Monthly Archives: January 2019

My I’ve been wanting to get that off my chest – the quest for a perfect sports bra

Digested read:  I’m trying out a new sports bra, a Brooks Juno to be specific, and provided as a freebie conditional on me giving feedback to them about what I make of it.  Oh don’t  fret, I will.  We only got introduced today, so it’s early days, but I will run out in hope (literally potentially, Hope isn’t that far away) and report back in due course

Undigested read: this is how it all began

I’m hardly a digital influencer, but then again, if that means I can duck the pressure and desperation that might otherwise compel me to have Harry Styles tattoed on my face that can be only a good thing.  I mean really, how desperate would you have to be?  It really is taking attention seeking to a whole new level.

kelsey harry face tattoo

So, enough about her, anyway disappointingly, she didn’t even do it, it was all just a publicity stunt – fake news, such a shame it would have been way more fun if she’d been permanently disfigured, oh well.  Anyway, let’s get’s back to all about me.  Today has been quite exciting, for lots of reasons.  Specifically:

  1. Anticipation of snow (I’ve got mixed feelings about that one to be honest, but it’s still exciting).  Mainly so far this has  taken the form of it being unbearably bitterly cold and exceedingly wet sleet under foot
  2. I am now in possession of a new polar watch which is cleverer than me, but could be a boon to my future training sessions
  3. I am officially a sponsored athlete! (sort of) – despite not being an actual digital influencer, so it just shows dear reader, that miracles can happen (but not the one about the perfect bra)

The watch thing has been brewing since last summer.  My dearly beloved TomTom just doesn’t have the battery life I need now I’m looking at longer distances.  I mean in fairness, it probably would for most people, but I’m so slow it just bales on me.  I find this quite traumatic. I’ve loved my TomTom, we’ve shared all my running milestones and adventures from early parkruns (didn’t have a watch when I very first started) to the London Marathon, and the first third of my first (and to date only) ultra.    It feels like an act of betrayal to be retiring it.  Still, it had to happen, and today was the day.  I’ve gone for a Polar Vantage purely on the battery life (30 hours), it has way more functionality than I really need, but so far dear reader, I can report that it’s a hit!  I’ve only worn it for one walk back from the running shop and I’m already alarmingly entranced by graphs about my heart rate, and somewhat miffed by it’s slightly dismissive summary of my efforts.

This watch will leave me nowhere to hide.  When I first had a go with the settings in the shop it queried whether I really wanted to record this (by implication) pitiful level of activity with the incredulous phrasing of  ‘save this short training’ ?  You can feel its contempt.  My TomTom wasn’t passive aggressive in this way, then again, it never talked to me at all.   The Polar is also lamenting the fact that I’ve not done enough today for it to really draw any conclusions about anything.  ‘not enough data to show status’ it says.  I think me and my Polar will have a more purposeful relationship, and it will probably hold me accountable which is good for training purposes, but I feel in casting aside my TomTom I’ve lost a bit of my joyful running innocence too.  My TomTom was my unfailingly supportive, shared fun times, running buddy whereas I think my Polar Vantage is more of a critical friend.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it all feels a bit more serious.  We shall see.  Exciting though…  Still, further commentary on this is for another time.

Onto item three.  Yes, that’s right!  I am officially a sponsored athlete.  Well, sort of. I’ve got a free bra to review, but you have to start somewhere.  A sports bra, specifically a Brooks Juno Sports Bra.  I got an invite to go down to my local running shop and pick one up, conditional on me giving some feedback about it…  Ha ha.   I feel a bit sorry for the Brooks rep, he has (as yet) no idea how opinionated I can be on the subject of sports bras, and how comprehensive my feedback on the topic will therefore be.   There is just sooooooooooooooooooooooo very much I want to get off my chest about bras in general and sports bras in particular.  Bring.  It.  On!  After all, it would surely constitute  contributory negligence on his part if he feels overwhelmed by it, just shows, you should be careful what you wish for and even more cautious in stating that desire out loud.

So the email came, and I’m not going to lie, my first reaction was to think ‘yay, a freebie’ and then my second reaction was to feel highly dubious there’d be anything at all I’d be able to test drive.  I went to a Brooks Bra fitting once before, a couple of years ago and at a different shop.  Despite me having said in advance that I required a larger than average cup size when I went there was absolutely nothing to accommodate me, with the biggest size available being a D cup.  A D cup FFS!  Whilst there are many svelte runners out there, there are a fair few of us with more ample assets in dire need of brassieres that will banish the bounce.  It was not only humiliating but made me increasingly angry.  I felt like a freak of nature.   And was in tears by the time I got home, of frustration more than anything else.  There was a whole presentation about how essential it was that women have proper support when exercising which I found incredibly patronising, I KNOW, this is why I am forever on the quest for a perfect bra, one that supports, doesn’t chafe and isn’t too horribly sweaty.  I’ve given up on flattering, that’s never going to happen.  Also, one that I can put on unaided.  Many sports bras seem to assume you have a team of staff on hand to dress you of a morning, FYI, astonishing as it may seem, I don’t.  So, top tip for all bra manufacturers, it isn’t giving a lecture on the importance of wearing a decent bra that will sell your product to me, it’s providing a bra that actually fits.   Why is that so hard for many bra manufacturers to grasp?  Whilst I was partially pacified by a complementary prosecco and a discount on some road shoes, I was still spitting tacks.  The average woman’s cup size in the UK is often cited as a D or double D – and if that’s the average it surely follows some will be bigger as well as some smaller.  It just seems such a cop out for sports bra manufacturers to claim they have amazing sports bras when they can only accommodate cup sizes A – C  that doesn’t seem to me to be such an engineering challenge, yet judging from the conversations I have with my female friends, a decent bra eludes us all…

sports bra problems

I feel sports bra manufacturers are decades behind what they could be offering, Bravissimo was a game changer for me and many other women I think …  what sports companies might learn from their approach.

Inspiring big boobed women to feel amazing!
Since Bravissimo was founded in 1995, our mission has remained the same: to inspire women with big boobs to feel amazing, to celebrate our figures and to offer a wide choice of beautiful styles to uplift big boobed women in every way!

Not sure that Bravissimo products actually made me feel amazing, but they did at least stop me from feeling like a freak of nature, as when they came on the scene it was the first time I’d ever had a bra that actually fitted.   I spent an absolute fortune with them the first time I visited their shop and binned every other bra I owned.  Bravissimo was a significant step in the right direction.

Every silver lining has a cloud though.  Confidence was quickly overtaken by public humiliation as is so often the way…. I was so keen on Bravissimo as a company, that I used the women who set it up and their business success as a ‘real life’ example for a lecture I was delivering on entrepreneurship to a group of about 300 undergraduate engineering students.  My logic was that it would be could to have some women to use as role models alongside the usual cliches of successful entrepreneurs like – at that time – Richard Branson and James Dyson.  Plus, I was working at Coventry University at the time, and Bravissimo started in Leamington Spa, just round the corner.  Local too.  Brilliant. What could possibly go wrong?  On reflection, uttering the phrase ‘their, genius, was in identifying and exploiting a gap in the market to cater for bigger breasted women such as myself‘ to this audience that was comprised of about 98% male youths was possibly not my wisest hour.   Still, that’s how you learn isn’t it.  Also, alas, doesn’t even close to my most embarrassing moment, not by a country mile, but those stories are for another time.

After all, even this svelte marathon runner said running for 19 miles carrying a puppy with her made running  feel twice as hard.   You missed that story?  Where have you been?  Basically:

Runner Khemjira Klongsanun was seven miles into the Chombueng marathon in Ratchaburi, Western Thailand, when she saw runners dodging a puppy. Stopping at the side of the road, Klongsanun attempted to coax the trembling puppy over to her.

With no houses nearby, Klongsanun concluded that the pup must have been abandoned. Rather than leaving it behind, she carried it for the next 19-miles, crossing the finish line with the pup in her arms.

and she added – wisely

“Running almost 20 miles carrying dog was truly a challenge. It was two times tiring than a normal marathon but I did it anyway just because he is adorable.

I’m sure it was a challenge, easily two times harder than a normal marathon. So imagine what it’s like carrying my two puppies with me on my long runs?  And they aren’t anything like as adorable as an abandoned actual puppy, so yep, it can be a problem.  Also, look at the state of the poor pup after being bounced around for 19 + miles.  No wonder many women get put off running by lack of suitable boob support.  Hence my fantasy about one day having my own bespoke sports bra that meets all my criteria, and which saves the work out for the run rather than elevating the heart rate to an alarming degree just trying to get the damned thing on!

Hmmm, I’m still not sure I ever have, but I’ll keep an open mind.

Anyway, this is why I was very keen to try out a sports bra freebie, even if I wasn’t massively confident it would be up to the task in hand.  You have to try these things.

So, went down to Front Runner.  And was greeted by the enthusiastic Brooks Bra rep.  He actually does bras and shoes, but this was a bra day.  The bra in question was the Brooks Juno, which apparently retails from £40 – £50.  It is apparently High Impact and ‘For women who prefer a controlled fit, our best-selling racerback powerhouse has it all — it’s the ultimate in support and shape with a customizable fit.’  Well, we shall see.

brooks bra front

So first things first, the rep tried to talk me through a set piece on why it’s so important for women to have a correctly fitting sports bra.  I must admit I was a bit impatient about this.  See above. I know exactly what the issues are, I am on a perpetual quest for the elusive holy grail of a well fitted sports bra.  However, credit where credit is due, after I’d rolled my eyes at this, the speech was truncated and we cut to the chase.

Now, I’m just going to be honest about this, because it is only fair to be so. The rep was very good, clearly knew his product and is sufficiently experienced to be apparently devoid of embarrassment whilst discussing cup sizes, bra fitting and the relative merits of the various options on offer.  However, I’m not sure I was entirely comfortable having a man doing the fitting.  I think it’s just that bras are an emotive issue, and I think that there is something about the lived experience of running in an ill-fitting bra, the shame of not being able to wrestle in to one, the body shaming that seems to go hand in hand with the impractical, seemingly misogynistic, styles presented so often that are literally, not just figuratively impossible to get into on your own, that I just don’t know if it is possible to empathise with if you haven’t been through it.  I did ask him if he’d ever actually tried to put on a bra.  Well he had, but only over a T-shirt and frankly, whilst I fully accept moobs are a thing he wasn’t in possession of them, barely an A cup.  Now I’m quite shallow, and also quite desperate for a bra, so I got over my concerns pretty fast as a necessary hurdle to obtain the test vehicle on offer, but there’s no doubting it could be a barrier for many.  It may be though, it isn’t even necessarily a gender thing.  I’m mindful that this experience was way more positive than my last Brooks Bra Fitting disaster which was with an extremely petite, androgynously shaped  and youthful woman, who (I’m sure unintentionally) made me feel like an entirely different life form to her.  I said I was worried about them not having my size, and she assured me they were a very responsive company catering for all sizes ‘up to a D cup even!’ and then looked horror struck and aghast when I pointed out what I’d have thought was self evident to a bra fitter worth their mustard,  that I’m often busting out of a F if it’s a mean cup fitting.  She looked embarrassed on my behalf and then frankly disgusted. It was a horrible experience.  I would credit the fitter on this occasion with being less judgmental, more sympathetic and honestly very sincere and helpful.  but I don’t think either of the fitters I’ve encountered could speak from personal experience.  Back to Bravissimo, all of their fitters are candidates for the products they sell, that inspired not only confidence, but grateful relief. Finally a fitter that understands me!  There is such a gap in the sports manufacturing market for women with any kind of curves let alone an actual rack up front.

The next challenge was being given a tape measure and heading off to the little telephone box sized changing room to measure my ‘rib cage’ (are there ribs under there somewhere?) and then the widest part of my chest.  You can measure over your current bra he said, but I’m not convinced as if that isn’t a decent fit you’ll just replicate that error surely?  In any event,  I was wearing a sports bra anyway (my current one is a rather worn out Shock Absorber) so the suggestion was to measure without anything on up top.  This is not in and of itself a challenging task, but my those changing rooms are hard to manoeuvre around in. There is a large square pouffe thing which takes up most of the floor space, and then a free hanging full length mirror I ended up squashed up against, and I seemed to keep crashing into it as I tried to get the blooming tape measure round, and I hadn’t got my glasses with me and my it was hard to read those numbers off the tape without them.  Maybe if they are going to have male sales reps, which is fair enough, and I don’t dispute they know their products, but perhaps encourage women coming for one of their mass bra fitting evenings to buddy up so they can help measure each other.  Have the prosecco first too maybe!

phone box

Interestingly, the size he came up with for me based on my measurements,  was the same as that for the Shock Absorber model I came wearing.  One was found for me in black (all the samples were black, but there do seem to be a wide range of pretty cool colours on the website which was a pleasant surprise, though I doubt the average running shop would be able to carry such a wide range.)  I liked the purple, which I was told is actually midnight blue or something.  Errant nonsense on their part obviously, but don’t worry the important thing is the colour was fab.

My first impression of the bra  though, as it was handed to me, was its heft. Although described as ‘unpadded’ – I later read they call it ‘cushioned’ it was extraordinarily thickened fabric, almost like slapping a memory foam mattress on your chest.  I’m not sure what to make of this.  I’m quite self-conscious about my bust size as it is, and this bra initially felt like I was nailing a figurehead to the front of ship with an already substantial bow!   A whole new category of buxomness was in danger of being sported here.  I mean, I know it needs to be pretty substantial to offer support, but this is fairly unforgiving in form.  Still, if it works, I’ve always known a flattering bra is a hope too far.  Maybe I need to channel my inner figurehead, these women are not apologetic about their physiques, though at least one of them is looking pretty pissed off, and clearly having similarly failed to find any suitable corselette is going commando. Good for her, why shouldn’t she, why shouldn’t we indeed, desperate times call for desperate measures..

Anyway, I was duly dispatched back to the changing room to try it on.  Oh my gawd. It has quite novel fittings, which in theory should make it easier to get on, but it was unfamiliar.  This was like doing a personal challenge on the krypton factor.  The challenge required a cool head, stamina and intelligence as well as physical agility.

This bra has a racing back, but with a twist.  The band that goes under your boobs actually includes an eye and hook fastening  on that bra strap as well, meaning it can be put on without being at maximum tightness which is very good news.  Also, the shoulder straps are unattached to the front, so you can therefore hoik the bra over your head before tightening everything up once your breasts are in situ.  Blimey, what a performance.  I’m surprised they didn’t send a rescue party in to see what had happened to me.  Bet they were thinking about it, but just probably panicking about the etiquette of who to send in first.  The problem was the dimensions of the changing room. You need quite a bit of flailing around space to get into a sports bra, and this changing room was most definitely not bigger on the inside. How superman manages to twirl round in a phone box and emerge in his cape and all I can’t imagine.  I mean it probably helps that he has super powers, but I bet he wouldn’t be able to do that if he had to include donning a sports bra as part of his wardrobe.

1940s-PhoneBooth

There was much cursing under my breath, breaking out into hot and cold sweats and crashing into the mirror going on.  Another top tip for shops selling sports bras, is have a changing room big enough for women to contort themselves into the required shapes that pulling on a sports bra necessitates.  For this one, once you have it over your head and done up (relatively OK because of the design, which yes, is innovative) the next step is to some how hurl the straps that are now dangling down your back, so they hook back over your shoulders.  Eventually I worked out the way to do this is to lean forward and reach up and grab the straps from over your shoulders and then pull them over and hook through where they fasten with velcro.  I liked the velcro fastening option by the way, it feels like it will stay put, which was surprising, and allows you to alter the strap length with ease.  I didn’t look anything like as serene as this model whilst dressing.  I was all blotchy skin, fine film of sweat, bedraggled hair and blood shot eyes by the time I was safely in.  I emerged from the changing room looking like I’d done ten rounds with a mountain lion, only with me the mountain lion won.  Good really though, got to be sad about the demise of an endangered species whatever the provocation.

_105492823_gettyimages-1061398502 mountain lion

Oh well.  Practice makes perfect possibly … perhaps …

The bra definitely has some interesting features, but I’m not yet sure the extent to which they will deliver on promises, plus it is still a ridiculous performance to get it on unaided first time of trying.  It’s no wonder so many women are put off from ever starting running.  It’s a complete fantasy that you just cheerily pull on your shoes and off you go, all carefree and at one with the world…

Once on, first impressions were, that the under strap was a good fit and overall it felt comfy.  I wasn’t sure about the level of support though.  It has a unicup rather than a separate cup for each breast, and I felt this leaves more potential for movement.  I’m used to feeling more held in place.  On the other hand, there is less extra fabric strips as in the Shock Absorber so it feels smoother against the skin. I queried the fit, but the rep said that these bras might just feel different as they are supposed to support you without squishing you, so maybe it is a question of getting used to it.  I did try a smaller cup size, which I consider was pretty tenacious of me, as getting the darned things on and off it is a mighty deterrent to trying all over again. This is why I could never do triathlon, all that faffing around and changing of gear.  Oh, yes and I’ve remembered the other reason I can’t do triathlon, I can barely swim and I have none of the required fitness, and also it has zero appeal, but other than that, it’s the faffing around with changing that puts me off.

To those who have not been through this process, it might sound improbable, but by the time I’d got the smaller cup size on and off, and back to the original again I had no idea which was the better fit. The smaller cup size was too restrictive, but the larger one has so much fabric to it.  In the end, as it’s a trial, I went with the size that is the same as my existing bra, and I’ll see how it goes.  Fair play to the Brooks rep he was very patient and did seem to understand the issues, but the real test comes when I’m out and running does it not…

First impressions then. Well, some interesting features, it was still a struggle to get into but it was doable, whereas I’ve tried other sports bras that I could hardly get over my head.  The fabric feels soft and I like that you can adjust the straps with ease.  I do find the absolute bulk of it off putting, and weirdly because it’s comfy on, it makes me doubt whether it will provide sufficient support. I think it’s fair to say it isn’t love at first sight, but then again, I’d be the first to admit that I’m so jaded by my forty plus years of trying to get a bra that fits I’m highly doubtful anything will do the job however supposedly ‘new’ or ‘innovative’.  Having said that, I am quite looking forward to trying it out on an actual run, I want to be proved wrong on this.

Calvin-and-Hobbes-Running

The good news is that the request for feedback appears genuine, and I really do welcome that.  I wonder if some sports companies are guilty of getting feedback in an echo chamber, if they only provide bras for smaller cup sizes then of course there will be no demand for larger ones, because they don’t sell them.  And I think those of us with more generous proportions are of course going to have different requirements to others.  So we’ll see.

Here’s to new bounce-free bounding across the [parkrun trails and my beautiful backyard peaks.

out on the trails

What do you reckon dear reader?  Worth a punt?  Will I end up casting off all my existing bras in favour of this new offer?

Honestly, right now I have no idea.  No idea at all.

Oh, by the way, quick plug for ‘Smalls for All‘ if you dear reader are also sorting your bras and ditching the ones you know you should never have bought in the first place, and jettisoning all that don’t fit in favour of a newly discovered comfy and practical option then why not consider gifting any that are ‘lightly worn’ to have a new life with the beneficiaries of Smalls for all.

