Digested read: did Penistone parkrun. It’s on the Trans Pennine Trail. Out and back with a XC twist.
There isn’t a chrome extension running challenges badge yet for ‘body parts’, but I daresay it is only a matter of time before there is so I thought I might as well get this parkrun in early in eager anticipation of the inevitable. To the immature, that might sound childish, but it isn’t really, it’s just pragmatic. Also, just so you know, it was also not childish at all to have sniggered at the Facebook post I read online somewhere about someone who’d suggested to a deaf friend that they try Penistone parkrun out next. However, they couldn’t properly use British Sign Language so were spelling it out a single letter at a time, this led to both much wide-eyed incredulous raising of eyebrows and subsequent mutual guffawing. Can’t just pretend not to notice the name can we, especially given the idiosyncrasies of my satnav’s pronunciation and diction!
Penistone parkrun is a relatively new kid on the parkrun block, this was only their event number two, but it is, or rather was until just after 9.30 today, my Nearest Event Not Done Yet NENDY, and so I was keen to get over and give it a whirl. I avoided their inaugural last week, in case they were hoping for a low profile start – parkrun etiquette favours avoiding inaugurals unless they are your new local to avoid overwhelming the event teams and scaring them off! However, I gather it was absolutely heaving last week, quite a party by all accounts, so word got out somehow. To be fair, there are some thriving running clubs in the vicinity and of course the lure of The Trunce nearby, so perhaps it is destined to be one of the bigger parkruns. Hurrah! Lyme park parkrun was pretty fine and dandy too though, just so you know. They have had a fire at Lyme park since which is terrible news, hope it recovers OK. All news seems depressing at the moment, although I did hear that hives of bees survived the fire at Notre-Dame, so there is the occasional glimmer of hope in dark times. Don’t you think the hives look a bit like beach huts though? No? Just me then… not for the first time.
Where was I? Oh yes, heading to Penistone parkrun as my newly launched NENDY. It’s an easy run out – well drive in my case – from Sheffield, although I do find the route keeps you on your toes. The speed limit on the A61 Penistone Road changes with such frequency it’s like participating in a reflex test in the Crystal Maze or doing a pilots proficiency test or something. You really need to keep your wits about you. Even on the ‘faster’ sections, there are constant ‘warning slow down’ signs to 40 or 35. This wouldn’t have been quite so bad, except that some bastard car was tail gating me apparently oblivious to the changing speed limits, I was scared it was going to turn into a hatchback version of the film Duel, and I’d miss parkrun. I know! Can you imagine? Unthinkable.
I made it in one piece, it was misty to start, but promising to be a scorchio day. You drive through some pretty lovely scenery, not spectacular like Winnats Pass perhaps, but pretty nice, farm land and past the intoxicating promise of the turn off to The Trunce. Finally, I arrived at Penistone Tesco! Not the most inspiring of locations in and of itself. I was a bit sheepish about parking up in there, but that’s what the course instructions said. I read the parking signs with care, but couldn’t see a time limit, and I figured I’d do a shop there post-run anyway. I also took solace from seeing another parkrunner had got there even earlier and parked up their camper van really close. If they were that brazen, I could be too!
Officially, there are no toilets at the start of this parkrun, but unofficially, there are some nice ones in Tesco. I joined the steady stream of parkrunners traipsing through. How Tesco feel about being unofficial sponsors of the Penistone parkrun event is currently undocumented.+ The proliferation of running tees in general and parkrun tees in particular was a bit of a giveaway as to the origin of this sudden influx of trainer wearing people. All the best people were hanging out by the loos – I got to bump into Smiley Selfie Queen for the first time in a while, sporting her Sheffield Half tee. I admit to some runner envy there. It’s a really cool t-shirt, good colour. I just wasn’t fit enough to make the start line, but definitely feel like I’ve missed out. Yes, there is always next year, but what if the t-shirt is fluorescent yellow or lime green again? I shudder at the very thought.
