be a bit of a fashion fail to be honest, but more of that later. With the benefit of hindsight, I was maybe a bit wide-eyed and naive to assume that everyone exposed to parkrun will instantly fall for its many and manifest charms, and to fail to pick up on the signals that my house guest was a case in point. The early clues were her disbelief that we’d have to walk to the park in the first place, coupled with apparently, not wanting to be seen walking with me whilst I was wearing a Santa hat. I mean, I completely get the not wishing to be seen in public with me part of that equation, many would agree, but due to the presence of a mere smattering of festive fancy dress, that’s never a good sign. Also, on reflection, the request that we buy a newspaper en route so she’d have something to do whilst we were all running now I come to think of it…. well, I didn’t need to be Miss Marple did I? Still, I always get a Saturday Guardian anyway, so complied, and on arrival, positioned her outside the cafe, with instructions to watch us from the bench, and do the clapping and supporting from up there where she would have a grand view and it would be loads of fun. You couldn’t not get caught up in the all-consuming joy that is parkrun from that vantage point could you? Super fun would be guaranteed, more than most people can rightly cope with – or your money back, as is the parkrun way.
I skipped over to my parkrun family, excitedly demanding they all cheer her with a rousing greeting of ‘Merry Christmas‘, ‘ho ho ho‘, ‘bah humbug‘ or whatever, as they sped past. Who could not be won over by such a welcome. I love my parkrun friends, they are up for such community minded initiatives. How splendid is that! All that is best about humanity can be found milling about in a park pre parkruns all over the earth. Joy to the world indeed. One reindeer came across from Longshaw especially to take part. Isn’t that splendid!
It was great milling about in the park. Lots of festive cheer was in evidence. Our reindeerector was co-ordinating it all with her usual aplomb, if a lack of reindeer accessorizing – still, she has a pass because she was being busy and important, plus others had pushed out the boat, and reindeerector is a very good pun, so that has to count for something. There was an actual reindeer present too, so that was pretty impressive. No idea where he put his barcode though. That’s the problem with running in your birthday suit. It’s hard enough to find official running clothes with a reasonably sized pocket in, bare skin running is another level of challenge altogether when it comes to secreting your tag, and don’t get me started on what do you do with the house keys!
Many were rocking festive Santa themed looks, some with more obviously visible outward manifestations of yuletide joy and goodwill to all than others. I couldn’t help harbouring the thought that one or two must have been of the view that donning the costume slash hat was more than enough to show willing, and they couldn’t reasonably be expected to don a broad smile as well. I almost prefer the grumpy santas sometimes. The embodiment of the complexity of the Christmas spirit. Plus, the real one must have been feeling quite stressed. Those of you who just have to get presents for just the secret santa at work and feel traumatized should spare a thought for the guy that has to visit every child in the world and what’s more, is now live tracked doing it. I like strava I know. but that’s for my personal use. For poor Mr Claus, being tracked on his ultra route would I think add to the stress, it would be no wonder if he was looking a bit grumpy. See if you can spot him in the smorgasboard of delightful shots that follow… Some went for the whole his and hers combos. Admittedly, possibly just by being snapped whist inadvertently running alongside a fellow santa during the run, but I choose to believe at least some couples did the long walk down in their matching outfits.
It was great to see lots of santas out and about, but it did make it hard to identify which was the real one. I know he would have been there somewhere, because
a) it makes sense to hide in plain sight some time and
b) Santa seems a generally cool dude, generous in nature and likely to be predisposed to embracing the parkrun spirit
I still like to think he would have been one of the grumpy looking ones though. Needs to save his cheeriness for his big day.
Hi-viz heroes were out in force, though not as much force as the RD would have liked. Still plenty of scope to volunteer people, send a message via the Sheffield Hallam parkrun Facebook page, or email SheffieldHallamhelpers@parkrun.com ‘go on, go on, go on, go on, go on’, as Mrs Doyle would say.
You wouldn’t want to disappoint her. Plus, it is a lot of fun. Also, volunteering is completely compatible with fancy dress, which I appreciate might be your main consideration.
So there was pre-christmas cheer, and exchange of season’s greetings, and expressions of joy at milestones (about to be) achieved and applause for our hi-viz volunteers who make it all possible.
All in all, it was looking to be another fine parkrunday. Hurrah. No wonder so many of us choose to bow down and worship at the temple which is the parkrun start line. Well, one person did anyway. That’s how lots of movements start, with just one person, making a public gesture, standing up – or kneeling down, to be counted. Might go viral, sort of like that iconic shot of the student in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square, but with marvelous rather than catastrophic consequences for all present.
This woman was pretty awesome in 2017 too though, was she not? In case you can’t remember because there have been so many horrors since, it was the moment when d
The start line was assembled
and the cry went up for off. We all trotted round our mini circuit and then spread out heading towards the cafe… I thought I’d burst such was my anticipatory excitement as I imagined my Antipodean friend on the receiving end of a multitude of season’s greetings!