Would be great if Sports Bra manufacturers could organise bra amnesties and collect clean lightly worn bras from their customers who are persuaded to move over to their particular products and ditch their own kits….

smalls for all

Smalls for All is a Scottish Charity which collects and distributes underwear to help women and children in Africa. We help those living in orphanages, slums, IDP camps and schools, as well as providing underwear to hospitals to help those suffering from medical conditions like obstetric fistula.

If you’d like to donate underwear, here’s the brief – All you have to do is buy a packet of ladies’ or children’s pants and send them to us. They must be new and while we collect all sizes, those we need the most are for children aged 3-15 or ladies size 8-14. And while we collect all colours, the ladies’ pants in greatest demand are black – in full brief, midi, mini or high leg (in the smaller sizes).

We also accept new or ‘gently worn’ bras which can be any size, including sports and nursing bras, but not teen, cropped-top style or bikini tops. (By ‘gently worn’ we mean bras that are in good condition and still have good wear left in them.)

Please send your smalls to:

Smalls for All
108 Buchanan Crescent
Eliburn, Livingston, EH54 7EF
United Kingdom

Please enclose your email address so that we can acknowledge safe receipt of your donation.

Or you can order online

We’ve set up an Amazon wish list for new pants, so you can order online and have them delivered directly to Smalls for All if that’s easier. Go to our Amazon wish list.

Just a thought.

So there we go. Glad to have got all that off my chest so to speak.  I did warn them I could be very opinionated and candid on this topic, I expect the nice people at Brooks will be completely thrilled!

feedback

Be careful what you ask for…

For all my comments on Brooks Bras see here – scroll down for older entries

 

 

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

Fabulous Frolics at Frickley Country parkrun

Digested read: went to Frickley Country parkrun for some tourism.  It was only their fourth event (bless), but ran like a well oiled machine.  It was reet nice.  Thanks all.  You may be a relatively new arrival, but you appear to have emerged fully fledged.  Hurrah!

Undigested read: (it’s a long one, again, remember, read responsibly, leave time to adult, or not, where applicable and according to your needs and preferences but don’t blame me for tasks undone).

So much I want to tell you about this parkrun.  It was jam-packed with celebrities for starters (though we can take it as a given that all parkrunners are heroes). There is however, one particular completely brilliant feature that confounded all my previous parkrun expectations. Desperate to blurt it out right now, but you know what, I’m going to save it for later, because I think – hard as it is to comprehend –  it will be even more fun if you experience the delayed gratification that I too underwent on my sojourn to Frickley this morning, before getting to the big reveal.  Well, here’s hoping anyway.  I know, hope over experience, but you’ve gotta have hope, especially in times as dark, dismal and divisive as these…  In fact, I’m almost wondering if I shouldn’t tell you, in case that means you lose the element of surprise when you rock up for your inaugural Frickley Country parkrun experience.  It’s quite a dilemma, responsibility even.  I’ll have to wait and see…

I’ll tell you something straight up though (see what I’ve done there?  Pun intended) this was definitely an ‘undulating’ course, properly so.  And I speak as a veteran of many a Sheffield parkrun.  You know what, I’m going to really stick my neck out and concede there were actual hills.  You’ll get fit if Frickley Country is your home course for sure.  Even if ‘just’ hoiking yourself up to one of the higher marshalling points. And for your information, this isn’t even The Hill, and this hi viz hero still had to set off at dawn to allow enough time for him to summit before we parkrunners descended…

dscf7143

But I’m getting ahead of myself here, stop distracting me with all this hill-talk all I’ll never be finished with this account, let’s get back to basics shall we – you can always skim read if you are getting bored impatient.

Confession time.  I’d never even heard of Frickley ’til  a couple of weeks ago.  No idea where it was, but it popped up as my NENDY (nearest event not done yet) and so it seemed that it’s a relatively new event (this was their fourth) that snuck under the radar, presumably wanting a quiet inaugural, which is fair enough. I’m upping my tourism lately, for various reasons I can’t be bothered to elaborate on here, and so it seemed a logical choice for a Saturday morning jaunt out from Sheffield.  So, in case you, like me, have been living in a state of ignorance about Frickley, I can tell you this, Frickley Country park

is a former colliery and now is now an attractive open space. It has over 7 miles of footpaths and cycle-ways, giving you great opportunities to walk, run, cycle and escape in this natural environment. There are also several works of art which hark back to the land’s industrial past.

and is located

to the immediate south of South Elmsall, West Yorkshire. It’s situated on the southern side of an urban settlement, bordered to the east and south by agricultural land with broadleaf woods, and to the west by a railway and spoil heaps

frickley country park

So now we all know.   Firmly in the Yorkshire and Humberside section of the parkrun events page.

I feel enlightened. One of the many fab things about parkrun tourism is that it has been most educational.  I’ve visited places that I might never have reason to stop at before and met some fab people along the way.  What’s not to like. Also, many fine mugs of coffee drunk along the way (apart from Doncaster parkrun, that was an ace visit but worst coffee ever experienced ever, not just at parkrun even).  No parkrun trip, however far ventured, is ever wasted.  FACT.

I was trying to remind myself of this when my alarm clock went off and I woke blinking and confused staring into the dark.  Felt like I hadn’t slept, but I peered out of window and established there was no ice, so it was trip on.  I always worry about getting lost so left loads of time, so it was pitch dark as I ventured out.  I hate driving in the dark, roll on long summer days when parkrun tourism can occur in daylight.  It was an easy drive from Sheffield to Frickley, though inevitably further than I thought.  The Frickley Country parkrun directions stated (correctly) that the

Sat Nav code WF9 2EQ. This postcode is accurate to within 200 metres of the entrance (do not turn into Colliers Way – dead end, unless on foot). The entrance (unmade road) is 200 metres ahead between Frickley Colliery Welfare Cricket Club and Broad Lane Business Centre. The Frickley Athletic Football Club Pavilion is located off Westfield Lane South Elmsall Pontefract. There is signage at the entrance to the Football ground.

There is ample car parking available free of charge at the Frickley Athletic Football Stadium/Pavilion. There is additional free car parking around the site (Doncaster Road car park entrance and at Curlew View car park entrance) however they are approximately a 10 minute walk to the start/finish line

It wasn’t difficult to find, but, as I was early, the entrance, though clearly marked, didn’t inspire confidence.  It takes you down a rather potholed track, and you approach it through quite dense housing, so it felt counter intuitive.

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I was quite relieved to espy the parkrun flag, and made my way through to a soft of fenced off carpark area.  There was indeed loads of parking first thing, anyway, however characteristically, I was immediately overwhelmed with the decision making involved in choosing the correct space.  I then went for a quick explore of the entrance area to the Frickley Athletic Football Club, which had some (to me at least) highly entertaining signage.  Loved the Big Fellas clothing notice and was especially taken by the evostick sponsorship as I didn’t realize adhesive was a natural bedfellow for football league support.  See, once again, parkrun was proving most educational.  There was plenty of extra parking space, though not marked out, so potentially a bit of a free for all in terms of finding a spot.  Less salubrious, was the copious amounts of dog poo everywhere around the entrance area.  Not a good impression, stick to the tarmac dear reader I’ll say no more.

Oh, and I took a ‘before’ selfie, because you have to, don’t you, it’s the rule at a new parkrun location.  I think it must also be a given that it’s deeply unflattering, well that rule works for me, please gawd I don’t actually look like this in real life – mind you, wait til you see the ‘after’ shot. After shock more like….

Emboldened by my foray around, I approached the club house.  You could see a veritable army mass of hi-vis marshals milling around through the windows.  Others were arriving too, loads of tourist buffs, and there was a sort of air of eager anticipation. Unlike other parkruns I’ve been to, because this is a relatively new event, there was a sort of collective uncertainty about where facilities and the course was, but it was exciting, like we were all about to embark on a grand new adventure.

The club house has much to recommend it. It was roasty toasty warm for one thing, which may or may not be a good thing on reflection, as it was hard to prize yourself away from it.  Coffee was available pre as well as post parkrun.  There were loos – indeed an actual changing room with showers and a treatment bench thing, if only I’d thought to bring my personal masseuse with me this morning we’d have managed just fine.   It did look a bit like an old-fashioned asylum as portrayed in an old horror film, but apart from that. Also, you get to feel important on the way in, as there is a sign up making it very clear that only VIPs are honored with using that particular entrance.

Having executed my first precautionary pee of the morning, it was time to have a little scout around the course.  The sun was rising, and I contemplated chugging up an adjacent hill to get a better shot, but instead tried for ones on lower ground.  Dog poo alert again, so much dog shite around the football pitch areas, I should have gone up the hill.  The poo problem seemed quite localised, I assume from people watching matches paying no attention to their hounds prolific ‘toileting’ – it didn’t help there were no obvious poo bins, it was a real shame, very off putting.  Basically, my top tip is treat the whole grass area around the football pitches and the rough parking areas around the entrance area as if they are mined with dog poo.  Tread on these areas at your peril.  You’ll have no recourse, I strongly suspect there is no DNA testing of dog poop in this location.  However, try not to be put off the whole parkrun experience by this first impression, granted the bar is set quite low, canine faeces proliferation wise, but honestly, things got very much better from hereon-in!  I will resist the temptation to insert here a photo of a dog mid-poo, instead going for this positive imagery of a very finely executed poop scoop by parkrunners and barkrunners doing the right thing. Good to know!

responsible dog owners

Back to cheerier themes, sunrise picture wise though, no worries, others did make this foray to higher ground and I am shamelessly using their pics alongside mine.  If you want to know which is which, basically their ones are the money shots, and mine isn’t.  Hope that helps.

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So first impressions. Well, sun rise, huge expanse of space, and yep ‘undulating’.  I was sort of lurking and overhearing other conversations.  One was pointing to a steep hill, and saying ‘of course that’s not The Hill, that’s over there‘ as she gestured wildly in some other direction.  I didn’t pay all that much attention. We have hills in Sheffield. It’d be fine.

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I wandered down to the finish area, distinguishable by a very fine pop-up finish sign, way more sophisticated than I’ve seen in any of our more local runs.  It is two-sided so one side says ‘finish’ and the other, creatively, says ‘start’.  However, although you might think this is a boon, it was actually a bit confusing, and I noticed it did get turned around a few times this morning.  So when I first went down ‘finish’ was towards me, but later it was changed to show ‘start’ so you could see where to assemble as you emerged into the park area from the clubhouse, but then you actually line up behind it so it feels like you are running through the ‘finish’ as you head out.  Don’t worry too much though, everything worked.  Here is a picture for identification purposes:

I got acquainted with another tourist from Huddersfield (wave of hello inserted here), who was telling me about a new run there, Storthes Hall parkrun, also new to the parkrun party, so that can be added to my to do list.  It’s quite exciting, all these extra parkruns popping up all over.  She was watching her tourist buddies warming up, they looked impressive sprinting down the hill.  Personally, I like to save my running around for the actual run, though with the benefit of hindsight, for this particular parkrun a warm up lope  along somewhere is probably a good move.  More of this later.

 I had to have my second precautionary pee of the morning, and did some milling around self-consciously.  Volunteers started to emerge from the club house and head out to their individually identified hot spots.

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More and more people started to descend on the area.  The anticipation built.

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After a bit, a call went out for the first timers briefing.  There was a fair few of us, the majority were tourists, but some were locals, some even first time ever parkrunners, sigh, their lives will never be the same again.  I followed the mob to the briefing.  There was a description of the course.  ‘See that hill, it’s not that one that everyone has been talking about‘.  Oh, maybe I should have concentrated a bit more on understanding what the course was like.  Clearly this mythical hill is a thing of wonder, and not to be approached too lightly.  All were welcomed, and having established no-one was intending to be faster than 20 minutes, the basic advice is to follow the person in front and listen to marshals, which always works for me.  All friendly though, and welcoming, which is the main thing. Thank you welcoming first time briefer.

Hang on, should probably do the official Frickley Country parkrun course blah de blah, here it is:

The start and finish are located at the Frickley Athletic Football Club Pavilion. The course consists of mixed trail surfaces. The course is exclusively the Frickley Country Park site. The majority of the course (4K) is one lap, with an additional (1K) loop. The course is undulating, with a challenging hill section at 1K point, however the views from the top are worth the effort of the climb.

Hmm, sounded innocuous enough.  It looks like this:

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So now we all know.

More milling and chilling.  Whilst we were waiting patiently assembled at the start, a fine dachshund caught my eye.  We were formally introduced later on, but he was clearly a parkrun pro.  He was outraged at the hanging around and trying to alert his handler to his impatience at this unexpected lull in proceedings.  Clearly he was used to a speedier start.  His handler made an abortive attempt to lead him away from the start to minimise the disruption caused by his barking, but this made things worse.  Troy (for that is of whom I am speaking) was provoked even further because his idiot handler was clearly trying to go the wrong way! Honestly, it must be so frustrating when you are a barkrun pro and the idiots around you are not following your expected parkrun protocols!

After a bit, there was a further call for attention, and this time it was the Run Director’s briefing.  She didn’t appear to be wearing the traditional (I thought) blue hi-vis.  Whether that was because they don’t yet have one, she preferred to go undercover for surveillance purposes or it was just forgotten I cannot say.  However, in a much more dramatic break from tradition, I can report dear reader that there was proper, respectful silence for the Run Director during the briefing.  Hallelujah!  That made a refreshing change.  I suppose it does rather suggest it was because this was a new event so people were paying attention.  The depressing truth that goes alongside this is all the people yakking through other run briefings at parkruns nationwide are regulars.  Oh well, not so here, we can celebrate that.  We were reminded that there is a loopy bit you do twice, so keep to the left on that unless overtaking.  This all makes sense once you’ve done it, but not really in advance.  You could get away with just doing it once, but really, you’d only be fooling yourself and you’d never get another pb so where would be the fun in that?  Not only do run directors in general rock, obvs, but this particular RD has her own rock on which to stand to deliver said RD briefing.  Another fine innovation from a new parkrun.  There was also a warning that there is a rogue Frickley Parkrun Facebook page out there, but it has a capital pee, so would fool no true parkrunner surely! 😉 Seriously though, how has that happened, bit weird for someone to choose to do that…

‘Twas a brief briefing.  3 2 1 Go!  And we were awf.  Troy was mightily relieved, and it did start punctually, the milling around was because we were all keenies in situ nice and early.  Of we went, up the path and then first left and  even more up as we tackle the  a hill.  Over two hundred runners.  It was a fair old heave ho.  Hence my earlier comment maybe a warm up would have been a good idea.  I found this parkrun hard from the off.

There were a few buggy runners.  Respect to them!  Although the paths were firm underneath, there was a fair bit of mud on top, and with that, and the hills from the outset, it was nigh on heroic to get a buggy round, but plenty did, and overtook me to boot (though that’s not quite such an impressive achievement as I might wish to believe).

Up, up the hill, thanking our cheery hi-vis heroes as we passed.

I was towards the back, I always do start further back these days, and it was quite something to see the colourful snake of runners snaking up ahead and over the brow of the hill, which somewhat made up for my growing sense of panic that I’d be left behind completely!  Maybe if I spent less time taking blurry photos and more time actually running that would be less of a real peril!

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Coming over the top of the hill you are rewarded by great views, the relief of a bit of flat, and then some down hill -which was fine but a bit steeper and rougher than the generally compact trails might suggest.  I was glad of my trail shoes – then again, I am a bit of a scaredy cat, so always favour a bit of extra grip on unfamiliar courses.

I found it quite interesting running through this reclaimed colliery site, though I guess inevitably its history will be complicated.  It reminded me – unsurprisingly of Gedling, another reclaimed colliery.  A lot of effort has gone into creating these spaces, and they are impressive, and over time, as trees mature, will become even more so.  Still, no time to think about that.  Getting to the 1 km mark, I saw it.  The Hill.  Yep, that’s a hill.  Sufficiently steep that the path zig zags up to it rather than going straight up.  Fab marshaling position at the bottom of the hill gave great views of the thread of runners hoiking themselves up, some with more grace and elegance than others!  There were some trodden linking sections where other walkers had taken ‘short cuts’ straight up, but I’m not sure you’d gain anything at a parkrun by so doing, they were pretty steep, you’d end up sliding right back down again if you gave into misguided temptation to cut a corner anywhere.  Looked great though. Again, I’ve borrowed some photos of others to create some mood shots for you.  Hoping those who put their photos on Facebook will be magnanimous about sharing them here.

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Not gonna lie.  That hill was tough going.  If this was your local parkrun you’d get seriously fit running up that hill even just once a week.  Weirdly, when I checked out the elevation for this route afterwards, it was ‘only’ 257 ft, compared to say Graves parkrun (new route) which is, according to my Strava more at 340 ft. Graves doesn’t feel so hard to me, but then again it is familiar.  Not loving the uphill finish at Graves though, oh the shame if you can’t keep you puff and running up for a final flourish!`

Mind you, don’t know what I’m moaning about, have you seen what some women are capable of?  Can we have a moment to celebrate these amazing women have done.  A group of five Aymara indigenous women from Bolivia – known as the cholita* climbers – have summited Aconcagua (6961m) in the Argentinian Andes near the border with Chile.  6961 metres is 22837.93 ft, apparently, let’s call it 22838 ft shall we? Which is like doing the ascent at Frickley Country parkrun 88.8638132296 times.  Let’s call that 89 times shall we?  Impressive.  They look very jolly, I think they’d make fine parkrunners, shame parkrun has yet to make it to Bolivia.

cholita climbers

I barely made it up the hill once.  To add to the stress of it all, there was a photographer lurking at the highest point!  Great sense of humour the Frickley folk were sporting there. They must have captured some corkers!

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Update: yes they did get some corker photos, and shared them too, here are some, thank you Frickley Country parkrun volunteer, much appreciated.  Told you those buggy pushers were hardcore, and that dachshunds are feisty.  Confusingly, I’m sure at least a couple of the photos were from a different spot at the bottom of a hill, but you get the gist, I’m sure.  Disappointingly, I don’t think the gradient is fully obvious from these shots, but maybe the grimaces on the photos tell their own story.  Come and run it for yourself and then decide…

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You are rewarded for this second ascent with more flat, which you can enjoy as long as your lungs aren’t too full of blood from the earlier exertion.  You can really see for miles, the landscape is in no way ‘natural’ but it is full of interest. There were lots of features to appreciate, strategically placed benches (NOT intended to be used as resting points mid parkrun but I suppose if you really had to), with lovely side silhouettes of people staring out to the view, and little design references to the history of the site.

Nice.

Again, the views stretch out in front of you, and you can follow the brightly coloured snaking line of running tees like a trail of bread crumbs to see your way ahead.

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Another smiling marshal stops you getting lost en route:

This is where it turned out there was a strategically placed video camera, recording everyone as they passed.  There was also an overhead buzz, which turned out to be a drone, seemingly following us along, but I don’t know if that was there by chance or a Frickley Country parkrun surveillance initiative, I think probably the former. Though the psychology of being watched is fascinating.  I definitely didn’t want to stop running for as long as I thought I could be seen. Childish, but true….

