Digested read: parkrun tourism took me to Beverley Westwood parkrun. It rained. A lot.
When the world is your
lobster oyster, it’s hard to know where to travel next parkrun wise. I was going to head to Isabel Trail parkrun, it’s on my ‘to do’ list, like trail, and an ‘i’ for my alphabet challenge would be a boon. Ouch, it is a long way from Sheffield though. Aargh. Yep, a long way, but nearer than any other ‘i’ s, they are few and far between. I’ll go there then. … only then I remembered some fellow parkrunner that are seriously dedicated tourists, they have an itinerary, always worth a gander. Where are they going I wonder?
Oooh, Beverley Westwood parkrun. Never heard of it. Google. Google (which never lies) takes me to their official Beverley Westwood parkrun page seems this parkrun is but freshly emerged. Now, I concede some might say that this is still a ridiculously long way away from Sheffield for a couple of hours excursion, but that would be in the eyes of non parkrunner tourists. It’s doable. It would be a chance to catch up with some fellow parkrun pilgrims, as a bonus, it might give me a ‘west’ for the compass challenge (not entirely sure of the basis of inclusion for that, but I think as long as a compass point is included anywhere in the title, it’s OK), and a 3 for my Wilson, which I’m only very halfheartedly aware of but I wouldn’t shun even if I can’t be bothered to actively seek any numbers out.
Incidentally, be aware that attending inaugural events is generally discouraged to avoid scaring off new volunteer teams. I think the consensus is now that if a new event is your new local, and/or the new event team are actively promoting it then it’s fine to attend, but otherwise, let them settle in. Fair do’s. It didn’t used to be an issue but now parkrun is soooooooooooooo much bigger – 6 million registrations now, that’s eye popping, and excellent, but also a tad scary if you are a new kid on the block!
You know about the running challenges thingamajig yes? I’m never going to really get very far up the Wilson index, but I reckon I’ll succeed with the compass challenge one day, plenty parkrun options available for that! Yes, I know it’s childish, but in bleak times, anything to cheer the spirits surely? We are all going to hell in a handcart, granted, but at least we have parkrun.
Quick change the record before it all gets too depressing! Speaking of which, (yes we were) I know the perfect record, feel free to join in! This calls for a rousing chorus of ‘Go West!’ – only you know if you want the Village People original or are a Pet Shop Boys kinda person, but either way it’s most jolly and uplifting and the chorus couldn’t be more apt!
life is peaceful there
(Go west) in the open air
(Go west) where the skies are blue
(Go west) this is what we’re gonna do
(Go west, this is what we’re gonna do, go west
So what can I find out in advance about this parkrun? We know already it will be in the open air and the skies will be blue, because the singers tell us so. You should so watch the video* if for some inexplicable reason you haven’t done so in a while. Absolute classic! Yeah, jfdi, and you know what, you should totally join in, that’s what kitchen floors were made for! I’m not endorsing the casual cultural appropriation aspects, clearly, but can’t help but be taken back when that comes on!
*The village people, version, obvs!
Right, enough of the distractions, back to the important preparatory research.
Well, according to the course blah de blah on the Beverley Westwood parkrun page:
The start/finish is situated on an open area of Beverley Westwood adjacent to where Westwood Road meets Walkington Road.
The course is 2 anti-clockwise laps on the historic, scenic and undulating pasture and follows an ancient drove way, goes down then up Hill 60, crosses the Tan Gallop and circles Black Mill – entirely on grass so trail shoes are advisable in wet weather. Cows roam freely on the pasture from April to December and have right of way at all times. Follow the marked route to ensure you remain in the safe area away from the golf course. There is plenty of room near the start to park bikes and to warm up on the grass. Unfortunately the course is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.
Ok, so two things immediately strike me. ‘Entirely on grass’ and the ‘presence of cows’. I way prefer off – road, but I am a bit dubious about grass courses, horribly reminiscent of the humiliation of school sports days and my brief but misguided foray into XC running. The very thought makes me nervous, though it sounds interesting and picturesque, so hopefully not too like a school sports field when you are actually there.
