Digested read: parkrun tourism with Smiley Selfie Queen took saw us both at Dishley parkrun Loughborough today. It was delightful, thank you for asking.
CAUTION – TIME VAMPIRE – READ ON AT OWN RISK
I was going to have my title for this blog post as ‘Dishing the Dirt on Dishley parkrun’ but, spoiler alert, there is no dirt. It’s all lovely. One or two constructive criticisms at best, but basically pretty much perfect in every way. Well done Dishley! You did good! Well in my opinion anyway, which isn’t worth an awful lot, but is better than nowt surely.
Smiley Selfie Queen selected Dishley parkrun as our next parkrun tourism destination. Last time we did some tourism together we conquered Conkers parkrun (see what I’ve done there) and I drove. So this time she drove and got to choose – not that I minded where we went, as all parkruns are lovely in their own way, not been to a dud one yet. Dishley it was to be then. Fair dos. No idea where that is.
Checking out the Dishley parkrun website I learn that if coming by road ‘The only access to the event HQ at the rugby club is off Cotton Way which is accessed through the Bishop Meadow/Weldon Road Industrial Estate (there is no access directly off the A6). If using SatNav postcode is LE11 5FJ’. Cue, google postcode to see how far away it is. Alarmingly, google map directions tells me it will take me 16 hr 51 min to get there if you go via the A61 and B6179, though you can shave it down to a mere 15 hr 47 min if you stick to just the A61 more or less the whole way. Hmm, this seems odd. Oh hang on, it’s because google thinks I should walk there! Nope wasn’t planning on that, if we ‘cheat’ and take a car we are allowed to use the M1 and can do it in 1 hr 11 mins. Ok that’s more manageable. Fortunately, my Smiley buddy also hates being late, so we will leave in plenty of time. Though maybe not 17 hours worth of plenty, we are keen, but have some boundaries. That may change of course, when our NENDYs (Nearest Event Not Done Yet as per running challenges chrome extension) are no longer within reach in a day’s travel. Not there yet though, albeit it is only a matter of time.
Dishley parkrun blah de blah course description from website states:
A flat, rural grass and trail course taking in two laps of the perimeter of the playing fields split by a snaking loop along footpaths and the River Soar towpath. The course starts at the southern edge of the playing fields near the end of the rugby pitches and finishes at the rugby club next to the main parking – around 250m from the start. The course consists of soft grass and earth paths, and is likely to have some muddy areas especially after rain, so we recommend using trail shoes. The course crosses Black Brook over a narrow bridge with a metalled surface, please take care there. Part of the route uses the beautiful River Soar towpath, take care along this section and please share the space with other river users. There is short stretch designated as ‘No overtaking’. In the event of contact with the water please be aware of the NHS advice regarding Leptospirosis (Weils’ Disease) by visiting the following website http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/leptospirosis
Hmm a lot of grass, but then again trail, always good news for my sad arthritic feet. I loved Fountains Abbey parkrun last week, but those hard trails weren’t the comfiest for my tender tootsies to tackle.
Dishley parkrun is in Loughborough. Oh. I tried to think if I’d ever had cause to go to Loughborough before? I don’t think so. But I did have a vague sense that the university there specialises in sports. Momentary panic, does that mean the entire parkrun field will be populated by sub 16 minute runners, driven mad by the ‘no overtaking’ rule if some bizarre association of unlikely events means I’m ahead of them at the point. That could indeed lead to a dunking if frustration got the better of them and I’d be the one who ended up in the river, or canal, or sea, or whatever the rat pee contaminated water system is. In those circumstances Weils’ Disease would be the least of my worries. I float brilliantly, what with my inbuilt buoyancy aids, but hate getting wet and not sure how easy it would be to wrestle out of the waterway once in. My companion would have no such worries having recently embraced aquathlons. I mean really, I didn’t even know aquathlon is an actual real word. I now find that it is, and, furthermore, as I understand it, is a gateway
drug event for triathlons, but we’ll see. She’s even been dealing in this, recruiting others to join her making a splash at Hathersage pool and elsewhere. It’s only the start I feel sure…
She has come to crave getting wet before going for a run. Thinking about it, might have to watch her and keep her safely coraled pre-parkrun in case she goes awol in search of a pre parkrun dip. I mean I suppose she can if she wants – ‘respect everyone’s right to participate in parkrun in their own way’ blah, but I would worry about her sodden and pond weed laden feet slipping on the pedals during the drive home, and eau de river silt isn’t going to be the most fragrant of smells as a travelling companion for the way home, albeit definitely considerably up the food chain from those car air fresheners which are fundamentally asthma inducing toxins fashioned into a plastic fir tree. What is that about? They also induce instant car sickness. Just the sight of them. Oh no, further panic. What if Smiley Selfie Queen has one in her car? I may end up walking to Dishley after all. … PANIC.
