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

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