+Edit – alas, we do know as of 10 May 2019. They are now unimpressed and have requested that parkrunners refrain from parking in their carpark or using their loos. It was perhaps only a matter of time before they did so. I concede they have a point, it is a relatively small tesco after all. If you use an official pay and display somewhere you can then seek out an independent coffee shop afterwards angst free. Would recommend 🙂 .
I dumped my dark glasses in the car – not that I didn’t need them, but they are my expensive prescription ones and I was scared of losing them – took time out to cheerily point a fellow parkrunner in what turned out to be completely the wrong direction to get to the start. Oops. Never saw them again either, hope they made it – and then rejoined Smiley Selfie Queen and her entourage so we could go to the start together. For future reference, the start is at the back of Tescos and to the right hand side. Just stand in front of the store, and go to the right, following the signs to the Trans Pennine Trail.
You can’t go wrong really, unless you make the mistake of asking someone like me, nope, scratch that, not like me, actually me. Don’t think anyone else would have been quite so spectacularly wrong. In my defence, it’s because I was having some distressing flash backs. I’d been here before. For my ill-advised foray into cross country hosted at Penistone, which I think must be an acquired taste, I found it humiliating and traumatic. NEVER AGAIN. That event started slightly higher up the field and was indeed accessed by the stairs round the back of Tesco on the left hand side, so my directional advice earlier on may have been delusional and distinctly unhelpful but it wasn’t actually deranged.
Burdened by negative thoughts and replayed humiliations, I was therefore feeling significant apprehension as we wended our way down to the start. Oh gawd, that blooming field, I remember running round that and being lapped and wanting to die, those sentiments have never featured in the parkrun rule book surely? Gulp. Yesterday, was hot, cross bun day, I wasn’t reckoning on being hot and cross today as well! I was anxious not only about the course, but the rising temperature, I was wearing waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many clothes. It was good to have some familiar faces around to calm my nerves.
The start was by a skate park, which handily concealed the start flag, however, there was quite a gathering of people so you couldn’t really miss where to go. There didn’t seem to be anyone wearing hi-vis to start with, but maybe they don them at the last-minute or something, as ‘suddenly’ just before the RD briefing there seemed to be loads, like a flash mob or something.
Whilst waiting for the start some time for a few mandatory selfies, hurrah. Lucky I had some expert assistance on hand to ensure these were achieved to acceptable quality control standards, thank you Smiley Selfie Queen, you never disappoint! She has a special tee shirt now you know, though wasn’t wearing it today. I’ll try and find it, just so you know I’m not making that up. Here you are – this one is at Graves parkrun, another fab one by the way, highland coos en route, can’t go wrong with an offer like that.
Good to get a random runner who knows how to pose in front of the obligatory signpost too. This bodes well.
I gazed about, watched people warming up, dumped my fleece
Then I had a genius idea! I decided to clamber up one of the skate boarding ramps to get some nice aerial views of the starters, looked a picture from up there:
Genius indeed! Unfortunately, I then realised it was actually quite a daunting prospect to clamber down the ramp, wet with morning dew and super-slippery. This is how cats end up stuck up trees. There was a definite risk of somersaulting down ar*e over t*t, I decided the lesser indignity of going down on my backside was the way to go. I descended in one piece, edging my way down behind a very small child who was adopting the same strategy. It takes a toddler to teach us how to interact appropriately with our environmental challenges at times!
Nine o-clock was approaching, and the hi-vis heroes started to materialise
The RD was looking super-cool, surveying the field from on high. He just materialised up there too, like when they use the teleporter on Star Trek (the original series of course) and just beam people right in. I don’t know for sure, because I’d run off by that point, but I bet he didn’t have to just slide down the ramp on his arse when the time came for him to get off. Plus he was holding a clip board, life can bestow on you no greater responsibility and status of importance than that.