The Dishley course looks like this:
Which personally, I think resembles a drawing of the female reproductive system. You dear reader, may think that’s tenuous, but then you haven’t seen the scribble I produced for my biology ‘O’ Level exam. It’s no coincidence I spent years thinking my ovaries were somewhere up round my armpits. Just for clarification, I mean human female reproductive system other reproductive systems are available.
Hmm, on reflection, maybe more like a copepod. What do you think?
Yes, maybe more like that. Now I’ve made that connection I’m frankly astonished the event team don’t describe it as such on the course descriptor on their website, it would be so much easier. But maybe it’s because it doesn’t quite fit the Pooh based themes? Yeah, that probably…
In honour of this occasion I decided to invest in some new running socks. I haven’t bought any in years, and mine are now thinning to the point of being dangerously close to becoming blister inducing, and/or shrunken, as let’s face it, those inov8 wool mix socks (which I love) do suffer from being bunged in the washing machine with everything else. Bit shrunken now and past their use by date. Anyway, nipped into Frontrunner where I found pleasingly, they had a half price sock sale, with only small sizes left. Hurrah, these have my name on them. I got some hill photon which are extremely pink, and proclaim to offer ‘day and night time visibility’ which personally I think is a weird USP for a sock. I have no idea how that works or quite how it will help in an emergency situation but hopefully I’ll never find out. They state that they have an eye catching reflective band between the shoe and running tights, maybe that’s what caught the eye of the low life that broke into Front Runner a few weeks back. It makes me rage that thieves would pick on our local independent running shop AGAIN, but what is even more incomprehensible is that the shop is near a pub and it was 11.30 at night so someone must have seen something and no-one did anything. What is wrong with people? Still, every cloud has a silver lining. This totally legitimises going on a sock related spending spree. Furthermore, I would urge all runners, parkrunner and wannabe runners and active wear enthusiasts to get down to their local independent running shop and spend some money. You aren’t being extravagant, you are showing solidarity. It is the right thing to do!
Anyway, I got my socks, and belatedly my electrolyte tablets, so that was me all sorted. Hurrah!
I’m still puzzled over the reflective ankle stripe business and why this is an aid to safety. Surely, that added visibility would only be a boon if I came to incorporate cartwheeling into my cross training routine and thereby brought my ankles into view. Surely we have moved beyond the age where a finely turned ankle disported in public caused women to swoon and men to drool. In that context I can see other people furtively keeping a look out, compulsively scanning the lower legs of all who crossed their paths, in the hope of a glimpse of such a coquettish display of shapely ankle. That might make highlighting the ankles an effective – if risque – means of increasing a runners visibility, though I’m pretty sure running wasn’t even a thing back then. Granted, I can’t any longer remember a time before parkrun, but I suppose there must have been, and Victorian Britain would have fallen within it. Anyway, we’d see. Or we’d not see. I’d be keeping a count of how many people shaded their eyes and reeled back when my hi-vis socks blinded them as I approached though. Though I suppose it’s conceivable they’d be backing away at the very sight of me for other reasons altogether… Nope, not going there.
Those are the socks. They are very … pink! I wonder if they’ll make me run faster* too?
Now if only I could find some mojo for actual running to go with my running related accessories my running plans for the future wouldn’t seem quite so laughable. No chance this pic was taken at Dishley parkrun I suppose?
