Posts Tagged With: Attercliffe

Easy as ABC… implementing up and at it on the run in Attercliffe

Digested read:  our Smiletastic challenge for February was to do a run incorporating all the letters of the alphabet.  We dragonflies did this, in Attercliffe, which revealed hidden delights and adventures as we explored hitherto unknown (to me) hinterlands of north-east Sheffield.  It was an adventure, I followed up at the rear.  No change there then.

Did you read that amazing story in the news the other week? What do you mean ‘which one?’ is it not immediately apparent?  Sigh.  Keep up.  The one about the woman who could become disoriented within her own house.  It would seem both to be familiar, but unfamiliar, her world would spontaneously rotate and become unrecognisable, unmappable, as her internal ‘map’ flipped, due to some previously unrecognised neurological brain malfunction. This would mean that quite literally, she is/was unable to navigate her way even around her own house. To get to her front door, or bedroom or wherever she was heading, she’d need to breathe deeply, think hard and look for clues.  Lost, completely, inexplicably lost, despite being within range of familiar things.  The woman who is permanently lost.  Sounds terrifying, and, to be truthful, slightly implausible.  By which I mean obviously it used to sound implausible, but that was before today.  Today I got completely lost on the streets of Sheffield, to the point it felt like I’d been forcibly abducted, which in a way I suppose I had been.

Today, took me on a magical mystery tour of the delights of Attercliffe.  I was but a proverbial stone’s throw from familiar territory, and yet I had absolutely no idea where I was for most of the duration of the run.  In a twist on the original theme, I also had no idea what I was doing, as I scampered around desperately trying to keep up with my Dragonfly Smiletastic trail blazers like a dachshund trying to keep up with a pack of greyhounds.  Not pretty to be fair.  I tried, but I’m never going to manifest the athletic elegance and vigour or my Smiley counterparts.  Maybe I should start running only in the dark for a bit, until morale picks up.  Most definitely I should stick to running on my own.

dachsund running

Hang on, you don’t know what I’m on about?  Well, for those of you who have no idea what I’m on about, I have no idea how it is that mysteriously you have somehow missed out on all the Smiletastic shenanigans (what stone have you been hiding under) of late.  But, since you are not in the know, Smiletastic is basically a motivational challenge to help runners to keep up their running targets throughout the winter months.  More specifically, to help runners who are members of the friendly and inclusive women’s only running club in Sheffield we know and love as Smiley Paces.  There are various individual challenges, but the important thing about today is that it was a team challenge. There’s one of these each month.  There are four teams all together, bees, ladybirds, grasshoppers and lastly and most important, MY team, which is dragonflies.  The challenge for this month was:

alphabet run february team challenge smiletastic

So hard to do basically.  Fortunately, we’d had a Smiletastic Dragonflies alphabet run planning meeting, at which my main contribution was to turn up and nod earnestly, and defer to people who seemed to have a plan.  Now, as the logical extension of that contributory negligence in having shown up and shown interest in the collective endeavour,  we had to run the darned thing.  Good oh.  The stipulation was to run an alphabet in Sheffield.  However, to nab every letter of the alphabet, we were always going to end up in Attercliffe at some point, as along with its many other attractions, Attercliffe is the only area of Sheffield blessed with a street name beginning with Z.  To the glory of Zion we come.

Attercliffe gets a bit of a bad press locally to be fair.  It offers up faded industrial glory, and it doesn’t bode well that Wikipedia pronounces its attractions as basically the fact that it is located on the supertram route and used to have a lovely cinema.  Which is a bit like saying to someone they almost won the lottery, if they’d just had one more number, unfortunately, on this occasion they’ll be going home empty-handed.  Cold comfort indeed…


Attercliffe is also closely associated with a the Channel 4 TV show A very British Brothel which featured the daily life of business at the City Sauna, on Attercliffe Road.  It was quite a gentle documentary to be fair, more cosy than sleazy according to The Guardian so it must be true, but still not exactly the image the Sheffield Tourist Board would be keen to feature on the front of their ‘Welcome to Sheffield‘ webguide.

city sauna

So, upshot was, Sunday dawned, and once I’d had my marshalling fix in the white out that was Graves Junior parkrun I made my way over to Attercliffe for our Dragonfly rendezvous. I’d got so cold in the snow at Graves, I wasn’t brimming over with enthusiasm for a 7 mile run, it was freeeeeeeeeeeeezing.