Apropos of the cows, I’m going to have to trust the event team. I used to be fine with cows until I moved to Sheffield, where it seems bovines have been cross bred with aggressive carnivorous predators and there have been an alarmingly frequent number of incidents of runners being carted off in helicopters by mountain rescue after coming off the worse in bovine/runner encounters. Still, at Beverley Westwood parkun they give the cows names according to their inaugural event report.
there are not many parkruns with a Cow Risk Assessment, however the cows were great and our marshals even named a few – Pat, Parsley and Pie behaved beautifully. So anyone afraid of cows should consider this. The only stampede was the one to the pub afterwards!
It’s hard to be scared of something when you’ve named it. That’s why I called a resident house spider Christopher one winter. The ones you see are most commonly male apparently, lost and lonely and looking for a mate. We came to an understanding. He could stay, as long as he never crossed the threshold into my bedroom. I actually felt sufficiently protective of him, that before I moved out at the end of my tenancy, I relocated him to an attic where he’d be safe from over enthusiastic vacuuming by any new occupants. Anyway, point is, they have cow marshals. It’ll be fine!
Besides, indisputably, some runners benefit from external motivation to help them achieve their full potential. For those in search of an elusive pb, maybe the cows will help? A bear did this for the cohort pictured below, a whole herd of cows could do way more I reckon. Also, illustrates rather brilliantly the accepted wisdom that when under threat, you don’t necessarily need to run super fast, just faster than at least one of your companions. Harsh, but true. Don’t worry fellow parkrunners, there’s always a tail walker, you can’t be last! I’m not saying tail walkers are expendable, they are not, but it is one of the easier volunteering roles to fill, so it’ll be fine… probably. I’ve been a tailwalker and I’d happily have martyred myself for the greater parkrunning good if required to do so. I’m sure other community minded hi-vis heroes are willing to do likewise.
Where was I? Oh yes, the course. It looks like this:
and as far as you can tell from the Beverley Westwood parkrun Facebook page, the locals are friendly. They are setting up monthly gatherings, what a brilliant idea. Spreading the parkrun love indeed. I like the idea of a parkrun that starts and finishes at a pub! This parkrun would seem destined to be sustainable! Hope they do veggie breakfasts…
Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in The Woolpack Inn on Westwood Road – please come and join us!
Yeah, definitely worth the early start. What could possibly go wrong? 🙂 Yeah, bring it on! Might be more than a couple of hours worth of Saturday morning fun at this one!
Bring. It. On!
Bit worried about the heat though. It’s soooooooooooooo hot. At least I’m not a dog. It’s worse for them poor things. The RSPCA advice is to leave them at home when it’s like this. Apparently (read it somewhere on Facebook so it must be true) Canicrossers use this rule: Temp (c) x humidity (%) and anything below 1000 is good to go, for instance 14 degrees and 45% humidity would be 630. If in doubt … do not run! You know, I might start applying that rule to myself. I just can’t function in heat. I feel like a super-villain has caught me in an energy-draining spotlight and I will expire within seconds if I can’t move to a place of cool shade imminently. It’s so hard being me. A cap and shades and electrolytes will only get you so far. Heatstroke can kill. In fact, there is a whole blogsite ‘Hot Dogs – heatstroke heatstroke education for dog owners. ‘ all about heatstroke prevention. Quite scary stuff. They did a post about parkrunning with dogs in the heat, food for thought, and I haven’t even got a dog. Though I do have massive empathy for them as the temperature rises. I am not a sun worshipper at all. I’m sure I’m part vampire heritage, no other explanation.
Directions wise, well I would be heading to their suggested car park near to the start.
Getting there by road
Whichever route you take into Beverley, you need to drive into the town centre to access car parks. To get to the start from the town centre, head for Lairgate then follow ‘Getting there on foot’ below.
Grayburn Lane pay and display car park (HU17 8JR) is only 600m from the start and Tesco (HU17 9DB) which offers 3 hours’ free parking is a 15 minute walk away from the start. There are also several other car parks near the town centre.
To help us maintain good relationships with the Pasture Masters, local residents (people and cows) and the golf club, please do not park on the pasture verges, on Westwood Road or at the golf club.
Hmm, could be up to a couple of hours drive, allowing for paranoia, getting lost, pre parkrun angstiness etc. Lucky I’m an insomniac, an early start makes no odds to me! Also, in order to ‘Go West’ I actually have to head north-eastish from my starting point. That spoils the theme somewhat, but hey ho, worse things happen at the seaside. And I should know, I broke my kneecap at one (Hastings since you ask, that was a bad day).