Nope, didn’t think so. Are you sure though? Looks like you run alongside water for it exactly like the course descriptor for Dishley parkrun? Oh, you are quite, quite sure, Thought so. No harm asking is there…
Mind you, nightmare being the timekeeper for this one I’m guessing. That would be a looooooooot of people crossing the line all at the same time.
Whilst we are still on the subject of burglaries, yes we are, there have been a whole load down my road this week – well two. People using a crowbar to break into the ground floor of properties at around 4.00 a.m., whilst the occupants are sleeping, help themselves to anything portable from downstairs then take car keys and car on the way out. Nice.** They cleared out one house, were disturbed at another and made attempts at two more. Anyway, me and my immediate next door neighbour were discussing this recent spate of criminality and speculating on what we could do to prevent them and how we’d have reacted if we’d interrupted them mid break in. He advocates laying a lure of some sort to entrap them, and then bludgeoning the intruder(s) to death and burying them in the back garden. I’m not really comfortable with that, also, even though I agree we found a good spot, and lord knows the soil could do with some organic material to improve it at the back. The problem is though, that if you conceal such a thing i.e in this instance the bloodied corpse of the miscreant, then it doesn’t really act as any kind of a deterrent does it? He took that on board and now favours putting their severed head on a pikestaff on the front door step instead. Truth to tell, I’m not sure about that either, this is after all a conservation area, planning would never allow it, also, importantly, neither of us is in possession of a pikestaff. It’s a mine field. Only it isn’t. A mine field would actually work really well as a deterrent come to think of it. Basically though, I think things need to be kept in proportion. That’s why I applaud Dishley having stocks*** available and visible to act as a deterrent to funnel duckers located at the finish area of the event without making a big deal of it. It wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the run briefing for example, but you get the impression it’s an unspoken given, and I’m pretty sure everyone got the general idea. They keep them over near the Rugby Club, but I didn’t spot them til the end… There were the scattered collapsed and deflated bodies of spent runners surrounding it. The point was made. Nicely understated.
I’m jumping ahead of myself though, back to the beginnings. Exciting stuff, parkrun tourism, you never know what you’ll find. New places to go, new people to see. No end to the anticipatory joys pouring down on me this weekend which makes a pleasing change. There was the final instalment of Simon’s Cat ‘Missing’ as well. I’m not giving a spoiler, you’ll just have to watch them all yourself. Blooming love Simon’s Cat, even if it is nail biting watching those animations at times.
And so the day dawned. 7.00 a.m. rendezvous outside Smiley Selfie Queen’s residence and off we went. There was some sort of diversion for reason or reasons unknown, so we went a back route to Dishley along roads I didn’t know existed even though they are local to me. Yet another reason why parkrun tourism is always an adventure and a voyage of discovery to boot!
It was a really straightforward drive, clear roads and even though we missed the turn off we were aiming for we made it to the venue in exactly 70 mins. The first surprise was that Dishley is actually a real place, not just the name of the location of the parkrun. Who knew? Well, people who live in Dishley possibly, but I’d never heard of it (no offence intended to the dear populace of Dishley, my bad, obviously).
The drive was a bit odd, in that you feel towards the end that you are driving through a housing estate and to a dead end. The reason for this is that essentially you are! Hold your nerve, and then, just as you think you are definitely lost, this vision of hi-vis loveliness appears ahead of you to guide your way! (Other hi-vis marshals are available, so can’t guarantee you will get exactly this amount of loveliness in your line of sight on arrival, but something thereabouts to greet you I’m sure).
The take away from this is that the satnav recommended postcode works, and even though we were very early 8.10 to be precise if you couldn’t do the maths from earlier – there were already hi-vis heroes on hand to guide us in. Very impressive. Being a car park marshal is one of the less glamorous parkrun volunteering roles to be honest, although one up from dog poo bin monitor and I’ve done both, more than once – but here was a cheery and helpful trio in situ already, extremely impressive. This was undoubtedly one of the best signed and most comprehensively marshalled events I’ve been to. We were even waved into our car parking place, like ground staff do with planes landing at airports – though actually that’s good point. Not wishing to undermine the marshals, they were fab, but I think some flags would be a boon in helping them guide us in, or if not flags those weird batony things. You know, these ones:
Just a bit of constructive criticism for next time…
The car park, didn’t have any marked parking bays – hence the need to be guided in by ground control, but it did have deep gravel. Very deep gravel indeed. This was hard on the tyres and also made it very hard to creep up behind marshals unawares. Maybe it’s a safety thing, like posh houses having gravel drives so burglars can’t approach unnoticed either. This worked against having candid naturalistic photos, but on the plus side, these marshals were a pathologically friendly and thrillingly interactive bunch, so willingly obliged to be captured on film Hurrah!