Fortuitously though, the sun came out.  I found somewhere to park, and we rendezvoused at Accelerate on Attercliffe Road, which is handily very near Zion street so pretty much bagging the A-Z in record time!

Just to add an element of mystery to proceedings, I opted to park round the corner and lurk in my car out of the cold rather than stand shivering outside Accelerate.  Well, I had a lot to mull over. Which coat, should I wear my woolly hat?  What about dragonfly wings – fashion triumph or fashion tragedy?  I was relieved to see others arrive and park up too. Soon we were a fair old gang of dragonflies, I don’t know what the collective noun is for dragonflies.  A brilliance of dragonflies maybe – google says it’s a cluster of dragonflies, but I thought it was warts that came in clusters, and so I’m sticking with Brilliance.  It might not be strictly accurate, but sometimes we have to rewrite our own narratives to improve our lives do we not.  Be the change you want to make in the world, that sort of thing.  Mostly it’s pretentious nonsense of course, but I find I need to cling to what fragile hope I can in times of adversity. This seems to be one such time.


Anyways, after a bit, more of us appeared, and we did a bit of smiley greeting of one another, which involves collective faffing about what to where, who was supposed to be coming, whether or not we were all here, to fancy dress or not to fancy dress, that sort of thing.  There was some experimentation with new ways to wear a smiley buff, not sure that went all that well, but you have to try these things don’t you, before you can make an informed choice.


Then there was some excited posing for photos by the Zion Lane sign, just because we could.  Also, some concerned chit-chat about where our actual run leader was, she in possession of map and instructions, and later on we’d discover a tick list of required roads as well. Turns out, she was only waiting outside Accelerate in accordance with the rendezvous instructions!  honestly, and there were all the rest of us running amok in the presence of Zion. What larks eh, what larks.


Couple of things you need to know about our posing by signs strategy.  We spent ages trying to perfect the group selfie, and then just when we thought we’d absolutely nailed it, another dragonfly arrived, a bit belatedly and we had to do it all over again.  There was also more faffing what with pinning on wings etc.  It’s quite complex socially and logistically, this alphabet team run endeavour. Really, it is.


At this point in running proceedings we were all in the same place at the same time and quite motivated to do such group shots.  It would be fair to say our enthusiasm and ability to convene together at the same place at the same time depleted over the course of the next couple of hours.  Oh dear.  Still, bright and brilliant beginnings.  Also, good to see actual dragonflies are quite good at posing together too. In the photos alongside one another above a bit, they are the one’s on the, erm, let’s see, erm leeeeeeeeft, maybe?  You choose.

Some opted to rock the nymph look, with the added bonus of mortifying their offspring later when they find out they went out in public sporting their buffs in this fashion.  I did wear my hat.


So, once convened, and once me and one other had donned our dragonfly wings, what the hell, off we went…. not very far at all, as it seemed that the next couple of street signs came thick and fast, and we were still only metres from where we started.  Also, still up for group shots at this juncture.  Yes, this much fun!

lawrence street group shot

and this proximity from where we started:


off we shot and then another sign, good oh…..


From hereonin, honestly it was a bit of a blur.  Our super-organised leader had all the necessary paperwork and strategy, and shot off at a fair old lick whilst the rest of us trailed in her wake. Some of us did more trailing than others.  I had no chance of keeping up, so it was all a bit surreal.


The route was quite remarkable.  As we were dipping in and out of fairly seemingly random side streets to nab various letters, we went down roads I’d never normally venture down  Taking in the delights of Attercliffe’s industrial past and present.  Joking apart, there is some absolutely stunning architecture in the area, but sadly it’s just been allowed to die away into dereliction.  Some of the building were only built about 100 years ago, and yet in that short time have been abandoned to rot all boarded up and abandoned.  It’s really sad, the area is crying out for regeneration. We must have looked pretty incongruous, running through with some gesture to fancy dress and periodically stopping to excitedly photograph street signs for no obvious reason to any passers-by.  In truth, there weren’t all that many passers by, Attercliffe is pretty deserted on a Sunday lunchtime it would seem.