Yep, very up for this, what could possibly go wrong?
So the day dawns. Morning!
aaah, maybe that. Gulp.
Thunderbolts and lightening? Very, very frightening!
What happened to ‘Go West – where the skies are blue‘? Asking for a friend. On the plus side, at least I won’t be fretting about sunstroke and over-heating…
Up at stupid o’clock. To some extent, I was lulled into a bit of a false sense of security as I peered out my attic window to assess what the weather gods were offering up. It was raining, but not too hard as I left Sheffield. Almost refreshing after the recent heatwave I thought to myself, (be careful what you wish for) naively.
However, dear reader, I can report that once I hit the motorways, it was like entering a parallel universe of apocalyptic weather. The sky was obscured by an other-worldly gloom, not so much from mist, but from the absolute density of rain reducing visibility to scarily short distances. Oh well, I probably shouldn’t hold my hand in front of my face when driving anyway, it’ll be fine… Once I’d talked myself down from a full on panic attack re visibility, there was the little matter of standing water and the awful suspicion that however slowly I was driving, I’d be aquaplaning at any moment! This would have been ok if I had the sort of car that converted into a hydrofoil at the push of a button, or indeed had thought to source Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the day, but neither was the case. Incidentally, whilst we are on the subject of children’s films and childhood humiliations, was I the only child who sang along to the movie track loudly pronouncing ‘shitty shitty bang bang’ for more years than I should because my nearest and dearest thought it was very much more amusing not to correct me? Oh, it really was just me then. I suppose that explains some things …
I was glad I’d allowed plenty of time. The roads were clear, fortunately, though to be fair I wouldn’t have been able to make out any of the other traffic on the roads anyway. It sure was going to be a wet one! Just to liven things up a bit more, periodically, a flash of distant lightening would pierce my eyeballs, causing momentary blindness as I drove onwards to my unknown destiny.
Once I came off the motorway and headed to Beverley, the roads got even worse. I don’t know if my satnav took me a particularly odd way, but the roads seemed to twist through villages, and flood water was perilous. I crawled along clinging to the middle of the road to avoid standing lakes on either side, other vehicles 4×4 ploughed through sending up tsunami waves of water as they passed. Cheers for that (not really). At least I wasn’t on a bike.
One village had a sign advising of the presence of ducks! That was particularly pleasing and apt. So much so, I stopped to take a picture of it on the way back. Shortly after the sign, is a beautifully picturesque village pond, which indeed had ducks on it, though it wouldn’t entirely have surprised me if they’d been swimming alongside me on the roads. It was wet, wet, wet. No honestly, imagine the wettest you’ve ever been, yep, that time, and now get someone to chuck another bucket of water on you whilst you stand over a burst water hydrant. That’s it. That kind of wet. ‘Nice weather for ducks’ indeed.
Smart ducks those, they did a good job with the hanging basket didn’t they? The environs of Beverley were pretty classy, they get a better quality of mallard round here too I dare say.
From what I could make out in the rain, Beverley is pretty nice. There are some wow moments en route with the architecture – making out the cathedral in the rain and indeed Westwood Pastures on the way into the town. The buildings as you approach are stunning. My satnav took me straight to the car park, although it seemed weirdly residential on the final approach. Even the car park is posh here, it’s the first one I’ve ever graced that has its own art work on display!
There’s a long stay and a medium/short stay section. I was early, so dithered about which to choose. There was loads of parking at 8.00 a.m. and still some spaces in the long stay when I came back to the car about 10.30 ish, so that was good. Logistically speaking though, you do really need to be in an official car park, there weren’t other options, on street parking was restricted to residents only and anyway there weren’t any spaces.
It wasn’t cold, but it was very definitely wet. In an uncharacteristic fit of forward planning, I brought with me a print out of the route from the car park to the parkrun. I’m glad I did, as it wasn’t obvious without, and i don’t have a smart phone. Maybe later on other parkrunners would have gathered and it would have been a case of follow the crowd, sheep like, to get to the start.