We got the basic low down. This car park, opposite the cricket pitches is about 200 yards or so from the Rugby club rendezvous point, and then the start and finish is beyond that. Cue dithering. Should we take cash for post parkrun refreshments or not. What about my water bottle. In the end we decided to just take a note / card for a drink and leave everything else in the car. For the record, we could have just taken our backpacks and at our own risk left in the rugby club no problem. It’s not that far to walk back, but would feel a drag to do so when you are all nice and cosy in the club house at the finish. I do wish I’d taken my water bottle with me though – more of that later.
So, we found the exit from the car park, which was the gateway to Dishley parkrun. Here is Smiley Selfie Queen with her eyes shut in the ecstasy of excitement at being almost in touching distance of our parkrun fix. She’s good at taking direction. The first picture she had her arms just clamped to her sides, like she was practising the upper body rigidity stance for Irish dancing which is why I insisted she ‘just do something interesting’ which led to the more challenging bar work. Ballet and Irish step dancing, on top of cricket and aquathlon there seem no end to her talents! Selfie Queen is the one in the parkrun purple by the way.
That reminds me (‘oh good’ I can hear you say’). I met an Irish woman on holiday once who said she was enormously proud throughout her childhood for having won a cash prize for achieving first place in an Irish dancing contest, aged about 7 I think. This was much to the envy and amazement of all her school friends, who up until that point had doubted her talents. Not just in Irish step dancing, but seemingly everything. This award boosted her self-esteem and transformed her confidence with her peers and achievement in school. It was a turning point in life. She blossomed thereafter. She showed them…. except that literally decades later she mentioned how this achievement had helped her so much in childhood to her mum, only to learn that she never won such a prize at all, but had confused getting birthday money on the day of the contest with having won it. The disillusion and associated devastation was absolute, even if we did all laugh til we cried as she drunkenly retold this story. Mind you, it raises a (to me) interesting point about how if a false belief helps us in hard times is that really such a bad thing? I honestly think self-belief is a super power, we can achieve more than we know if only we aren’t held back by self doubt and fear of failure. Also, frankly, great anecdote decades on, which is surely the main thing. No experience in life is ever wasted, if it leads to a good story. FACT.
Plus, maybe we should all learn to change the narrative in our own stories, so we talk ourselves up not down and instead of living a life half-lived in fear, start to believe we can fly, because you know what, I bet most of us can, if we dare but make the leap! Self belief, can carry us further than we may know – or at very least, a leap of faith…
Anyway, enough of doing daring dance tributes on we went. Although there wasn’t an actual yellow brick road (actually, that would be another constructive criticism I’d offer up as something to incorporate in future, funding permitting) the route to the start was impressively signed. You’d really struggle to go astray here! Loving the idea of parkrun HQ! Excellent.
It wasn’t very far to walk at all, but it was a little bit twisty turny, but lots to explore en route. Don’t go over the little bridge entirely for example, this is going the wrong way, but fun to go and have a little peek, and check out the SCARY warning signs. Oh, and take the obligatory selfie together too.
Honestly, I don’t know if it is that the environs of Dishley parkrun are exceptionally dangerous, or if it’s just that they are particularly health and safety conscious folk in these parts. But there were quite a lot of warning notices that I could have ticked off in my i-spy book of danger signs had I but thought to bring it with me. Here are just a few to give you the gist:
Fortunately, it takes more than fear of death by electrocution, or drowning or being trapped in a confined space to deter a parkrun tourist. We were made of sterner stuff than that!
Found the rugby club, which was handily signed:
I can report there were high quality loos, and evidence of a cafe already up and running. There was an over powering smell of bacon cooking. This made me heave as I’m vegetarian and it’s not my food stuff of choice, but other parkrunners would I know consider this to be an added incentive to rock up and run. The do do veggie alternatives as well apparently, though I didn’t avail myself of these on this occasion.
The core team, and volunteers were assembling in all their cheery hi-vis glory.
In amongst them, we thought we espied a Dishley parkrun pop up sign. This is like catnip for parkrun tourists, and no sooner than we’d had our precautionary pees (different cubicles, both were good) we were off in search of it. … Much confusion. Where was it? Firstly though, I was distracted twofold, by the fine leggings of the tail walking two some, and their excellent backsides. The leggings actually said ‘Smiley’ on them, and we are members of Smiley Paces running club so how cool is that!**** And check out those tails! One of the things I particularly love about parkrun, is that it’s completely acceptable to ask to photograph someone’s backside, in fact, I’d go so far as to say I think people appreciate it when they’ve gone to some effort bottom wise, and have that recognised by other parkrun participants. I’ve not seen such a fine display since I was at Wakefield Thornes parkrun on Star Wars day and one of the team had Star Wars themed briefs on over his leggings. That was truly splendid indeed. Anyway, check these rear enders out.
I know, marvelous!
But where was this sign. The start was miles away, so we checked out the finish area first. No Dishley parkrun sign. There were some friendly marshals though, killing the time before parkrunners came through the funnel by playing a giant sized game of cat’s cradle, with mixed success it’s fair to say, but much jollity.
They didn’t know anything about the Dishley sign, well they did, but just couldn’t think, maybe at the start. We headed to the start, past the bike bay, past the sign for the first timers’ briefing point, past every last gasp sign of civilisation en route to the vast expanse of playing field ahead.
Gulp, this was looking ominously like a cross country course. Flash backs to mandatory school sports days. Oh well, here now. Nothing ventured. The grounds were immaculately maintained, recently cut and verdant after recent rain, with mature trees at the boundaries. It was pretty nice to be fair, but that cross country phobia was very present. Eek.
Good news though, we found the start, and with it, hurrah, the Dishley parkrun sign. This required a lot of photo taking, in all possible combinations, sign of us together, sign on its own, sign with each of us individually, selfie sign, sign and us requiring interrupting a hi-vis hero to come and photograph us – holding the phone vertically, portrait style – as that is the Smiley Selfie Queen way, she is most insistent on this point!
Then I went for an explore, checking out the very orderly and geometrically arranged cones. There would be no corner cutting on this course, and Smiley Selfie Queen got simultaneous broadcasting of course directions that weren’t confusing at all, so that’s good. I decided to outsource finding out the route to her, whilst I continued exploring.
Gulp. Definitely looking like a cross country course. This doesn’t bode well…
Oops, hang on a minute, isn’t that the RD, coming in to land, with a megaphone as well. And a step ladder! He means business. Ooh, look team of two timers too! Not that they are two-timers, but there are two of them, timing, just to be clear. The RD was carrying a lot of kit, quite a long way, this brings me to my next constructive suggestion, which is that this parkrun requires a parkrun packhorse, or mule, or actually, a donkey would be good, and then you could call it Donkey Oaty! That would be hilarious, and no doubt highly original, don’t suppose anyone, anywhere, ever has thought of that stunning pun before. I gift it to you, parkrunners of Dishley. No don’t try to thank me, seeing Donkey Oaty in action in due course will be reward enough. Eeyore won’t mind, he’s busy down by the river, different territory all together. If that is a bit sensitive though, how about a yak, they are fabulous, and yet you never see them. Could be a parkrun first. You’re welcome.
The imminent arrival of the RD at the start, meant we ought to be up at the first timers’ briefing, plus still needed to get that second pit stop in. Busy, busy busy. It’s a mystery to me, that however early you arrive at a new parkrun, the time flies by what with having to chat to people and check it all out, an hour is quickly filled. We scooted back up, and arrived to find the first timers’ briefing under way. Oops, We’d already had the course explained, so it wasn’t critical, I just felt it was a bit rude of us to have basically skipped it. Still, excitingly, we were there in time to establish there were some true first timers, people completely new to parkrun. Sigh, I envy them in a way, all the joy of discovery that lies ahead, they can have no idea, on the cusp of new adventures their Saturdays will never be the same again. How exciting!
Cool leggings again! I’ve only ever had black, maybe I should be more adventurous. Mind you I only replace my leggings once a decade or thereabouts, and my current ones are only 2 years old. They seem essentially indestructible. No wonder some of us like living in our active wear, active or not!
People were milling and chilling. It seemed like a fair old turn out, though I forgot to check what a ‘usual’ field was. People were mingling and chatting, and the person who was cooking up bacon in the cafe leaned out of her window with a mug of tea to join in the fun. I really did get a sense this would be fab as your local parkrun, it felt really social, if you could get over the having to run round a grass field twice at the outset.
We nipped back to powder our noses, and then had to sprint to catch up with the mass pilgrimage of people making its way to the start area.
Well yes, we were in a bit of a hurry, but not so much of a hurry we couldn’t stop for a photo op on the way, obvs! We don’t always wear matching outfits by the way, that would be a bit weird, we just happened to do so today.
The sky in the photos look quite murky, but actually it was was pretty hot, humid really, too humid for me, and the sun did come out and smile on us from time to time. There was the RD briefing at the start, complete with shout outs for milestones, volunteers and greetings for tourists including those from Sheffield ‘Oh my gawd, that’s us, they are clapping us by way of welcome, that’s so exciting‘ and further afield, Sunny Scunthorpe no less! There weren’t that many tourists to be honest, but we all know that it’s about quality not quantity don’t we? Those of us who were present were without exception, fabulous. Individually as well as collectively! 🙂
So course descriptor and usual stuff and then we were off! You literally, head off around the perimeter of the big green pitches.
I found this hard. I don’t know why, but there is something about running round the outside of a field that I find challenging. In all seriousness, I think it is to do with the ritualised humiliation of school sports days that seemed designed to celebrate the elite and shame everyone else. I know it’s in my head, but it’s quite exposing, nowhere to hide. On a practical note, starting the route in this way gets the – for me – grim part out of the way, and more importantly, allows the participants to spread out a bit. Later on the course has single track sections so overtaking would be hard if not actually impossible, so best get any jostling sorted in the first half mile or so.
Cones and marshals kept us on track, and one boon of the course design is I could see faster runners streaming on ahead like lines of brightly coloured bunting fluttering in the wind. Cue
failed attempts at arty, lovingly framed photos to capture this scene.
Ok, well capture this scene -ish. It’s the thought that counts dear reader, the thought.
Round we went, and then you come round to the bottom corner for the second time, and I coincided with the sight of the first finisher (I presume) speeding home, as I was just following the marshal’s handy directional pointing to head over the little bridge, which might be pooh stick bridge, or might not, because I got confused about where that was, and headed out alongside the water way. The waterway is part river, part canal I think. I got confused by it, then again, doesn’t take much!
So over the little bridge, and ooh look, another marshal on hand to point you on your way. There were a lot of marshals on this course.
You are alongside water at this point, but dense vegetation means you can’t make much out. Occasionally I’d see the bobbing head and shoulders of one of the front runners popping up above the undergrowth, but visibility wasn’t great. You’ve seen Jurassic Parkt yes? The bit when they are crossing the area of Long grass and the velociraptors give chase. Like that basically. The velociraptors aren’t wearing technical tees if that helps with identification at all. Wait, what’s that, could it be a gruffa… no, can’t be. What would that be doing there?
The track surface was pretty firm. After a bit, the path becomes more clearly defined and you can see the water to your left as you run out, and then there is a waterside path where faster runners are pounding along in the opposite direction having already made the turnaround, and then a hedge of sorts separating them from me on the slightly inner path.
A conveniently situated marshal was on hand to keep order, but that didn’t deter me from popping out through some of the gaps in the hedge to try to photograph some of the runners coming the other way. Wasn’t sure which was worse, to be thought to be some sort of rather ineffectual stalker, or to be thought to attempting to cut the parkrun course. Actually, scratch that, nobody would want to be thought of as cutting any parkrun corners for sure!
Yes, I know ‘good in parts’, did you see the disappearing canal barge though! They are speedier than you think. Nice though isn’t it. And completely unexpected. Apart from the midge factor it was lovely by the water, beautiful river views, with open countryside opening up beyond. I mean, yep there were the pylons of course, but they are sort of structural, I didn’t mind them too much, it’s not like it’s virgin rainforest is it? Risk of imminent death by electrocution if you go fishing is a bonus, leave those fish alone!
My pop up technique meant I was able to espy Smiley Selfie Queen and her new best friend running together up the path. Nice waving there. Good job!
Then, after a bit. Surprise! A good one. Check this trio out!
OK, quartet if you count the dog, which I think we should. Best sign ever with that graphic U-turn beautifully illustrated and finely attired Pooh on hand to assist. What a coincidence that Pooh Bear, should end up being on the rota to marshal at Pooh Corner! What were the chances. Also Pooh Bear was on the poo bin! Not a strategy I’ve employed personally when charged with responsibility for the dog poo bin, but I’ll take that on board for next time and maybe give it a whirl.
Obviously, this turn of events necessitated me properly grinding to a halt and having an actual chat with the marshals. Turns out, this is pooh corner, but there is also a pooh stick bridge (which I think I went over earlier) and still to come Tigger’s Bridge and Eeyore’s Hole. Not sure I entirely sussed where these latter two were though, partly because I spotted neither Tigger nor Eeyore on my travels, but maybe they were busy elsewhere. Still, it’s a reason to come back again isn’t it, to spot them next time 🙂
I also learned that one of the marshals had travelled to her marshal spot from her boat moored up behind her. That is super cool. And I thought my mum had the shortest commute ever to a marshal point as she makes the jaunt from her care home to her Elisabeth’s Corner spot in Bushy Park. I wonder what the record is. This round was Dishley’s though. Very impressive!
So after we’d concluded our conversation, and I taken photos and learned more about the course, I got going again, waving at the bargees passing by, and at the tail walkers who were passing by on the other side of the hedge and on I went.
There were ducks and a lovely stone bridge – one that I’d stood on earlier to take shots of Smiley Selfie Queen and then – ‘oh look, that marshal looks familiar’. The marshal had teleported, or maybe just leapt, from one side of the hedge to the other. Because I’d lingered for a chat, I was way behind most other runners now, so I ran this section alone. It was very tranquil, and unexpectedly lovely. The high grasses were exceedingly picturesque, but also exceedingly hay-fever inducing, I felt quite itchy, worth it though.
There was a swan with cygnets. There was the unnerving and somewhat incongruous sound of a hunting horn… I could see the wagging of a mass of tails on the other side of the river bank, so I think they were out exercising hounds. At some point, another runner crossed the bridge behind me. My rational mind tells me this was a speedy runner, long since finished, going round again as a warm down lap, but it allowed me to indulge in the brief fantasy that it had taken him all that way to catch me up because I was so fast I was ON FIRE!
Oh hello. Another marshal, another turn back, oh and more marshals, and back through the tall grass. No need to worry about the velociraptors anymore, they’d have gorged their way through the earlier runners for sure and be sleeping it off by now.
There was a sign to reassure you you were going the right way, with one of those feedback things, you know where you push the relevant emoticon to indicate how you are feeling in relation to the service received. Not seen that real time feedback innovation at a parkrun before. Impressive.
So now you are turned away from the water a bit, and coming back towards the big field and the little bridge. I hadn’t worked that out though, so was sort of caught by surprise – and experienced some degree of relief, when I re-emerged from the undergrowth into the vast expanse of newly mowed green and recognised where I was. Hurrah!
Round I go, under the lovely mature willow trees, alongside the edge of the field, handling the right angle turns all coned out like a dog agility test with poise and panache, well sort of poise and panache, think puff and pant and that might be more along the right lines. I tried not to be too discouraged by the sight of other parkrunners heading homewards, but to be fair, those I saw, paused to give me a cheer as I sprinted (cough) by. Honestly, this was a super friendly parkrun, extremely welcoming to new faces.
Then at last, there it is, the finish! There she is, Smiley Selfie Queen, only not taking a selfie as such, but all ready to snap my sprint finish. Wait, the finish line looked to still be a fair way off, surely I shouldn’t need to start my sprint quite this far away. Oh no!
And then ‘suddenly’ all finished. Finish token issued, barcode scanned – using a mobile phone, they are embracing new technology here.
Just time to document those marshals present for future reference (aren’t they lovely), and snap a couple more finishers sprinting in behind me:
The eagle-eyed among you, will note they appear already to have a designated hay-making marshal, which means they’ve basically got everything they need in place to get that donkey sorted for next time. It’s their first birthday soon, they could maybe celebrate with that.
This is the parkrun that just keeps giving, because pleasingly, they have a happy bell. Not a PB bell, but a happy one. We were happy ergo we got to ring the bell. A lot.
Just time to talk token containers –
and then to the club house for coffee. Also water. Now they did have a jug, but they don’t usually provide glasses, though did when asked. These are disposable cups though, so I did really wish I’d brought my bottle with me after all. Coffee was mediocre and £2, but it was a social and comfy atmosphere. Didn’t check out the food options.
Did check out the token sorting table though, and met a fellow cow cowl wearing tourist, from Sunny Scunthorpe. Said I’d share the pics and say hello through t’internet so ‘hello’ and I’m waving at you! Oh, you are waving back, that’s lovely, thank you!
And that was that.
We didn’t linger all that long, as we needed to get back, but we agreed on the drive home that this was an unexpectedly enjoyable jaunt out. That’s yet another brilliant thing about parkrun, it takes you to places and introduces you to people you’d never otherwise encounter. Everyone’s a winner.
It was hot though, and sticky. I was very hot and sticky and not in a good way when I finished. I mean to be fair, not the 53 degree heat and melted shoes heat of the Badwater ultramarathon say, but sticky enough for me. Entrants who rock up to that have to run a 135-mile non-stop race over three mountain ranges in sweltering mid-summer desert heat with a vertical ascent of 13,000 feet. And they don’t even have pooh corner with cheery marshals to help than round. I mean imagine! No don’t actually, you will be traumatised. Mind you, the collapsed winner at the finish doesn’t look so very different from the collapsed parkrunners at the end of Dishley… Pushing the notion of even type 2 fun though I’d say. Still, mustn’t judge too harshly, who amongst us doesn’t fancy a bit of a lie down after the exertion of a busy morning at parkrun? Quite so, point made.
So in summary, Dishley parkrun:
- The good points include the following, which should be seen as an illustrative but not comprehensive listing: super friendly marshals, great facilities and unexpectedly gorgeous path along the waterway.
- The ‘could have done without’: challenging for hayfever sufferers and nobody, not one person, commented on my ankles. Gutted. Attention grabbing reflective strips my arse!
- Areas for improvement: suggest acquire donkey, yellow brick road and batons to aid direction of traffic, otherwise excellent – these omissions are fixable, so don’t feel bad.
In other news, it’s their first birthday on 27th July so they are having a birthday party with fancy dress, cake, spot prize bingo based on finishing position and a food bank collection. Excellent. What’s not to like?
Nevertheless another grand day out, so thank you Dishley parkrunners all for the warm welcome to your lovely run. Good work people, good work indeed, spreading the parkrun love.
Bye bye. It’s been fun, but time to move on.
Where next I wonder. I mean, I have to get to Tring parkrun obviously, but that’s a long way to go so a future date, and then there’s The Pastures at Alnwick, and I could start picking off some more letters for my alphabet, or the compass challenge. So many parkruns so few Saturdays. What to do?
Have fun til next time. Don’t forget to watch the Dame Kelly : The Power of Parkrun on BBC in the interim. SO EXCITED! One of the ‘Our Lives’ series, so you’ll probably be able to find it on catch up if inexcusably and inexplicably (unless you live in Wales, poor Wales, not being shown there this time apparently – perhaps they have it on a loop on S4C instead) you missed out on the first broadcast. Spreading the parkrun love indeed!
Oh, and 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.
You’re welcome. 🙂
*Nope, totally didn’t do that.
**I’m being sarcastic, totally not nice.
***They might not always be available, it might have been a one off for an event happening later, but I say, why let the truth get in the way of a good story eh?
****Rhetorical question, very cool indeed!