Early adventures included the sighting of alien dragonfly egg on the pavements of Attercliffe. This possibly would have been worth an extra Smiletastic point, but we forgot to claim for it.  I’m not quite sure what it would have hatched into, as we didn’t wait around for long enough to find out, but once again google has delivered one option.  I’m quite glad we weren’t there to witness it.  Maybe an escapee from the Attercliffe exotics shop.  Who knows?  Exotic shops have more than one meaning in Attercliffe, but then again, I’m sure City Sauna caters for all sorts of niche preferences, this specimen could therefore have originated from either.  Sleep well people, sleep well…


In other news, our ophiophobic smiley colleague managed to cross by on the other side of the road to the snake shop, whilst we supportively took photos of her being brave.  One for all, and all for one, and no photo opportunity too small to bank for future reference.


Despite my scurrying along at the rear,  I was very proud to espy this sign on a bus-stop which I still maintain could have spared us all a great deal of running around, but the others were too far ahead to hear my cries at this point.


We ran on.

There was childish giggling:


An attempt to nab an X (there are no road signs beginning with X within the boundaries of Sheffield postcodes apparently)


Attercliffe slowly revealed its many mysteries as we pounded its damp pavements on our mission.


There were some navigational adjustments to be made, it’s quite complicated doing a run with such obsessive focus on street names


We tried to stop and photograph signs, but then we did a lot of running backwards and forwards to make sure we could truly claim to have run down each alphabet road, not just run past a street sign.  We also decided many of our shots just weren’t active enough, so we had to try again with actual running poses.  It’s harder than you might think documenting things for posterity.


Exploring is fun.  We took a minor detour to take in a bit of spontaneous track work, partly to honour Smiley Elder, it being her birthday and all, and partly because we fancied our chances in a one hundred metre dragonfly dash. We did, until we collectively decided it was too slippery to do much more than pretend to run, though one of our number did manage a complete spirit to the finish in fine form and fettle. Bravo!


Then, as there had admittedly been quite a lot of faffing, the pace picked up again, I just breathlessly followed on as best I could, whilst the lead runners performed the necessary navigational tasks, list ticking and photographic record keeping all in the time it took for me to get them back within hailing distance.  I didn’t feel I contributed much apart from ballast, but then ballast has a role to play, ships might sink without it.  I’m not quite sure how far that analogy extends to running contexts, but I’m prepared to let that go.  I tried to keep them at least in sight, for the most part…


There was a brief moment of hope for me, when we found one of those ofo bikes, which pleasingly , was in my livery colours.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a smart phone, so was unable to unlock it, but good posing opportunity.  Likewise, found a gym that looked like just the job if only it wasn’t such a long way from where I live.   Syd sure has been working his biceps and not taking steroids at all.  Impressive!


Scampering on…  We went through soulless industrial estates, under old Victorian bridges, past sadly derelict once magnificent public buildings, and on through modern housing estates, where cooking smells rose out of kitchens, and we must have looked exceedingly out-of-place.


We occasionally gathered up, mostly when our leader got lost, and did some more random posing.  Jubilee road almost completely defeated us, and we did a lot of toing and froing before a local resident pointed us in the right direction. She was very helpful and friendly and didn’t even appear to register how incongruous we must have looked let alone enquire what we were up to. It felt a friendly place.


There were some opportunities for not very imaginative practical jokes.  Like when my fellow winged dragonfly lost her pink wings and another runner appropriated them. You wouldn’t believe how long it took for her to realise this had happened.  I think we may have been somewhat oxygen deprived at this point, as we found it disproportionately entertaining.  You had to be there.  Still, bodes well for post the apocalypse, if ever we have to make our own entertainment with limited materials and opportunities on which to draw.