Speaking of sheep, the next stop was the Woolpack. It was very much open, and people were busy frying up sausages in prep for parkrunners a-plenty later on. I asked if it was ok to use the loo, and it was fine. Check this out – see what they’ve done there with the signs? I know, hilarious and genius! Also, it was equipped with a few extras in case you need a pre- or indeed post-parkrun preening. This was the ladies loo, or ‘ewes’ I imagine the ‘rams’ have brylcreem, old spice and chamois leathers in their basket. That sort of thing anyway. Ace.
Pre parkrun pee executed, I headed to the start. It really isn’t very far, and it’s an exciting revelation when it comes into view. At the end of a tightly packed, but exquisitely beautiful row of terraces, the vista opens up into the vision of sodden loveliness that is Westwood Pastures, enhanced by little flashes of hi-vis on the horizon. Hurrah! I’m here! More importantly, so is the parkrun core team. Takes more than a
little bit of torrential deluge of rain to deter them.
It wasn’t really cold, but it did very much feel like the sky was falling in. Chicken Licken would have had a complete meltdown. In fact, this would be a terrible parkrun for Chicken Licken, there are chestnut trees along the way, with conkers already starting to fill out nicely. Only a matter of time before they start plummeting down from above too. Honestly, the risk assessments for this parkrun must fill several volumes!
Educational point of information. I’ve just re-read Chicken Licken, because it’s always as well to fact check important points, and I see Chicken Licken is gendered as ‘he’ in the version I came across. I’d always assumed Chicken Licken was female, is that because I’d identified with the character I wonder, or does the ladybird book assign the female gender? Would be so much easier if everyone was just ascribed non-binary in my view. Ah well, onward.
I wended my way towards the hi-vis hubbub, where very sensibly volunteers were gathering and sheltering. The sheltering was a bit redundant to be fair, wasn’t sure at what point someone was going to break it to them they were going to get soaked through to their knickers within seconds of leaving the sanctuary of the tree’s branches – and I don’t mean from crying with laughter at the parkrun participants either. Though to be fair, that is a given at junior parkrun, if my experience of volunteering there is anything to go by… Hilarious. Always.
I was trying to be discrete, you know, get some non-posed photos. Epic fail, partly because that’s not my forte, and partly because it was so blooming dark, my flash went off. This nearly brought about apoplexy amongst the event team, who were mid-briefing about how they would implement their storm warning protocol in the event of thunder and lightening bursting out. It would have been pretty exciting I reckon, not so much sharknado as bovinado, which would any Sheffield runner would tell you is way scarier! Isn’t there a documentary about that: cownado I mean? Yes there is!
We have scary cows in Sheffield though I tell you, really scary ones. I really wouldn’t want to be hit by a falling cow. At least for the most part this course was in the open, no chance of being squashed by a falling tree say…. a tree branch fell in a storm at Preston parkrun today which caused quite a commotion, no-one hurt but event team emergency protocol well and truly scrambled. It pays to be prepared people! No team wants squished runners, it can ruin your whole morning more even than unregulated funnel ducking, and that’s saying something! Preston parkrun had to notify the council for heaven’s sake, I mean just imagine – the incident even made the local news!
Funnel ducking is still worse however. Just so you know.
Funnel ducker , n, parkrunner who crosses the finish line and thus gets a finish time but leaves the funnel without taking a finish token, thereby creating results processing grief for the event team.
You’d be surprised at the mishaps that can befall parkrunners though. Spare a thought for poor Maureen of Whangarei parkrun who apparently missed the whole thing after become trapped in a loo cubicle. No really, it was in their run report it must be true. I daresay there are some out there who might pretend to be locked in a loo to avoid running, or hide in one to avoid school ‘games’ – which so weren’t fun at all as the titular ‘games’ misleadingly implies – but she was incarcerated due to mechanical error. Just imagine. She may still be there for all I know. They say they don’t want any jokes about how many parkrunners does it take to repair a broken lock, but I reckon they’re bluffing. Feel free to respond!
I wonder if there is a special volunteer credit available for liberating fellow parkrunners from being locked in toilets – or indeed other receptacles like, oh I don’t know, panic rooms, skips, recycling containers? Maybe there will be now. Hope they filled in the relevant critical incident paperwork afterwards. This crew they deem to be ‘international rescue’ I like that. Could catch on… and there is definitely already a badge for that too!