Except when I got there, she wasn’t. Having nipped into the cafe for a cup of tea and a slice of cake when she’d imagined we were safely underway and would be none the wiser she had so absented herself. Some cheerily cried out to other unsuspecting and slightly bemused coffee drinkers, others, not unreasonably, abandoned their task. Shame. Oh well, I suppose it demonstrates that some people are apparently immune to the charms of parkrun. Whether that is because they have some sort of genetic abnormality, or whether it is because I am now so inculcated into the cult myself I am no longer able to view parkrun with any degree of objectivity I’m not sure. I do acknowledge that I freely clap on command at all the RD briefings even when I can’t hear a word of what’s being said and yet I unquestioningly follow their directives. That might be seen as a slippery slope. Quizzed later about why she couldn’t embrace it she was able to give quite a full explanation which boiled down to the following key points:
- It’s completely pointless
- It involves running, and I hate running
- It’s outside and cold (by Australian standards)
- You wear stupid outfits which is embarrassing to watch and would be mortifying to actually put on
- You don’t even have a proper timing mat
- I could have had a lie in
- Why would anyone want to watch other people run round, some of them aren’t even very good runners
- Who wants to hang out with other people in their community
- You’ve made me come down before breakfast
- I don’t even understand why we are here
The thing is, these observations are hard to rebuff in that she’s sort of encapsulated quite a few of the key features of the enterprise. Also, if I’m honest, before I tried it, I’d perhaps have come up with a similar list – with the additional one of ‘and I’ll look ridiculous in lycra’ so I can’t be too judgemental I guess it just wasn’t to be. If we are to follow the parkrun code and respect everyone’s right to participate in it in their own way, then I suppose that has to include the right not to participate at all. Oh well. Maybe she’ll find out it was type two fun later on. Look back on it all nostalgically and register for one of the Sydney parkruns on the quiet.
Meantime, here are lots of the pre-christmas runners enjoying parkrun in their own way. So respect people, show respect!
Mr Carman was on fire today to be honest, because there are even more fabulous photos I can’t bear to omit, here are some favourites:
What happens behind the bush, stays behind the bush:
and the deeley bopper award goes to (though like my santa skirt, I’m not 100% sure they are facing the usual way, but at parkrun we respect everyone’s choices, always, don’t we, even when they are erm, wrong – unless they are four-headed reindeer of course, mutants, and that would be a new level of wrongness altogether. Messes with my head quite frankly.):
And me running, in my own inimitable way. I am trying to think of myself running (and life) wise as work in progress. After all, you have to learn to do a thing badly, before you can learn to do it well. I’m working towards being part of the running elite. My bizarre expression is purely to put you off the scent. Bow at the front here. I had it at the back for the Percy Pud. Still not sure which is conventionally ‘correct’. I also have no idea at all why I am pulling that face, I’m sure I had my own reasons though. Probably personal.
So we trotted around, and fun was had and milestones were reached. How exciting is that. 250 runs. And not even the first one to do so. A huuuuuuuuuuuuuge cheer went up as this parkrun stalwart sprinted across the line.
It was all very emotional.
Oh, and back to the turkeys, some great shots of them in action too.
The only thing is. Oh, I don’t know if I should say. It feels a bit petty and unseasonal, but then again, the truth will out. … It’s just that, well, oh gawd, should I say it… I thought there was only one turkey allowed at Sheffield Hallam in perpetuity, and this was it. The trouble is, you see someone sporting a look like that and it catches on, suddenly turkeys are all the rage at Christmas, but we need to remember where it all started. I don’t want to cause dissent but I’ll not say too much more – other than to note some of us were there at the inaugural appearance of the turkey at parkrun, and let’s just acknowledge what was seen then, can never be unseen. I’ll say no more.
So finally, run over, and I was reunited with running buddies in general and my Antipodean guest in particular. Naturally, we had to capture the occasion with more photos. Because that’s what you do isn’t it, and also we are all spectacularly photogenic:
Though this is the shot of the day I feel, share in the joy:
So that was that, photos taken, congratulations passed on to milestone runners, next stop Jonty’s for breakfast. Turns out, that one perk of watching parkrun, is that running in a santa hat has a catastrophic effect on a runner’s hair styling options. This is hilarious, and might even partly balance out the horror of all the bad things about parkrun as a saturday activity for visiting Australians. For my part, and yes dear reader, it was my own hair that was so spectacularly rearranged, well, fortunately I feel that on removal of my santa hat the comedic value outweighed the personal humiliation of my static-induced bouffant hairdo. It could have been worse. The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang hair cutting machine might have led to less reversible hair styling options.
Also, we had crackers, they were fun. Instant party, and we got a table at Jonty’s which is an incredibly rare occurence these days, so the Christmas countdown was looking good. How festive were we? That’s not even a rhetorical question dear reader, you can see for yourself, we were precisely this festive:
Ho ho ho!
So there you go. A turkey ran at Sheffield Hallam and was first finisher. It’s a run not a race so not a winner as such, obviously … What could be more seasonally appropriate. Even better, there was still Christmas Day parkrun at Concord to come. But you know what parkrun is for life, not just for Christmas, so whether you make/made it here on 25th December or not, it’ll still be there for you when you are next ready. How lucky we are. Gawd bless us, parkrunners every one!
For all my parkrun related posts see here – scroll down for older entries.