Even though Attercliffe most definitely has its industrial heritage at its core, there were some welcome green spaces.  Including one where there wasn’t so much a trail of breadcrumb, as a road of white sliced bread.  I couldn’t help wondering if another Smiletastic team was even now on operations in the vicinity, and this was some ploy to help their less well sighted running buddies navigate their way home.  Lord knows I was completely lost.  I clung on for grim death at the back, if my companions disappeared out of sight completely I’d never have found my way home again.  Whilst Attercliffe was a great deal nicer than I’d imagined, I wouldn’t really want to end my days there running round the streets in ever decreasing circles, with my dragonfly wings becoming ever more battered and torn as hours became days and days became weeks and so on until I shrivelled away to join the skeletal frames lining the canal which we came upon later.


HOnestly, it was all a bit of a blur. What I do know, is that we successfully got all our alphabet, minus the ‘impossible’ x, within about 6 miles, but then we had a canal detour to bagsy our x.  This was a separate mission impossible, except it turned out it both was and wasn’t.  Wasn’t, because we did it, and was, because although we did it, there was no actual road sign, so massive anti-climax.  Oops.  It did involve dipping down onto the canal path, and running a straight mile to the city centre, emerging at Victoria Quays – another run route I’ve never done, but keep meaning too.  Before we did that, just a few more amazing  buildings to appreciate, it would be so great to see these brought back to their former glory..


The canal detour – once we’d once again resisted the temptation to catch a tram, and got directions from a local to actually get down by it, was quite impressive. For them as can run fast, this is a fast bit. I can’t, and was also thwarted by my choice of shoes.  I was wearing road shoes, but this was pretty muddy and slippery, trail shoes would have been much better.  oh well, next time eh?


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m always a bit dubious about tow paths.  I like the idea of running near water, but I’m not so keen on the being trapped on a narrow path aspect of it. Also, as one of my fellow runners was keen to remind us, it’s always runners who find dead bodies on tow paths. That’s not strictly true of course, it can happen to dog walkers too.  A friend of mine was walking her dog along a canal path in Leamington many years ago and she found a body. The worst of it was, this was pre mobile phone days and she had to stop someone to borrow a phone to call for help, the first person didn’t want to get involved and just left her.  Eventually she did get a phone, but was left alone next to a face downward floating corpse until the police arrived. Then, to add insult to injury, they wouldn’t allow her to walk back the way she came because it was a possible crime scene, she had to walk an extra five miles to get home.  Not a good outcome, and maybe this has contributed to my aversion to ‘lovely’ canal walks even if only in my subconscious. To be fair, the dead person had had a worse outcome, though for the record, there was no foul play detected.

We didn’t find any actual corpses, but we did find some that had apparently been boiled down to the bare bones and then displayed.  It was quite an impressive show with loving attention to detail.  I wouldn’t mind ending up here.  Then again, hiding in plain sight, it’s the classic ruse isn’t it, to get away with murder.  Obvious place to conceal a body if you think about it.  I suggest you just don’t.  I do like a good pun too ‘Musn Grumble’ hilarious, see what they’ve done there!


Then on again down the tow path


and more delights revealed themselves.  Soppy valentine moments aren’t for me, but a group smiley hug, that’s nice!  Mind you, if hugs aren’t your thing, check out this handy video on how to take appropriate evasive action in a variety of hug ambush situations.  You’re welcome.


and then there was the white horse, and the red dragon, see what we did there, we were ON FIRE(ish)!


and there were pretty flowers – well one anyway also a dead rat, probably rather more than one of those, but only one that was especially noticeable:


And then, almost suddenly we were at Victoria Quays where a barge proclaiming itself ‘the kids’ inheritance’ welcomed us on to the cobbles.  These weren’t all that welcome for sore feet.  At least one of our number was suffering the after effects of a 17 mile fell run the day before, and cobbles today weren’t helping.


So the climax of our run was to get onto eXchange street.  See what we’ve done there.  Unfortunately, despite adding a mile to our run, there wasn’t a single helpful road sign to proclaim our success, making it somewhat anticlimactic.  Though we were able to find a handy X scrawled across a board somewhere and a potential ‘valentine themed observation’ in keeping with the individual challenges for February so beloved of Smiley Elder who has many great qualities, but lacks a certain cynicism with regard to romantic love which is a bit of an oversight in my view.