Anyway, in the circumstances, you can see why my camera flashing didn’t help settle the nerves of the still relatively new Beverley Westwood parkrun team. Ooops. Sorry about that. Well, sorry-ish. It’s hard to be properly penitent given the comedic value of the moment, can’t lie, made me laugh – still, I’m sure they’ll understand… Also, did nothing for my undercover photographer capturing candid camera moments. Oh well. At least I got a picture of the volunteer rota team, and the team, albeit I was outed as a potential ‘well sometimes quantity over quality isn’t all a bad thing’ in a back up parkrun photographer role! Not official enough to merit a volunteer credit perhaps, but showing willing, that’s the main thing!
Having nicely spooked the event team, I headed off to explore. Marshals were marching out like explorers, hunched into the rain. Some already in post were sporting some exceedingly fine umbrellas, now, if only I’d thought to do likewise, and could work out a way to run with one – and they’d left a top dog supervising the start area. All contingencies were covered. It has to be a new team, as this was only their 3rd parkrun, but it seemed very well organised and confidently handled. Hurrah!
Although it was early, the cones were out, the marshals were already actively on manoeuvre, cow cowl wearing tourist(s) were commencing warm up, and the cows were congregating too.
Really. A great many cows. Not over keen to be fair, however, I think you can pay a lot of money to a therapist to be exposed to flooding techniques to cure you of such fears. Here you can do it for free. Though actually, come to think of it, I think the idea of subjecting someone to their worst nightmare in order to desensitise them to it might now have been completely discredited on account of the fact it induces trauma. You know what, I just don’t know! Fortunately, I’m not absolutely phobic of cattle, just deeply cautious of them, which isn’t a bad thing to be to be fair. They can trample people when spooked or provoked. In Sheffield cattle have alarming form in this respect. Not their fault, but worth knowing… eek.
Also evidence of where other cows had previously passed this way. Be warned dear reader. The cow pats are a real hazard. Up until today, I had thought goose poo was the skiddiest substance known to humankind, but now I think it might actually be fresh cow poo, especially when drenched with newly fallen/ing rain. It is truly skiddy, imagine running across a slurry spill on wet grass or smooth tarmac – actually, scrap that, you don’t have to imagine it, you can experience it for yourself! Rock up to Beverley Westwood parkrun on a really wet day, make an exaggerated point of not looking where you put your feet and hey presto! You too can undergo a whole new level of immersive slipperiness! Hurrah!
More people gathered, with various degrees of saturation and cow tolerance:
Oh look, some familiar faces, and a hurried pre-run group shot. It is compulsory on such occasions to gather together as many tourists and anyone else who fancies being included all together in a group shot. Never has a gathering of cow cowl wearers been in a context more apt. Here it is:
‘Suddenly’ as if from nowhere, loads of other parkrunners appeared. It’s always astonishing to me, in a pleasing way, how 20 minutes before parkrun it’s often just the hi-vis heroes, me (because I’m so paranoid about being late) and tumble weed, and then 15 minutes before people appear out of the mist (or rain on this occasion) and it’s like a flash mob or pop up party or something. From nothing, comes something. What strange sorcery is this? Replicated in parkruns the world over. A.Maz.Ing.
Next stop, first timer’s briefing. This had a few unique (I think so anyway) elements. We were instructed how to deal with cows. Confidence and clapping, but there was a practical demo coming up later anyway. Also warned of the cow pat frequency along the route. They are like little land mines essentially, peppering the route. I think it adds a certain frisson of excitement to proceedings myself. It also definitely elevates the course from sports field to proper off road pasture. Result. This is a course where not only the marshals may be required to clap!
There was more pointless sheltering from the rain, and I dumped my bag at the informal bag drop. By which I mean in the general area under the designated tree hq. Unfortunately, my aim meant my rucksuck was basically chucked into a puddle, which during the duration of the event turned into pretty much a pond of slurry by the end of the parkrun, dripping a giddy cocktail of rainwater and cow poo from it’s straps as I picked it up later. Oh well, just another thing to up the memorability quotient of the event, and I didn’t realise I’d done this at this point, so all good. It was a surprise for later! What I did realise, as I stuffed my fleece into my backpack and donned my waterproof instead, is that my ‘lost’ cap had been in my backpack all the time, and on being liberated from it along with my running coat, landed splat in the nearest available cow pat. Oh dear. I’m pretty cool with animal waste from vegetarian animals, but decided against smearing it onto my hair through wearing said cap. This would have to be a capless run. Oh pooh indeed.