Oh, and the Frickley Country parkrun video for event #4 is here, I didn’t realise I looked quite so comical when I run, oh well, at least it got me scampering in an ‘I’m trying to run a bit’ rather than blowing my nose or gazing about or giving up and ‘power walking to save myself for a sprint finish’ all of  which were plausible options on this course.  I did manage to screen shot a still from it though, and it is actually quite fun and quite therapeutic to watch the whole field pass by if you have time to watch the whole sequence.  Quite a continuum of approaches on display there. Thanks Frickley Country parkrun for the video innovation.  It seems to have been a regular feature for the last couple of weeks, though I wouldn’t bank on it being there in perpetuity… however you never know do you.  So be prepared parkrunners, be prepared!  At least they had the generosity of spirit to capture us on a downhill section on this occasion – it may not always be just so!

video still

Shortly after being recorded for posterity, you encounter the looping the loop bit.  It sounds confusing but it just isn’t.  Marshals point the way, and signs back it up, plus, it is depressingly obvious you are going to have to run round twice, as you can see the faster runners on a downward descent for round two as you approach.  Don’t worry, if you are a faster runner, they have sentries marshals on hand to direct you back round so you don’t miss out on the two lap fun factory provided for your delight.

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The photos don’t reflect it all that well, but the loop goes up hill again,  I quite liked this bit.  You keep to the left unless overtaking, but it was quite spread out by this point and seemed good natured.  There was mud and puddles a-plenty, always a boon.  You emerge at the top alongside a housing estate that abuts the country park, they must have great views.  Another straight bit … which would take you to the finish, except for the cheery and vigilant marshal to direct you back down the hill again to have the fun of running round in a bit circle all over again.  There were also some runners that who had presumably already finished, as they were coming in the opposite direction doing a cool down lap I suppose, another bright idea I have yet to implement.  I’m a running minimalist at heart, I really do need to start getting more disciplined if I’m going to get my long runs in…  At least I hope they were doing a cool down lap, otherwise some of us were definitely going the wrong way…

Hurrah!  An added bonus, was I spotted this fine obelisk like structure on the second circuit.  Marking the site of some colliery construction or other.  It looked almost mythical with the early morning sun back lighting it quite gloriously. Yep, my camera has failed to capture that as well. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

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More breathless thanking of marshals and back up the hill

and then ‘suddenly’ you are homeward bound.

Surely it can’t be?  Is that the finish in sight?  Down hill as well?

The thing is dear reader, this was the most exciting bit that I wanted to blurt out right at the beginning. This was the unexpected, to me unprecedented and yet pleasing parkrun innovation.  Spoiler alert, if you want to keep the surprise for yourself, you are going to have to skip this whole paragraph, otherwise the secret will be out of the proverbial bag. Your call.  Ready?  Well, you aren’t going to believe this, but, I kid you not, they’d moved the proverbial goal posts in our favour!  Usually, as soon as I see the finish funnel (unless it’s an uphill finish like the aforementioned Graves parkrun) I immediately put on what is for me a sprint, due to this primeval fear that if I don’t the volunteers will all start to dismantle it and move it further away as I approach. Well, you’ll never guess, but here, the complete opposite happened! I’d assumed – nay, I’d go so far as to say ‘been led to believe’ the start and finish were at the same place, because of the push-me pull-you start/finish sign previously mentioned.  Here, whilst we’d all been parkrun/ walk/ jogging about up and down hill and round in circles the volunteers had moved the finish closer to where we were running from! This genius innovation is incredibly good for morale, and also has the added advantage of you finish at the entrance for the clubhouse, very handy for coffee cravers everywhere.  Brilliant.

As you pass the time keepers you get a token the far end of the funnel, and then there was a scanner metres away, all extremely efficient.  This may be a new parkrun but their systems seem to be up and running with gusto as well as well oiled efficiency.

I lingered a while at the finish, cheering in the few who were still trailing in behind me.

I espied the first aid kit and defibrillator on hand. I was going to make some quip about didn’t know ipads could do that, but turns out there was a reminder of the life saving potential of defribs as one had to be used at Bushy parkrun this morning.  The person concerned seems to be doing well, but it I suppose as more and more people embrace parkrun, law of averages means there will be occasional incidents when these are needed. I know of a few incidents now. I wonder how many parkrun purchased kits have been used, not necessarily at parkrun, they often become an asset and resource for whatever venue hosts them.

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I tried to get some arty shots from the steps by the pavilion.  I know, but sometimes remember it is the thought that counts, and in these early days of Frickley Country parkrun’s evolution, maybe even blurry photos will play their part in contributing to the event archive.

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I’d hit the jackpot earlier with my parking, being just outside the club house, so easy enough to retrieve my fleece and cash for coffee.  First though, the mandatory after selfie shot:

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Yep, the running had taken it’s toll with all those hill, no wonder I was looking a little green around the gills.

Still, not to worry, fleece on and into the warm embrace of the cosy club house. You could pay £1 for cheap and cheerful coffee – there was also a hatch selling bacon baps and circus tickets (?) but I’m vegetarian and anyway, had my eye on the Proper Coffee.  I made my way to the proper coffee corner, where the vendor was diligently mopping up quantities of hot foamy spilt milk with a rather inadequate looking paper towel.   ‘There’s been a catastrophe‘ he said, or something similar.  ‘Not a catastrophe‘, I helpfully advised ‘a learning opportunity!’  I don’t really think that, it was post-run endorphins speaking probably, but also, you know what they say about spilt milk.  No point. No point at all.  I’m sure it wasn’t a world weary look I got in return.  I did however get an extremely fine latte for the bargain price of £2.  It was really good.  Only observation was that I couldn’t see anywhere you could get water from, though I didn’t ask to be fair.  Coffee was great and cafe area really warm, in every sense.    A very friendly hub bub was all around.

Fortuitously, my tourist buddy I’d met at the very beginning of the day, was the person in front of me in the coffee queue.  She invited me to join some other tourists who all meet up together at various events all over the place.  I was greatly honoured.  Who knew that there was this whole parallel universe of traveling parkrunners.  I was invited to take a seat, which was initially somewhat awkward as the most obvious place was already taken by another parkrun touring celebrity, dear reader I give you Bully, the touring mascot:

cant go wrong with a cow

Cow cowl made manifest!  I’m a bit confused about what the name Bully might infer in terms of gender identity, but then again, that’s an artificial construct isn’t it, maybe they identify as non-binary or something…

Even so, I was made very welcome, and it was great hearing about all sorts of touring adventures and meeting Troy properly and hearing about specialist parkrun groups – did you know there is a closed Facebook parkrun group for the deaf and hard of hearing no?  Me neither.  It’s great to see how parkrun is evolving.

It was good to meet a true local on her first ever parkrun too (wave).  She was telling me about running in Canada, which got to the minus twenties I think she said.  I can’t even imagine that.  Frickley Country parkrun would be great to have as your local I think, it seemed really friendly and a challenging course too.  All good.

Photos, obviously, in many and varied permutations, it wasn’t just me who was after photos this time.  Love parkrun tourists, they get it!  Smiley Selfie Queen would be among friends here:

You’d have thought the delights of hobnobbing with parkrun tourists and locals alike, couldn’t be topped. But before I left, I sought out the erm, not sure how to express this with due reverence and political correctness – let’s go with veteran marshal.  He’d been out cheering us at the top of the hill, and I reckoned it was a reasonable punt that he was probably post fifty say and particularly wanted to say hello to him because I thought my mum might be interested in hearing about another vintage volunteer.  Well dear reader.  Result!  Not only was he incredibly friendly and obliging posing for lots of snaps so I could get the perfect pose

but also, turns out he is a parkrun celebrity in his own right!  My mum may have Elisabeth’s corner at Bushy parkrun – of which she is rightly proud, but this was Ken of Ken’s corner at Pontefract parkrun!

As my regular reader knows, I never name anyone in this blog… unless, they are a celebrity and therefore already in the public domain.  Clearly Troy and Ken both fall into this category.  Respect!  I felt really honoured!

Is there anyone involved with Pontefract parkrun that is more inspirational than our very own Ken Bingley?   With 167 volunteer sessions behind him and 112 runs, it’s no surprise that we’ve named a corner after him.

It was chance that brought him to Frickley Country parkrun today, apparently Pontefract parkrun was cancelled, their loss, our gain.  Because it basically launched Ken off on his winter progresses, like Elizabeth I, I think it was her, that did progresses out and about. I’ll need to google that now…  Yep, ’twas apparently she headed off when London was hot and insalubrious  Ken was off exploring because he couldn’t miss a parkrun fix.  Quite right too.

Now I’ve got to put Pontefract back on my list so I can get a high-five from the great man himself in his native habitat.  Can’t wait!   Anyway, he and his family were individually and collectively awesome, full of running stories and top tips for races (Grim up north series anyone?) and parkrun tales.  Result.  Also, only now I’m home and making merry with Bing (having a day off Google) have I discovered he ran his first marathon in Sheffield, back in the day when we still had one. Rumour has it you got an ashtray instead of a medal for running that at one point, I wonder if he got one too!  Another reason for hoiking myself round Pontefract, I now need to know!  Mind you there are other surreal findings in post-run doggy bags even now….

So that was that, pretty much last to leave, the hub bub of the coffee drinkers abated and the floors were being swept around us.   Call me massively intuitive and empathetic, but I took that as non verbal communication from our hosts that they were wanting to pack up and go home.  I’m sensitive like that.

Fond farewells were exchanged, along with promises to meet again, as I’m sure we will!

Job done.

Can we have a virtual cheer and hi-fives all round for the Fabulous Frickley Country parkrun event team and volunteers, it’s no mean feat to get a parkrun off the ground, and they have done brilliantly, if today was anything to go by.  Thank you all, your efforst are appreciated, you should have your own capes in recognition of your parkrun super-hero statuses.

Oh, and finally, you can read the incredibly speedily produced run report for Frickley Country parkrun #4 here.  Another tourist perspective.  There were a lot of tourists and visitors today.

and talking of parkrun reports, my mum got a mention in the Bushy parkrun Run Report 773 for today too.  Hurrah.  Really ace photo of her waving brilliantly too I think!  She’s had a lot of practice though, so not really surprising that she’s nailed it.

mum 26 jan 2019

So get yourself down there.  Don’t forget your barcode #dfyb – and for clarity, that means your parkrun barcode athlete individual identifier.  Pesenting an identikit library card for scanning instead will only lead to embarrassment!  Yes, that happened.  You’d need to be wise indeed to sort that one out after the event though. I mean, strictly speaking you didn’t bring your barcode did you, but if it got scanned, as in this case, because neither runner nor scanner could spot the difference, I’m thinking that might be genuinely exceptional circumstances. Glad I don’t have to decide.  Tough call.  Still, to be on the safe side, take your parkrun barcode along rather than your old Blockbuster video rental card or Morrisons loyalty card or whatever.  Better safe than sorry.

blockbuster store

So in conclusion, thanks lovely Frickley Country parkrun people, you were fab.  All of you, in every parkrunning manifestation from hi-vis clad to walk run joggers.  Not going to lie, my favourite bit was finding you’d moved the finish line in my favour, but that was really the cherry on the cake, because so much to recommend you.  Much parkrun parkfun to be had indeed!

So happy parkrunning ’til next time, hope to be back to see you again soon.

🙂

For all my parkrun related posts click here.  Or don’t. It’s up to you. You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though

 

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

Smiley Paces, It’s Terrific Turning Ten as part of this epic running gang!

Digested read:  Smiley Paces are ten this year.  Hurrah.  So happy to be part of such an awesome running club.

smiley lakes 2017

Unabridged version:

It’s our tenth birthday this year.  Yay!  I don’t normally do birthdays, viewing them more as a cause of bitter reflection and regret about what might have been, compounded by the reality of having no-one with whom to celebrate whatever arbitrary age I may have unexpectedly alighted on.  Astonishingly tear-stained, slurring friends aren’t the best of company on their birthday or indeed any other day of the year.  However, it’s different when you are celebrating a milestone like this one. Ten years of collective and individual awesomeness from the members of the Smiley Paces running club of which I feel extremely blessed to be part.

In case you don’t know, Smiley Paces are eh hem (it’s on the website so it must be true):

The SMILEY PACES are an informal Sheffield based women’s running group.

We formed as a small group of like minded women up for a challenge and have morphed in to a large, diverse group with a wide range of ages and abilities.

and who doesn’t like Morph?  Plus Morph also enjoys running with running buddies, as do we Smilies.  Good to know.

 

So we are having a shindig of some sort at the weekend, and members have been asked to think about any little nuggets of Smiley gold they wanted to share that might go into a presentation celebrating the Smiley ethos and achievements over the years. So that got me thinking. What happened that I ended up being part of this amazing group of funny, talented, inspirational and strong Sheffield women?

I have no innate running talent, or indeed any sporting prowess.  It follows therefore that joining Smiley Paces was pretty much inadvertent, almost an accident.  I started going to parkrun, and obviously that’s a gateway drug to the ‘running community’.  There I came across members of various running clubs, but it just happened that my more immediate friends and acquaintances were Smilies.  I don’t remember making a conscious decision to join really, only that it was only £2 a year to join at that point (it’s now rocketed up to an eye-watering £7.50 a year), so I couldn’t really think of any reasons not to, even though I didn’t really know what a running club was even at that point.  I’m pretty sure meeting for coffee got mentioned more than the running before you get to drink it bit…  I think I got lucky with landing on Smilies (whether that feeling is reciprocated or not I shall not explore here).  There are loads of running clubs in Sheffield, that cater for any and all running fetishes enthusiasms. That’s great, but personally, I don’t think I’d have survived, let alone thrived in some of those with a much more competitive or ‘every runner for themselves on the hills’ ethos.  There are lots of friendly and inclusive running clubs out there I know, but I still feel quite emotional about having ended up part of the Smiley gang.  I know, I think on it and I weep.  Me and running, it’s complicated….

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not all great. For one thing, the Smiley vest is not a blessing to my particular physique, and I had to get a special size ordered to accommodate me which was pretty humiliating. However, on the plus side (in every sense) it is instantly recognisable, and whatever your take on comic sans, it has a cheery vibe.  One of the (many) best things about being a Smiley is that it is such a recognisable kit that you can take part in pretty much any event, anywhere and attract a shout of  ‘Go Smiley’, and that is super encouraging.  I remember doing the TenTenTen some years back, and seeing someone (I know now it to have been Dr Smiley) had put up some ‘Go Smiley’ placards through the woods. It was the best thing EVER.

So what’s so great about Smiley Paces.

That’s so hard!  So many things.

It’s about opening up the peak district to me as an outsider.  Stunning routes across Stanage and Burbage and further afield.  It’s about taking on challenges I never thought I’d be capable of.  It’s about having a network of hilarious, inspirational women with whom you can cry with laughter or yomp through bogs.  It’s about coming to understand that everyone has their own goals and that’s fine. It’s about feeling supported.   It’s about friendships and shared adventures.  It’s about finding your limits as well as the ultimate non-chaffing gear.  It’s about people who bring out the best in you, and yes, making a snow-dragonfly as part of a Smiletastic challenge most definitely fulfils that criteria.

 

I was so intimidated by ‘proper runners’ when I started out, I’m still in awe of them, but would say inspired rather than intimidated these days.  What has been so extraordinary to me is that even though I’m not in the same league as many Smilies, I’ve had nothing but support when embarking on new challenges.  Nobody has ever laughed in my face when I’ve dared to venture the beginnings of an idea to do something I previously considered impossible.  Instead I’ve had advice, time given, kit lent.  When I’ve been downcast and confessed in a blog post about e.g. chaffing injuries or my quest for a decent bra of how to find my way off a ridge I’ve had a little flurry of messages offering practical advice as well as empathy.  How awesome is that.  I’m grateful for all of these things, and it’s really difficult to pick a single outstanding moment because there have been so many.   For illustrative purposes:

Smiley London trip, and having my Smiley buddies not just once, but twice, interrupt their parkruns at the parkrun Mecca that is Bushy parkrun to say hello to/ high five and/or get a photo with my mum. Love you guys!

 

Smiletastic challenges – running in the snow, chasing down the alphabet in Attercliffe trying my hand legs at Strava Art.

A mass Smiley exodus to the Lakes for the Dirty Double.  My that was an adventure.  Love my Smiley Buddies.  Oh, that was the year before, but still vivid in my memory

Getting to the London Marathon, and en route, spotting Smilies shouting support from the sidelines.  Most brilliant thing EVER.

 

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The Hathersage Hurtle in a heat wave, walking it was a good move and way more fun than the collapsing with heatstroke half way round option which was also available to running smilies

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Smiley Selfie Queen, who has entirely nailed the in motion selfie, almost single-handedly creating the Smiley photo mid-race archive.  That’s class, right there:

smiley selfie queen

Bottom line is, having Smiley Paces buddies around is an asset on any occasion, running related or otherwise.  Life is always better with a Smiley on hand to share the moment.  Also, even when you go out running on your own, you are pretty sure to come across a Smiley, I keep meeting this one – she’s always covering twice the distance at four times the speed, but not too busy to stop and say hello!

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However, if you are going to make me pick just one, it would be when I embarked on what may be my first ultra, the Dig Deep 30.   I’m hoping not my last, but really, who knows?

So many memories for me from this.  It trumped the London Marathon in so many ways. All the smilies that helped me with route recces and advice, and then on the day having Dr Smiley come and wave me off.  Couldn’t believe it, best thing ever!

md starting out selfie

I was not a promising candidate for this, I had Smiley buddies out recceing sections with me, pointing out sections on maps and recommending kit in the build up to it.  On the Day of the Dig Deep 2018 itself, I didn’t even run it, just walked it for the most part, and I was out for days hours after all the other thirty milers had finished, packed up, had tea, and possibly even gone to bed.  The most amazing sight ever then, was coming back across Houndkirk and being greeted by supportive Smilies.  I honestly thought they were there by co-incidence at first, but no, they’d been out there looking for me and waiting too.  I just couldn’t believe it.  They ran with me for a bit before heading off to cheer me through the finish.  Then coming down through Limb valley in the evening dusk there were more messages of Smiley origin scrawled into the mud to keep me going til the end.  It was just astounding to me that my Smiley buddies had waited out so long and were so encouraging.  I actually feel quite emotional remembering it.  When I came through the finish to a Smiley cheer in the gloaming it was just fantastic.

 

Basically, being part of Smiley Paces is like having on tap access to a collective supportive hug. Whether that’s celebrating achievements, motivating each other to try new things; commiserating through injury or swapping tips on where to access the best coffee and cake options you can’t beat em.  Can’t beat ’em, so may as well join ’em. Glad I did.

Here are some Smiley moments. There will be more…

 

It is also about an embryonic smiley offshoot dragonfly book club, and it may even one day be about completing a crochet woodland blanket, but that chapter of this metaphorical book is as yet unfinished.

What’s more just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, we had our awards do last night and this!

smiley award

I’m an especially Smiley Smiley today!

Happy Birthday to us!

Party on.

🙂

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Conquering Conkers parkrun and sailing the cees in an ongoing quest to save penguins

Digested read:  parkrun tourism took me to Conkers parkrun this morning.  It was great, one of my favourite events to date!

Undigestible Unabridged Read:  (also time vampire, recommend wine and comfy chair, read on at your own risk)

It’s been in the diary since last year this one. Me and Smiley Selfie Queen, co-ordinating our diaries and finding a mutual window for the 19th January 2019 months ago.  Crazy really.  I can’t even remember why we picked Conkers parkrun specifically, except it has a reputation for being lovely, it will help contribute to my pirate challenge (seven cees and an R as in aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarr) see what they’ve done there?

Did you know there were lots of women pirates as well by the way.  Maybe not lots, but here are eight female pirates you should maybe know about if you want to excel in pub quizzes and feel a bit smug about your pc general knowledge too.

woman pirate

Conkers parkrun is sort of within range of Sheffield, by which I mean, it’s actually quite a long way, but doable in the interests of parkrun tourism.   We are running out of nearer options that one or other of us hasn’t already done.   I don’t mind the distance in terms of early departure as I have lost the ability to sleep entirely, but do mind in terms of what if it’s icy or still dark on departure.  Plus there is all the inevitable angst about how long it will take to get there.  Unknown territory.   Oh well.  It will be an adventure we thought.  Me and Smiley Selfie Queen have form going on adventures together, it’ll be fine….    Conkers parkrun it would be.

Except, that the night before DISASTER, snow falling from the sky, messages popping up everywhere on Facebook pages for local parkruns basically doing the Facebook equivalent of sucking in air through your teeth and saying ‘looking doubtful’.  Me and Smiley Selfie Queen independently contacted the Conkers team to check out the lie of the land their end.  I was being confused about a note saying to everyone ‘remember we are starting at the Discovery Centre, not the usual Waterside’ and giving a new postcode so I had a momentary doubt about what to put in the satnav.  She posted on their Facebook page for weather check.  Well, dear reader, have to say, both of us got almost instantaneous and friendly responses. How impressive is that. The event team/ social media communications manager are on fire in terms of their reflexes. I learned that yep,

you will always get an answer. We are currently operating from a different car park but they are connected by a tunnel. If you are going to join us in the cafe use the 6GA one. Otherwise it doesn’t matter.   It will be chilly here tomorrow but no rain expected. Safe journey from up north.
Roger x

and she learned that it might be nippy in the morning, but no snow or ice was expected:

will we make it

How kind and awesome is Roger to soothe our worries last thing on a Friday night!  (Rhetorical question, clearly very kind and awesome, and more of this later).

This was reassuring, but blinking out through a gap in the shutters the night before the morning after it wasn’t looking good.  It might be the case that Kilian Jornet can skip up Mount Everest twice in a week with nothing but a 2 litre bottle of water ten energy gels and some mittens but I’m not venturing outside my house if it’s icy.  I’m near the top of a seriously steep hill, it can’t be done.  Kilean Jornet is clearly some sort of enchanted sprite that’s taken on mortal form.  Dual ascent of Everest is taking hill reps a bit far in anyone’s training plan surely, even for an ultra?

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Fretful that Sheffield weather might yet mean our target parkrun trip might not happen, I treated myself to a night nurse capsule to get some slumber and resigned myself to the hands of fate que sera sera as Doris Day would coin it.  Isn’t she marvellous?

after all, you can’t risk death on the roads just in the name of parkrun tourism… actually though, I said that line out loud to my tourist buddy after the event in an ‘I’m glad the weather was OK as ultimately, can’t really justify going to a parkrun as an essential trip if it really was a white out‘ and she definitely hesitated and couldn’t bring herself to speak agreement out loud.  What’s more, she may have a point… it’s so hard doing the right thing sometimes.

Anyways, woke up at stupid o-clock, peered out the window and …. hurrah!  Although there was snow on my car, the road was clear, and closer investigation reassured me that the road was ice-free and snow could be just wooshed aside and we were on!  As I said in a message to Smiley Selfie Queen pre 6.00 a.m. it is testament to her parkrun commitment that she replied immediately, can’t remember saying what exactly, but it was along the lines of ‘yay!’  So all good.

It was dark and cold though.  Seriously dark.   I was relieved that my satnav was operational, the weather was in our favour and off I chugged on empty roads until I was parked up outside my Smiley buddy’s house at stupid o-clock.  The lights were on, so that was good.  We left bang on our estimated departure time.  For the record, left mine at 7.00 a.m. and hers at 7.15.  It was an easy run, using the postcode DE12 6GA though the traffic was slooooooooooooooooow, and I was extra cautious.  There had been an earlier quite nasty looking accident leading to speed restrictions on the M1 and I’m cautious anyway.  Lots of other vehicles had proper snow coverings, so we got off quite lightly.

I didn’t get lost, but I did get confused at a couple of almost intersecting mini roundabouts almost on arrival.  Weird layout. The only confusing thing, directionally, is that the Conkers Park, where the magic of parkrun happens (I know, a happy coincidence that the parkrun’s chosen name is the same as that of the actual park – what were the chances? (rhetorical again) – must be mahoosive, because there were loads of signs to the park pointing in different directions depending on which bit or activity you were heading off too. So if you are touristing, check out the map and satnav to avoid parking up the other end of it.  It was easy to find though.

On arrival, just after 8.35 ish, we were greeted by an enormous car park with ample free parking. There was a huge centre with loos and you could spot the hi-vis heroes gathered together in an appropriately  penguiny huddle (more of this later) at the far end of the car park.  This boded well.   I love a parkrun with easy access to facilities for a precautionary pee, and good parking if touristing.  Top marks for Conkers parkrun and its host venue Conkers park for seriously ace facilities.

I say easy access, but actually, it wasn’t as easy as you might think.  We made our way to the Discovery Centre, pausing for the obligatory location-based photo ops …

and then stood blinking with incomprehension outside the door to the centre.  It had a sign on it saying ‘automatic doors’ but nothing happened.  We kept trying to activate the trigger by walking towards it at different angles.  Other parkrunners appeared behind us, and joined the non-plussed attempts to gain entry.  I’m not sure who it was who had the bright idea of just pushing the door to get in. It opened inwards without resistance!  That was embarrassing.  Top tip for other visitors who might come in our wake. Just because it says ‘automatic’ on the outside, doesn’t mean you can’t get in by just opening the door in the old-fashioned manual way using a handle and a bit of shove inwards.  Good to know. Humiliating it took us quite so long to work out!

Possibly even a bit more embarrassing that we then did a reconstruction of this incident in order to document it for this very blog post, causing a small queue of bewildered fellow parkrunners left wondering why it was exactly we needed to take a picture of one of us failing to get through a door.  Sometimes though, I think a little mystery in life is a good thing, we didn’t take the time to explain ourselves.   After all, the lovely other people were all fellow parkrunners, all signed up to the code to ‘respect everyone’s right to participate in their own way‘.  Phew.

parkrun code

Once inside, I can report fabulous loos, lots of them.  However, in the interests of transparency I must report that one unlucky occupant was caught unawares due to a malfunctioning lock – not by me but in an adjacent cubicle – so just a quick heads up to check you are properly secured before settling in for whatever business you require pre- run.  Also, the doors in the Discovery Centre are hilariously tall.  I felt like Alice in Wonderland mid-shrink.  They tower over you.  I thought this sufficiently odd that it required a photo to indicate scale.  Having subsequently come to see just how tall the hi-vis hero doing the parkrun first timers’ briefing was, I wonder if the height is by way of being accommodating to all users.  It’s a thought.

Smiley Selfie Queen doesn’t always stand like that, by the way, her pose was on account of the Penguin Challenge…  She’d come tooled up for business.

So, about the penguins then.  Long story short, my Smiley Paces running club is once again doing a Smiletastic challenge, splitting members into teams to take on various running activities and challenges to help motivate them to get out and run during the long dark winter months.  This year the teams are walruses, seals, penguins and reindeer.  I’m not taking part this year, but lots of my running buddies wisely are.  This week’s challenge, is to do something to mark Penguin Awareness Day, which is actually tomorrow (at time of writing) 20th January 2019.

happy penguin awareness day

Hence my buddy, who is a seal (not an actual seal, but in team seal obvs) was on a quest to do something running related that would help raise necessary awareness of the plight of penguins. Clearly, once alerted to this great cause, I was on board to help as best I could.  Hence we had along with us penguin companions as emotional support animals, and a mission to raise awareness as best we could to all and any present by whatever legal means we could.  First off though, we needed to carb up.  You can’t take on a mission like this without a bit of pre-run sustenance, so we’d p.. p… p… picked up some penguin biscuits to fortify us for the adventures ahead:

We had ample time to faff about and wonder what to wear, and then dumped unneeded stuff back in the car before heading to the hi-vis cluster.  This was a busy parkrun.  A very busy parkrun.  A very, very busy parkrun.  But you know what, it managed to be incredibly user-friendly and welcoming as well, which is no mean feat.

We made our way to the hi-vis mob, where there was a welcome sign for new parkrunners from various GP surgeries- there has been a recent drive to get new parkrun/walkers along and I think today was their launch. It’s a practice parkrun initiative, of which Conkers parkrun is apparently one. This doesn’t mean you have to practice before you can go there or indeed any other parkrun au contraire, it means GP practices in the area are proactively trying to get their staff and patients to come along and give it a go.  Splendid!  Lots of smiley faces too. Also splendid.  I do like a well-judged emoticon.

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There was a token table set out in anticipation of finishing runners handing back hundreds of tokens.  Although, actually it may have been an unofficial swingers system or some sort of roulette/ bingo system, as at intervals people had left keys on certain numbers.  Sometimes best not to ask.  Good system though.  For sorting tokens I mean, not for arranging swingers parties.  They also are in possession of a yellow wheelie bin, the existence of such a thing of which I was previously unaware, and an item which now I covet.  Shallow, but true.  Also, I know in my heart of hearts it wouldn’t make me happy even if I got one, it would just be the gateway acquisition that made me long for ever more ostentatious waste disposal/ storage solutions.  It is pretty cool though isn’t it? It didn’t give me quite the elevated heart rate I experience on entering a really fine stationery shop, but I had a momentary flutter I must concede.  No defibrillator needed on this occasion, but lucky they have one thereabouts if they are going to shamelessly flaunt their yellow bin every week

We weren’t quite sure at what point to enlist others in the penguin awareness raising challenge. We went to the first timers briefing, which was helpful welcome and course description.   It was organised so after that bit for tourists, he did a more details intro for first time ever at parkrun, which was all very reassuring, mentioning tail walker and it’s OK to run/walk/jog whatever you like.  He seemed friendly and approachable and important looking, what with his authoritative air and placard holding technique. He’d do.  Smiley Selfie Queen made the approach, well, it was her challenge after all, and I’m happy to report dear reader, that it took very little persuasion to get him on board with penguin related posing. Result!

penguin power

As Smiley Selfie Queen remarked afterwards, that’s one of the many completely brilliant things about parkrun, you can rock up wearing penguin pictures and ask to be photographed with people eating penguin biscuits, or indeed posing as penguins, and that’s quite acceptable. Expected even.  Today at Conkers parkrun, there was a guy wearing half a suit of armour, and we didn’t even comment on it particularly… though I regret not getting a photo now, obviously, but then again, it’s only just occurred to me that yes, that is slightly unusual, even for parkrun.

Edit – don’t panic dear reader, the official Conkers run report writer was on it, and I’ve stolen the photo from them. Thank you!  See, these Conkers people, they pay attention to detail.  Epic.

knight in half a suit of armour

More usual are milestone runs and pre-wedding parties and superheroes, but really anything goes.  There were some of those two of course, and we had to get more of ourselves, because to be frank, what’s the point of travelling with Smiley Selfie Queen if you don’t make full use of her photographic talents?

From this gathering point, we followed the crowds through a tunnel (reminiscent of Bakewell parkrun) and alongside a mini railway line, over a level crossing (which had automatic gates again, they like them at Conkers apparently, and to the back of the start funnel which stretched seemingly for miles ahead of us (only not really).

Point of information, if we’d parked up at the other car park, which I think is waterside it is very literally the other side of the tunnel, so you end up in the same place though I think as a newbie, the assembly point was very much more visible at the Discovery Centre side, plus that’s nearer the cafe and loos, an important consideration in route planning methinks.

I was quite taken aback at how busy it was.  It felt a bit like arriving at an organised event. They like their signs here. I do too.  Volunteers held up huge brightly coloured signs with different anticipated run times to encourage people to organise themselves into appropriate speed groups. It was friendly, and not intimidating.  You go out and back along the same mile at the start and finish, so some parkrunners left bags on railings or hung from trees where they’d be in sight of finish funnel volunteers.  It was cold and grey and started to rain freezing, fat globules of water, but the atmosphere was warm and welcoming.  People spotted we were a bit confused and helped us know where to leave stuff.  We also very quickly enlisted participants to take part in penguin posing, always a win, thank you good people of Conkers parkrun, you are fabulous ambassadors for parkrun in general and Conkers parkrun in particular and I’m sure the penguins are very grateful too!

The starting area is in a dip, there are embankments on either side and a humongous ditch perfectly sited for inattentive parkrunners to tumble in to.  Also, the bank was quite good for posing as a penguin in the background of a selfie shot.

penguin pose

The track was hard compacted path, with some surface mud, but definitely OK for buggies.  It was fun milling around.

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but the best bit was when I had the genius idea of clambering up on the muddy hillside of the embankment to try to get some shots of the whole snake of starters.  I was spotted and people all waved en masse as I clicked away.  It was hilarious, I felt I was recording an epic moment of history, which in a way I was, because parkrun is always epic, and for some this would have been their first brush with it.  How there lives will change from hereon-in.  Unfortunately, my camera can’t really cope with this kind of sweeping panoramic shot, also it’s broken,  I’m trying to ignore this fact, but it keeps jamming, or not working or creating a blank picture, this injects an element of surprise into any photo taken.  The pictures aren’t that good therefore, but they are still memories, and maybe some people will enjoy playing ‘Where’s Wally?’ and trying to spot themselves in them, so I’ll post them all anyway, and that’s hours of your life you’ll never get back dear reader, if you should choose to peruse and pore over them all…

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Now might be a good time to mention the course.  Increasingly I find the running component almost incidental to the parkrun fun package, but I daresay purists will want to know more.  I didn’t know anything about the course before hand, the Conkers parkrun course blah de blah is, pretty minimalist to be fair:

The route is best described as an out and back loop but it is very scenic and takes in the Ashby Woulds and Donisthorpe Woodlands trail paths with a small section running adjacent to the Ashby Canal.

Location of start – The course starts and finishes just beyond the train track crossing at Conkers Waterside.  Address: CONKERS Waterside, Bath Yard, Bath Lane (B5003), Moira, Swadlincote, Derbyshire DE12 6BA

There is a very nice parkrun profile all about Conkers parkrun on the official parkrun pages.  Most impressive.

and it looks like this:

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So hard to get lost, but will have to witness faster runners thundering home whilst still heading out potentially.  Not necessarily a bad thing, who knows, some may even be up for a high-five…

The map of the route makes it look a little on the ho-hum border line dull side, but it really wasn’t, it was fab!

I’m not going to lie, the start was very congested, and when the cry went up for ‘awf’ or ‘go’ or whatever it was, absolutely nothing happened, and then there was a slow trudge forward.  You can’t overtake for the first few hundred metres because there is a huge bank towering over you to the left hand side and a deep ditch to the right. There was also the RD standing atop of, well I’m not sure what exactly, but he basically shouted ‘you can run from here’ as you passed him, and indeed you could.  The route is on good terrain and for speedier runners could potentially be a fast one, but you’d need to position yourself toward the front. I’m happiest pootling, so didn’t worry me.

You head out, you really can’t go wrong, there aren’t any alternative options.  You just follow the path, there are trees on either side, there’s a tunnelly bit, then you emerge onto more open ground where you can see runners ahead snaking round, it was really lovely, though astonishing just how far ahead some were.

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Towards the top of this hill, where the route bent round, there was a full on paparazzi squad with the most enormous telephoto lenses I’ve ever seen, all set up on tripods.  I presume this was part of the practice parkrun rather than we were all photo-bombing a twitcher who’d seen an extremely rare rainbow unicorn stork on a wayward migration stop or something and was trying to frame the perfect shot before we all came storming through, but I didn’t actually stop to ask so can’t be sure.

EDIT and update:  just seen on the Conkers parkrun Facebook page that the man with the impressive lens was a certain Darren Cresswell. Ensconced with his camera equipment at the top of the first slope,  Darren was taking photographs and some footage for the National Forest for a future article about National Forest activities in the Winter, and what better than a Conkers parkrun.   So now we know. And here are some of his shots by way of illustration.  Somewhat better than my own offerings I concede, I can be gracious like that…

The route then went through some trees and we all yomped on puddle jumping when necessary.

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After a bit, we were rewarded with the first of the sign-bearers. These were cheery, helpful sign brandishers, not doom-laden bad-omen mongerers warning us to beware the ides of march or anything like that.  The first sign was advising us to keep to the side of the cones, now remember this  man, because he does something really unexpected later on.

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And it was indeed good advice to keep to the right of the cones, because very soon, the front runner was storming back.  Impressive.  It’s about a mile out, then you do the looping the loop bit by some water, and then you rejoin the trail for a mile back in.

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There is a sort of three-way junction point where runners coming back emerge and slower runners are still heading out.  Fortuitously, another friendly marshal is sited there to keep an eye on proceedings and ensure all runs smoothly.  Loving your work hi-vis hero, good job!

STOP PRESS EDIT:  So, bit of insider info for you hear dear reader, you are rewarded for being a later arrival at this post with an added morsel of information.  I have it on the considerable authority of a former core member of the Conkers team that, and I quote:

each of the major points on course has a name, as per tshirt we did years ago (attached). The ‘three-way’ point as you call it is ‘Stephen’s Gate’, but as your photos show there is no longer a gate, and I’m very rarely there, having been on the Core team for five years I shuffled across to the new (at the time) Rosliston – very much as friendly and welcoming as Conkers!

Now, clearly it’s a bold claim about Rosliston, and I shall be sure to add it to my ‘to do’ list of parkruns so I can go check that out for myself, but in the meantime, we can all benefit from this photo of the T-shirt map, and be enlightened.  Hurrah!  I feel much better informed now!  Thank you fellow parkrunner, for coming forward so graciously!

conquered conkered conkers

Shortly after this, you run on a bit, and the… and this is really excellent… there was another sign, warning you that you were about to encounter cheeky hill!  This is genius dear reader, informative, but also entertaining and motivating, very considerate hosts these Conkers parkrun people.

So you go up the Cheeky Hill, which I can confirm is a bit deceptive, as it isn’t that long, well not by Sheffield standards, and not even all that steep (Strava said the elevation on this route was 38m) but it was puff inducing for me anyway, and although many gamely hoiked themselves up, there were a few wise power walkers who were no doubt saving themselves for a sprint finish. What about me?  Well, I had to stop and document the course didn’t I, so that necessitated a stop start strategy, which I like to think of as a sort of hybrid between hill training and interval training and ethnographic research.

At the top, there is another marshal, to congratulate you on your efforts, and direct you round.  Again, some exemplary sign sporting in evidence here, they must train them. It’s actually quite hard, and quite a responsibility to brandish a sign for any length of time.  I know, I’ve been on loads of demonstrations.

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Then there was a watery bit alongside, and an al fresco pee point, judging from the person or person(s) unknown who took a little detour into the woods…  Also ducks, and dear reader, if you have been loyal to me over the years you will know that these have a soft spot in my heart. Gotta luvva duck.

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You then see another cheery marshal – lawks a lordy then were everywhere on this route, to stop you heading off to infinity and beyond and send you back en route, and, just in case you are flagging at this point, there is yet another genius sign pointing out you are lapping everyone on the sofa, as indeed we were.  They were very much into their motivational signage here.  Well judged lovely Conker parkrun people, well judged indeedy.  I thank you.

Then, to me unexpectedly quickly, ‘suddenly’ you were back round at the three-way meeting point and about to be heading homeward.  Recognise this cheery hi-vis hero?

You may well do… but the next volunteer marshal along was more challenging!  More challenging because?  Because, dear reader, he’d metamorphosed into a completely new incarnation, and was brandishing a different sign entirely! Wow, that’s upping the placard bearing stakes.  Has to do a quick change at a critical point in the parkrun pantomime of runners.  Genius.  I spotted what he’d done though. What I don’t know, and didn’t establish, is if I’d run back later to retrace my steps whether the sign would have been changed again.  I like to think so.  He probably had a whole stash of purple placards there, ready to brandish as appropriate on any or all occasions.  Sorry, out of focus, this is my camera in its death throes for sure, there is a fair amount of operator error I know, but not to the extent in evidence today…

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The surprises weren’t over though, oh no. If you could but resist the temptation to nip into the open cafe and carry on

you’d get to my favourite sign of the morning.  You are awesome!  It proclaimed. And yes we are!  I paused to take a photo and demanded a high-five – it was very uplifting. At this point on the course, other runners who’d already finished had come back up to cheer in fellow runners still out there, it was all extremely friendly and supportive.  I genuinely got the impression that if this was your local parkrun you could get involved and meet people really quickly if that’s what you wanted to do.  It was a great event.

and then, seemingly we were nearing the finish, through the tunnel and the end was in sight!

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Smiley Selfie Queen, long since finished, was there to cheer me in, as were a load of friendly and feisty hi viz heroes. They were like a well oiled machine, moving me through the funnel, anyone would think they’d done this before. Fantastic experience!

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but you know what, that wasn’t even the end of the excitement. Oh no, there were further climaxes to come!

We were still on a quest to do more for penguins, because whatever you do is never enough what with their habitats so threatened and all.  Then we were distracted by the sight of a parkrun bell!  Now, I have seen these before, but usually the ringing of these is reserved for those who have achieved PBs (or believe they have) and I haven’t for many years, and indeed expect to PB approximately never again.  I therefore reluctantly concede that bell ringing at parkrun was alas to be an activity that did not include me. Well, dear reader, Conkers parkrun is most liberal in its offer to ring their bell.  You can to it for a PB if you wish, but also for being a tourist, or being at your first parkrun, or for being happy, or pretty much for being whatever!  How very inclusive, and how very inspired. Surely we could ring the bell for penguin awareness, it would be most apt. However, much as a run on strava never happened, and a barcodeless parkrun disappears into the void of invisibility, a parkrun bell rung without being captured in a photo similarly never came into being. We’d need to interact.  Well, I haven’t quite got enough effusive words to communicate what happened next.  Long story short (not that short to be fair, I don’t really do concise, which may come as a surprise, or may not, depending on how good you are at skim reading…), we made a brilliant discovery!  Casting around for someone to act as official photographer, we settled on someone who asked directly ‘what’s with the penguin’ well, clearly this was just the shoo in we needed, we were able to give a brief lecture on the importance of raising awareness about penguins and it being part of a running  club challenge and all, and many further brilliant things tumbled forth.  It was a positive embarrassment of riches. First off, turned out, this was the fine person who’d replied so promptly to our enquiries the day before. Then, he submitted agreed to be videoed by way of evidence of our penguin awareness activities (though I don’t know how to upload the video here so you’ll just have to take my word for it and make do with this rather inadequate screen grab)

penguin awareness with event director

and best of all, revealed at the end that his son actually, my gawd, I can’t believe this really happens SPONSORS AN ACTUAL PENGUIN, and what’s more, hard to believe I know HIS SON WAS THE RUN DIRECTOR OF TODAY’S EVENT!  What were the chances – clearly photos were needed:

and what’s more (yes there is more) his penguin is called Pedro, which is an excellent name for a penguin and his dad, who we’d just been talking to, is Event Director for the whole shebang.  Basically dear reader we were hobnobbing with the elite of Conkers parkrun, and I would say it’s not beyond the realm of possibility penguin awareness day might yet get a mention in the Conkers parkrun run report for today.  Fingers crossed.  All in all, one of the happiest parkrun days of my entire life, and there have been many!

He even agreed to get us a few decent bell ringing snaps, and executed them amazingly.  We played it cool with the ding dongs, but I think the perceptive reader will spot we were secretly pretty goddarned chuffed!

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All in all, we had an amazing time.

UPDATE: Seems the event director was today completing his 300th run, so I hope he got to have a good ding dong with the bell once we’d vacated it, and I’m sure his hi-vis comrades would have carried him aloft to the Discovery Centre for celebratory coffee afterwards, but we missed that display of celebration unfortunately, preoccupied as we were with our own adventures.

Bell ringing done, we crossed to the other side of the tracks, espying an unexpected train as we did so

and then you walk down the path, under the tunnel, back to the gathering place, where a squad of hi-vis scanners formed a guard of honour to greet you and scan your barcode.  I’m quite surprised that they don’t lose a lot of tokens between the end and the scanners, but then again, they were quite a visible if not formidable presence blocking the exit route, so perhaps hard to dodge.

Also, despite their barcode scanning efficiency, they weren’t agin doing some penguin posing for the cause, so another good result there. Thank you accommodating barcode scanning team.  You make a fabulous penguin colony you really do.  Which is a good thing to be, and you huddle beautifully, which is an excellent way to keep warm in inclement weather, so well done all of you!

penguin posed

So we passed on by the token table, which incidentally subsequently teleported to the cafe where everyone could take a turn at the token sorting, a little like doing a large communal jigsaw each week.

and we went to the cafe for post run pee and then re-hydration with coffee (me) and hot chocolate (Smiley Selfie Queen).  I can report it was good coffee, and there were also jugs of water on hand too.  Only negative comment was that they use disposable cups and I regretted not having my reuseable one with me.  Oh well. The culture is changing. We had a post penguin parkrun debrief and felt happy.

penguin refreshments

So that was that, job done.

A grand day out indeed!

Thank you Conkers parkrun, it was a lovely, memorable, welcoming and hilarious at times morning.  You will have a special place in our tourism hearts and hope to be back soon.

Be sure to wish Pedro a happy penguin awareness day from we two Smilies.

For all my parkrun related posts click here.  Or don’t.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.  Bit of a time vampire, if you do, you might be stuck on the sofa for a while, ‘just researching options’.  Hmm.

Happy parkrunning until next time!

🙂

penguin_1f427

PS  Thank you lovely Conkers parkrun people for the comments on my blog after you shared it on your Facebook page.  I am hugely grateful to anyone who stops by to read my posts, and elated if you comment too. However, there is a special place in my heart for the penguin puns and penguin emojis and penguin wit and wisdom many of you took the trouble to include in your feedback.  No wonder the penguins in Conkers park are dancing!

dancing penguins

Categories: parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Smiletastic 2019 – seals on a running quest in support of penguin power, penguin awareness day January 2019

Digested read: Smilestastic again, I’m not signed up, but ironically, it’s still working its magic and getting me out running more.  Penguin challenge took me to woodrun for example.  Lovely!

smiletastic 2019

Undigested read: (you may need a resolve sachet to settle your stomach afterwards)

It’s that time of year again.  This keeps happening.  What can you do to keep your running mojo during the long, dark, cold days of Winter?  Well, if you are part of Smiley Paces (lovely Sheffield-based women’s running club) then you may have previously – or indeed currently – have been seduced into signing up for Smiletastic.  A team based challenge described this year as follows:

Smiletastic  2019 RULES

The purpose of Smiletastic is to motivate EVERYONE to run throughout the winter months.  

No one is expected to do any more or less than they would usually do and if following a training plan, should use this for their pledges and only do challenges that fit in with their plans.

 •There are NO points associated with pace or distance – ie.  This is a challenge for ALL abilities and ALL runners at ANY stage of their running career.  

 •There are NO points for winning races or age categories.

 •There ARE points for keeping to your schedule and for doing the long runs you PLAN to do already.

 •There ARE points for running races and/or marshalling races

 •There ARE points for elevation, but as you live in Sheffield…..!

 •There ARE points for doing things with your team and supporting others in your team.

 •There ARE points for getting a PB in a timed run/race (only in March).

 •There ARE points for “Getting into the Smiletastic Spirit” in a variety of ways!

I’ve done it twice, and it is fantastic, but also quite stressful as the challenges build and the tension mounts, so this year I’ve decided to have a year off, and enjoy the experience vicariously.  I think that will lead to less sleepless nights, whilst also enabling me to be motivated to do extra running by proximity to those engaged in the various weekly quests.   What’s more – and this is clearly an unexpected bonus – it will be at times be most educational, even consciousness raising.  Case in point, the individual challenge that kicks off the Smiletastic season is all about Penguin Awareness Day, which fortuitously (and previously unknown to me) falls within the date bands of Smiletastic being marked as it is, on 20th January each year. I know, who knew?

The challenge is/was therefore ‘What can YOU do to be “aware of a penguin” whilst also connecting your awareness to running?… AND keeping it legal please!!’

penguin-awareness-day-fun1

Oh, and it’s probably helpful to mention that this year the teams are reindeers; penguins; walruses and seals.

Clearly, I’m just a by-stander for all of this, but it seems to me that such a challenge is likely to especially hard for seals, who are natural predators of the poor penguins.

Seems to me, it’s quite a big ask for seals to have to start embracing penguins… makes the challenge especially onerous for members of the Smiletastic Seal team.  Just sayin’.

seal penguin hug

Also, I have a dilemma, as I do really like seals – my recent sojourn out to Donna Nook with a fellow smiley is testament to that

– and I like penguins a lot too.  Split loyalties you see… Another factor, and it seems only reasonable to be transparent about this one, is that I do have a certain predisposition in favour of the seals team, since some former dragonflies (my Smiletastic team for 2018) have morphed into seals for 2019.  I’m therefore particularly susceptible to being brought on board by any former dragonfly buddies.  Not gonna be able to lie about that one.  Not saying I’m not open to other offers, I’d never want to disappoint a fellow smiley, just that you have to recognise that some ties are stronger than others.  Ask the Badgers from years back, they are bonded for life, and I think all other smilies respect and admire that.  It’s heart-warming, not exclusive isn’t it.  Friendships are I think, always inspirational when they are genuine.  Well, it’s the same with dragonflies.  One thing Smiletastic does guarantee is that you will meet fellow smilies, share adventures and make new fabulous friends, and you can never have too many of them.  Granted, some of the bonding is through shared humiliation; type two fun and extreme cold, but then again, many of the best adventures in life fall into those over-lapping categories.

So, what’s the point?  The point is dear reader.  Smiletastic has delivered again, motivating people to run, including me, and I’m not even doing it this year, because seal Smiletastic participants put out a call to p… p…. p… pick up a penguin,

and join them on the Thursday Accelerate led woodrun session in Ecclesall Woods. Well who wouldn’t jump at the chance to get on board the fun-train with that offer!  Yes, there’d be an expectation I’d have to do some running, but there would also be PENGUINS.  Actual penguins(ish) what’s not to like?  Besides, I like woodrun, just have completely got out of the habit of going, it would be my first time in ages.  Why not?  What’s the worst…. well you know the rest.

Now, it was really good we had made such a plan the day before, because overnight ‘wintry showers’ meant my car was covered with a sort of snow/hail hybrid and the ground was frozen solid.  Eeek, I am terrified of venturing out in ice.  Aaargh. Fortunately, as my regular reader knows I’m conscientious if not keen and a commitment had been made, plus, although it was bitterly cold, it hadn’t been too wet, so although there were patches of deep ice where there were old pools of water, and ponds were frozen over at the discovery centre in Ecclesall woods, the actual roads weren’t too bad.  Phew.  Hence I ventured out.

I was going to say I ventured out in arctic conditions, but actually, whilst ice is apt for penguins, the arctic reference is not. Penguins don’t live in the arctic – though other cute animals like arctic polar bears, arctic foxes and arctic reindeer do:

Penguins live in the antarctic.  Along with other remarkable creatures including minke wales, wandering albatross and leopard seals.  I know, interesting isn’t it?  Got this from this website on which creatures are where for antarctic and arctic, they are trying to sell us trips, but nice pics and most educational, so fair enough.

We therefore headed out in antarctic conditions, to assemble in a penguiny waddle at Ecclesall woods.  Did you know there are lots of different collective nouns for penguins, depending on where they are and what they are doing?

group of penguins in the water is called a ‘raft’, a group of penguins on land is called a ‘waddle’. Other collective nouns for penguins include rookery, colony, and huddle

We were waddling therefore, though it did feel like running drills at the time.  Strange but true.  It was quite exciting gathering.  There was quite an abundance of penguins on hand to join us, a veritable smorgasbord of options, catering for all penguin personality preferences.  This meant seals and non-smiletastic participants alike were able to buddy up with the one with which they felt the most affinity.

Some penguin partnerships were more ostentatious than others… I went for a more modest sized companion that would fit nicely down the front of my running jacket.   Unfortunately, with the dubious benefit of hindsight, I realise the discrete dimensions of my penguin buddy stuffed down my cleavage just makes it look like I have more ballast than usual up front and you can hardly make out my penguin pal at all, which is a shame, as I thought we really excelled in our subsequent run moves together…

I would say you’ll have to zoom in to spot it, but actually, I’d be quite uncomfortable with the notion that you dear reader are zooming in on my cleavage, so I’d rather you just took my word for it. Thank you.

So we gathered, chortling, and set about the important task of befriending a penguin and working out how best to keep our buddies about our person for the work out ahead.  We then bounded out en masse to Jessica’s corner in the woods.  So named, because one time only, when we were doing some drills there, there was a sighting of Jessica Ennis going for a walk there, and we all played it cool, but totally clocked her.   So the link is a bit tenuous, but the name has totally stuck. To be fair, I think she may have clocked us too, because she’s been sighted more recently since doing hill reps and her running form is exemplary, she must have picked up a few tips from the Accelerate team in the woods that day…

jess ennis hill rep

The penguins attracted a fair bit of attention, I don’t think it was just that those of us sporting them were showing eye-catching and astonishing running techniques. Well, it’s possible I was attracting some attention for my form, but maybe in not quite such a good way.  The penguins joined in most drills with poise and brilliance:

The thing is, sometimes you can learn about running technique by observation too, so they also formed a judging panel to analyse the running technique of each and every member of the woodrun crew for the day, and gave scores accordingly as we delivered repeated high-knee run-bys, which are a bit like fly-bys but with less environmental impact, which is important, as aircraft flights contribute to carbon footprint, a factor in global warming and climate change, which will have a catastrophic impact on penguin habitats indeed is already.  Something to ponder on penguin awareness day dear reader, I’m sure you will agree.

penguins

My penguin was quite overwhelmed by the responsibility, and isn’t sleeping through the woodrun, oh no dear reader, merely suffering temporary collapse through exhaustion.

Climate change isn’t the only thing to imperil penguins just at the moment though.  Oh no.  There was an anxious moment when some boisterous hounds came bounding by, and we feared they might make a grab the seated penguins who were at that moment unattended.  Fortunately, some people do care enough about penguins to proactively protect them, which as this incident demonstrates is much needed.  A seal duly sprang into action and sprinted over to the penguin huddle rookery, and with scant regard for either her own safety or dignity, she put herself bodily on the line, placing herself between the vulnerable penguin colony and the canine jaws and legs acock.  It was quite inspirational.  Brought a tear to the eye.  Also, fair old sprint, so definitely running and penguin awareness brought together with near poetic beauty!  Penguins are cute looking, but they are vulnerable, here was a seal, sacrificing all to show they need our help.  Awesome.  One seal, protecting all those penguins, and not because they were being eyed up as lunch either!

penguin and seal

The thing about supporting causes and standing up for what you believe in, is that not everyone will get it and be on board.  I think it’s only fair to point out that participatns in this endeavour had to endure a certain amount of ridicule from other woodrunners at first.  Only at first, because that’s the point dear reader, despite initial scoffing and inappropriate comments along the lines of ‘I wish I’d known what you were doing I’d have brought a seal along‘ (yes, potentially amusing, but not really helpful or appropriate in this context) our co-woodrunners were by the end won over by the penguin knowledge tenacity and commitment of the penguin peddling runners.  Hurrah!    Such was the conversion, by the end of an hour of running around in the woods, a communal penguin drill was incorporated into the training regime alongside the flamingo feet and bunny hopping displays.  It was a thing of wonder to behold.

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Honestly, I’m not quite sure which part of the running cycle this particular drill most closely correlates too, but I do know that awareness around penguins was truly raised.  The seals’ work was done.  Hurrah!  It was a fitting climax to the challenge and to the woodrun too.

Time then to jog back to woodrun HQ, drink coffee from the Ecclesall Woods coffee place and contemplate the joys in store at the Big Running Weekend coming to a wood near you (if you live in Sheffield and March 22-24 2019 haven’t happened yet) soon, and the fun on the trails ahead with Dig Deep Trail Races secured for September now too.  An embarrassment of running opportunities.  It isn’t just Smiletastic that will get us out and about, or Jasmin Paris who can inspire us at this time of year, it’s the incentive of getting to take part in all these fantastic peak district based running adventures.  How blessed are we.

Mind you, lets have a special moment for Jasmin all the same.  Wikipedia says, correctly:

Paris set a new race record in the 2019 Spine Race along the Pennine Way, finishing the 268 miles (431.3 km) on 16 January in 83 hours 12 minutes and 23 seconds. Becoming the first woman to win the event overall, she surpassed the previous record of 95 hours 17 minutes set by Eoin Keith in 2016 and the previous female record of 109 hours 54 minutes achieved by Carol Morgan in 2017

I mean, it is quite something isn’t it, just in case you are late to the party, or have been sleeping under a rock or something, her innov-8 sponsors Facebook page proclaimed her victory thus:

16 January at 19:22 · Ultra-running history is made!
inov-8 ambassador Jasmin Paris has smashed the 268-mile Montane Spine Race, becoming the first-ever woman to win the race outright and setting a new overall course record. She ran a time of 83hrs 12mins (TBC) to obliterate both the previous mens and women’s course records.

The Spine Race, first run in 2012, sees runners complete the full distance of the Pennine Way in winter conditions, carrying their kit throughout and sleeping only when they chose too. It is dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Brutal’ race.

35-year-old Jasmin, who gave birth to her daughter just 14 months ago, juggles ultra-running with being a first-time parent, working as a small animal vet and is currently completing a thesis!

Jasmin, who is still breastfeeding and understood to have been expressing milk at race checkpoints, was reunited with her daughter at the finish line.

Read more: www.inov-8.com/blog/spine-race-preview-jasmin-paris/

 

Her record breaking achievement has deservedly had coverage from the The Guardian the BBC ‘Nursing mother smashes 268-mile Montane Spine Race record it’s been great to see her achievement get mainstream news coverage.  I was ecstatic she made it onto Women’s Hour even… though there is a bit of me that thinks really she ought to be allowed to have a bit of a lie down and a nap after all that running around.  A wiser woman than me pointed out she’s no chance of getting that with a 14 month old anyway, so she might as well be doing the media rounds… good point, well made.

So she’s really very impressive, but wasn’t running with a penguin though was she?  Wouldn’t have got any Smiletastic penguin power points for that run.  If only she’d thought to pop a penguin bobble hat on her young daughter, that might have helped…

Which just shows, the woodrun penguin take over was indeed inspired.  Far be it for me to try and influence Smiletastic proceedings (heaven portend) but those points seemed pretty decisively earned!  What more could one do to mark the day?

The only way to top this would be maybe to secure a place for the antarctic marathon or half marathon to take place on 17/18 March this year, I think it’s safe to offer up that top tip as honestly, I think it’s now a bit late to enter that, you could have a go at getting on the waiting list I suppose but if it is anything like as popular as this year’s Round Sheffield Run I don’t reckon your chances.  That’s a shame because that would indeed (according to the event website) .face-to-face with Antarctic gems such as glaciers, icebergs, penguins, seals and whales.‘   Ooh, actually, looks like it even has penguins to marshal the event, and there’s a photo of me doing it, I must have forgotten.  One white out run merges very much into another after a bit, but that number most definitely has my name in it.  Hang on though, I forgot, I’m not doing Smiletastic this year, only penguin awareness running by association.  …

In fact, the event is sold out til 2021, so not really a goer, although I suppose were you to enter for 2021 and provide proof of entry that might get you an ‘in the spirit’ point.  Blimey, you need not so much the wisdom of Solomon as the wisdom of Smiley Elder to work out how to allocate points for these quests!

Penguins are having a tough time, along with many of the other creatures with which we share a fragile planet.  There is the occasional timely bit of good news though, check this story out! Police pick up penguins 

saved penguins

Two penguins have been found by police officers two months after they were stolen.

The pair of Humboldt penguins were taken in November last year from a zoo in Nottinghamshire.

It’s nice to get some good news, but let’s face it, that’s a rarity these days.  The point is, running and penguin awareness raising are both mightily important.  It’s a race against time to protect them all.  Will they make it to the finish?

racebanner-hmwrbczh-bxvitn

So dear reader, it just remains to wish you all Happy Penguins Awareness day!  Make it a good one.  Plan your celebrations for 20th January, for whatever year it comes round for you next, right now!

pens-day-1

For all my Smiletastic posts see here, or don’t it’s up to you, but you’ll need to scroll down for older entries.

Just remember dear reader, do what you need to do come 20th January, the penguins will thank you.

penguin_1f427

 

Categories: motivation, running, running clubs, teamwork | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

G-plan perfection, Gallumphing and Galloping at Glorious Glossop parkrun

Digested read: parkrun tourism took me to Glossop parkrun.  The locals were lovely, the park fine.  I’ve bagsied my final ‘G’ for the Stayin’ Alive challenge.  My work is done. Look, taken a while though:

stayin alive parkruns

Unabridged version: (you may need a cup of tea, or some other sustenance of your choosing if you venture to read on)

I’ve been caught out before, being slow on the uptake.  Many, many times to be fair.  It’s not even a surprise anymore, but on the plus side, I get to endure personal mortification so  you don’t have to, and hilarity postponed ’til the penny drops later on is still hilarious, and we all need more laughter in our lives surely?  Unless it’s the manic laughter that is unending torment, we don’t want too much of that, reminds me of laughing clowns at seaside piers (do they even still exist) they are terrifying.  Oh my god they are, at Blackpool at least.  Shudder.

I was thinking more of the time when Plusnet finally sorted out my internet connection following  a house move (took 5 months, don’t ask) and I said, completely innocently and relieved (not like that) ‘I do like a happy ending!’ and he gave a filthy prolonged chortle, causing me to google later and then facepalm in mortified realisation.  It’s so hard being me.  I have laid my own traps though, on finding someone landed on my blog using the search term ‘dogging in Endcliffe park’, my they must have found my parkrun posts disappointing in the extreme. I did a post especially for them, entitled – imaginatively I think – Dogging in Endcliffe Park.  It didn’t get quite the enthusiastic response I was fondly imagining, but it pleased me, that’s the main thing.  So today, I did contemplate doing a post all about finding the perfect G spot, but I have bottled it come to my senses.  I was minded of a brief initiative way back in the day when I was working in adult careers guidance in the community, and the company briefly toyed with the notion of having posters encouraging locals to ‘find their G(uidance) spot, but after much inward chortling, this was mercifully ditched.  Anyways, the upshot is that instead, this post is all about perfecting my G Plan, and why not?  Why not indeed.

Oh, you don’t know what I’m talking about?  Well parkrun obvs, in general but also Running Challenges in particular. Have you come across the chrome extension thingamajig yet.  It shouldn’t matter but it’s addictive and genius.  Basically you get badges (not even real ones, but virtual ones) that appear on your parkrun profile as you accomplish certain things e.g. running on Christmas Day you get a Christmas Tree, do marshalling roles, you get the relevant hi-vis vest.  Yes, it’s childish to go for running challenges badges, but guilty as charged.  This chrome extension toy has been a parkrun game changer.  Before I downloaded it a few weeks back I didn’t even know the Stayin’ Alive challenge was a thing, but once I did, well, it was only a matter of time before I went in search of the final missing letter ‘G’ to complete my quest for this beauty:

runner-stayin-alive

There is a particular irony that the Stayin’ Alive challenge – to run three Bees and three Gees (see what they’ve done there) actually is missing a G itself as expressed.  However, this was apt, as at the moment of discovery I found I’d inadvertently already got Three Bees and two Gees and what’s more, a G was within reach, at Glossop parkrun, not too far from Sheffield, albeit we are separated by the to me rather scary prospect of navigating the Snake Pass.

I could do this, next weather window, I’d be off, I’d take on that Snake Pass, others have scarier routes to work.  If these Chinese children can climb down 800m of wooden ladders to get to school, I can drive on a windy road.

climb down to school

After another night of chronic insomnia, as I was awake at 4.00 anyway and there was no ice forecast or visible, today was the day – all being well – I’d nail the Bee Gee triple.  Yay, go me!  Anyone would aspire to claiming a bit of this:

I may look like I dressed in the dark, with my pinkish top, yellow cow buff and luminous orange TpoT (thank you kind parkrunners of Tralee) beanie, but I like to think that such colour choices were by way of homage to the Bee Gees costumiers.

Also, point of information,  I did get dressed in the dark.  Fortunately, my orange buff, which makes me one of but a few honorary Tralee parkrunners on Tour, was easy to pick out.  It’s practically its own light source.   Probably radioactive.  Does anyone else remember playing with that radioactive slime back in the seventies, it was amazing!  That and picking at asbestos mats with a compass during chemistry lessons, and watching the little glass like fragments glitter in the dull light of a classroom before we inhaled them. …  Amazing any of us survived to adult hood really, miraculous indeed.

Where was I? Oh yes, I love Tralee parkrunners, if it wasn’t for them, I’d never have gone to Berlin Hasenheide parkrun for one thing, but more importantly, I’d never have met such a cheery, pathologically friendly collective of awesome parkrunners. They aren’t just great ambassadors for Tralee, Ireland, parkrunners etc but for humankind itself.  I love you guys!  The buff was an unexpected new year gift.  Today was its first outing.  How very apt!

tpot classic shot

So, up early, out the door in the dark and off along the Snake Pass.  Although it wasn’t icy, that is still a scary road. The Stayin’ Alive challenge kicked off earlier than I’d have liked, with an aggressive driver tailgating me with lights on full beam for what seemed like miles, why it couldn’t/ wouldn’t just overtake I don’t know, then when it did, it sat on the arse of another poor driver, just ahead of me, equally stuck and exasperatingly flashing its lights, I kept expecting to see them both go flying into a ditch.  It was horrible.  I know the speed limit is 50 mph, but that isn’t a requirement, just a limit, and with bends, and dark, and standing water and fog up top I wasn’t going to be bullied into losing control up there.  It did put me off doing the drive again any time soon though.  Fortunately, (some would say) dear reader, I made it. Hurrah!

I followed the satnav which took me alongside Manor Park, on Manor Park Rd, in Glossop, Derbyshire, SK13 7SH.  Unfortunately, there was no access to the park from here, and I was thrown into temporary confusion as I cruised on by, I turned around further up the road and slowly drove past to find this helpful sign, and also was encouraged by the unmistakable sign of parkrun paraphernalia beyond the iron gateway. Phew.

I crawled back onto the A57, covered the required 200 metres until you get to a mini roundabout, and to be fair, there is a sign there for parking, but it wasn’t immediately obvious.  I was glad I’d allowed some extra time to get there.  There seemed to be a fair bit of parking, and it was free.  I get the impression that locals walk, bike or jog to this park, and it seemed to be mainly tourists using their cars.  I shared a quick hello with one, and we shared mutual confusion about location of loos, she headed off to recce that, whilst I went to photograph the mini roundabout and signage, in case you dear reader don’t know what those things are.  I also attempted a selfie, but I think my camera is dying, it protested.  Shame, but I promised my Tralee parkrunner comrades a TpoT hat-wearing selfie, and I shall honour that promise, blurred if need be:

One advantage of having followed the satnav earlier, albeit erroneously, is that it gave me some idea where to head to join the start.  Also, early course set up volunteers had laid out some directional arrows already, so that was fine and dandy.  The park is small it seems, but perfectly formed, and full of interest with twisty turny bits, formal gardeny bits, water flowing bits, hilly bits and even muddy bits. Proper tree root muddy, as well as the expected tarmac paths.  I took some pics of the empty course in case I was moving too fast and furiously to do so later.  It looked really promising, much nicer than I’d imagined when I’d read it was to be a three lapper late last night.  I’m on record as not really liking multi-lap courses, but this had too much potential interest what with uppy down bits as well, to incur tedium.  Even actual mud.  I would be right at home.  Hurrah!  Glad I got my trail shoes though.  My innov8 are my go to shoes, but I should probably conserve them a bit as they won’t last for ever if I keep using them on roads.  Oh well, a worry for another day, today they were just fine and dandy thanks for asking.

So, I made the location for the start, and was reunited with my fellow tourist, who directed me to the loos and then went off on a warm up lap. I wonder if I’ll spontaneously do that one day?  The loos were great, part of a lovely building that I think is also the club house for what looks like a fine bowling green.  No queues, toilet paper, and a hand washing machine that lets you choose when you want the liquid soap, water or hot air so you don’t stand around gormlessly out of synch waiting for it to finish and restart a cycle like the ones at Graves Park.  Such a relief, in every sense, when you are able to execute a precautionary pee without scouting out the undergrowth and risking bringing your running club or worse yet, parkrun itself, into disrepute.  Oh, and I really liked the toilet floor.  Is that weird?  Something about the layers of colours, it was like contemporary art, plus, they were absolutely spotless, so whoever maintains them, I salute you!

So then there was the obligatory milling and chilling and slightly self-conscious hanging arounding.  The cow cowls (yellow buffs) are handy for labelling people you can approach to talk to, though most parkrunners will oblige with chit-chat in my experience, unless they already know me of course, then they may avoid eye contact and run, run I tell you, whilst they still can. That’s just with me though, don’t be deterred.

In amongst the mob though, I made a sighting.  A Sheffielder, also on tour, and a fellow Graves park junior regular on the volunteering roster.  He was calling in on Glossop en route to some sporting fixture or other.  I explained (badly and ineffectually) about the chrome extension thing and the lure of completing the Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive challenge.  I fear that I lost credibility entirely but then failing to list which were the other Bees and Gees I’d already done.  I listed the Gees ok (Gedling and Graves) but was stumped with the Bees, remembering only eventually, Brierly forest parkrun, then  Barnsley parkrunBarnsley, which was lovely to be fair, but how could I forget my many jaunts to  Bushy parkrun!  Bushy parkrun – parkrun mecca itself, and yet it entirely slipped my mind. Oops.  I do worry about my capacity to remember things. Obviously I can remember all the mortifying and cripplingly embarrassing things that have happened to me over the previous half century (and a bit) of life lived to date, but important stuff, like parkrun venues and why I went into a particular room escape me.  It’s a mystery.  How I manage to live independently I have no idea.

I strongly suspect he was trying to travel incognito, as he seemed to have swapped his usual glorious technicolor outfits for a more subtle green number.  I outed him though.  It was nice to see a friendly face.  Of course we took photos of each other, what else would you expect us to have done?  I’m now wondering if I did the right thing, outing him as being at Glossop on social media, despite him travelling in disguise, but then again, surely anyone would agree he was guilty of some contributory negligence what with coming over voluntarily to say hello…

Oh, and here he is in his more usual running attire –

– you can see how I nearly missed him.  Or maybe he just likes to accessorize depending on his location. There are definitely reds in the dog agility course behind him in picture one, and khaki dark bushes in the background of picture two.  Hmm, a certain sartorial elegance in both though, and that is the main thing, the main thing after don’tforgetyourbarcode #dfyb

I took some more pictures, well just because.  Nice displacement activity, and more acceptable than lying on your back and following feline etiquette licking yourself.  Just trust me on that one, don’t test it out for yourself.  I did however remove my fleece, it was relatively mild, I’m sorry to say I ditched the TpoT hat for the run too, I hope the lovely Tralee folk will understand.  I’d got a bag and asked about the informal bag drop.  There seemed to be a table where bags had gathered. Turns out – and this is an innovation I’ve not seen since Christmas Day parkrun at Concord a couple of years back  – it seems you leave stuff here, outside the loo block, and it magically relocates to near the finish by some sort of teleporting (I like to think) or possibly by a weary volunteer heroically lugging it. This service may not be sustainable if numbers grow, but was a boon today. Thank you pack-horse volunteer whoever you were, you are an absolute star!

Look at all the lovely people beginning to gather.  Lifts the heart.

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There was a cheery run briefing, usual shout outs for milestones and requests for tourists to identify themselves.  Some from Sheffield and further afield had already identified themselves, so I just shuffled awkwardly.  I’m unsure of tourist etiquette, I feel acknowledgements should go to those further afield, also, I’d probably already drawn far too much attention to myself with all that brazen blurred photographing.  The shout for ‘off’ caught me by surprise, especially as by placing myself towards the front of the run director’s briefing, I’d inadvertently also placed myself near the front of the start line up.  Mahoosive oops.  I sprinted off as best I could and then breathlessly leapt aside to let faster runners stream by and to take some action shots, because I could, sort of. They aren’t in the league of proper parkrun photographers (you all know who you are) but show willing eh?

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Hang on, probably as well to give you the official course blah de blah before going on any further with my own idiosyncratic description.  According to the Glossop parkrun official website page the course is described thus:

Course Description

This is a three lap course, starting from next to the tennis courts near the Manor Park Road entrance. The route heads north along the main path through the park, and over the stream, where the path turns left, and climbs on a relatively rough path, before descending towards the duck pond. The route then circles round the duck pond anti-clockwise, and then crosses over the bridge to enter the walled garden, taking a clockwise route round the walled garden, and exits back to the main field, turns right alongside the mini-railway track and the bowling greens, and down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, the route turns left off the path to enter the wooded area, and climbs the hill on the off-road trail, and then re-joins the path, and returns to the start point. After the third lap, the course will continue to finish on the left hand side of the main path
Due to the uneven nature of some of the sections of the route, the course is unfortunately unsuitable for buggies or wheelchairs.

and the course map looks like this:

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and you know what?  It’s really nice.  It’s like a proper park, manicured bits, and woody bits and full of interest.  It’s not an especially crowded run, though inevitably with three laps there is an even greater likelihood of getting lapped if you are slower like me or having to lap others if you are fast like, well like whoever the fast runners are.  They are usually running too fast for me to recognise them.  However, it was good-natured, and although the loopy-loop nature of the course made it a bit unclear whether you should keep left or right, I just tucked myself in under the undergrowth when I heard the familiar thud of faster feet closing on  me. This happens to me a lot, so my ear is finely tuned to pick up on such sonic clues.

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There were the obligatory super-friendly marshals on hand to point and clap and offer encouragement. Thanks to all of you, you were without exception glorious and gorgeous to behold, sorry my camera lens does not do you all the justice you deserve…

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Even though it’s a three lapper, there was so much of interest all around, it didn’t feel like a repetitive course.  I really liked it.  Plus, I enjoyed getting glimpses of faster runners whizzing on ahead, I tried for some atmospheric shots… I know, but it’s the thought that counts.

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I also pulled over to let faster runners pass, just as my very own undercover comrade was whizzing past, just shows, he can run, but he can’t hide.  Ha!

dscf6746

First couple of laps I was a bit stop start, as those photos wouldn’t take themselves, and it’s a fun way to take your time on a parkrun, remove the pressure and frankly, commit to memory parkruns that otherwise are in danger of morphing together over time. Sad, sacrilegious to say even, but alas true.  Some fine sights though, look:

Other runners were good value of course.  Loved the flashing arm bands sported by one runner.  Then there was the mother and son who leapfrogged me from time to time en route.  She commented to me her son would have been much faster if he was old enough to run unimpeded unaccompanied by her.  But he said, and this was just lurverly, and quite a fine exemplar of parkrun spirit ‘that’s ok I really don’t mind‘.  Isn’t that just great, so impressive.

For the final lap, I had more chatty times, getting the low down of the route from two locals who run each week and the very fine Buster who was apparently having a more leisurely run than usual.  This parkrun scored very highly for friendly interactions along the way.  I normally don’t ever talk and run, largely because I can’t, but it was really ok here, encouraging even.  Also, one runner stopped to give way to me at one point, confusing me with a faster runner, so that was good, if misguided. To be fair I think the runner in question had overdone it so was seeing everything in a blur at the time, but nice to think I can be taken for a faster runner from time to time, even if only in error.  No such luck passing the finish funnel though, nobody called me across thinking I’d already done three laps on the first or second passing, which is especially odd as I most definitely looked finished by the end of lap two..

Eventually, run done, did a join sprint finish with one of my new best friends, until he held back to let me cross the line first.  Barcode scanned in record time, job done.  Stayin’ Alive virtual badge added to my profile.  Rich parkrun spoils indeed.  Plus, it was all most companionable.  Time for a few shots of my running compatriots various and to cheer the final runners in:

And then gazed in admiration at the parkrun hi-vis heroes as they cleared up, including, folding up the little bag cave that shelters parkrunners belongings at the finish line.  Yes, my bag had teleported there as if by magic.  Excellent service throughout at this parkrun, nice attention to detail too.  There were even biscuits on offer at the finish line, though I declined.  I won’t say I wasn’t tempted, but don’t want to get into that habit.  Thanks though, sustenance offers always greatly appreciated.

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So thank you friendly Glossop parkrun people in general and hi-vis heroes in particular.  Such a warm welcome and interactive parkrunners.  It was great.  I hope to come back someday soon.

All the volunteers at parkruns everywhere are amazing, mind you, gotta hand it to this family though, literally as well as metaphorically demonstrating that many hands make light work.  Meet the Hand family of Australia (I daresay other hand families are available, but not on hand right here right now) who today, took on all 14 of the volunteering roles at their Nepean River parkrun back on 22 December 2018  How amazing is that?

many hands make light work australia parkrun nepean river

That’s right, pretty goddarned amazing that’s how!  Check out their Hand parkrun story here.   They look like they could dole out a mean high-five sequence do, with height gradings and everything.  Respect.

Milling and chilling at the end, I met some other parkrun tourists.  The cow cowl is good like that.  I possibly wouldn’t have got chatting otherwise, so  shout out to Heaton parkrunners, hopefully see you on your home patch soon. But thanks for the recommendations for Lyme and the tip-off re Watergrove parkrun, Rochdale – which apparently is almost like a fell run, sounds fab!  On my to do list most definitely now.  Just been stalking their Facebook page, the pictures look amazing.  Here are the posed shots, and what a lovely trio we are indeed.  Good luck with your 50th different destination run.  That’s quite something.  We are weirdly colour coordinated too.  What are the chances eh, what are the chances?  With and without TpoT hat, just because.

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parkrun tourism is fab!  So many places still to go, people to see, parkrunners to meet.  This northernmost parkrun in the UK has some serious appeal though… one day I’ll get to Bressay parkrun, surely a parkrun involving a ferry crossing is almost a triathlon!

bressay parkrun

For now though, time to pack up and go home.  Shame the miniature railway wasn’t operational, that would have been a neat finish.

And that was that, back home via the Snake Pass, which was breathtaking with its views and really made me want to get back out and running on the trails again.  It’s been too long, and it is blooming lovely in them there hills, and they aren’t going to run themselves now are they?

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and just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, or more glorious in its parkrun loveliness, whilst I was running(ish) at Glossop, my mum was getting 90th birthday high-fives and selfie shots with members of my lovely Smiley Paces running club, some of whom are currently on tour London Way and taking in Bushy parkrun along the way.  #loveparkrun #lovesmileypaces 🙂

For all my parkrun related posts click here.  Or don’t.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.  Bit of a time vampire, if you do, you might be stuck on the sofa for a while, ‘just researching options’.  Hmm.

Happy running in general and parkrunning in particular until next time.

🙂

 

 

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

Sheffield Hallam parkrun 421, the Run Report that never was.

Digested read:  one of my intended projects for 2019 was to have a stab at producing a run report.  I have been gifted an amazing excel pivot widget thingamajig courtesy of the fine folk of Graves parkrun in general and Stephen Gilmer in particular.  Who knew what sorcery could be executed with parkrun results stats thanks to such a tool.  I never thought I’d spontaneously bow down in worship at the potential of a spreadsheet, but really, up til now I’ve never lived, Excel wise.  Now, well life feels different somehow.  A whole new world of possibilities. Smiley Elder, I finally understand!

So I’ve had a stab at a run report, but it’s not made the cut for the official parkrun page, however, as it’s done now, here it is anyway.  A one off special. A rogue run report.  Not so much rebel runner, as rebel reporter.  Go me.  Perhaps it is no co-incidence my finish position was 666 today, the devil in me will out!  You can embrace your inner anarchist by reading on if you dare.  Also, on the plus side, I can put in extra photos now, and indulge my own idiosyncrasies with abandon so every cloud has a silver lining as the saying goes, or is it every silver lining has its cloud?  Oh I forget.

clouds-2

Dear reader, I give you the run report that never was: Sheffield Hallam parkrun # 421 – 05/01/2019

Unabridged version:

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to Sheffield Hallam’s first parkrun of 2019.  It’s a new year, it’s a new dawn but it’s the same glorious parkfun at parkrun.

On a crisp and distinctly nippy morning, 711 parkrunners took to the park to run, walk, jog the 5k parkrun course at Sheffield Hallam’s 421st event.  Thanks to awesome volunteers, the event ran smoothly, inasmuch as nobody fell in the lake (as far as this run report writer is aware) nobody got lost and everybody had fun. Yay!

A special mention to our very own Finlay for his fabulous vocal power in gathering together the first timers for their briefing, which was actually delivered courtesy of Bernie, no artificial aids to voice projection were required there.  We salute you!

the voice finlay

Sandi was in fine form as the first Run Director to kick off the new year, and reminded runners of the few rules we all need to adhere to, to ensure the continuing of this parkrun.  We are a large and mainly cheery crowd, but it is important to avoid problems by following the parkrun code.

parkrun code

Also, Endcliffe park specific rules, keep right within the park, and left on Rustlings road. No running in the road or you will not receive a result, more importantly you might get run over, and jeopardise the future of the event by causing it to be cancelled, and where would be the fun in that?

Here’s a few parkrun resolutions for 2019 borrowed from our friends at Graves:

  1. We shall give way and be nice to other park users (no effing and blinding!)
  2. We will not run on the road under any circumstances
  3. We shall only bring one dog and it will be on a short lead
  4. We will remember our barcodes throughout 2019 – not mentioning anyone’s names…
  5. We will not funnel duck
  6. We will not knick tokens
  7. And lastly you WILL give volunteering a go in 2019 especially if you haven’t done it before!

By the way, re point 3, we are more relaxed at Hallam, you don’t absolutely have to bring a dog with you, parkrunners are allowed to participate without a canine companion.  One looks fun though:

However, re other rule breakers, the volunteer team now have a spade as part of their kit to help dig a hole to dispose of the bodies of miscreants.  I’m pretty sure it’s getting to be standard practice now, by which I mean it’s required kit,  along with a defibrillator for new parkrun set ups.

resized spade

Thanks to those of you who managed to contain yourselves enough to keep quiet during the run briefing, it is appreciated.  It is no mean feat to address 700+ runners, so even if you have heard it all before, please respect other participants and the RD by holding fire on your chit chat for those few minutes.  You may think you are whispering, but trust me you have a booming voice and besides, think how much more interesting your anecdote will be if the hearer has to wait another three minutes to hear its conclusion. The escalating frisson of excitement at delayed gratification will be its own reward!

Thanks to the volunteers

We are very grateful to the volunteers who made this event happen:

Tonia ADAM, Alex ADAM, Anurag AGARWAL, Anuvrat AGARWAL, Ananya AGARWAL, Mohammed AHMED, Lucas BILLINGTON, Ann BREWSTER, Sandi CARMAN, George CARMAN, Rebecca CARMAN, Finlay COOPER, Dave DARWENT, Will DAY, Cecilia DE NARDO, Nicole DONALDSON, Bronwen DOYLE, Fran GRACE, Bernie HARDING, Judy JOHNSON, Paul JOHNSON, Anna KNOWLES, Pamela LEON, George LLOYD-HUGHES, Fran MARSHALL, Annie Anthony MAYS, Jacob MCKEVITT FLACK, Oscar MCKEVITT FLACK, Conor O’BOYLE, Marianne PUMMELL, John RAFFERTY, John ROBERTS, Andy SHEPPARD, Derek SIMPSON, John TOYNE, Chris WALLBRIDGE

Thanks to all the volunteers, especially those who week in, week out, show up, smile and make this event the success it is.  This is not only the most desirable of clubs to join, but it’s an inclusive one too, so don’t be daunted, if you want to join the team of hi-vis heroes, you’ll be more than welcome.  Just send an email to SheffieldHallamhelpers@parkrun.com . You can also opt in to receive regular emails to let you know all about volunteering opportunities.   Simply open a recent parkrun newsletter, results email or volunteer email, click on ‘manage my profile’, then ’email options’, then select the events you’d like to hear from and click ‘save opt-in events list’.   Easy.  You might even get to brandish your own clip board one day!  I know, the sniff of power can make some quite giddy!  Exciting isn’t it. If you can handle a clipboard at parkrun, you can take on the world.

clipboard custody

A few fun stats to get you in the mood.

With special thanks to Graves parkrun in general and Stephen Gilmer in particular for sharing the necessary excel wizardry to make such stats accessible.  The power of the pivot table was previously unknown to me but now?  So much fun!

For example:

Did you know that today we welcomed an amazing 86 people doing their first EVER parkrun!  Welcome to the world of parkrun, hope to see you all back soon.  I hope you all not only enjoyed your parkrun, but took part in the post parkrun tradition of coffee and cake or even brunch with friends old and new.  So a shout out to:

Adam LI Aidan HARRIS Alex HUGGAN
Alistair FLOOD Amy STREET Andrew John MILNES
Andy FREEMAN Andy SCATTERGOOD Ben HOLDEN
Calvin FEAKES Cariad WRIGHT Charlotte GRACE
Christine BAYCROFT Christine GLEW Daniel LONGLEY
Dave LUCK David SIMS Dean WHITTINGSLOW
Diarmuid CREHAN Eleanor HUGGAN Eliah WARD
Emma CHARLES Erin MERCER Esther GRAY
Esther SAMSON Ethan DENNIS Eve RAFFERTY
Faye GOODWORTH Francesca EASTMENT Georgina ROWSE
Graham ORD Hannah KIPPEN Hannah PATON
Heidi REDMOND Helen GRIFFITHS Helen JONES
Jack CHAMBERS Jack LONGLEY Jack OLDFIELD
James WALLACE Jennifer DRAKE Jenny SAWYER
Jeremy TAYLOR Jessica MOHAN Jill SCRIVENS
Joe GAUGHAN John BOREMAN Julian GOSLIGA
Julie SIMS Kate COLLINGWOOD Kate MAHONEY
Kate SALINSKY Laurie NICHOLAS Liz EADE
Louise HEATON Louise LUCK Mark LONGLEY
Matt ADAMS Megan CREHAN Mikey CHARLES
Nadia LAMBERT Nathan TIMMIS Oliver FEAKES
Oliver WOODCOCK Peter MARSHALL Polly NATYNCZUK
Rachel RIPLEY Richard HIBBERT Ruby CLARKE
Ruby JANDU Ruth FEAKES Salil DEENA
Sandy SMITH Sean DAVIES Seren ORD
Shengpeng LI Sophia PARKER Sophie HAYCOCK
Tammy HAGUE Theo FAIRBROTHER Thomas HOWARTH
Tim DENNIS Timothy LATHAM Tony LYELL
Vicky STOREY William FEAKES

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, can we also extend a welcome to the 37 runners who visited Sheffield Hallam parkrun for the first time.  Hope you enjoyed your run and the delights of Endcliffe park.  Did you manage to spot the heron on the way round?  Sometimes you’ll even see a kingfisher if you are lucky, we don’t just have ducks on the ponds here.  Thanks for gracing us with your presence.  Special shout out to the NewZealand visitors, didn’t catch your names, but thanks for coming:

Amy STREET Andrew John MILNES Andy FREEMAN
Calvin FEAKES Charlotte GRACE Christine BAYCROFT
Dave LUCK David SIMS Esther GRAY
Ethan DENNIS Eve RAFFERTY Faye GOODWORTH
Georgina ROWSE Heidi REDMOND Jennifer DRAKE
Jenny SAWYER Jessica MOHAN Jill SCRIVENS
Julian GOSLIGA Julie SIMS Kate COLLINGWOOD
Kate MAHONEY Laurie NICHOLAS Liz EADE
Louise HEATON Louise LUCK Matt ADAMS
Nadia LAMBERT Oliver FEAKES Oliver WOODCOCK
Rachel RIPLEY Ruby CLARKE Ruth FEAKES
Tammy HAGUE Tim DENNIS Tony LYELL
William FEAKES

Everyone who took part was magnificent however, here are some, captured (metaphorically not literally) by our near ever-present photographer genius George Carman.  We thank you.

The photos give many insights as to what goes on at parkrun.  This is the secret of barefoot running – stay airborne!  Impressive indeed, by any standard.

bare foot runner

Some runners even abandoned any pretence of not seeing the event photographer and gave cheery greetings, demonstrating impressive multi-tasking with running and arm waving and even the odd distorted grimace broad smiles of acknowledgement and appreciation as they sped on by.

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It is a run not a race, but in case you are interested, the first, second and third finishers were:

Women:

1 Sarah BURRELL
2 Celia NAYLOR
3 Tammy HAGUE

And men:

1 Thomas Denwood HARRISON
2 David MILLNS
3 Steve CANNING

But let’s have some shout outs for random reasons that please me.  Specifically, on this Sheffield Hallam’s 421st event, the 421st finisher was Colette White.  In 75th position was Mark Ansell. This year is the 75th anniversary of the crash of the B-17 Flying Fortress, known as Mi Amigo, which crashed at Endcliffe Park, Sheffield, in 1944.  Ten were killed, and they are memorialised by the monument behind the EPIC café which has been tended by eye witness Tony Foulds for decades since, he saw the pilot ‘waving’ as the plane came down.  You’ll see him out there several times a week, keeping the spot tended and clean.  Say hello if you do.  Here are some of this morning’s parkrunners, including two actual American visitors with Tony himself at the memorial.

In homage to Tony, a shout out to all the other Tonys at Hallam today: Tony HALL, Tony LYELL and Tony WILLIAMS

You can see Tony’s original story here:

There was also a Jessica Olympian sighting in the park today, so can we have a cheer for her namesake too:  Jessica MOHAN

Bravo to this week’s milestone runners:

Caroline HOPE 50, Candi LAWSON 50 and Yousef EZAYDI 100.

Congratulations all.  We’ll look forward to see you sporting your milestone t-shirts in due course!

Superwomen

Whilst all parkrunners are intrinsically awesome, FACT, can we have a collective gasp of admiration for the two parkrunners who exceeded 80% in the good for age rankings.  For those of you now blinking cluelessly at your screens, all parkrun events use age grading to allow athletes to compare results.  Age grading takes your time and uses the world record time for your sex and age to produce a score (a percentage). This score allows you to compare your personal performance against other people’s performances even though they might be a different age and a different sex to you – the higher the score the better the performance.

Not everyone is seeking to achieve ever higher age gradings, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the following percentages.  Wow!

Dot KESTERTON with an astonishing 93.51 %, and the ever smiling Kate SCOTT with 80.21 %.  To put this in context, at Cardiff parkrun today Charlotte ARTER broke the women’s parkrun world record with a finish in 15:50 for the age category SW25-29 and her age grading was ‘only’ 93.47 %.  Go Dot! Dot was faster than the speed of light, so initially I thought she’d not been captured on film today, but it seems Mr Carman’s shutter fingers were even faster.  Here are each en route, storming it:

Thank you both for giving us all something to chase!

So well done everyone for turning out – what a great start to the year.  Here’s to a great year of parkrun fun for all in 2019.

I think we all deserve a round of applause for being awesome!  Here it is.

clapping conclusion

Rebel Run Report Writer Lucy Marris A448776

 

Also, self indulgent Smiley Paces wowzers moment:

WOWZERS! Three … yes THREE parkrun category records bagged today by the Smileys or friends of …. Hallam; Dot Kesterton 65-69 in a time of 22.21 age grading of 93.51% (😲!), Concord; Nicola Rafferty 55-59 in a time of 22.14 age grading of 81.41% and the legendary Kate Morris at Rother Valley; 50-54 19.32 age grading 89.16% which is also an all time parkrun PB! UP THE OLD BIRDS !!!

Gotta love parkrun!

Til next time

🙂

For all my parkrun related posts click here.  Or don’t.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though. 🙂

 

Categories: parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Extra, Extra, bonus parkrun day times two! NYDD Poolsbrook parkrun 2019

Digested read:  Extra extra parkrun day, went to Poolsbrook parkrun for parkfun two.  The sun shone and all now right with the world. Hurrah!

Unabridged read:

Loads of us there, no really, absolutely loads!  Thanks Kevin Bird for sharing this picture on the Poolsbrook parkrun Facebook page.  Epic!   And that’s not even everyone, not by a long shot, more trailing to left and right of this shot you know, you should have been there.  Perhaps you even were?

kb still they come

Honestly, I was in a bit of a New Year’s Day grump en route to Poolsbrook this morning.  Two reasons.  First reason, two unaccompanied children at the first run of the day at Graves parkrun, looking increasingly worried about not knowing where their parent/ designated adult was meant I had to ditch my run and walk with them for a while – as did at least another half a dozen other concerned runners at various points, they were only about 6 for goodness sake. I was not impressed, particularly as when their parent was finally identified he shouted at me for apparently ‘not understanding‘ instead of maybe saying ‘thanks for giving up your run to make sure my small children were safe.’  They may have been all smiles once reunited with their parents but there were quivering lower lips and clearly upset on the way round.  A particular shame to have a bad experience as Graves parkrun is in many ways my favourite venue. Fab volunteers, friendly fellow parkrunners and I love the new course too, was expecting a feel good high after starting the new year there   …  Anyway, it meant I was even slower than usual finishing, discombobulated, wearing my grumpy knickers and wondering if it was even worth trying to get to Poolsbrook at this stage as I might now be too late and miss the start there.  Fortunately, I decided even if I did arrive too late, I could still plod round for a ‘freedom run’.  Had to be worth a try.  My other, possibly even greater concern, was that I had lost a banana in my car.  This dear reader has far more potentially catastrophic consequences.  I’d had the foresight to chuck it in to provide mid-run carbs to keep me going sans breakfast for run two of the morning.  Whilst it seems I can run (slowly) just fine without extra sustenance, the thought of having a slowly rotting banana lurking somewhere in my car is a cause for real concern.  I might not be able to find it now, but one warm day – and the interior of cars can heat up pretty darned quick – and that banana will become not only easy to locate but no doubt leave a lingering memory for many moons to come.  Curses.  Maybe I should have stayed in bed after all.

Chuntering away to myself I headed over to Staveley.  Not chundering, I had a most abstemious new year FYI, not a drink passed my lips.  Oh, maybe a gin and tonic early on, but that was it. What did I do instead?  Well, actually, and atypically, an early evening panto trip, well, I couldn’t let my American visitors come to the UK at panto time and not inflict introduce them to this uniquely British bizarre theatre tradition.  I did forewarn them about the Dame and the audience participation ‘Oh yes I did!’ but forgot to mention the casual extreme racial stereotyping and absence of plot.  Ooops.  Apart from the former, oh, and the ritual traumatising of children on stage – which I had to explain was another British institution (telling a four-year old she should have made more of an effort with her outfit for starters did cause me to simultaneously put my head in my hands and laugh out loud) – the Manor Operatic Panto was pretty goddarned impressive.  A flying carpet scene was the best ever, and that’s without making allowances for this being an amateur show.

manor operatic 2018 panto aladdin

Still, don’t bother me with all these questions about New Year’s Eve and panto!  You are distracting me. Where was I?  Oh yes, grumpily en route to Poolsbrook Country Park.  Praise be for sat nav, this got me there safely, by what route I could not now tell.  It was indeed tight, but as I pulled into sight of the venue there was a queue of cars waiting to come in, and an efficient and good-natured volunteer on car direction duty, warning us that the car park was full, and even the adjacent industrial estates so to the verges it was.

I don’t honestly know if they delayed the start or not, possibly by a bit, but it was extremely well-managed, particularly given the unprecedented numbers.  I gather even the tail walker from Graves parkrun made it in time, so that’s a well oiled machine indeed, on both counts.  Kudos to the tail walker, and kudos to the Poolsbrook heroes.  The volunteer team here were completely amazing.  All smiles and cheerful waving even though some of them had less glamorous hi-vis roles being relegated to far-flung corners of the park to manage the cars descending on the venue with the intensity of space debris being sucked into a black hole.  Though I maintain from personal experience that directing traffic is still preferable to being dog poo bin monitor at Sheffield Hallam parkrun – well, that’s in my humble opinion anyway.

Here are some from their Facebook team photo. Aren’t they a delight to behold?  One other thing they did here at Poolsbrook which was quite marvellous, was put up a placard which had a photo of many of the volunteers who’ve turned out to support the event over the previous year, along with a selection of runners.  Don’t know what criteria was used to make the final cut as all parkrunners are awesome, fact.  Look, I’ve now been gifted a copy of it, gotta love a photo montage, or might it even be a collage?  Not decoupage though, although that would be a fab innovation for this time next year:

volunteer thanks collage poolsbrook

What a great idea! This was (the majority of?) the New Year’s Day offering.  Note in particular the excellent tinselled hat appendages and the fine kilt-sporting.  Most apt for the season.  One of their number had even joined the pre-run briefing at Graves to advise on logistics at Poolsbrook for any NYDD seekers.  All in the planning people, all in the planning…

PP hi vis heroes

Anyways, I parked on a verge near to the starting area, and after a further failed rummage around in the car in search of my misplaced banana, headed off to the gathering area near the main building and where the finish funnel is.  I saw a few familiar faces from running in general and earlier in the day at Graves in particular.  More remarkable were the many I missed, possibly due to the enormity of the crowd, or possibly due to the fact they saw me first.  Hard to be sure.  I forgot my camera, which I regret as Poolsbrook offered up some fab photo ops, so I’ll be trawling t’internet and Facebook for pics to cull.  Otherwise, you’ll just have to use your imaginations.

It’s been a while since I was at Poolsbrook, so in case you are rusty too, here is the course blah de blah from the Poolsbrook parkrun event page:

The course, which was accurately measured by a AUKCM Measurer, is entirely within Poolsbrook Country Park which was once the site of the former Ireland Colliery, but which has been transformed from dereliction into a popular country park and amenities area. The course is almost entirely on compact wide trails but some sections of the course may accumulate mud, leaves and puddles after rain, so please take care. Dependent on availability, marshals will be at key sections of the course, or signs will be in place.

The course starts about 300m away from the café and consists of three anticlockwise laps of the main lake. The finish is on the grass on the right side of the path, in front of the adult gym facilities.

A couple of points to note:
The course leaves the immediate side of the lake to cross the weir and for about 30m runs on the wide path next to the road. Please keep to the lake side of the path.
If you are being lapped by faster runners please keep to the left side of the course to allow faster runners to overtake on the right.

 

and the course looks like this:

Poolsbrook route

In a nutshell, keep to the left to allow faster runners to pass, or to the right if you are such a faster runner, and do three and a bit laps on the flat course.  If you end up on grass or in water you have veered off course in one direction or the other.  I’d say it was pretty difficult to get lost on this course – indeed the RD claimed they’d lost no-one yet –  though to be fair, if someone was so lost they’d sunk to the bottom of the lake complete with their barcode I’m not sure how you’d ever know.  So really I think they should say ‘to the best of our knowledge we’ve lost no-one yet‘.  I might message the event team with that feedback later, I’m sure they’d thank me for interrupting their winterval festivities with such an important observation.

I arrived at the finish tunnel just in time to see a couple of familiar faces, dump my fleece and scarf on a bench near to the finish funnel, and join the  migration to the start.  En route, I spotted scooby do from Graves earlier, and finally twigged he is actually working as the guide dog for a visually impaired runner, fundraising for, erm, actually I can’t remember, but bet some photos will go up at some point and I’ll maybe borrow one of those.  Amongst those assembling were Regal Smiley and others of the Tilly household.  I didn’t spot Tilly, but my eyes widened as Regal Smiley produced the most enormous plastic bags I’ve ever seen, think bin liners, and I couldn’t disguise my horror at my immediate thought that these were bespoke poo bags and Tilly was suffering from a serious and explosive digestive disorder. Don’t dear reader, the error was mine, the bags were for coat storage purposes.   They came prepared this family.  No wonder I gaze on at them as super human role models from afar.  Tilly was having a day off.  Well someone had to stay home and watch out for squirrels coming up the drive. Those pesky rodents won’t bark at themselves!

squirrel

It was nippy, but the sun was beginning to peek out.  HOW EXCITING!  I’m not a regular here, but you could tell this was a huge turn out as we gathered in the start. The paths are wide and generous, but even with good-natured parkrunners trying to give way, it was quite a squeeze to get into position.  Some runners with buggies, had to manoeuvre their way to the back by passing them almost aloft, but it was all fine and friendly.  A little glimpse of what travelling by tube in the London rush-hour could be like if all your fellow passengers were parkrunners and inclined to co-operate with one another rather than will you to vanish from their mind if not their sight.  I was camera-less, but thankfully Smiley selfie queen was in position and on form, for which I thank her!  Other acquisitions have also been made from random Facebook findings. If it’s your photo and you object to my using it please let me know and I’ll unhappily delete, because that’s fair enough.  But you know, it’s a compliment that I like your pictures really isn’t it Al Dalton, and it’s all to share the parkrun love. Plus only me and you will most likely ever see this post unless you choose to share it, so it could just be our little secret, and that might be kind of fun yes?

Or no 😦 ?

Just me having fun then? Story of my life…

 

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See how the sun has come out and how happy we all are.  Astonishing given that some had already run 5k this morning and others were nursing hangovers, full on ones, not even the creeping ones yet to kick in!

Oh, and thanks to Andy co Event Director for and oftentimes RD at Poolsbrook who was the teleporting Poolsbrook presence at Graves earlier on and who has also gifted some fab atmospheric shots.  Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Poolsbrook?  (Rhetorical question, of course we all did!)

The run briefing was personal and all round excellent. The usual welcome and thanks.  Claps for those who had already run today, cheers for those who hadn’t the loudest cheer for the I think solitary person who identified themselves as a first time ever at parkrun runner.  How exciting is that!  He had a good-natured dog with him and was standing in front of me. Another runner made two abortive attempts to say hello to the dog, both of which resulted in a lot of animated barking, not aggressive, but not impressed either.  It was as if the poor parkrunner was the opposite of a dog whisperer, more a canine agitator, it was sad really. Like when people desperately like cats, and by seeking to engage with them make cats run away or hiss.  Sad but true.

We were told of not one, not two, but three visually impaired runners on course. One with scooby-doo on a fund-raiser, another, with an actual dog, aiming to do six parkruns in I think 15 days, but I’d need to check.  Here is a fab picture of him lifted from their Christmas Day Poolsbrook run report

Chris and dog christmas day parkrun

I’m always somewhat in awe of visually impaired runners, it must take a lot of trust to run with a guide even if there’s no-one else around, but today it was heaving as well, different level of courage altogether.  Coincidentally, there was a great article from the perspective of a VI runner on the parkrun newsletter today (yep, time travel again) hang on, I’ll find it, it’s inspirational stuff.  Check out Kelly Barton’s story on this link of GP stories. You’re welcome.

After a most jolly briefing, with happy birthdays and milestones all acknowledged alongside practicalities the call went up for 3 2 1 go!  And absolutely nothing happened.  Is it bad I was a tad relieved?  No chance of a speedy one today.  Pleasingly I found myself alongside a fellow Smilie, and we shared with each other our insights that this start would rather scupper our plans for a run at pace, so might as well just treat it as miles on the legs rather than a tempo run, I nodded furiously, not entirely sure what this meant other than it being a free pass for taking it easy and providing some sort of race-craft justification for doing so. Hurrah!   We trotted along companionably, until inevitably she was chaffing at the proverbial bit to speed up and needed to chase down her offspring who was in danger of disappearing into the swell.  For the record, I think it was his idea to do the New Year’s Day Double, which is impressive indeed for a junior runner.  Hurrah!  Also, just because it pleases me, turns out I was also right behind them in the panto audience too, if only they’d believed me and looked round they might have spotted me.

As we headed out, we passed one hi vis hero who had secured the sweet spot for volunteering purposes. Seated on a bench he shouted out warnings to runners to avoid them colliding with it.  Sort of like the foghorn on a lighthouse keeping ships away from treacherous rocks.  Excellent.  Only a post involving custody of  a clipboard could possibly be more high status I would have thought…

From the back, the circular route meant I could see the runners ahead streaming round the lake, and quite a sight it was too!  I don’t know how to share videos I’m afraid, but check out this link from Melissa Swann of the start of Poolsbrook parkrun on New Year’s Day 2019 oh hang on, it might even work – impressive eh?

Off I trotted, hard not to feel cheery with the sun shining, flat course and cheerful ambience.  I’m not the greatest fan of multi-lap routes, but this was somehow doesn’t seem too bad.  It goes quickly and there is much of interest.  Though I’m always a bit wary of goose-shit bridge.  It is a well-known FACT – or at very least a Lucy Fact (i.e. one which I believe to be true and choose therefore to cite as an absolute truth until proven otherwise) which for the purposes of this blog amounts to the same thing – that goose poo is the slipperiest substance known to humankind.  No really it is.  And those geese get everywhere.  Fortunately there are marshals on hand on either side of the bridge to point and clap and cheer and, when the occasion requires it, to wrangle the geese.  I don’t know why the chrome extension volunteering roles don’t list ‘goose wrangler’ amongst the options, because to be honest that is one of the potentially scariest roles.  Maybe they don’t want badge-hunters going for glory and putting themselves in harm’s way.  Geese can be vicious you know, and need to be treated with respect.  And yes I do speak from personal experience, I’ve had more than one run in with an aggressive goose and they are one of very few creatures on this earth I actively dislike as a consequence.  My shins have never been the same again after being savaged by the beating wings of a goose that sought to see me off its land. There is a reason they are used for guarding property you know. At least an aggressive dog can be pacified or distracted by food.  Geese have no such vulnerabilities.     Oh anyway, here’s Smilie selfie queen, capturing the goose action so I didn’t have to. Thanks again.

 

I survived the geese and their deposits on the bridge, and onward  I went.  It was good for my confidence to do a completely flat parkrun for a change.  Lately I’ve struggled to run up hills at Graves and even Concord parkruns which both have some undulation, though by no means extreme.  It was nice to just hit a rhythm and stay in it for the duration, even if I was slow.  I thanked the marshals as I went round for the first lap, offering a ‘happy new year’ on the second and a sort of free form  hybrid for the final circuit.  Each hi-viz hero had their own style.  Some excelled at clapping, some at directional pointing, some at apt quippery – the ‘fake it to make it’ comments re ‘pretend to enjoy it’ were helpful toward the start section by the marshal on the pavementy bit.  A special mention for the kilt wearing marshal who boomed out encouragement that could be heard across the lake, and interacted enthusiastically with seemingly every runner as they passed. That’s dedication:

I’m a slow and steady runner, so feel well qualified to testify that those marshals kept up clapping the whole time, for every participant.  It’s no mean feat to clap continuously for that long and cheerily AND throw in some directional pointing as well.  An endurance challenge in its own right.  Thank you all of you for sterling support.

The laps do all merge into one  a bit.  I could see early on in the first lap that a super speedy athlete was storming round on the other side of the lake. The downside with a three-lap course is I get lapped even earlier than usual, but on the plus side it is really astonishing to see those faster runners cruise by.  Most managed to choke out words of encouragement through their rapid breathing as they passed.  It was an extremely well organised and mutually respectful run. The only minor incident I witnessed was when Scooby was guiding his runner and asking for people to give way and another parkrunner wearing headphones just didn’t hear, I sort of chaperoned her to one side and she was fine about it, so all’s well that ends well.  It was a master stroke of irony that the guide dog’s Scooby costume impaired his vision too, so it was hard for him to make out quite what was going on, especially as it was so very crowded at that point it was hard to find a path through.

Astonishingly, nobody mistook me for a faster runner on either of the first two laps and erroneously tried to usher me towards the finish funnel so I had to do all three loops, but at least it meant I got my monies worth for time out on the course.  By the time I did get to the final lap, I mistook the turn off for the finish funnel, which meant what I laughingly refer to as my ‘sprint finish’ was both longer and more uphill than I’d banked on. However, some already finished and now departing friends cheered me in, and then there was a bonus hug and selfie from smiling non-smiley and a new year’s hug from a vegan runner who I stalk for his fab running photos.  Seems we are mutual stalkers in fact so here’s a wave out just for you. I was worried I was keeping him from his V-gang team photo, but he made it as the picture testifies.  Some pretty fab and friendly runners in this line up you know:

V gang out in force

Even though I was slow, there were still plenty of people on the course and busy scanners scanning and people gathering and all good and all smiley.

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I retrieved my fleece and scarf and suddenly felt cold and peckish.  However, good news dear reader, whilst the official cafe was shut, a pop up community cafe was very much open.  Volunteers were constantly refilling an urn of hot water and you could have tea and coffee and help yourself to a smorgasbord of cakery.  I had a coffee, which I slightly over-filled and subsequently spilt onto my feet, which would have been catastrophic but for the intervention of one of the Tilly household who spotted my rookie error in coffee cup handling.  I also had what I think must have been a home-made rock cake and you know what, it was absolutely delicious.  Not had one of those in years, not tasty and fresh like that one.  Retrospectively, I read that parkrunners are encouraged to bring stuff along to share as well, which accounts for the copious amounts of food on offer.  You are encouraged to make a cash donation, and I certainly couldn’t begrudge that, however it was very much up to individuals as to what they chose to leave. It was great, and the money goes on, erm, actually I’m not sure on what exactly, I think on things like new parkrun tokens – a few went walk about today for starters…

After a little lingering, I went out to cheer in the last few runners.  I must look like a pro at the finish these days, as the RD came along and told me they had enough scanners for the last few on the course so I could stand down if I wished. That was confusing, but fathomed satisfactorily after a few moments of mutual incomprehension.

Soon some of the earlier marshals strode into view, carrying their various hi-vis signs like roman soldiers with battle flags.  I suddenly felt cold, really cold so decided it was time to depart.  I thanked random marshals as I left. They really had created a brilliant mood.  I could just make out the final finishers coming round to finish to a welcoming team of supporters.  I do like a happy ending.  🙂

Oh and for stats-geeks, we must once again salute Elliot Line who hot of the press told us in his New Year’s Day update that at least 150 events had attendance records today.  Oh yes they did!

New Years Day 2019 Attendance Stats.

Apologies for another shortened stats summary. Full stats including milestones, records, volunteers and comparisons will resume mid-January.

Biggest parkruns UK: Bushy Park (1156), Southampton (1048), Eastville (941), Milton Keynes (918), Rising Sun (869), Brighton & Hove (826), Chelmsford Central (811), Cardiff (805), Kingsbury Water (792), Hove Promenade (787), Lee-on-the-Solent (777), Sale Water (775), Braunstone (753), Frimley Lodge (741), Huddersfield (735), Conkers (719), Catton (715), Long Eaton (703), Rushmoor (702), Telford (699),

There were at least 150 new attendance records in the UK today!

In the UK there were 332 parkruns and 125375 parkrunners, (fewer unique parkrunners, as many of those will be the same parkrunner twice), plus pending results from Delamere, Barry Island and Shepton Mallet.

Worldwide there were 673 parkruns and 178444 parkrunners, (fewer unique parkrunners, as many of those will be the same parkrunner twice), plus a few pending results.

Poolsbrook included.  Wow, parkrun is indeedy most definitely becoming a thing for allsorts.  In a good way.  Hurrah!

parkstatswangy also had an update on the stats.  Wow!

A record breaking New Year’s Day! An astounding 150 events broke their attendance records and 2 events equalled theirs. This gave an overall U.K. attendance of 126,653, which is only about 8,000 less than the previous Saturday despite there being 239 less events. Five regions actually increased their attendance, with East Midlandsbeing up 17% and Scotland up 11%.

A record among the new recordsHove Promenade saw its record increase the most in absolute numbers, up 344 parkrunners to 787. Perry Hall north of Birmingham saw the biggest percentage increase, more than doubling its record from 223 to 561 (up 152%). Whinlatter Forest in the Lake District saw the biggest increase from its usual (10 week median) attendance, hosting 279 parkrunners when it normally hosts around 43 (up 549%).

The total attendance on New Year’s Daywas 126,653 at 335 events.

Poolsbrook reported on the day with a Facebook post as follows:

Wow, what a morning it was at Poolsbrook parkrun today. A new record of 617 of you took part supported by 30 amazing volunteers. It seems as if our planning to accoodate such a high number of participants paid dividends today 😀

We hope that you all had a great time at Poolsbook today – thank you to everyone who took part and all of you who volunteered

They also did their own fab run report of the day, so you can read the New Year’s Day Poolsbrook parkrun official run report and triangulate that report with mine to help inform you analysis and conclusions about what the morning was really like. 🙂 It’s important to do your own parkrun research if you want to keep on top of this parkfun game!

Oh, and in other good news. I found my banana at home!  See, all good with the world. Yay!  This isn’t the actual banana by the way, wouldn’t want to mislead.  Just have used a stock image of a banana in case you didn’t know or couldn’t recall what I was referring to. You’re most welcome.

banana

I think the previous record was 473, on New Year’s Day 2018, so that’s quite some jump in numbers.  Wow.  I’m impressed they didn’t run out of tokens.

So there you go. New Year’s Day Double done and dusted.  Glad I did it in the end, though had a wobble in the middle there somewhere.  There are some pretty excellent graphics about who went where.  Couldn’t find a Graves/ Poolsbrook link but this one gives the general idea.  Can’t find out where it came from, if I do, I’ll add that credit in some time later.

Yorkshire and Humber NYDD parkruns

So Happy New Year and happy running in general and parkrunning in particular.  Remember it’s not the miles on the legs that count, it’s the smiles in those miles!  #loveparkrun and even if you didn’t get out on New Year’s day, it’s never too late to get to your first or any number parkrun…

happy new year

 

parkrun, there really is no other way to start your Saturday…