And that was it.  Run concluded, just as the sky was getting dark and it was getting cold again.  We dispersed.  Just time to play chicken at one of the railings on the canalside,


and then we were back in Attercliffe before we knew it!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Magical mystery tour all done and dusted.  If you are interested in our route, and it isn’t one I’d be able to replicate, here is the strava map for your edification and merriment:

strava route

Check out the inadvertent dinky heart in the bottom left hand corner.

So to conclude, this is our alphabet gallery of gloriousness, all nabbed in S9 (pretty much)


Job done.

One future challenge might be to do an ultra and see if they can all be done in alphabetical order.  That would be a might challenge for someone else though, not for me.  This wasn’t a favourite run by any means, though I did like seeing parts of the city I’ve never espied before, it was just hard being reminded constantly of my running ineptitude as faster runners sprinted ahead.  On the other hand, at least I didn’t entirely miss out, and I have a new appreciation of Attercliffe.  The redevelopment that is already underway is impressive, maybe it will yet be a new sporting centre as it aspires to be …

It is home to one of the highest concentrations of sporting facilities in the UK with the Olympic Legacy Park,[6] incorporating iceSheffield and the English Institute of Sport – Sheffield, located in the area

according to wikipedia, which, as we have already established, means it must be so.

So that’s good.

Easy as ABC..  Now we know.

So who’s up for the ultra alphabetical order alphabet run?  Answers on a postcard please.  Bet it’s been done somewhere.


Categories: running, teamwork | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Up’n’at it at Attercliffe Alphabet soup run. Dragonflies are ready to go!

Digested read: wow, the Smiletastic challenge for February was a bit daunting.  Run a street for every letter in the alphabet, seriously?  Guess what, what seems impossible as an individual is achieveable as part of a team.  Go Smilies in general and Smiletastic dragonfly Smilies in particular. We’ve got this.  Run planned, just need to execute now. Eeeeezeee.  🙂

Did you know that the Air Guitar World Championships take place each year in Oulu, Finland?   Me neither to be fair, until recently.  But some things, once you know, can never be unknown.  On my bucket list now, just saying. The rules are here – I love that your air guitar can be either electric or acoustic. Very inclusive.

The thing is, whilst not disputing that an Air Guitar World Championships would be über cool, even if it wasn’t set in the super cool location of Finland, we do have some pretty cool contests happening here in Sheffield.  I speak dear reader, of course, of Smiletastic 2018.  Our Smiley Paces Running Club winter challenge, to keep us Sheffield women up and running in the cold and dark.   This is for the most part good, but can be stressful, as some challenges require not only the inclination and ability to run about, but also initiative, team work and creativity.  Fortunately, you don’t have to find all the skills within yourself, you can parasitise harness the skills of fellow team mates.  Thus, we achieve more collectively than might be possible for us as individuals. Such is the nature of teamwork, and the awesome power of the collective endeavour of any  group of motivated Smilies.  Together we are invincible.  Eventually.  Took a while though.

So it was, the new month of February, brought with it a new challenge.  Expressed as follows:


2. Team Challenge: By Midnight Sunday February 25th the team who has incorporated
streets/roads/lanes/tracks in Sheffield which start with different letters of the alphabet into the shortest number of runs will earn the most points. Here’s a website to help your planning.
(there’s no X, but I’m sure that’s no barrier to your imagination!)
• A team’s submission can be made up from a number of runs from different people or you can delegate planners and runners.
• The distance of each run can be as long or as short as you want, but each one must be continuous – ie. You can’t run along a road starting with “B”, then pause your watch, drive to another area and unpause your watch to run along a road stating with “H”. That should be uploaded as TWO separate runs not ONE. However, if there’s a tie, then the team who did it in the shortest total distance will win.
• The team’s submission should come to me from ONE PERSON in a table form as shown in the
example (obviously, you’ll need more rows than this…. or will you?)
• I’m not going to check every street or even every run – again its up to your honesty.
As the month progresses you’ll be able to refine your first “full-house” and focus your team’s runs to “collect” letters. Please don’t submit your team’s result too soon – there are no prizes for the first. If you want me to check anything, then feel free to send it to me to ask questions.

etc… until you’ve “bagged” every letter
Happy Running!
Smiley Elder

(She doesn’t actually sign herself off like this, as ‘Smiley Elder’, but I think she should, so editorial licence here).