Excitingly, in amongst the tourists, and people who’d rocked up before, were some honest to goodness absolute first timers. How exciting! I was very impressed they’d braved the elements. They had decided, quite rightly, that if they were going to do this parkrun malarkey, they best commit to it and not cry off at the first spot of rain. Quite right too, though I’d have given them a pass myself as unless ‘spot’ and ‘raging torrent’ have become synonymous of late, this was inclement weather at it’s most extreme – though also most comedic, so that’s ok.
Here are the first timers, with their parkrunning buddies. You’ll have to guess which is which or who is whom. Everyone is smiling in the before shot anyway, and that’s the main thing. They too may become some of Jessica’s parkrun heroes. Have you seen those films yet? You really should you know, mind you, all parkrunners are heroes, however they/we choose to be involved in it. #loveparkrun
There was much excitement. The cows were especially excited! I suppose you have to release the mounting tension of anticipation somehow, and so far, cows haven’t been specifically welcomed as participants at parkrun in the way canines have been, so they can’t relieve the stress by joining in the 5k run. I think that might constitute an assisted run by the way, also not one to try at home, obvs. Though probably better tried at home than in the rather public start funnel line up in case that wasn’t for you a self-evident truth.
A bit more milling, some last minute pep talks by the run director, late arrivals and some final stretches. Wish I’d thought to run in a cycle cape – even if the wearer said it was to be discarded during the parkrun. Too much wind resistance apparently. I’m sure that’s true, though it made me wonder if that was the voice of experience or creative imagination dispensing such wisdom.
Then everyone assembled for the RD briefing. Facilitated by step ladder elevation. Kicked off with thanks to the volunteers. A warning that in the event of a storm, the team reserved the right to cancel even if the parkrun was underway. Shout outs for visitors and milestoners – one of which is pictured, usual notices. A gentle reminder that this is a tough parkrun, it’s ok to walk or even grind to a halt if you need to. Plus some cow corraling hints and tips. Most educational parkrun, particularly if you do a bit of touristing. Did you know Beverley’s founding saint was John of Beverley? I don’t suppose you did, I didn’t learn this until a good half way through the second lap myself!
A reminder it isn’t a fast course and of cow moving techniques. Though there are cow marshals out on the course to assist. Like this:
Not really, they are like this!
We were asked not to have any accidents if possible as some of team are still being trained up. Sounds reasonable.
Briefing concluded, timers ready? Gladiators ready? parkrunners ready? Ready, steady GO!!!!
And off parkrunners ran, walked and jogged, cheered on by directionally pointing marshals and with a bovine guard of honour to keep us all on track as like a string of bunting, parkrunners flew over the brow of the hill!
and you know what, I think it may have eased off with the rain a bit too. The weather is always fabulous at parkrun or you get, to run for free – every time!
So you head off, and it is indeed a big loop round the pastures. It is ‘all grass’ but it was nice grass, by which I mean not horrid, exposed sports field traumatic grass, but lovely hillocky, romping through country estate sort of tussocky grass. The course was well marked and marshalled. The terrain is pretty open, so you get to see faster runners looping ahead of you. Cones and flags are used to assist with cornering, and enthusiastic marshals prevent corner cutting and shoo off cattle in between calling out encouraging cheers. Serious multi-taskers had been recruited to take on these marshalling roles. It looked quite energetic at times.
There really are a great many cows. They didn’t seem unduly bothered by the parkrun, and moved on when requested to do so by politely persistent marshals. I tried to get some beautifully framed cows with parkrunner shots. I meant well, you have to respect my intentions were good. Plus remember dear reader, comedic value trumps quality on occasion, that’s the rule! That cavorting cow – the pale one, it’s in post-shoo frolics. They are quite surprisingly light on their feet it seems. My favourite was the one with the panda black eyes and black nose. Awww. Did I tell you the story about the 4 year old or so at Graves junior parkrun, who seeing similarly marked sheep in the animal park they pass through en route, insisted they were baby pandas! How wonderful, to exist in a world where you get to see baby pandas at parkrun, but having said that, getting this close to cavorting cows is pretty fabulous too! And when you are four, or thereabouts, I suppose seeing a panda en route is no more remarkable than seeing an alpaca or a chicken or even a donkey, and they are all there for the gawping too. Poor things.