Astonishingly, there was silence for the run director’s briefing. This is really good, but does suggest to me that people were quiet perhaps because they were, like me, newbies, and needed to hear. This raises the awful possibility, that people who regularly
shout talk through run briefings are in fact the parkrun regulars who should really know better! It infuriates me when people talk through the intros, it’s right up there as on offence along with failing to return library books, just soooooooooooooo anti-social. Anyway, it was refreshing to see a bit of courtesy extended to the team, who are, after all, relatively new to this although the event ran like a well-oiled machine so if there was any event organisation stress going on, it wasn’t in evidence.
The course was explained, oh ye gods – you do have to start AND FINISH, by running round that blooming field. Curses. Then it’s out and back along the trail, trying not to collide with the barriers at various points. I’ve seen loads of runners run into such obstacles, so that advice was by no means sarcastic, but sincerely meant! He also said about juniors needing to be with a responsible adult as opposed to any old adult. Few nervous parkrunners out there on the course on hearing that I shouldn’t wonder. That bit of information could be a game changer!
Oh, hang on, you probably want to know the course don’t you? Erm, it’s described on the Penistone parkrun official website blah de blah thus:
Beginning by the skate park the route follows the perimeter of the playing field in an anticlockwise direction and then exits left on to the Trans Pennine Trail heading towards Millhouse Green. It is out and back along the trail turning at the bench immediately before the Millhouse Green Crossing. On return to the park, enter at the Stottercliffe entrance and continue straight ahead once again following the perimeter of the field to the finish at the approach to the swing park. The course is a combination of gravel paths, grass and trail.
and it looks like this:
I think the parkrun shape is a bit like a bent parkrun directional arrow, but then again, I’ve probably done a few too many junior parkrun set ups. It’s quite fun coming up with interpretations of the Strava images of parkruns. There was a thread on just this topic recently. Hilarious, will try to find the link and borrow from it for your enlightenment and amusement. Oh in the meantime, have you come across this ‘parkrun shape’ gizmo courtesy of Andrew Chilcraft? Tells you how many laps each route is. Fab eh?
Hang on, found it! ‘If you look at your parky what shape does it make?‘ Rolls up sleeves – so can you make out the sperm; the squirrel pouring water into a pond from a watering can; the cowboy boot; the footprint with missing toes; the gurning one-eyed robot; the mini Australia; the duck eating spaghetti; the one that if you squint looks a bit like a child’s drawing of a house (genius work there – had me fooled) to describe (tortuously) but a few? What a
troubled creative lot parkrunners are!
I dare say, over time, someone will come up with a better interpretation of the Penistone parkrun shape, than ‘bent parkrun flag’, watch this space. Or better yet, the Peniston parkrun Facebook page, reckon it will be cited there first.
According to my Strava it was 107 foot of elevation – no idea if that is accurate, but might be, might not. It’s all flat really, apart from the Horrid Hill at the start.
Brief intro from the RD, applause for the volunteers, and then we were off. Up and round the cross country field, in my case trying to avoid both crying too noticeably or being trampled. It’s shortish, wettish grass, and up hill. The only plus side to this start, is that you get to see the sight of the faster runners trailing off in front of you in all their picturesque glory. It is indeed a sight to behold.
The smiling marshals dotted along the way offered some solace, but I can’t lie, I wouldn’t relish that as the start of my home parkrun – though I suppose as you got better at it, you would feel great satisfaction in doing so. Teasingly, you pass through the finish funnel very early on, at least this forewarns you that you will be required to tackle the hill again at the climax of your parkrun.
There is a nice bit of downhill, and then you slalom through the offset barriers to get onto the Trans Pennine Trail itself. There was so much red and white warning tape, it was like there had a been a major incident there but moments previously.
Joking apart, I can see how you might crash into it what with the forward momentum from sprinting so fast (cough) down hill and being part of a crowd of other runners so you couldn’t quite see what was ahead. It was very well marshalled, and today, as far as I could tell, their collective vigilance paid off. Nobody winded themselves – or worse – running into them, no incident reporting required today!
I felt palpable relief when we got onto the trail. Even though you are barely underway, I felt less conspicuous somehow, and the flashbacks to getting stuck in tiny tyres in school obstacle course races (true story) abated as I trotted along the path along with everyone else. It’s basically an out and back course really. The Trans Pennine Trail was surprisingly picturesque, if you take a moment to look left and right there are some good views from the path. I took this to the next level, taking several moments to stop and take pictures. I nearly caused just the one pile up, for which I apologised profusely to a very forgiving fellow runner, but I inspired envy in another ‘I wish I’d thought to bring my camera with me so I’d have an excuse for stopping all the time‘ she lamented. That’s me rumbled then.
There are some cool bridges to pass under along the way, one had mini bicycles adorning it, I like that. I liked that a lot. I wonder how they got to be there.
Incidentally, did you know an Oxford Don has counted the number of penises in the Bayeux tapestry and it is 93, of which 88 belong to horses and 5 to humans (men for the most part I’m going to presume). The professor concludes that the tapestry was therefore made by men since:
the evidence points to the embroiderers being male. ‘This is just the sort of thing which will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time in a boys’s school, but seems unlikely to have been the product of a female mind,’ he wrote in a BBC article. Now we know what fragile masculinity looked like in the 11th century.
All sounds very peculiar to me. That’s his idea of academic rigour is it? Mind you, we women are all made of sugar and spice and all things nice*, so perhaps he has a point…. However, it just goes to show the perils of using google search engines to search for historical tapestries just after searching for Penistone, computer algorithms eh? Not inherently smutty perhaps, but reflecting the cultural context in which they operate and everybody is currently googling if not actual porn, then something titillating for the weekend. Did you know somebody using the search term ‘Dogging in Endcliffe park‘ was directed to my blog. I wrote a post especially for them, how disappointed they must have been!
I digress, which has never happened before – where was I. Oh yes – Game of Thrones was a documentary right? I think I may be the only person in the known universe who hasn’t seen it. I’m a late adopter for lots of these things. Shame. The problem is I stuck with Lost, and it let me down. Most anti-climactic ending of all time – actually, I bailed before the last series, once I cottoned on to the fact it wasn’t ‘clever’ writers making the plot so confusing, it was writers who hadn’t expected to have their bluff called by writing another series. They also had no idea where the story line(s) were going. That’s hours and days and weeks of my life I’ll never get back It’s no wonder I have trust issues these days, I just wont enter relationships with long series anymore, for fear of history repeating itself. At least with Jessica Fletcher you know where you are, and also, she’s a parkrunner, even got a cow cowl themed neckerchief (stolen observational humour, thank you Bob Jones) – its similarity to my cow cowl buff is unmistakable, must be the American equivalent. She sports hers with a bit more flamboyant bravado – could catch on.
So off I trotted, feeling waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too hot. It was fairly crisp first thing, but as soon as the sun peaked out it was tough going for me at least. I’m not good in heat. It was a pretty full field here at Penistone parkrun, but it didn’t feel congested, I think the hill and field at the start spreads everyone out quite well. The instruction is to keep to the right, but obviously you also need to give way to other users of the path, there didn’t seem to be all that many others out and about, a few runners coming cheerily in the opposite direction, but nothing that created a problem as far as I can see. Though I did eavesdrop a interaction between an adult and junior and I could have sworn it was along the lines of ‘you are supposed to be at arm’s length’ as opposed to ‘within arm’s length’. Nice twist on a theme there. I’m better than I used to be around children since I got involved with junior parkrun (which for the record is the best thing in the world ever, FACT), those youngsters are hilarious, fantastic, inspirational and joy-filled – but I can lapse into fearfulness with unknown children as I don’t really know how to interact with them. There have been many occasions previously when been instructed to keep a child at arm’s length would have been hugely helpful, reassuring and indeed most excellent advice. … I don’t know for sure that that would extend to practical parenting skills though. Then again, what do I know?
There was a lovely cross-section of participants. All ages, all shapes and sizes, some very speedy buggy runners, one at least of whom disappeared over the horizon before I’d run five paces. A couple of dogs on short leads, tails wagging. It was an extremely good-natured parkrun, and it felt more established than it is.
Through the trees, under another bridge, gaze about. Inevitably, there came a point when faster runners were coming back the other way, looking super speedy, and focused. Also, like they were really pushing themselves. I must try that for myself sometimes and see how I get on. Scary thought, I do tend to stay in my comfort zone (I use the term loosely) I should really try to see how fast I can run flat-out one day, I’m scared of falling though, and that’s not completely irrational, last time I ran as fast as I could I ended up breaking my knee cap running into a low brick wall (in my defence it was dark at the time), and you’d have to concede that would put anyone off running really fast ever again surely. I’d put 50p on that none of these front-runners have ever broken their knee cap as a result of collision with a brick wall whilst running. Not one. (Some of them will have done the odd face plant though for sure, goes with the running territory)
They were a safety conscious lot at this parkrun, so wherever there was a gate, or similar potential obstacle, there was a marshal in place to offer support and, somewhat superfluous, directional pointing. Super friendly to the last. There were various running marshals visible en route as well, and that worked well, and is probably a good idea on a well-used public trail like this one.
Eventually, you approach the well-coned turn around point.
Cheery marshals waved you in. That’s great, but, bit of feedback for the organising team, it did feel a bit too much like the finish funnel as opposed to the half-way point, could have raised some false hope there, for first-timers, oh and for me too, now I come to think of it. Actually, scratch that, maybe that’s why as you head back the way you’ve come from they’d got their inspirational tee in place to get you going again 🙂
Going back seemed a lot quicker, it always does. I appreciated the bird carving, which was keeping an eagle eye on us runners (gawd, I’m hilarious – can you see what I’ve done there)
It was good to see the tail, cheerily marching at the rear, and quite a novelty for me to pass someone still coming out as I was on the way back. I’ve been final finisher plenty of times.
It was but a hop, skip and a jump back. I met a fellow Graves junior hi-vis hero who’d already finished and was coming back out again to meet another runner, I parasitised the advice a responsible adult was giving his accompanying junior, ‘count down from ten, then we’ll run to the bridge‘ whilst really wishing I’d gone for short sleeves and left my buff at home
Took in the sunshiney views and nearly went over on my ankle – made a good recovery though
At some point, I espied the parkrun photographer, taking shots from quite low down. I immediately adopted my apparently nonchalant running gait, and then impulsively went with the not-at-all nonchalant grimace and wave seen a photographer AND a marshal oh my god how exciting pose. We shall see if it makes the cut. BREAKING NEWS I did! Here it is dear reader, a rare moment of smiling and running at the same time.
Steve Frith regularly turns out to take epic photos at running events locally, they really raise the bar in terms of action shots, often ‘telling a story’ or including character capturing portraits. We shall see – I’ll be looting those that end up on Facebook later.
Here is but one story, to whet your appetite, this is how the parkrun relationship starts, ‘I’ll just try it once‘ you say, and then week two you are back again – this picture is the start of someone’s parkrun story, you can just feel the parkrun working its magic:
Thank you for giving up your time photographer and marshals one and all. It was buzzing out there today, you should all be very pleased and proud of what you’ve achieved.
and tried to disguise my relief and joy at seeing the marshals at the end of the trail, who were sending us back off up the cross-country hill and to the finish.
The cross-country hill was still scary. I know it’s in my head. I could hear a crowd at the finish funnel cheering other parkrunners in, but it just feels quite exposed, that hill is hard to run up. Fortunately another cheery marshal appeared from nowhere to offer encouragement, and also fortunately, a woman running alongside me was similarly puffing at the effort of hoiking upwards. I was not alone.
Eventually, like a mirage on the horizon, the finish funnel came into view, volunteers back-lit to create a vision of loveliness. There was quite a party atmosphere going on. People were cheering in friends, clapping anyone in view and at least one person ran in with another runner – though I fear that may have caused some confusion for the timers.
and so it ended. Smiles all round. The Penistone showground site transformed into a parkrun vision of loveliness. Thank you Penistone parkrun event team, you have created a thing of wonder. It was a super friendly, well organised event. Looks like it will be thriving with regulars too, there seemed to be a fair few genuine first timers and locals alongside the tourists and the curious who were represented too. All in all orsum!
I went to retrieve my fleece, and then wandered to Tesco to do a bit of a shop. It was slightly surreal doing my supermarket shop in a place heaving with other runners. Every other shopper appeared to be a parkrunner, seemingly we’d completely swamped Penistone like some sort of benign contagion. Everyone’s a parkrunner now! This is as it should be.
I was still a bit dubious about what Tesco might be making all of it, so I did a sample survey of one by asking the woman on the checkout what she made of it all. ‘I think it’s great‘ she said, ‘all these people discovering our lovely town‘. So that’s good. I appreciate the results should be seen as illustrative rather than representative, but even so, it’s nice to be able to state with confidence that 100% of the people I questioned about the impact of parkrun on Penistone were unequivocally positive about the whole thing. Me too, so that’s more than 100%. Phew. I packed my hot cross buns purchase into my bag for life (I didn’t only buy hot cross buns) and made my way back to the car with a new spring in my step. Now if only I could find a way to harness that elusive spring for when I was actually running…
Did you know, that accordingtoDavidAttenboroughsoitmustbetrue the wolverine can eat more food at one sitting than any other animal for its size? Remarkable, especially discovering that a wolverine is an actual animal not a made up one. In the category of reindeer (which some Americans believe to be a fictitious animal based on my experience) rather than (spoiler alert) phoenixes, which are if not actually imaginary, then probably extinct. Unicorns are rare, but I’ve seen loads at Bushy park parkrun, so no worries on that score.
Well anyway, sounds like a challenge to me, I wonder how many hot cross buns I can demolish in one sitting, wish me luck… I would think my own body weight for starters, but we’ll see.
Whilst I’m doing that, can we have a moment to offer up our gratitude to all the parkrun teams out there who make it so. Penistone parkrun was great, the XC fear was person specific to me, more generally this was a friendly and inclusive run with a great cross-section of parkfunners enjoying the sunshine and camaraderie that is parkrun. Oh, actually the sunshine bit, that isn’t always a given, just to manage your expectations if you are a newbie, but the warmth of the welcome will make you feel like the sun is shining on you, even if it’s actually hailing. I promise. Or your money back!
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, read on at your own risk, if you choose to do so, that is contributory negligence and I’ll have no sympathy for you at all. Lost all over again…
Next weekend is the London Marathon, I can’t believe I actually did that, I can hardly run 100 metres at the moment. Oh well, whatever, at the very least, it does mean we get to watch running on the telly – or even actually run, be it at London or elsewhere. How exciting is that. May the weather gods be kind, don’t want another heat wave. Whatever you are up to, happy running in general and parkrunning in particular.
In the meantime though, check out Steve Frith’s awesome pics for Penistone parkrun #2 on his Facebook page here and another fab album from Penistone parkrun #2 album 2 here. It makes such a difference having these quality shots – I love reliving running events poring over the photos afterwards. It’s like you get a window into other people’s running adventures too! Thanks Steve. Here are a few tasters for you to peruse as I finally take my leave. Joyful runners, runners who’ve also seen the photographer and some stunning atmospheric shots. If these aren’t enough to entice you down to join the fun factory at Penistone parkrun I don’t know what is! Try to get beyond the XC reference, that honestly is just me 🙂