So that was the requirement.  I wasn’t overly enamoured with this.  Too hard, impossible even.  I could have wept.  Fortunately, very fortunately indeed, it wasn’t all down to me.  Rather there was a mighty swoosh of dragonfly wings, and by mutual consent, we agreed to collective action and collective responsibility.  As will all such calls for action, we would commence with a planning meeting. We would do this in an evening so we could multi-task and segment bag an after 9.00 a.m run at the same time.  We were on fire, we would be invincible, we were so on this, see us visualise and so achieve our own glorious success.

Well, something like that.  It was nippy, but we did gather.  It was very jolly to meet up with fellow Dragonfly team mates, but it is just possible, that our gathering together led to an element of colluding with mutual inaction in relation to go out in the cold and dark to bag a segment for example, rather than motivating us to act.  The problem was partly due to our host’s extreme hospitality.  I mean answer honestly – which would you rather do, stay inside drinking tea and gorging on giant chocolate buttons or venture out in the icy darkness and try to find a golden segment.  I mean golden segment bagging is all well and good, but the novelty does wear off.  We Smilies may love to run, but we are also mortal. Well most of us, quite clearly the ultra runners and GB triathletes, Smiley founders and Smiley elders are all basically deities in human form, speaking personally though, I am definitely mortal.   It is my job to make others look fabulous by comparison, I undertake this task quite brilliantly, if I say so myself. I’m not sure if that is quite the strategy this motivational quote is advocating, but I say, just do what works for you and yours.

be somebody

So where was I?  Oh yes, at our planning meeting which was cold and where we were not very good at motivating one another to go out segment bagging, but extremely good at eating giant chocolate buttons instead.  That, and planning fancy dress, which to be fair is very distracting, particularly when there are so many genius ideas, individually and collectively to be explored.  Mermaid leggings are a boon are they not?  How have I lived my whole life through to this point, that’s over half a century of possibilities, and not known of even the existence of these splendid clothing options?  I say ‘lived’ my whole life, but until now I had no idea what I was missing out on, now I realise I have just been barely existing, hanging on to the edges of life, moving through hours, days, weeks and years as if living in black and white.  A two-dimensional twilight world where mermaid leggings had never appeared in my frame of reference. Yet here we were, gathered in a Sheffield home gazing in admiration at this amazon acquisition made by one of our number.  We were in awe!  These were game changers.  I was seeing in 3d for the first time.  Oh brave new world that has such wonders in it.

mermaid leggings

Granted, only a doll could actually fit into them, or a particularly skinny pre-pubescent child, but even so.  Having said that, it disturbs me somewhat that infinitesimally sized metallic leggings are described as ‘sexy’.  That feels very wrong suggesting that the writer of the strap line could look at an underweight child wearing cheap see-through metallic fish scaled tights and objectify them in such terms.  Still, ignoring that, and focusing instead on the self-serving ‘oh my gawd, they are completely brilliant, let;s all splash out and buy two pairs each and wrap them round stretched out coat hangers to make dragon-fly wings‘ they were potentially absolutely fabulous purchases.  This is what eBay and Amazon were made for!  Supplying consumer items you didn’t realise you wanted, but now you know they are out there, it’s not so much a ‘want’ any more, but an actual raw raging desire. Mermaid leggings are no longer trivial fluffy take-it-or-leave-it flotsam, they have transitioned into purchases that are essential not only for mental health, but for the very continuation of life.  If we do not acquire these in bulk, with immediate effect, we will not be able to breath…

Then again, I’ve still not given up on the plan for sparkly tights and reused plastic cups to make the abdomen as an alternative fancy dress option. We still have work to do. We are working towards excellence though, for sure.  Cling film and coat hangers are always a boon too, lots of potential there.

dragonfly fancy dress sorted

So as you can imagine, despite convening at the agreed hour, it took quite a while to excitedly exchange fancy dress ideas and eat our way through the assorted snacking options.  Ultimately though, we did have to turn our hive brain to the task in hand.   This alphabet run, what are we going to do to ‘make it so’?