So you speed round the corner, or if you are me, drag your weary carcass. I got distracted by taking lots of photos, and doubling back to try and get some new angles, and slowly but surely, found myself filtering further and further back, til I was in sight of the tail walkers, and then I wanted to get some shots of them, so I waited, and then I ran on a bit, it was all stop start. Then I realised after a bit it wasn’t actually raining any more, but I was drenched from within by the extreme inner clamminess of my jacket. I was way too hot, it was nigh on tropical in there, not good. I really don’t know why I put it on in the first place, it was never going to end well as I was soaked long before the start.
Still, the landscape was lovely, there’s a bit of an uphill, as you swerve away from the fast food van parked on the road straight ahead of you – and then you are rewarded with the site of a great tower, which was once a windmill. It’s quite a landmark, so that required a lot of photographing too.
Busy, busy, busy.
So you loop the loop round the old windmill, and then it’s a homeward straight, under an avenue of trees, alongside the road through the pastures, trying not to be too distracted by the vista to your right, that’s some cathedral they’ve got going there! Actually, correction, it’s not a cathedral, although it is a minster. Beverley Minster accordingtowikipediasoitmustbetrue is apparently:
one of the largest parish churches in the UK, larger than one-third of all English cathedrals and regarded as a gothic masterpiece by many.
Whatever, I thought it was quite splendid anyhow. Also, given how overcast it had been earlier, the views were extraordinarily clear. Faster runners started lapping me, so I paused to watch a few of them pass by.
I was rewarded for my tardiness by seeing a particularly fine demonstration of cow shooing in action. A veritable five star class. Loving your work hi-vis cow marshal. If that doesn’t merit it’s own running challenge badge I don’t know what does? The ‘other’ icon surely, as an absolute minimum?
Well, I say she was cow-shooing, and that’s definitely what I thought at the time. But the photos make it look like either she was doing some impromptu (and to be honest, not particularly well executed) thai chi moves, or alternatively striding out water divining. If the latter, I can’t quite decide if she was doing spectacularly well or spectacularly badly. I mean, water water everywhere after all … I’ll never really know. A bit of mystery is good though isn’t it. Life should be full of unknowns as well as surprises. Unless of course she was auditioning for a zombie film, arms outstretched in front of her, staggering off across uneven terrain? Yep, that seems the most likely on reflection. Probably that. Glad that’s been sorted. Those marshals who have completed the cow-shooing training would be shoo-ins (see what I did there) for supporting artistes on Zombie apocalypse films, they’ve nailed the stumbling along techniques. Original steady paced zombies, not the faster than light ones that are currently in vogue, though having said that, I bet some of them can really shift too, so all ends of the zombie continuum are catered for. Excellent.
So down you go, and the finish funnel is in sight, but only for people who’ve already completed both laps. I could still record a few finishers coming through though. It’s such a great sight, a cheery parkrun finish funnel. I mean just look at these lovely happy, smiley, welcoming faces, and they can all be your new best friends in that moment!
Check out the funnel-ducker defying security fencing being employed here. This crew means business. Respect!
So here are the speedier than me’s coming through. The ones with the real stamina are those marshals though, still smiling and clapping:
Here was also a photo swapping opportunity. See what we’ve done here! Genius.
So I went past the funnel, despite the siren call of a distant cow bell and the lure of the homeward welcome, and round the loop at the bottom and out again for round two. Ding ding!
By now, most other runners were way ahead and out of sight, so it was a more sedate second lap. I tried to get shots I’d missed on the first time round, and ended up in what I hope was a mutually companionable power walk with my new best friend who was a Beverly Westwood local and second time parkrunner. It was ace, because I got to learn about the Pasture master and the common ground, and St John, and the racecourse and the windmill and all sorts. Like I said parkrun can be most educational! Thank you impromptu tour guide, much appreciated! 🙂
Marshals dismantled the course behind us as we came in, but not before they’d cheered us on and pointed out newly deposited cow pats that I like to think had been presented in our honour.
And then, before you know it, the parkrun adventure is about to conclude. We ran together through the finish.
Cheered in by a fair old crowd, which was particularly impressive given the prevailing weather. Even if it had brightened up a bit by then, we still all basically felt like we’d been ducked or dunked or otherwise fully immersed in liquid and spun round for the last hour or so!
I had my barcode wrist band thingy, so no sooner had I located a scanner, I was all scanned present and correct. Job done. Hurrah! Now we are all au fait with #dfyb, it’s second nature. Hard to remember there was a time when barcodes seemed but a far fetched futuristic fantasy. That was when tank tops were quite in vogue and loud kipper ties too as I recall, though to be fair, in an ironic time warping twist, that seems far fetched fantasy too from this distance, so who knows.
The volunteers were coming in behind, laden with the detritus of a comprehensively set out course. Cones and flags and signs a-plenty.
And that was that, parkrun wise. All over but the shouting. Or more accurately in this case, the course shut down, blood caffeine stabilising and results processing, which amounts to the same thing.
Many adjourned to the Woolpack pub, I did too, and it was friendly and they did coffee for £1.80 and parkrun breakfasts of basically sausage or bacon rolls – but no veggie option alas. Though the Woolpack has only been open under new ownership for a couple of weeks, so I think that may well change. They said they do offer vegetarian sausages at lunch time, so I suppose it’s a work in progress. They were friendly and welcoming though. I got a coffee anyway, because I felt I should support the business really, plenty were breakfasting, some sitting outside and the results processing HQ is here too I think.
It definitely is. Check out these pics
lifted I’ve shared from their photo posts of the results processing team in action. Nice candle display they have going on there. Creating anagrams can be such fun!
I took my coffee and headed off for an explore and ended up in step with one of the volunteers who by coincidence works in Sheffield part the week. (Cheery wave coming right atya if you’re reading). I made my way to another possible gathering spot, near the long stay carpark – The Windmill. Other parkrunners were there but it was dark and not really enough space to join them plus also lamentably poor veggie choices, so I abandoned the breakfast idea, deciding not to linger longer. I reckoned my surplus body fat* would probably see me through ’til I got home. *Spoiler alert, it did. Also, the novelty of being soaked through to my knickers was definitely wearing off, and the slurry seeping from my saturated backpack into my purple tee was making its presence felt! Time to say goodbye…
I was homeward bound. And hail and rain beat on the windscreen for the drive back to Sheffield. How we managed to have most of our run in relative balmy dryness I have absolutely no idea!
So thank you parkrunners all who made Beverley Westwood fun-filled and fabulous. I can’t believe you are but three runs old! Definitely already punching above your weight. One of my favourite courses bizarrely, I think the cows add a certain charm, the views are stunning, the locals friendly. Throw in some pre-run toilet facilities, and I do declare that’s all boxes ticked. Yay! If the weather had been kinder it would have been well worth a day trip, I bailed I’m afraid, but perhaps I’ll return, places to go people to see, new horizons to be explored. So it seems that when you go west, the skies aren’t necessarily blue, but it was definitely delightful in the open air, and the elements just made it more memorable. Everybody knows running in the rain just proves you to be hardcore, and as for those who marshal in the rain? Well they are the stuff of legend!
Thank you high vis heroes, you were ace. parkrun volunteers are indeed a whizz in hi-viz! I hope you have all managed to dry out by now and are being as cossetted and kept warm as your hi-vis attire! Beverley Westwood Laundrette had a conveyor belt of washing and drying services in operation all afternoon if the picture is anything to go by. Above and beyond I say. Bravo indeed!
Oh, and if you want to check out the accuracy of my account by being a bit more robust in your research into this fine event then I offer you this link by way of triangulation. Their run report for Beverley Westwood parkrun #3 offers another perspective. Go on, do it. It’s all about the milestones!
Incidentally, if you want to prolong your parkrun fix, you can read all my parkrun related posts here. Or not. It’s up to you. You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.
and finally, before I go, can I just share this?
Just because, sometimes there doesn’t need to be a why.
Happy parkrunning people, share the parkrun love.
By the way, I have discovered this fab website for bulk resizing photos (so they don’t use up all your memory, well not your actual memory, your digital memory) and for adding a batch watermark. Free and glitch free. Cool eh?