I had no idea.  I was feeling quite negatively inclined towards it, I’d imagined it would require trial and error, go out and bagsy as many street names as you could within our local vicinity and then add in the missing street names to fill the gaps.  In the circumstances, it was extremely fortuitous that the success or otherwise of this task did not stand or fall by dint of my efforts.  Even more fortuitously, it seems we had at least one smart, funny, creative and logical thinker in our midst.  Turns out, rather than doing the whole trial and error thing until you lost the will to live, there is a better way!  Who knew?

All you have to do, is first located the street names that begin with letters t;hat occur really infrequently, like Z say, and then look for routes near that. This took us to Zion Street, in Attercliffe, which is the single road name within Sheffield that begins with Z.  Then it was a simple matter of picking off roads in the same postcode area by simply using the street names index in our A-Zs.  It took a while, but amazingly, we found pretty much all of them. There are no streets beginning with X, but we thought maybe a trip to the cemetery would help us bagsy a cross and that would do it.  Hurrah.  In the end (spoiler alert) when we actually went out and did our alphabet run for real, we plumped for a different genius option, but that was later this was now.

I was hampered in contributing in any meaningful way to  this exercise by poor eyesight, poor initiative and, despite having had the foresight to bring along a Sheffield A-Z with me to the meeting, I spent quite a bit longer inadvertently staring at completely the wrong page  than I could reasonable explain away as a deliberate attempt at self-deprecating humour.  Once exposed as being this clueless, I subsequently limited myself to nodding earnestly at other people’s suggestions, and thrusting my A-Z under the noses of other runners with more seeing eyes. Well, sometimes it’s in the interests of the greater good to accept your limitations and instead bolster the efforts of others with more appropriate skills sets for the tasks in hand.  This is what I like to tell myself anyway.  I’m still working towards identifying and unlocking my unique skills set.  I’m really hoping I’m a late developer, and I didn’t really peak when I made that very fine caterpillar out of egg boxes in nursery when I was about three.  It was a very good caterpillar though.  Shame it fell down the back of the old Victorian radiator it had been left on to dry, impossible to retrieve, and never again to see the light of day.  I wonder if it might still be there?  Maybe future generations will some day find it, and think it was deliberately preserved because it was such a delightful and precious artefact?  If that was the pinnacle of my achievements in life, it would be quite a comfort to think that might be so.

Ironic really, I thought dragonflies had really good eyesight.  Not me though.

the eyes have it

Astonishingly, once we were focused on the task and agreed strategy, we had a list of the entire alphabet (apart from the non eXistent X) nailed!  Hurrah!  Gawd we are an awesome team!  Here are some of our workings, in case the point scoring system for Smiletastic requires this in the event of a tie. You know, like in maths exams, where you get credit for how you approach the problem even if you decimal point is a few places out at the end.  I think that’s why CEOs of major companies like BHS or Carillion or Barings Bank  get mighty payoffs despite bankrupting their businesses and running off with pension funds as long as they are able to wave some paperwork showing they were honestly trying and not at all just asset stripping and lining their own pockets as quickly as possible before doing a runner.  How otherwise did they pass their audits?  Quite.

road list

So there was an initial warm glow of enthusiasm and relief that we had our target road names in our sights, and then there was the realisation this somehow had to be converted into a runnable route.  Uh oh.  That seemed impossible all over again….  honestly (yes, I’m sorry team, I should have had more faith in our collective wisdom) I’d expected some awkward shuffling about and people avoiding eye contact, fearful that the slightest twitch might imply we’d volunteered to take on the task.  However, in fact one of our number just stepped up, immediately, with a can-do attitude and superhero cape.  Amazing.  Smilies are extraordinary.  I’d give a bonus point for that myself.

And you know what, she did exactly that, harnessing the services of bespoke technology to communicate the route intentions to us all.  Fair genius all of this.  It’s like a parallel wonderland, I had no idea you could do this. ‘You’ being the operative word, I’m still not quite sure I could, but then again, I didn’t need to, that task had been effectively outsourced, and here is the result.  Amazing.  plotaroute attercliffe alphabet run

plot a route alphabet

There remained however just one teensy issue.  Ophidiophobia.  I know, easy to say.  The thing is, none of us knew at the point of route plotting (or if they did, they weren’t letting on)  but there is a snake shop along the way.  I find this hilarious, but I’m not in the ophidiophobic category, which in some ways is a shame as it’s the most brilliant word I’ve come across in ages and ages.    On the contrary, I do positively like snakes.  I have seen some amazing ones in my time, from adders in Northumberland to snakes in Africa.  I like warthogs more though. They are the best animals in the world.  FACT.

The shop in question has an unambiguous name, so generally should be easy to avoid. However, not it seems,  if you are doing a scheduled Smiletastic alphabet run, we would be running on by.  Never mind, we dragonflies would protect our ophidiophobic comrade.  You can’t say fairer than that.  We would help her to feel the fear and do it anyway.

the snake shop attercliffe

Afterwards she would feel invincible, we would share high fives, there would probably be a group hug and everything, it would be fine and dandy.  We are so awesome.  All of us.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As an added boon, our run would start at a running shop. Accelerate being a good location to meet up.  Unfortunately, we were going to meet on a Sunday, so we’d have to satisfy our lust for running gear by salivating on the window pane as our noses pressed up against the windows of the closed shop front.  Never mind.  There will be other days and other opportunities to splash the cash at our running shop second home.

Best of all, in a fit of synchronicity, we had near unanimous agreement to undertake the run.  All for one and one for all – well near as dammit.  We’d set about this run in two turnouts on consecutive Sundays.  We might even get a whole team turn out.  Surely, if there was any justice in the world (which alas there isn’t, see reference to CEO payouts above) we’d get heaps and heaps of Smiletastic points.

This would be greater even than The Poem.  The Poem, penned by one of our very own, in tribute to the Hill of Doom Golden Segment run, which Smiley Elder herself decreed to be – and I quote:

one of the best ever poems connecting running the Hill of Doom and Valentines Day

and we all know there are a great many poems on exactly that theme, I myself have an old compendium lurking that gathers together the many words poured out on the topic.


I’ve only got the paper back, not the leather bound, gold embossed collectors’ edition.  I’m sure there will be a rush to print a new edition now, as soon as word of this new verse gets out.  In the interim here is a sneak preview, copyright of the author of course.

Hill of Doom?
Valiant and virtuous, we step out in the night
Arms feeling chilly in the waning moonlight
Legs moving slowly, then gaining speed
Energy rising at the thought of our deed
Nothing can stop us as we pound up the hill
Time becomes trivial, just driven by will
Injured ones resting, weight off their toes
Nurture recovery, no worries or woes
Elated and joyful as the end becomes near
Sophie and I, yes, we’re full of good cheer

Dragonflies, effortless, passed darkened trees
Along flightpaths of grasshoppers, ladybirds, bees
You never know what you might see, it is said
Segment uploaded, now get home to bed!

As she’s a dragonfly to the core, I expect she’ll end up using this as her author photo, isn’t she fabulous people?  Fabulous and awesome.

dragonfly to the core

Oh hang on, have I gone off topic?  I’m so sorry, I really don’t think that’s ever happened before, I just thought you might be interested.  And the hill of doom is quite steep.  You know what, in for a penny, we are on a detour anyway, so why not go the whole hog and let you see the Strava, then you can enjoy an interactive poetry experience, go run it yourself, and recite the poem in the great outdoors once you get to the highest point.

golden segment

You’re welcome.  After all, why should we smilies have the monopoly on Sheffield running joy?

I’m done now though, we had our plan for the alphabet run, we abandoned our late run plans, but you know what, what we achieved collectively was pretty epic.  We had a plan, just the little question of implementing it, but I had faith. What seemed to me impossible as an individual, was within grasp by dint of my amazing team mates.  Hurrah!  Team work is a wondrous thing.

We so have this!

Read about how we got on when we were up and at it in Attercliffe for real here

Read about all our Smiletastic adventures here – scroll down for older entries.

Or just don’t eat buns and watch telly instead, all are viable options.

Where are your running adventures going to take you?  Hope you have a team to watch your back, and I especially hope you have a penchant for collective fancy dress, everything running related is extra fun where that is concerned.  Ask a ladybird.  They can’t help themselves, they really can’t.

ladybird smilies cant help themselves

Just saying.


Categories: motivation, running, running clubs, teamwork | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: