Posts Tagged With: longshaw

Out of the mist, came forth sun… and runners, lots and lots of runners. Loving Longshaw Trust10 in the spring sunshine.

Digested read:  back to the Longshaw Trust 10k (Trust10).  Misty start, sunny finish.  Very nice to be back.

Undigested read:

Everybody loves Longshaw.  Well they should do. Just look at it, it’s spectacular, whatever the season.

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We all need to reboot our systems now and again don’t we?  Don’t we?  Please don’t let on it really is just me?  Oh you were kidding,  it isn’t just me who gets a bit ground down now and again and needs to be reminded to look up and out and breath in the air.  That’s good, otherwise you’ll have no idea what I’m banging on about and that will make for a very confusing mismatch in our conversation, and nobody wants that.

So, Sunday morning. Now normally Sunday is junior parkrun day, and I do really love junior parkrun, supercharged fun however you look at it, especially at my local Graves junior parkrun where you get to run through the animal farm and by the lake and everything.

However, fun as it is, I realised last year that I’d got out of the habit of going to the Longshaw Trust 10k.  This is ridiculous, because I blooming love the Trust10, it’s always super friendly and welcoming and mostly ‘proper’ off road.  I mean not completely hard-core, but enough to get your feet muddy and feel alive and a very long way from the grind of running on pavements or tarmac.

Anyway, longshaw story short, I’ve decided to try to prioritise the Longshaw 10k a bit more this year, after all I can still do junior parkrun the other three weeks of the month (the Longshaw 10k takes place on the fourth Sunday of each month- check website just in case, but that’s worked so far, snow and ice permitting).  This morning, it being the fourth Sunday of the month, Longshaw it would be.

The website says succinctly:

Enjoy a 10k run in the special surroundings of the Longshaw Estate. Free, informal and for everyone

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Join us on the fourth Sunday of the month for our free 10k run. Registration is on the day 8.15 in the café, and the run starts at 9 am. A number will be issued to you at your first run.

The route is two laps, and takes in some wide paths and some more technical off-road sections on grass, rocks and sometimes muddy ground. It is suitable for runners of all abilities.

Timing will be via paper and stopwatches, so if your time is important to you please use your own system.

so that’s all you really need to know, you could just finish here, I wont know, I haven’t a clue if anyone ever reads my posts or not, so no offence taken.  Also, you might have a life to lead, places to go, people to see, whatever. I don’t do concise though, so I’m not prepared to leave this account at that, read on at your own risk. Maybe have a precautionary pee first, and pour yourself a mug of tea or glass of wine in readiness. You’ll need something with which to fortify yourself if you intend to stick with me for the long run. Not that Longshaw is especially long by everyone’s standards, but I’ll make it feel long for you.  It’s a 10k route, but two 5k laps, so if you are unsure you could always do one loop and then bail finish at that point. You’ll be at the front of the cafe queue and have seen the route.  But you won’t get a time and you won’t know the fun you’ve missed out on by doing so. Your call though, nobody will judge you.   Really they wont.  In a good way, nobody cares what you do, as long as you are having a good time and stay safe.  Think parkrun, it’s that sort of ethos.   Good natured, celebrating what you do, and although there are definitely speedy runners pegging round at the front, there is nothing to stop you taking a more sedate romp round at the rear – as did I today.

Despite everything, I did feel a little disloyal to be heading Longshaw way instead of to Graves.  Also, it was freezing when I woke.  Really misty, and was that even a bit of ice on the car?  Possibly.  It was like that at Graves parkrun yesterday, so misty you could hardly see your hand in front of your face on arrival, but then it did clear enough later on the second lap for an en route selfie with highland coo.  Such selfies ought to be mandatory anyway at Graves parkrun, what’s the point of a parkrun going to all that effort of supplying highland coos if nobody bothers to do so, but it was made easier yesterday by dint of me being busy and important as tail walker for the day, no pressure to rush on by.  Oh and also having a smart phone carrying selfie wannabee to accompany me, result.  Hurrah!  Fab walk and talk yesterday.  I thank you. 🙂

Where was I?  You’ve distracted me. Oh yeah, not at Graves, but heading to Longshaw.  It was misty enough that I contemplated putting on my headlights, and cold enough that I considered wearing one of my deeply unflattering beanies.  I thought the better of it, though on reflection, my pink Trust10 bobble hat would have been OK, it’s more forgiving than my cow bob and TpoT offerings.  Too late, didn’t take one, wondered if I might regret it, blooming cold.

I won’t lie, I’ve not been feeling the running lurve lately.  My mojo has not so much temporarily departed as actually abandoned me leaving no forwarding address and only memories and dreams of what might have been.  Despite this, I do sort of miss what we had, and it is slowly dawning on me, that astonishingly, the only way to get back my running form is to actually go out and do some running. Harsh, but true.  Perhaps today would be the day.

I arrived crazily early at Longshaw, got my self parked up in ‘my’ parking spot. Yes, I do have a favourite parking spot at Longshaw, doesn’t everyone?  It was £3.50 for non National Trust members for up to four hours – was hoping that I wouldn’t take that long to get around, even allowing time for a fairly substantial cheese scone afterwards. You can park for free along the road outside the Fox House, but I suppose I feel paying for parking is a way of supporting the otherwise free event.  Also, less far to retreat back to the car on days when it is so cold your legs won’t work.  That might just be me though. You are probably so hard-core you’ll be incorporating the Longshaw Trust10 into your long run and jog out, run the 10k and run home again.  Go you!  Not me though, that wasn’t my plan, though I do have a bit of a fantasy that I might do that one day.  Maybe when the weather is a bit warmer so I don’t have to worry about getting cold in between running legs.

The air was still, the car park already beginning to fill up, and the views, as always, just breathtaking.  Of course my photos don’t do it justice, why would they? You’ll have to go check it out for yourself.

Keenie volunteers had already put the little pink flags up to mark the way.  I had my first precautionary pee of the morning.  The bolt on the toilet door wasn’t working, but that didn’t matter as the queue for the loo is always so extensive, someone will look out for you.  The gents of course just breezed past us, waving as they went to make free with their own more ample facilities.  Structural injustice strikes again.  I read a whole article about exactly this issue of why there are never enough female toilets (as in toilets for use by women, not for bathroom sanitation ware that identifies as female – I’m pretty sure most would be non-binary anyway), but now I can’t find it.  Bet you are gutted.  Worry not, I’ll add it in later if I do.  Hang on, you’re OK, I’ve found it, great article on the deadly truth about a world built for men You’re welcome.  Found this one on the American Potty Parity movement too, who knew?  Having said that, compared to other running events, the provision at Longshaw is pretty darned good.  Warm registration area, toilets- not just toilets, but ample toilet paper and hot running water too. Thrown in an informal bag drop, parking,  and post run coffee and carb options and that covers everything really.

Headed in to the cafe area to register, my camera can’t cope with interior shots, but you’ll get the gist. First timers have to complete a registration form, returners, wearing their own reused numbers have a quicker process.

It’s all very self-explanatory and pretty slick, though the volume of participants these days does make for some good-natured queuing. That’s OK though, it’s a chance to catch up with everyone you’ve ever met in the running community of Sheffield. This event brings loads out of the woodwork.  I went on my own, but bumped into many familiar faces.  Grand.

The high vis heroes were discussing tactics, being efficient and heading off to their posts, some of which are a fair old hike away from the cafe area:

Here they are en masse at the end. What a fine and photogenic lot they are. Hurrah for them.  That’s not even all of them.  It takes a lot of effort to keep the event running smoothly.  (Pun intended, I’m super quick-witted like that – less quick on my feet unfortunately.  Oh well, we can’t all be good at anything everything).

Volunteers are epic

Runners arrived and milled and chilled, some did some voluntary extra running, by way of warm up.  Respect.  Others did some voluntary extra running by way of sustainable transport options.  Also respect:

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The sun was beginning to peak through, and I started to see familiar faces from woodrun and even a few other break away-ers from Graves junior.  It was like big reunion!

It was definitely still misty, but the day seemed full of promise.  An air of eager anticipation started to build. It seemed busy to me, but then again, apart from the Christmas Tinsel Trust 10 I’ve hardly been to Longshaw Trust10 of late.  I decided NOT to wear my coat, which is quite a big deal for me, as normally I have to have it forcibly wrestled away from me pre run.  Now though, the air was still, and the runes seemed good.  It was one of those days where you really get why ancient peoples worshipped the sun, it seemed miraculous how it began to appear and burned through the fog to reveal a glorious landscape of wonder and promise. In a bit though, not straight away.

After a bit, there was a sort of collective move towards the start, as if drawn by a silent beacon, like in Close Encounters, only a lot jollier and with more visible Lycra. Honestly, I don’t know if Lycra was even a thing when the film Close Encounters came out in 1977, the Wikipedia entry inexplicably completely fails to mention it.  This is the problem with becoming over reliant on search engines on the interweb, the entirety of human knowledge becomes reduced to dust.

The Devil’s Tower is pretty much indistinguishable from Carl Wark in my view, and you can only differentiate the assembling of runners from the assembly of the alien seekers by the presence of tarmac beneath the feet of the non runners.  Spooky isn’t it?

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Once we were all assembled, more or less, bit of fraternising went on, I noticed the runderwear ambassador ingratiating herself to the tail walkers.  Well, she was trying to communicate something important anyway.  Also a few ill-advised selfies were taken alongside other reunions. You know, it occurs to me, maybe it isn’t the hats that make me spectacularly unphotogenic, maybe I actually look like this hatted or otherwise.  Horrible thought.  Oh well, this selfie is significant because the two of us have been Facebook stalking each others for some months but until this weekend never met, now two-day on the trot, yesterday Graves, today Longshaw. We’re properly best friends now!  Clearly Smiley Selfie Queen has more experience in these matters, or maybe a more forgiving filter.  I’ll never know…  I was slightly disappointed to see she was no longer wearing her sash from yesterday, when she celebrated her 100th parkrun with cakeage+, bunnage+ and a sash proclaiming her achievement.  Oh well.  At least I saw her on the day.

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there was the run briefing.

Take care, be sensible, usual information about following marshals directions, but today was special, because today was also a day to sing Happy Birthday en masse in honour of stalwart volunteer Frances, soon to be eighty.  I think it’s fair to say that on the whole attendees are better at running than singing, but the rendition that followed this announcement was full of affection and enthusiasm.  Go Frances!  Excellent hat sporting as well as time keeping. We, who are about to run, salute you!

Birthday celebrant

It’s been a week of awesome octogenarians here in Sheffield.  Tony Foulds did good too did he not, getting his fly-by and all. Maybe that’s when life begins, at eighty, I can but hope… I’m post 54 and still don’t feel like I’ve made it off the starting block…

This is what runners look like whilst singing and waving in the start ‘funnel’ there are helpful signs to suggest where to place yourself to avoid congestion once underway by the way.  Also attentive looking runners during the run briefing.

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So then, pre run socialising and communal singing satisfactorily completed, we were awf, with that Longshaw staple the wolf whistle to get us underway!  You had to be there, but trust me, it’s true and it was audible and off everybody went.  It was somewhat quirky, like lighting a cigarette to start off the Barkley Marathons, but with more attention to Health and Safety.

And off we went.  It was fairly steady start from where I was at the back.  I daresay the front runners do speed off, but the mass of the back were happy to be more relaxed as we departed.  It’s a narrow path and a bit of a dog leg, and you are just warming up so no great haste.  Not on my part anyway.  The promise of good weather had brought along a fair few spectators to cheer us off, and no doubt then nip into the cafe for reviving coffee for a bit before the faster runners were back at the end of their first lap.

There was a bit of a bottle neck through the first gate, and then onto the compressed mud track where you run perilously close to a ditch, or more accurately a ha ha, presumably called this because that is the noise your so-called friends would make if you were to tumble into it due to either ice or a lapse in concentration.  Wikipedia doesn’t say.

There are many pleasing sights on the way round, but a fine marshal with psychedelic leggings and winning smile is always going to be a hit.  What’s more, on this route, you get to see all the lovely marshals twice if you do the whole 10k.  Now there’s an incentive to keep on running round!  Isn’t she lovely. (Rhetorical question, of course she is!)  Plus, I can personally vouch for her outstanding directional pointing, clapping and generally supportive whooping.  She’s always had a talent for this, starting way back at the finish line in the early days of parkrun, but totally perfected and finessed here at Longshaw.  Thank you marshal.  Top Tip, best to shout out your thanks on loop one, as by the time lap two comes round you may well be a) breathless and b) somewhat less enthusiastic about the whole thing, it all depends.

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Off we went, runners streaming ahead and round the lake, or is it a pond?  Not sure what the difference is, but it was all very scenic. You could tell the first timers who ground to a halt at the slightest hint of mud, not having yet learned the fun is in the plunging through it.  I heard one fellow runner explain to his running mate he would have done, but was getting a lift back and didn’t want to get mud in the car!  Can’t be a proper running buddy if they object to mud surely, but each to their own.

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Usually, the entire field has run out of my field of vision quite early on, but today I seemed to stay at least in sight of people for the whole of the first lap.  Others were also being distracted by the scenery, it was lovely, and getting lovelier by the minute as the sun burst through.  Handily placed marshals held open gates and pointed the way towards Narnia, and we followed the paths with delighted eager anticipation

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Through the trees, skipping through more open spaces, mud dodging or not, as the mood took us, thanking marshals, queuing at the kissing gate – good for a regroup, catch up and reconnaissance with other runners.

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Then into the proper woody bit, which is all tree roots and hobbit country.  It was surprisingly dry, and perfect for running today, it can be muddy and slippery, but today was fab, you need to pick your way a bit, but I enjoy this section, though you are a bit restricted to single file.  I tell myself this is why I made no attempt to overtake other runners, instead preferring to pause for photo ops en route.  Ahead of me, my parkrun buddy and Runderwear ambassador had befriended another runner, she does that a lot… takes other runners under her wing, it’s a good quality, and also a super power, it’s pretty much impossible to resist her advances – only this parkrun 50 tee wearing runner had just got swept up in the event and was doing her own run.  She wasn’t persuaded to join the fun this time round, well, no number I suppose, unless she blagged the number 50 – but I’m hoping next month she’ll be back.  She’d have fitted right in!  I am proud of my moody atmospheric shots.  The sky is moody not the runners. Well they may have been moody, I couldn’t tell from my scenic shot seeking detour standing in the bog.

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You emerge from the woodland section, through a gate, scramble over some rocks and you get spat out onto the ‘proper’ trail moorland section.  Sometimes when it’s wet this is really squidgy, but today it was easy running, apart from the little matter of being expected to run uphill.  I ran a bit, but pretty soon ended up power walking. They have ‘improved’ the route to minimise erosion, so there is now a clear path and even a little bridge so you no longer get to  have to launch yourself into flight over the little stream.

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A cheery marshal directs you and offers encouragement as you look upwards to the first serious climb of the morning, up, up skyward, into the blinding light of the morning sun. You can just make out the marshal standing astride the style in the wall at the top of the ascent, back-lit, like a super hero making an entrance.  Good work there, today Longshaw marshal, tomorrow deus ex machina at a theatrical happening of your choice!

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This marshal, as others, has commandeered this as his regular spot.  He is always friendly, and up for a chat, though it has to be said I do feel he has a somewhat unfair advantage in this respect as he hasn’t just had to drag his weary carcass up a steep hill. He is supportive though, and promised to see about putting in some sort of stairlift contraption or escalator in time for the second lap.  Top tip, don’t get your hopes up, it’s like at the Sheffield Half marathon when well-meaning spectators tell you at the Norfolk Arms ‘it’s all downhill from here!’  They are all well-intentioned, but they lie.  It’s inadvertent, but good to know.

He quipped at my Runderwear buddy just ahead ‘not last today then?’ in cheery tones. She most definitely was not. My job I thought silently, and so in time it proved to be.

So after the style and the wall and the chat, you have a long straight bit on a compacted service path.  Through a gate, and on a bit more, and then, just when your homing instinct is screaming at you to go straight on as ‘cafe ahead’ cheery marshals send you off to the right and up the second hill of the day.  This I find really hard, I don’t know why it feels quite as tough as it does, but it plays mind games.  I ended up walking and feeling pathetic for doing so.  Others ahead were walking too.  Blimey I need to up my game.

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Towards the top of this hill, you emerge alongside one of the other car parks, a marshal directs you – the route used to go through the carpark, but this route is better.  About this point the front runners started to come through, lapping me.  They make it look effortless.  Very impressive, they might be great athletes, but this is a good natured event, most shouted some sort of acknowledgement or encouragement as they passed.  I was a bit disappointed that unlike at the Tinsel Ten, none of the front runners were wearing a turkey on their heads.  Not one.  There was also a distinct lack of fancy dress.  Maybe they didn’t get the memo…  The pictures don’t capture the steepness of the climb, or maybe it really is all in my head.  The run is in fact flat, the earth is flat* and I have found a sports bra that is both comfy and supportive, and can also still fit into my interview suit.  All things are now possible.

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Over the hill, literally and metaphorically, and you are out on the exposed ridge and a flat track back to the start/ finish.  It was a lovely spot today, but I have seen marshals nearly frozen to the spot in less clement weather.  The marshal is ready to stop cars running you down – always a boon, and I think furnished with a first aid kit too, or maybe a very large packed lunch, I didn’t pause to check.  I’m sure I saw a big back pack somewhere.  It’s not in the photos, maybe I was hallucinating, or maybe some other marshal had that responsibility.  I’ll try to remember to look out for it properly next time.  On this stretch, you have to remember to take in the views.  They are spectacular.  I got overtaken a lot, but there are also walkers coming the other way.  The first lap is nearly complete though, so that’s a boost.  I have this weird thing that once I’m half way through an event, irrespective of distance, I believe I will complete it because I’ve only got to do the same again. This isn’t quite logical, but positive thinking probably goes a long way so I don’t want to challenge myself on this point for fear of my self-belief coming crashing down.  It is hovering quite precariously as it is.

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There is a narrow marshal-assisted gate at the end which you pass through into the comparative darkness of the woodland area again. I once saw a runner crash spectacularly into the stone gate post here, because there is a bit of an optical illusion going on.  There was a lot of blood, and staggering about, that’s probably why it’s marshalled now.

Once you are safely through, it’s a downhill sprint to the finish, unless you are on your first lap, in which case you cruise on through. Inexplicably, no-one has ever confused me for a finisher at the end of my first lap, even though I’m still behind a good number of others who’ve completed their two.  Oh well, at least I get my monies worth for time out on the course!

So I charged through the finish and round again for lap two. I  spotted the RD and one of her noble side-kicks and called out to them to take a photograph. Confusingly, they thought I wanted them to take one of me!  How bizarre, I have a lifetime’s supply of deeply unflattering photos of myself running, no, what I was after was one of them.  After all, runners are ten a penny at events like these, but the volunteer and organising team, well, they are priceless.  It’s a shame I didn’t get a better picture, but it is the thought that counts, and I was trying to think I promise!

Round again,through the gate into the woods again, this time I felt like I was the only runner left on the course.  There was one other just ahead, but it had definitely emptied out.  A family out walking graciously moved aside to let me pass ‘as I was racing’ which was gracious of them as I’m not sure I really was worthy of such a descriptor,  back to smiley marshal still in situ, doing a double wave just for me.

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I usually enjoy a steady solitary second lap more than the first at Longshaw, because it can be quite meditative. Today though, I heard frantic stomping of feet and breathless runners coming up behind me, it was like being hunted down! I thought maybe it was people who’d already finished doing a final cool down lap or something, but it turned out to be the two tail runners. They’d been with some other runner who’d stopped after one lap, and were now on a mission to catch me up at the back.  They were friendly and supportive, and darted about picking up flags and trying to engage in conversation a bit, but unfortunately, as my regular reader will know I really can’t talk and run so wasn’t as much fun at the back as  if they’d had the pleasure of the company of the Runderwear ambassador who’d been cavorting with them like long-lost friends reunited earlier.  However, today she was on fast forward the whole way round, the tail runners didn’t even have her in sight. So sorry lovely tail walkers, I just can’t cope with running with other people, it is my strange way.  I did my best to romp on ahead, but couldn’t quite catch and overtake the penultimate runner, however now and again I put enough space between me and the tail to get some photos of their awesome twosome tail teamwork in action.  Enjoy!  Oh, and she’s wearing a backpack under her hi-vis, no need to stare.

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Back into the woods, and oh, it was this marshal with the pack lunch/ first aid kit.  Phew, glad that mystery is solved… also nice moss, shapely trees, no time to stop, scared of being chased down, still, my polar watch was thrilled, I exceeded my exercise goals for today apparently.  That’s smugness inducing I must concede.

back onto the open hillside

past the deus ex machina at the summit – he was offering lifts back in his truck to anyone wishing to bail at this point, but no not I!

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Flat bit, puff puff, up the blooming hill, more puffing, flat and fast bit, through the gate, into the woods, down the hill, people at the finish, parkrun buddies and smiley friends shouting me in, I even managed a little burst of speed to the finish flag, though that might also have been because I tripped a bit going down hill and then couldn’t stop myself with all my substantial weight behind that bit of inadvertent forward momentum!

All done.  Phew.  Drank a full litre of water once I’d been reunited with my bag, which I’d just left in the cafe, you do so at your own risk, but it feels safe to me.  My rucksack is pretty distinctive, people know it’s mine. That’s not to say it means they would stop someone else from taking it, but I’d expect them to mention it later when it was gone ‘oh, I saw someone with your backpack disappearing earlier, wondered who it was‘.  Very reassuring.  FYI, I left my backpack in Jonty’s cafe a couple of weeks ago. When I went to pick it up they asked me to describe it, ‘it’s black and turquoise‘ I said.  ‘Oh dear,’ they said ‘we do have one, but it is black and aquamarine, so cannot possibly be yours!’  I thought that was funny.  I was reunited, panic not.

Joined the very extensive queue in the Longshaw tea rooms. I’ve never seen it so long, normally, because I’m slow, by the time I’ve finished, everyone else has recarbed up and yomped off home.  Maybe the warm weather brought more people out, or perhaps there was another event.  It didn’t really matter.  When I got to the front of the queue, I asked for an extra shot in my latte, but the server queried this as it already has two shots in it.  I think it’s good.  They obviously have and enforce an ‘enjoy caffeine responsibly’ policy, and I just didn’t look like I’d be able to handle it.

Sat outside in the sun for a post run debrief. Very nice it was too.

and then cheese scone (that was sooooooooooooooooooooo nice) consumed and coffee quaffed, it was time to go home.  What a fine morning had been had by all though.

Thank you lovely Longshaw people and fellow Trust10 participants for making it so.  Hope to be more regular in my visits in the year ahead.

🙂

By the way, if you are a fan of Longshaw and want to support them a bit more, there’s currently a big push for support for their Peak District Appeal, Woods for the Future A £20 donation doesn’t quite get you a dormouse named after you, but it could pay for a nest for a whole family, so that’s even better right?

£20 could get a nest for dormice

Also, just to be clear, a few footnotes for your edification and improvement:

+cakeage and bunnage refer to the practise of bringing large quantities of cake/ buns/ muffins etc to parkrun related celebrations or running related gatherings more generally.  Bunnage refers to any quantity greater than one bun, and cakeage to any quantity greater than one person can reasonably be expected to consume unaided.  Communal baking basically, and a very fine thing it is too.  Helped this one to a pb the following day, there’s a lot to be said for carbing up, clearly.

*FYI the earth is not flat.  Definitely not.  You’re welcome

So there you go, today’s Trust10 Longshaw 10k, Trust 10, call it what you will, done and dusted.  Nice wasn’t it?

For all my Trust 10k posts, click here.  Or don’t, it’s not compulsory.  You’ll have to scroll down for older entries

For all my parkrun related posts click here.  Or then again, don’t.  It’s up to you.  You’ll still need to scroll down for older entries though.

Happy trail running ’til next time.  Hope the sun shines on you wherever you are.

 

Categories: 10km, off road, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tinsel Ten! Totally Trust the Longshaw 10k to deliver delight and winterval wonderfulness! Trust10 December 2018

Digested read: finally made it to Longshaw for the Trust 10 this Sunday.  First and last this year.  Fabulous. What was I thinking in leaving it so long?

longshaw trust 10

Undigested read:

I really hate to concede this point, I really do, but you know what, time really does go faster as you get older.  A whole year has elapsed since I last made it to Longshaw for the monthly Trust 10, and I blooming love it there.  However, during most of 2018 I’ve meant to go, but been sucked into other things, be that a local lope at some running event or other, or volunteering at Graves Junior parkrun, which admittedly is pretty darned amazing attending there will always lead inevitably to intoxication with joy, hence it is so seductive an offering.  Even so, shame to miss out on Longshaw Trust 10. and the unintended and undesirable consequence of all this, was that I was in dire danger of letting 2018 pass Longshaw Trust 10 free.  Heaven portend!  I could not allow it to be so.  Therefore, I finally dragged my weary carcass down to Longshaw to join the festive Tinsel 10k on a morning of winterval wonderfulness. Yay, go me!  I could have been part of this:

could have been at Graves junior

Which granted, is quite fabulous, but instead opted to be part of this:

longshaw

I know, close call.

What was I thinking though in leaving it so long.  There were actual reindeer en route to the start!  Graves has llama it’s true, but reindeer!  Really and truly, you can’t get more festive than that!  Strictly speaking we’d celebrated the whole reindeer slash actual Christmas trees and  fairy houses earlier in the week, but it was still Longshaw and still there. The original plan was to do the Trust 10 and then buy a Christmas Tree afterwards.  Then it dawned on me that with me and three guests in the fiesta heading for the 10k that might not be an entirely practical idea.  Hence tree purchasing went on earlier. That was a fun day out too!  Below is a mini pictorial smorgasbord for your merriment and edification in case you don’t know what you missed out on in the immediate environs of the Trust 10 route.  Oh, and the Reindeer we couldn’t find wasn’t called Graham, and the missing letter to our O I N B + 1 quiz was not G therefore.  The last reindeer was Rudolf.  ‘What a missed opportunity is that?’ we lamented, ‘if only it had been Graham then the quiz could have made the word Bingo!  That would have been fabulous‘.  Yes we did work out the anagram was for Robin eventually, but it took a while.  Laugh if you must.  I like to think I bring Christmas cheer.

 

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So essentially, both Graves Junior parkrun and the Longshaw Trust 10k actively encouraged fancy dress and festive cheer.  In an ideal world I’d be able to teleport and time travel between the two.  Sadly, although time does travel faster as I age, I don’t.  I am no fleeter of foot than a year ago, nor have I evolved the ability to travel through time despite warming increasingly to the new incarnation of Dr Who, and taking delight in therefore the TARDIS’s improved proximity to Sheffield.  Personally, I would have hoped that as much of the series was filmed hereabouts, local residents would have absorbed the ability to time hop by osmosis, but it’s not worked for me.   Maybe I should have opted to move into the Park Hill flats after all.  I presume the guy in the blue hi-vis is an Run Director from whatever the nearest parkrun is just carrying out a risk assessment in advance of the next event.  I don’t think any Sheffield runs were cancelled due to alien invasion, which is yet another testament to the dedication of parkrun teams in ensuring that events go ahead in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

 

Re my idea that by rights I should now be able to travel in time and space because of proximity to the TARDIS I suppose I do have to acknowledge begrudgingly that this isn’t the only instance of things not working out quite as I’d hoped for.  I still clutch on to the belief in my heart of hearts, that reading about running and entering events months in advance should by default improve my fitness without me leaving my sofa.  That’s not happened yet either.  Life can be full of disappointments…

Oh well,  this day was not disappointing.  Not in any way.  It was quite marvellous in fact.  This is why!

First off, there was the frisson of excited anticipation in the build up.  Then there was the joy of chugging off with a car full of companions who would all be experiencing the Longshaw Love for the first time. Three friends joining me for winterval fun and frolics. It was an easy drive, and by the time we arrived at the car park it was already filling up. Parked up we headed to the cafe to register.

It’s been so long since I’ve been it was amazing to see just how huge the event has become.  Tables were set out for people to sign up, and a long queue was forming.  I already had my coveted 999 number, but still had to fill in an emergency contact form, my two American friends had to register anew and pick up run numbers, and our support crew, in charge of PR, bag supervision and Elf watch rose the multitude of responsibilities of her role  with considerable aplomb.

The excitement built.  It was so much fun to see friends old and new arrive.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen some, others are parkrun regulars, but bringing particular joy was the sight of a few first timers.  Hurrah!  I’m with them, on the very day of their inaugural Longshaw 10 runs, what could be better.  To be fair, not all first timers were completely persuaded of the joys of participation on conclusion of the event, but for now it was all eager anticipation, and excitement and being about to run out in a great gang of gregarious gamboling across the Longshaw trails.  Hurrah!  Time for a few group shots:

 

Oh my we are collectively and individually fabulous are we not?  Some of us look happier to be present on such a day than others.

The route?  You want to know the route?  Erm, it’s basically two laps, my Strava says it’s 6.5 miles and 665 ft of elevation.  The route is clearly marked, starting near to the cafe and finishing just at the back of it. You can bail at 5k if you want, or decide in advance to just run one lap and call it a day, but then you won’t get a time, though you will get a lot of fun and get to the cafe ahead of the queues.  You’ll win either way.

Longshaw 10k route

Result.  It’s on a mixture of compact paths, muddy tree roots, marshy hillsides and tarmac paths.  Personally, I wouldn’t run it in road shoes, and usually go for trail.  Today, because it had been raining I went for my V-rock super hard-core fell shoes which don’t offer much support, but are super grippy and make me feel really confident on rough terrain.  My American friends took it on in walking boots – impressive.  I’m sure many do run it in road shoes, but they are maybe either better at staying upright than me, or oblivious to the risk they are taking.  The more technical sections aren’t that long, but enough to have me skidding and sliding around were it not for my choice of footwear.   It is most satisfying – and unusual for me too – to be able to skip past other runners who are clinging to trees to stay upright whilst you dance from tree root to tree root or rock to rock gazelle like. Well, maybe not like an actual gazelle from to the casual outside observer of untrained eye, but in my head, definitely I’m sprite-like and gazelle like as I hop along fearlessly.  No need to tell me otherwise.  Not everyone seeks to know the truth of their situation.  Some of us choose not to know.  (‘I see no ships‘ anyone?  Precisely, this demonstrates such a philosophy is enshrined in history.  Well, granted he never actually said it I suppose, but sort of near enough surely… ‘I have a right to be blind sometimes..’ blah de blah.)

see no ships

Sooooooooooooo many people, definitely a record turn out.  People queuing round the cafe to register.  That’s good though, captive audience for me to go and talk at.

Eventually, a little later than usual, we all gathered on the tarmac path in front of the cafe for the run briefing.  It was going to be a crowded one so not really a pb course, never is for me anywhere these days to be fair, but with narrow gates in parts even more risk of bottle necks, or catch up and chat points as I prefer to call them.

Longshaw 10 start line up

Off we went, in a stream of colour.  My lovely EWFM** and personal support crew was in situ to capture the moment of us passing. Hurrah!  I am alarmed at how increasingly rotund I look in pictures these days, I either need to learn to photoshop or else I’ll have to actually do something more proactive about it in the new year.  At the very least I’m going to ‘just say no!’ to wearing a santa had and tutu for a bit.  Red does me no favours.  Still, captures the sense of occasion.

 

My loyal EWFM** support crew would undoubtedly have happily stayed out there waiting loyally for the duration, but she had guardianship of the elf, who very much insisted on going back into the cafe to keep warm and drink coffee.  What choice did she have but to join him.  She looked gutted though, at being compelled to leave her post.

 

Whilst EWFM was martyring herself in the cafe in the shadow of the Longshaw Cafe Christmas Tree, Longshaw estate was giving we Trust Tenners the run around.

Longshaw cafe christmas tree

Longshaw is lovely.  Absolutely delightful in fact.  Even though it was a bit misty to start, you still get brilliant views, there were some bottle necks on the way round, particularly near the kissing gate, which you can only pass through one at a time, but that didn’t matter.  Just en route photo ops really, thank you Smiley Selfie Queen, you never disappoint:

longshaw queue

It was great to be out and enjoying the company and the scenery and after far too long to have that lovely muddy ground beneath my feet.  I love this route because it takes you over a variety of terrain and reminds me how lucky we are to have this place practically on our doorstep. One day, I’d like to be fit enough to run out and do this event and run back.  That day was not today, but I can dream can’t I?

It’s so long since I’d done the route, it had changed a little.  Not the course, but there were some ‘improvements’ with the addition of a little stone bridge so you no longer have to jump over a stream going up hill, and some paths I thought had been made slightly more level with added grit, probably to protect the ground from erosion along the path rather than runners from falling!  There was a fair amount of standing water, and the tree root section was muddy as always, but amazingly, the route was actually pretty good, firm under foot, and not as off-roady as I recalled – though I was still glad of my footwear choice if only to give those shoes a run outing, it’s been far too long.

 

The first lap felt hard.  Those hills!  I’ve got horribly unfit.  I wouldn’t mind quite so much but I got lapped by the front runner wearing a turkey on his head (a turkey hat, not an actual turkey as far as I could tell) at just the moment I’d given up and was walking up hill not even trying to run, and he breezed past, seemingly still chatting to his running buddy and barely breaking a sweat.  Oh well, maybe the secret was in his choice of running gear.  Perhaps I need to source a turkey to put on my head whilst running and it will pay dividends with both my speed and endurance?  Well, it’s a thought.

At some point, Smiley Selfie Queen and I found ourselves running alongside one another – well, what better cause for a photo op than that?

 

The marshals were all unfailingly friendly and encouraging, though I’ve come to treat calls like ‘nearly there’ and ‘all downhill from here’ with caution, especially on lap one.  They are great though, and many regulars, even though I’ve not been for a whole year, I still recognised familiar faces in familiar spots, it’s like coming home!

First lap done, as I headed out on lap two, my EWFM had ditched the elf and was back in situ to shout motivational phrases and cheer me round for the second coming:

Longshaw 10 coming round

The second lap things spaced out, and weirdly, I found it a lot easier, the route is now familiar, I got into a rhythm and was less influenced by what other runners were doing around me.  Instead I could soak up the views and live in the moment. There were even moments when it seemed as if the sun might yet peep out through the clouds and all was right with the world.

After what seemed like days all too soon, I was on the final downhill sprint finish.  It’s really fun as the timers come into view, plus one advantage I have in being slower, is that other runners who have finished ahead of me were there on  hand to cheer me in.  I felt quite the celebrity!

 

I was so excited at having finished, I managed to stop ahead of the timers, and had to be reminded to go on a bit to cross the line.  Oh well, don’t suppose it made much difference.  It was great to be reunited with my buddies after such an adventure. We shared stories and I got given some chocolate on a stick for no particular reason other than maybe being one of the final finishers. Still, you never question a gift of unsolicited chocolate, not in my world anyway.  Anyway, no time for discussion, we had the important task of posing for photos of us by the Trust 10 flag in all possible character combinations thus:

 

Then, having established I wasn’t actually the last one in, we opted to stay to cheer in the final finishers which was a great deal of fun.

 

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It was even more fun when they came into view and we realised that the trio coming in included a first timer who had been quite particular to state she only intended to run the one lap but had been dragged round persuaded it was well worth doing the whole caboodle.  Bravo!  Much excitement and congratulations to all followed.  So many post run feel good endorphins you had to be there to appreciate what it was like to swim amongst them.  No really, we were actually swimming in them, that’s why we all look decidedly wet! Also, you will note, at least one of them had gone the memo about it being the Tinsel 10, and was suitably adorned as a consequence.  Pleasing indeed.

 

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As if we hadn’t already peaked for fun, there was still the lure of the warm cafe to embrace us, and hot drinks all round.  Hurrah!

More catching up of running tales and festive introductions as a number of us had brought along extras, friends or family or previously uninitiated into the Trust10 running friends.  It was all very jolly thank you for asking!  I learned there were at least 100 first timers at the event (they know, because if it is your first time you have to put a star on the side at the top of your registration form, if it is Christmas, I advise you put a Christmas Tree under the star, just because really.)  It was also an all time record turn out, with some 265 doing the whole 10k and you can add a few to that as many would have finished after the first five.

 

In terms of results, there isn’t a formal published list – this is a run not a race as such, and intended to be inclusive.  There are pretty competitive runners out there, but it is very much a fun event.  The list gives numbers not names and appeared on the Longshaw Estate Facebook page, together with a plea to remember to reuse numbers and bring your own pins if coming back in 2019. Which is fair enough. This event is free remember.  How amazing is that!

Well done to all the Tinsel 10 runners today, and thanks for your support throughout the year! Paying for parking, buying a coffee or donating to the Peak District Appeal all helps to look after Longshaw for people and wildlife. We are asking runners to make a special effort to bring back your run numbers and pins in 2019, which will help us to reduce waste. It should also help you to find your timings more easily.
Thanks as well to all the volunteers; back markers, timing team, marshals, route-markers and a special thanks to the planning team and to Lorna, our volunteer coordinator. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us all!

So there you go. Sated with coffee and in my case a cheese scone, though there was also the option to taste a mincemeat infused chocolate brownie thing which was, erm ‘novel’, and that was that. Tinsel Ten Totally Terminated.  Hurrah!

See you the other side in the meantime:

Happy Christmas/ Bah Humbug/ yuletide felicitations/ Wondrous Winterval/ Season’s Greetings/ Wake me in 2019/ Enough now go away*

For all my Trust 10k posts, click here.  Or don’t, it’s not compulsory.  You’ll have to scroll down for older entries.

*Please delete as applicable

** Erstwhile Flat Mate.  Obvs.

Categories: off road, running | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The misterious pleasures of running round Longshaw…

Digested read: I went a-yomping round Longshaw with two running buddies.  It was very misty, but fantastic to get out on the moors damp as they were.  Wet feet all round, and some minor near death experiences.  Still, we all made it back safely. Note to self, learn to navigate.  Second note to self, make the effort to get out more on them there hills. Always fabulous.

seriously misterious

See what I did there?  Genius I know.  I wouldn’t go so far as to describe myself as a stable genius, that would be the declaration of only the most narcissistic idiot, but I’m happy with being a self-declared genius when the evidence of appropriate punning is so incontrovertible.  Misterious instead of mysterious.  I am ON FIRE!

So the deal was this. Yesterday morning I  rendezvoused with two running buddies, one previously unknown to me, to have a romp round the Longshaw 10k route.  There was a small flaw in the plan, well a couple of small flaws to be fair, maybe even several. For starters, firstly, I don’t think any of us had reckoned on such thick mist – you could hardly see your hand in front of your face at times.  Secondly, not having done the route for ages it’s amazing how different it all looks in a different season and without hi-viz marshals doing helpful directional pointing at key junctions and thirdly, we were all a bit at crossed purposes.  One set on doing the actual route, another on just an ‘in the general vicinity run‘ and another on the let’s go out yomping elsewhere and have an adventure.  Finally, we were all a bit ‘no, no, whatever way you think‘ with no-one really being assertive about the route or their plans. In the circumstances it’s a miracle we made it out at all, let alone back, yet out and back we did, and it was grand!

The day dawned.  Well, I say dawned, not much sun in sight, just dank and dismal mist.  We rendezvoused in the Fox House car park which was pretty deserted first thing.  Inevitably I arrived first (I’m invariably early because I’m paranoid about being late).  As I sat in the car waiting my compatriots I was feeling a bit less than committed to the prospect of running. Honestly, is there anything more depressing than rain beating down on a car windscreen which you can barely see through because of a near impenetrable fog outside, knowing that sooner or later there will be an expectation you venture out into the cold and gloom and voluntarily engage in physical exertion?  Not much I think.

Since I was early.  I used the time alone with my thoughts to consider whether or not rather than ploughing on with this ludicrous plan of running a marathon, I should rather be ending my running career on a high, and be announcing my retirement. The thing is dear reader. Something unlikely, unbelievable even and amazing has happened. Smiletastic results for week 1 have inexplicably placed me at the top of the leaderboard for individual performance!  I know, who knew? Who saw that coming?  No-one is more astonished than I. For clarification, it is the case that all my individual points were for timed runs, and week one of January offered up two parkruns on New Year’s Day, then the saturday following ‘usual’ parkrun  – other Smilies took advantage of all of these  – but where I snuck in an extra critical 5 points was by marshaling at Graves Junior parkrun, hardly a hardship. I love volunteering there.  Because Smiletastic is designed to be inclusive, you get points for marshaling/ volunteering at organised events, thus, on a technicality, it could be argued that my ‘winning’ status has little to do with running and rather more to do with boisterous high-fiving and directional pointing.  I concede this point entirely, but then again, it is precisely because of this I am most unlikely ever to equal let alone exceed this sporting triumph, greater athletes than I have quit whilst they were ahead.  If I did announce my retirement, I could avoid going out in the wet and cold and spend the morning with dry feet. Worth thinking about.  On the other hand, I do have my Dragonfly team-mates to consider, ‘one for all and all for one’, wouldn’t really want to turn my back on them now…  Only the day before we had been out in force, we mighty dragonflies, segment bagging again, this time round Millhouses park.  It was crazily busy.  Like Piccadily circus with runners hurtling round in all directions, with just as much in the way of illumination as the neon lights of the titular location.  Me and fell-flying Smiley who’d gone down together nearly ended up gate crashing a Totley AC run. Then when we were er hem debriefing afterwards in the Wagon and HorsesWagon and Horses there was a constant to and fro of I think hi-viz Steel City Striders doing intervals on the road outside.  A veritable plague of runners, I wonder how many of them are genuinely hardcore and how many are starting out with the outward confidence of  a newly forged New Year’s Resolutions albeit an inward shudder at the cold?

piccadily circus

Anyway, enough of my digression from the theme … in the event, I couldn’t announce my retirement, because I don’t have a smart phone, and also you can’t really announce anything unless people are listening, and/or are moderately interested in what you have to say and I’m not sure these particular pre-requisites applied in my case.  Maybe it’s like the tree falling in the forest and no-one hearing, does it make a noise dilemma, don’t think that’s been settled yet has it?  Maybe it has.  If only I could be bothered to google it, I’d be so much better informed. Sigh.  Here is a tastefully photographed fallen tree we saw out today at Longshaw (spoiler, you can see I did get out the car), in case you aren’t quite sure what a fallen tree looks like.  I’m going to put it out there that I believe this tree did make a noise when it fell, even though I personally was not on hand to hear it do so.  Not sure if that supports or counteracts my ‘I’m a genius‘ claim earlier.  Oh well.  I’m prepared to risk it.

artistic tree shot

Bottom line.  I’d be running. No retirement yet.

The others arrived, and had soon bounced out of their car, and our designated photographer for the day had us organised us into our ‘before’ selfie.

before shot

Although obviously it was a bit of a worry that this implied there’d be an ‘after’ shot, so we were expected to get out there and run, on the plus side, this recent photo might prove handy for identification persons if any of us were to get lost on them there hills.  Off we went.

I am so used to parking in the Longshaw car park, I headed off down the road leading the others through the fog, dodging cars as best we could. (Yes we were facing oncoming traffic, but it was so foggy).  Our designated photographer jokingly queried whether I was trying to kill her off as she’d done this route with someone else last week, and they took her a different entrance into the estate avoiding the road.  I jokingly brushed it off, inwardly cursing that this perceptive Smiletastic bee had unwittingly seen through my ruse.  Oh well.  There are still 11 weeks to go, and I have to concede she is a companionable running buddy and queen of the collective selfie so worth hanging onto … for now.

We set off (after our precautionary pees without which no run in my training calendar can be undertaken), and our initial plan was to follow the Longshaw Trust 10k route, which I’ve done loads of times before, albeit only once this year.  We started confidently, but very quickly got confused about whether we turned off quite so soon. Maybe it’s because of having to take important phone call on the way round.  Threw me.  Busy, busy, busy.

day at the office

scampering past the lake – it was surprisingly ice-covered, it didn’t actually feel too cold once we were out.

by the lake

Confusingly (for me, but then it doesn’t take much) they have greatly ‘improved’ signage at Longshaw.  I mean they really have, but the proliferation of previously  lacking signs threw me a bit, as they have a pink signed 5k route and I started to wonder if this was the 5k loop for the 10k.  No, none of us had a map, or had thought about the actual route much in advance. Turns out, if there is no marshal doing their directional pointing, then I don’t know where to go, particularly when there are three of us with varying degrees of confidence about the route.  It also shows how I abdicate responsibility for navigation at a marked event.  Not sensible really.  Part of how I managed to come in behind the tail-marker at my first fell race, blithely following signs.  Mind you, gotta love a Wingerworth Wobble, I’ll always have a soft spot for that crowd, go wobblers!

One of our number enthusiastically pointed ahead, we could embrace the adventure, we could head off up them there hills.  It would take us up high, we could yomp, what’s not to like!

Off we went.  Quickly we were out across the road and heading to new horizons, or what might have been new horizons if we could actually see anything very much, which we couldn’t.  However, you know what, it was completely brilliant. Despite my initial apprehension it is always fantastic to get out in the peaks. The area around Longshaw is gorgeous, it’s a different kind of atmospheric beauty in the mist, but you get to feel intrepid and hardcore venturing out and clambering over boulders when it’s like that.  Actual running was a bit tricky because the terrain was rough, the path unclear and it was really slippy in parts – I was wearing my innov8 parkclaw, which are my go-to trail shoes (size 5 if you’d like to sponsor me nice innov8 people), but actually I was wishing I’d got my Irocks on.  Oops, guess that’s blown the free pair of trail shoes from innov8 now, oh well, I daresay it’ll be their loss.  (Slight cough moment).

The thing is, you go out, and you get to see amazing things within just a couple of kilometers, if anything, the mistiness just made everything even more dramatic.

We even stumbled across this mahoosive rock formation which I like to think of as Longshaw’s Uluru (though it’s OK to climb this one, whereas you really, really shouldn’t be scampering around on the Australian original) but think it might actually be Mother Cap at Owler Tor.  Great opportunity for more exploring, scampering, gratuitous photographing and, inevitably, some very fine photobombing.  Had to be done.

Obviously we ran really, really hard in between times, but you can’t take photos when you are pushing yourself that hard, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  It was an amazing spot. Check out these photos around Owler from a late summer photographer James Grant, pretty impressive are they not?  Any time is a good time to be out there and up high, you feel like you have the whole world to yourself.  Amazing. What the heck, here’s one of his photos, so you get the idea, it’s almost as good as our very own official photographer’s ones I’m sure you’ll agree.

Over-Owler-Tor-Sunset-Peak-District-Photography-1024x684

We found ourselves at one point with a choice between plummeting over the edge of the earth, which must therefore be flat after all, or going off-piste.

over the edge

We went off-piste.  Much scampering, a bit of hesitance, some shrieking, a few near misses and a bit of toing and froing. This is what makes off-road fun.  One of we three amigos was the official photographer (not me), one was our pathfinder and navigator (not me) and then there was me.  I’m not entirely sure what my role was.  Is ballast a role as such or just a state of being.

I did have one anxious moment when, simultaneously, both of my running companions took a tumble.  That raised the horrific possibility for the briefest of moments that I’d have to be the ‘responsible adult’ whilst my broken, fallen, crumpled and unconscious running buddies lay contorted in a heap together.  I did at least have a phone with me, and I know to call mountain rescue, but I don’t think I’d have been too good with instructions.  ‘What can you see?’ they might say ‘mist‘ I’d reply.  ‘Anything else?’ they’d prompt hopefully ‘ice-covered puddles and rocks‘ I’d add.  I was minded of a time (true story) when I worked in an open plan office.  A young recruit was driving to a venue she’d not been to before with a colleague, pre sat nav, they were lost on a motorway so rang the office for help with directions. As they had no idea where they were exactly, the person taking the call asked ‘what can you see?’ the reply they got ‘We’re following a volvo and there’s a lorry on the inside lane‘  I have never heard the team of an open plan office guffaw as one so loudly before or since.  It was quite a moment.  Even better, the caller heard us, and added ‘what are you laughing at?’  I reckon all those swivel chairs had to be professionally cleaned after that…

Anyways, panic over, they were fine, we ran onwards:

I tried to trick my buddies into a dragonflies wings pose, but it didn’t quite work, it’s hard this stealth dragonfly insertion strategy.  Surely some credit for effort.  The mist started to lift and as we descended the scenery changed again.  It was still a bit treacherous underfoot, with some ice patches.  I did slide about a bit, but as I explained to the others I’d be fine about my moment of demise being up there, and more than content to be just rolled into a ditch or whatever.  The timing would guarantee that my obituary could truthfully state that I was leading the field for the demanding Smiletastic challenge giving a huge implied truth that it was inevitable I’d have won it overall had I but lived, plus, I’m already on record as wanting the Khmer version of achy-breaky heart played at my funeral, or if I don’t have a funeral, at any associated wake.  It’s not so much of a niche offering as you might think. Very popular at the Olympic Stadium early morning workouts in Phnom Penh.  I know, educational this blog post is it not?

We descended, back onto the road, we didn’t hitch a lift, even though that’s what it looks like we were trying to do.  I’m not sure about my hat?  It’s a trust 10 one, but maybe a bit much other than for when actually doing the Longshaw 10k do you think?  Comfy, and stays put.  Very pink though.  Why is everything pink?

hitching a ride

Across the road, back into the Longshaw estate, where there was a fine waterfall.

Bit of a heave-ho in parts, but I was after miles on the legs rather than speed. I’ve only just got back into running (I use the term loosely) after various niggles and lack of routine) so I have a terror of getting injured.  Walking is grand for getting strength back. Apparently, if you run the load on your calves is about 8 – 12 times your body weight, but if you walk it’s just about twice.  To be fair, I have no idea if these figures are correct, but they ring true. My calves are the Achilles heel of my running, which is weird, as the achilles is somewhere else entirely. Still, you get my point I’m sure, or wont especially care if you don’t.  Bottom line, I want to take it slowly, and build up my distances without breaking anything other than involuntary wind during my training regime.  Any runner who claims never to have broken that when running is either a medical curiosity who should be euthanized and dissected for the greater good, or lying. You choose. Anyway, it wasn’t only me walking, though I do concede the hands on hips pose is somewhat petulant…

where now

We ended up looping round and coming in near to the fox house pub.  We still hadn’t done the 10k route though,  even though we’d been out ages, so after much debate, we agreed we’d add that on.

any which way you can

We had one wrong turn – oops, but got there in the end.  It was grand.  It is really remarkable how the landscape changes in what is a relatively short route.  We had woodland bits, and heather bits, and boggy bits, and heather bits.   All good.  You can see we were all complete naturals in front of the camera.

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I took a pause for dry-stone walling tutorial. There is a team doing amazing work rebuilding these, some of the walls on the estate go back about 400 years apparently, though this one is ‘only ‘ about 150 years old.  Looking good.   Repairing them is most definitely a labour of love, but imagine the satisfaction of getting those walls back up for maybe another 150 years of service. Quite a legacy.

dry stone walling tutorial

Also on our ‘to do’ list for the day. Yes we did have one. Was to go up the steps spotted on a previous run, and check out the view from the top. The steps are towards the end of teh 5k lap of the Trust 10k.  Embarrassingly I’d not particularly noticed these before – obviously running too fast and too focused on the finish.  But they are enticing… steep but with a pretty little tree towards the top.

steps gorgeous

Up we went.  You basically hit the road the other side, but turn around and look back from whence you came, and you get this:

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Really stunning. Also good for posing for shots so brace yourself people, here we are doing are very own version of the Barbary Lane steps of San Francisco.  Oh and a random non step photo just because I like it. See if you can tell which one it is.

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And so after the steps, it was back onto the main path, through the gate and we were soon back at Fox House.  Yomping concluded. The original plan had been to have a coffee here afterwards, but time ran out so we will have to save ourselves for next time. This is where we went by the way, about 12km in total I think, just under maybe:

misty longshaw strava route

Not strictly speaking a recreation of the Trust 10k, but pretty darned fabulous, and way better for achieving both a spontaneous bit of exploration as well as near enough one 5k loop of the 10k which is all that was required really.  Great to be reminded of what is on our doorstep, must make the effort to get out exploring it more all over again.

Oh yes, nearly forgot, here is the mandatory ‘after’ shot.  We did it, we ran, we conquered, made it onto Strava as well, everyone’s a winner.

after shot

So back on it.  I need to embrace those trails.  I recognise I will get wet feet, and never again see the natural skin colour around my toes, or for quite  a way up my legs too if you take the real extent of peat-stained splash back into account – but I consider this but a small price to pay for such adventures in the mist.

There you go, misterious joys of running demystified.  You’re welcome.

See you on the moors.  Unless you see me first.  Obviously.

 

 

Thanks Carol Speight for the photos, and thank you running buddies both. We are all awesome.  Evidently!

Categories: motivation, off road, running | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Longshaw Revisited: Resolute Romping Round the Rear

Digested read: panicked by having inadvertently entering a 12 mile trail run, I finally made it back to Longshaw for the Trust 10k to try to get some miles on my legs.  Still there, still fabulous.  Nice chit chat romping round at the back.  Cross training insights too.  You’ve got to love the Longshaw Trust 10k. No honestly, you actually really have.

Loving Longshaw

It’s been a while since I had a good romp round Longshaw.  The monthly trail run which is part of the wondrous National Trust 10k running series.  In my defence I’d been away in Cambodia for a few months when I couldn’t run at all, so lost my running mojo/ confidence entirely.  Then when I got back to Sheffield those blooming hills had grown even higher and steeper in my absence, and seemed to thwart my feeble attempts to scramble up them at anything other than a breathless crawl.  Going back to do the Longshaw 10k seemed a bit over-ambitious when I could hardly walk to the shops without risk of asphyxiation due to over-exertion on local gradients.  Also I’ve been volunteering at Junior parkrun, that is a great way to spend a Sunday morning, and then there was the Round Sheffield Run, another Longshaw 10k weekend missed.  Before I knew it, months had passed. Time moves on.

Then, the other week I thought, hang on, I’m missing out here.   I do love Longshaw, it’s a shame to miss it. Besides, as experienced runners will tell you, the only way to improve at running round trails and up hills is to actually do some running round trails and up hills by way of practice (alongside your cross training – but more of that later).  Although my fitness levels remain lamentable, the Longshaw event is friendly and fun (think parkrun, only trails and twice as long) – why not go? Also, weighing on my mind is that I’ve committed now to completing the 12.12 later next month – the Dig Deep 12 mile off-road option.  Entering seemed like a good idea at the time, in a post-parkrun euphoria of misplaced optimism.  I’ve even written my pledge down for pity’s sake, that means I have to ‘make it so‘, or risk a public humiliation even greater than that I will experience from being witnessed puffing round it, whilst any passing walkers (and make no mistake, they will be passing me) mutter to each other ‘what was she thinking?’ as they stride on by.

pledge photos

You can see what’s happening can’t you.  My confidence and enthusiasm have somewhat waned. The idea seems even less inspired now I realise I can’t navigate my way out of a paper bag, let alone off Higger Tour… Oh well.  I’ve committed now, and I remain conscientious if not still keen.  Plus, the setting will be gorgeous with the heather out, less so if there is horizontal rain and you can’t see your hand in front of your face admittedly, but that might still qualify as type two fun (retrospective not contemporaneous fun), potentially generating an amusing anecdote to boot.   Always a boon on any running related endeavour, and everyone appreciates a good boon.  However, even in my most optimistic moments, you have to respect the (to me) longer route and uneven terrain, this isn’t an event you can just rock up to on the day and hope for the best.  Well you can, but it would definitely end in tears, I do feel a need to some training in advance.  It’s a good excuse to get out in some fantastic local landscapes, which brings me neatly (if not concisely) back to Longshaw.   Time to heave on my fell shoes and get back over to join the fell-based running fun, a 10k will be a great addition to my hypothetical training plan and show commitment when added to Strava…  When is the Longshaw Trust 10 again?

PANIC!  When I went to check the date the events list seemed to have vanished from the  relevant section of Longshaw website.  What horror was this?  Had the event been discontinued?  Have I been personally blacklisted from attending and my computer hacked to prevent me researching the event and reduce the likelihood of me turning up?  Nope.  IT improvements apparently.  Much as with sports bras, no sooner you find one that fits, (which takes more than a lifetime) manufacturers will ‘improve’ that particular line thereby effectively discontinuing the only bra that ever worked for you. Adding insult to injury by giving you a short-lived glimpse of what might have been before cruelly snatching it away.  Of course I’m bitter.  Running is hard enough without being subjected to an assault on your assets each time you head out.    Anyways, same with the Longshaw IT department. the site was down, because it is being ‘enhanced’, except, in this instance the interruption in service was indeed temporary. FYI, the plan is to update the ‘behind the scenes’ IT systems so eventually people attending Trust 10 events can sign up on-line and it will all be more streamlined etc by 2020 or whenever.  Personally I shall miss the slightly Heath-Robinsonesque quality of the current set up.  However, we don’t need to worry our pretty little heads about all that right now, as recent experience suggests a lot can happen in that sort of time scale.  The sky will probably have fallen in at the very least.  Chicken Licken was right all along.  If you read the original story the world did end, they all did get eaten so no ridiculing the poor bird for being alarmist when she was right all along! Hard as it is to imagine, running Longshaw might not be a priority in that scenario.  Also, in fact the Trust 10 series are always on the fourth Sunday in the month, so you don’t need to check online each time, only to be able to refer to a calendar and count to four.  FACT.  Apart from when they are not, because of Christmas say, but you get the gist…

chicken licken

It is July.  I shall go.  So went my logic.  I was apprehensive as it’d been such a while, but I was looking forward to it too.  It could be part of my training plan, if I had a plan at all.  I would attend to the cross bits another time…. Which brings me onto some startling new insights about cross training, which recently came my way, and that I now I feel compelled to share.

The thing is, for a long time I thought cross-training was a purely descriptive term.  A variant on ‘no pain no gain’ perhaps.  That is, you improve at whatever you are doing if you are able to push through the stage when you are just really annoyed at how hard it is, hate running, hate the world, that kind of thing, basically ‘training when cross’ gets abbreviated to ‘cross training’ but put in the hours and voila!  Improvement follows.   Then, I came to realise it was a bit more sophisticated than this, runner’s world no less gave this plausible enough sounding definition:

In reference to running, crosstraining is when a runner trains by doing another kind of fitness workout such as cycling, swimming, a fitness class or strength training, to supplement their running. It builds strength and flexibility in muscles that running doesn’t utilize.

So I started indulging in my own cross training, mostly courtesy of Thursday Accelerate woodrun sessions (thank you) involving wobbling about standing on one leg (balance), bunny hopping along woodland trails (strength, but also amuses run leader I think), and, most importantly of all, working on the upper body and arms whilst simultaneously attending to hydration, by slurping on a post-run latte on conclusion of the run.  It might not technically be cross-training in the purest sense, but it is a start.  Besides, it’s surely preferable to the fate of some poor souls who inevitably take the cross training a bit far, adding in cycling and swimming resulting in becoming inadvertent tri-athletes.  It happens. Before they know it, they’re off doing Ironman events just to improve their parkrun times.  I don’t think there’s too much risk of that happening to me.

Even so, I’m always open to a bit of running related advice, so I ambled down to my local running shop for some clues on tackling the Dig Deep. Specifically re kit requirements and navigation, and also as an alternative to actually having to go out and run.  It is a well-known fact, that visiting a running shop equates to an actual run in terms of training. You improve technique and running credentials just by breathing in the air of a specialist running shop.  Anyway, turns out, this particular visit was most enlightening.  Not only did I find out that there is no path off Higger Torr, you just jump off the edge and hope you fly basically; and that skip the running dog has his own instagram account, I also got a new insight into what motivates some individuals to embrace new sporting disciplines.  Injury basically.  Cross training at its source if you will.  So, of those in the shop at the time – and I won’t name names as that’s not my style – one only took up running after a climbing-related hand-garrotting / palm-slashing injury made further ascent of rock-faces impossible, so they accidentally entered a marathon for seven weeks later instead.  What could possibly…  and the other had ruptured something crucial in a leg (their own leg I think) so started swimming and one thing led to another and they’ll probably have to do an Ironman one day now, poor thing.  Ironman completion seems to lead to obligatory tattooing as well, which is another blog post altogether.  Marathon runners are compelled to talk about their marathon running achievements incessantly, and in perpetuity – a bit like the curse of the Ancient Mariner, only running related, and they won’t be limiting themselves to just stopping the ‘one of three’.  Ironman completers on the other hand, have to get their skin inked.  Them is the rules. To be fair, if and when I do complete a marathon I will tell everyone, a lot, and maybe even get an Ironman tattoo if in a parallel universe that happened.  Not on my stomach though, brave choice I think… at least I think that’s his stomach, but he must have detachable nipples and no tummy button, so I’m fearful it may be some other body part, and I don’t wish to scrutinise further. Surely not his back?  I did get my ‘O’ Level for Biology, but it’s not helping here over much to be honest, although I could probably still explain to you about worker bee dances if you’d like.  Do your own research dear reader, I can only take you so far along the journey of discovery.

The sport you end up using for cross training purposes depends on what body part you remove from use.  I understand a dislocated shoulder leads naturally to competitive one-handed knitting, but that’s subject to confirmation.  The knack is to secure one of the needles by grasping it between your thighs apparently, great for toning an all too often ignored body part, and such a strengthening technique would undoubtedly be a boon to both your knitting post recovery and your running. Or you could take up pole dancing, you need good thigh muscles for that too.  Good to know.  As far as cross training options are concerned, the only limit is your imagination, and human dignity.

Oh, and because you’ll be fretting, my kit is OK for a fell race apparently, as they only will check the seams are taped, not that I can fit into it.  So look out for me in something like this – you must have full waterproof body cover, but I reckon I’ll carry it off.  The guy on the right of the picture is risking disqualification heading out so ill-prepared.  His look out.

kit requirements

So where was I?  Oh yes, heading back to Longshaw.  It had been raining, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect weather wise on Sunday morning, but the inclement elements meant as I drove across to Longshaw the mist was rising from the dips in the hills, it looked really spectacular.  In my absence, the car park ticket machines have been updated for the new £1 coins, which caused a few problems for me and much bag rummaging as I feared I’d only got the old ones. I also think the cost has gone up, which I don’t begrudge as the run is free and I am happy to support he National Trust but is worth noting.  I keep meaning to get around and join them, but if I do, that will definitely make me a grown up, and I’m not sure I’m quite ready to do that.

In other news, they have put in a new woodland path to the cafe.  It was really lovely, lots of signs explaining what you were looking at and pointing out where owls have nested and woodpeckers pecked.  I was a bit disappointed to have it made plain that the hobbit house is actually the old ice house, some myths should be allowed to endure…

I arrived at the cafe, and saw the volunteer team were already hard at it, flags up, war conference in session, the big sail sign being carried to the start.  At least I think that was what they were up to.  Either that, or trying to find a surfing beach somewhere, in which case they must have given up, because it would have been a very long walk indeed.  We are a long way from the sea here.

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I already had my number – 999 – because I have saved it from a previous run because it is a rather marvelous number to have and to hold on to.  Plus it saves a bit of money for the Trust 10 and time for me if you bring your number with you.  The registration system has got a bit more organised. To protect confidentiality, everyone now signs up on a separate bit of pre-printed paper and has to agree to having results shared via email (you can opt out if you wish).  I can see why they have done this, before everyone could potentially see any other previous participants email and other contact details if they had good enough eyesight to squint through the lists of entrants as they signed up.

sign up form

Once I’d signed up, I stood around awkwardly, wondering whether or not anyone I’d know would turn up in between trying not to skid on the super-slippery slate stones adjacent to the cafe.  I don’t know why they’d become so treacherous.  Previously, I’d have stated with 100% confidence that the slipperiest substance known to humankind is goose shit, but now I’m not so sure, it really challenged my assumptions there as I struggled to remain upright on the flagstones.   Eventually, a friendly face!  Yay. The Runderwear ambassador putting in an appearance.  We negotiated that we would romp round together at the back, but as both of us have had negative experiences being compelled to run with others we each reserved the right to either abandon the other, or tell them to ‘go away’ using language which would leave little ambiguity as to the strength of feeling on the matter.   I mean, we obviously weren’t going to be quite as colourful as Anthony Scaramucci, but pretty direct communication all the same.  Yay, a running buddy!  I felt a bit less uncertain about rejoining the trail running fray.  Bring it on, there will be fun to be had!

running buddy

Pleasingly, other familiar faces started to materialise, and soon there was quite a jolly crowd assembled.  We ambled down to the start, I stood right at the back, and there was the usual briefing, thanks to the volunteers; watch out for tree roots and cows (the cows may move the tree roots won’t, unless they are magic trees, but not expected today); it’s a ‘long 10k’, so expect a slower than usual time, and then, almost suddenly, we were awf!  Hooray!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a run at talking pace with a buddy. In fact, on this occasion I got two buddies for the price of one as they were both Valley Hill Runners, and also romping round together. So I guess that makes me either the gate-crasher or the gooseberry, I’m not sure. Fortunately, I didn’t have the social skills to pick up on it if I was in the way, and it was really nice.  Hilariously, (I thought) there were not one, not two, but three tail runners.  One each!  It was like we were under close supervision whilst on day-release from borstal or something except we are a bit old for that and they probably don’t call them borstals any more.  Open prison then.   Initially, it was a bit unnerving being tailed at quite such close quarters, but I got used to it.    They do this so if say the slowest runner drops out after one lap, because they are significantly behind the next slowest participant, the tail runner doesn’t have to do a four-minute mile across bog to catch up with the new back mark.  Makes sense really.  (Edit:  update, I have a witness statement advising the tail runner in question subsequently described this experience as like doing a 5k warm up with a 4k sprint followed by a 1k cool down.  I think we can conclude that was challenging!  Type two fun for sure.)  Maybe in 2020, when they have the new IT booking system and it all goes very high-tech, runners romping at the rear will each have their own electronic tag.  For now, it’s low tech, each of us had our own personal detail to trail us on our heels throughouth. Maybe that’s why it’s called a trail run?

Important things were shared as we ran.  Most important of all, unanimous agreement as to which was our favourite marshal.  We might love her, but she isn’t altogether convinced by us.  I think I might actually bring dog biscuits with me next time (for the dog, not the volunteer) and bribe her into loving me back best of all the other runners.  Shallow to need that level of approval I know, but gratifying all the same to be on the receiving end of such canine adoration I would imagine.  Only time and forward planning will tell.

everyones favourite marshal

The volunteers are great, and also always in demand. If you don’t want to run but do want to be part of the fun (and get a bacon butty or veggie equivalent and a cup of coffee in return) then get in touch with the sports development officer and you will be welcomed.  I have volunteered once at Longshaw, when I first got back from my travels, and it was really fun, you get all the fabulousness of the scenery without the sweat of actually having to run up that really steep hill.  Plus you can high-five runners and cheer on those you know as well as those you don’t.  What’s not to like?

We tried to remember to look up and look around. Longshaw was truly beautiful.  Green, lush and emerging from the mists.  It did rain a bit, well drizzle really, but it was quite hot. There were a lot of insects.  I inadvertently swallowed a few, which might be a protein boost but did nothing for my vegetarian credentials.  Nevermind, plenty bit me back.  I was slathered in ‘Skin so soft’ which does work actually, but it is pretty over-powering stuff.  I used it to rid my flat of ants in Cambodia, which it did, and which is no mean feat!

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As well as admiring the view, and swallowing insects, we were able to chat quite a lot about bra fitting, which is my current topic of choice.  We did this to such an extent that the ‘top of the stone wall’ marshal, admonished us for our chit-chat, but rather regretted doing so as we filled him in our discussion themes, which moved from bra fit on lap one, to chafing remedies on lap two.

I also got to hear lots more about the Valley Hill running club, which was rather good.  I do love my Smiley Paces, but I struggle to keep up on group runs, so am open to running with other groups too. Smileys aren’t affiliated, so lots of members do pop up in more than one running group, for a variety of reasons.  They are in a slightly different part of Sheffield so have different run routes and also different club races that feature on their annual fixtures list.   A whole load of them are heading off to do some multi-lap ultra next weekend.  Sounds tough, endless 5k laps with a bangle on completion of each.  The Manvers Dusk to Dawn, it happened for the first time in 2014, and is very much a social event.  Food available, run when you like, with whoever you like.   That year the winner completed a staggering twenty-two laps (71.6 Miles).  Quite aside from the distance, I can’t imagine the tedium of doing that, but then again, having others about probably does motivate you, and the format is great in that you are only ever a short distance from assistance should you require it, which means you can be braver in going for ‘just one more lap.’  It was  interesting hearing about new to me races, and there is clearly some cheery camaraderie in action, disguised by a continuous line of mutually abusive banter.  I like that.  Also, they have a chip butty run.  Head turning stuff.

So it was we loped round, three tail markers (one a Smiley), a couple of Valley Hill Runners, me a Smiley and another fellow Smiley in ear shot ahead.  It wasn’t a fast romp round, but it was a fun and companionable one.  It was also really good haring downhill at the end on masse, our own sports day finish, into the arms of the waiting hi-viz team. Yay. Aren’t we all great.  Longshaw 10k is super friendly, it’s a great introduction to off-road running and a very supportive environment to join.  The views are outstanding and the running buddies awesome too.  I don’t know why I’d left it so long to get back to it.

There we go, that was it.  Run done.  One of the benefits of a slow finish is no queue at the cafe.  Fine latte and a cheese scone – which I’d swear has reduced in size since my last visit.  Like Wagon Wheel biscuits, you look at them, and just know, things are not as they once was.  Nevermind.  It’s not like I’m going to fade away.  Final chit-chat, and then farewells.   A grand morning out indeed.  Thank you volunteers.

So, in conclusion, I’m very happy to be back doing the Longshaw 10k.  It’s great in its own right, as well as hopefully helping me on my way to the 12.12.  For me that Dig Deep event will be a challenge enough I think.  Others have higher goals, check out the Masochists Marathon (only $1.60 to enter, but you might die); or there’s always the Bob Graham if you want to stay closer to home, don’t get that mixed up with the Billy Graham challenge though, might get awkward.  And try to remember it’s supposed to be fun, harder than you might think when you are six seconds outside the cut off of a one hundred mile, 120,000 feet, sixty hour ultra marathon.  Do your research people, pick your challenge wisely.  If you get it wrong you might end up broken like this at the end of your run of choice:

1500922688-esq080117barkley001mod

Whereas really you want to end up like this lot.   Some lovely Valley Hill Runners post the Longshaw 10k by way of illustration.  Not sure how many chip butties they have had between them over the years, but they’ve done a great deal of running.  Thanks for letting me tag along with you guys, much appreciated.

Valley Hill Runners

And that was it. We dispersed our separate ways into the mist, until next time.

Maybe see you there?  Fourth Sunday in the month at Longshaw.  Be there.  They put the flags out specially!

Happy running til next time.  🙂

flags out

Categories: 10km, off road, running | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Longshaw Sheepdog Trials Fell Race 2016 – ewe know ewe want to…

Sub-optimal running conditions.’  That was the official comment on the event retrospectively according to the Longshaw Estate Facebook post.  I will concede that the statement is technically correct, but it doesn’t do full justice to the very wetness and persistence of the rain.  All part of the atmosphere and challenge for the hard-core fell runners out there – Dark Peak Fell Runners probably don’t bother getting up in the morning for anything less than vertical elevation and inclement weather after all.  However, for me that was a bit more of an issue.  Let me explain…

2016-09-03 22.08.44

Oh, hang on, first you want to know what it is I am talking about?  Keep up.  This was the Longshaw Sheepdog Trials Fell Race for 2016.  For the uninitiated (only me then, until yesterday), this is a Fell Race at the Longshaw estate, taking place on the same day as the sheepdog trials, which are apparently the the oldest continuous trials in the country. They have been run from 1898 to the present day, interrupted only by the two world wars.  Which is impressive, although the gap, whilst understandable, does rather stretch the definition of ‘continuous’ I agree.  The clue as to what to expect on the day is therefore in the name of the event (though I still can’t work out if sheep dog/ sheepdog should be one word or two.  They use two words but at Bamford Sheepdog Trials it was one, so die already cast with that I’m afraid).   Anyway, the website blah de blah follows, but naturally I only looked at it after the event (course outlines are scary and demoralising if read in advance I tend to think):

The Longshaw fell race is held on the Saturday morning of the Sheepdog trials.

The number of competitors at the Longshaw race has increased each year, despite competition from several other local races which are traditionally run on the same weekend.

Entries come from many miles away and occasionally we have an international runner in the field including the 2011 winner.

The Fell Race course is shown below, it covers 5 miles of varied terrain over Burbage, Higger Tor, Over Owler Tor, Owler Tor, Lawrence Field & Longshaw Pastures, including woods, rocky paths and the occasional bog.

The start field can be seen from the majority of the route and conversely the spectators can follow the runners through binoculars.

The course record is 38m 07sec and will stand for ever yes

Pay to enter the Sheepdog Trials (currently £5) and race free. Bring the family, there’s plenty for them to do whilst you run on the fells.

The map is here – incidentally, both me and my Tomtom GPS watch, and Strava thought the route was rather nearer 6 miles than 5 (came out at 5.8) but that’s just more fun on the fells isn’t it, so nothing to worry about.

Microsoft Word - Longshaw 2013.doc

So, back to all about me, and my race day experiences.  Well, my race day experiences naturally started a few days before.  The event begins at the moment you start to contemplate whether or not you intend to participate in my experience.  Note, I use the word ‘participate’ rather than ‘compete’ I do have an inner core of realism within.  Anyway,  I’d seen some nice heather out and about, I’d enjoyed Whirlow 10k a couple of weeks ago and lots of people say Longshaw Sheep Dog Trials fell race is really lovely… Hmmmm, I did what I always do on such occasions, solicit opinion.  I posted rather sheepishly (see what I’ve done there?) on the Smiley Facebook page to see who else might be up for it.   Lots of enthusiastic responses come pouring forth from various Smilies, all very clear that it would be a great idea for me to undertake this fell race, but for one reason or another none of them would.  It is only with hindsight I come to realise that many of these people cajoling me to ‘have it go it’s absolutely super!’ have gone to great lengths to avoid taking part again this year for their own part.  ‘I would have entered but I’m doing a 16k race in the Lakes that day – when is it again?‘, ‘would have entered but I’m injured‘, ‘would have entered but am marshalling instead – don’t forget to smile on your merry way past‘; ‘would love to but I live in Switzerland and I’m drinking gin that day‘ and, most tellingly of all perhaps, had I but thought it through ‘I would have entered, but my daughter has an appointment at the hairdressers‘ – this from the Whirlow 10k winning female runner.  Clue there surely, had I only been on my guard?

Still, that’s me, slow on the uptake.  Hope over experience has always served me well (not absolutely true, but don’t quibble).  There are some certainties here.  Fabulous punning potential, even though I am nowhere near the dizzy punning heights of some of my Smiley compatriots.  Some are very punny indeed.  It would be an adventure.  I might get my hat trick for final finishes (it doesn’t count if you come last deliberately by the way, you do have to actually try to run round in case anyone is planning to depose me from my rightful place).  Plus, some great anecdotes, potentially at least.  Elsewhere I heard tell of a runner who ran this event with her husband to be on the morning of their wedding day!  As I understand it, this involved charging round at the back, hugging each and every marshal en route, taking loads of selfies and pictures generally, and then getting wed in the afternoon. Back the following year (just to run, not to get married again as far as I know) she took 26 minutes off her time.  Must have been a very heavy camera weighing her down, but these photographers do like their kit do they not?

camera thats a big one

So anyway, thought basically I’d just sleep on it.  Checking out the weather forecast the day before it looked promising.  What the hell… lovely day for it, last chance to see the heather at its best and it’s on my doorstep after all.  I can walk round if it comes to it. ‘Twill be fine and dandy. Probably see some familiar faces, and it’s got such a good reputation it’s bound to attract plenty of ‘have a go’ runners romping round in wellingtons and/or flip-flops (different people obviously, that would be silly), I’ll just blend in, it will be fine.  Spoiler alert – it didn’t entirely work out like that, but I did have a good time anyway thank you for asking.

Sooooooo, day dawned.  Not looking altogether as promising out the window as I’d planned on rising.  However, I was undeterred, the morning broke like this last Sunday for the Longshaw 10k but early morning fog gave way to glorious sunshine.  It’d be fine.  Granted, teeny bit of concern about the forecast for torrential rain later, but that wasn’t until gone 12.30 and surely if the race was due to start at 10.30 I’d be back home tucked up under a duvet again by then?  Meantime, a bit of drizzle wouldn’t kill me.  Probably not.  There is that documentary though isn’t there, Sharknado, but I think that’s more an American phenomenon as far as I know…

sharknado

Anyway, donned my running gear, went for short-sleeved (don’t want to get too hot out there) and Smiley Top.  How could they not be proud to see me flying the club colours?, also, aids with identification if some mishap should befall me.  I headed off early (where are the windscreen wipers on this blue car again) and soon arrived at the venue.  It is indeed lovely.  It was all well signposted (more of this later) and a super-friendly man in a kiosk took my fiver from me and welcomed me to the venue.  ‘Aah, you are obviously here for the fell race‘ he observed.  I was a bit confused, then remembered I was wearing my club vest. He hadn’t been responding to my athletic physique after all.  Too late for me to bottle it and pretend I’d come for the doubles herding course or whatever.  I read somewhere that some runners can be intimidated by the sea of club vests at the start of a race.  I simultaneously know exactly what she means (Dark Peak vests means it’s going to be steep; Steel City Striders it’s going to be fast), and feel very confident that no runner would be intimidated by the sight of me in my vest.  Astonished perhaps.  That is different.

I gingerly manoeuvred my car up the slope and through the long grass.  It was very well organised, with cone markers and friendly folk to wave you in the direction you needed to go.  It wasn’t raining at this point, so I could still hang on to the naive misconception that it was clearly ‘brightening up’.  It was cool and a bit overcast, perfect running conditions (apart from the little matter of that large hill looming on the horizon that would have to be negotiated).  I ventured over to the registration tent.  Very simple to complete your registration (they even had functioning pens for this purpose) and collect your number from the dream-team threesome who were solemnly recording all the entries.

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I was very taken with the design of the registration form.  Look at what they’ve done there at the top – using the sheep to spell out LONGSHAW!  Genius, simply genius.  I also liked my number a lot.   22.  It pleased me.  I couldn’t remember the registration number of my car so left that blank as I didn’t think ‘blue’ would be sufficient. Then afterwards I fretted in case they thought I’d snuck in without paying and so I’d be disqualified (not too much of an issue) or worse, just left to fend for myself out there on the fell, never to experience a latte again…  I got over it though. I’m more resilient than you may think.

So that was the business done and dusted.  Time for an explore.  There was a particularly fine produce collection on sale in the registration tent by the way.

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Other runners and organisers started to assemble.  I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few familiar faces.  I was less pleasantly surprised at the lack of fun runners.  Also, quite a male dominated race, this didn’t bother me per se, but did suggest there’d be a bit of a split in the field potentially.  Where are all the people in fancy dress?  Oh well, I expect the have-a-go contingency will turn up at the last-minute I told myself.  Turns out that this race is one of the Gritstone series sponsored by Accelerate, whilst that particular detail had previously passed me by (much as life does all too often), it did mean that there were friendly faces from the Accelerate woodrun workshops.  (Thursday mornings, Eccleshall woods £2 be there 9.15 for 9.30 start, drills and shared expertise).  Yay.  It made a lot easier the task of ingratiating myself to the event sweeper.  I could brief him on my requirements, specifically, the ‘you have to understand I can’t talk and run‘ rider.  I was a little perturbed that his hi-viz jacket seemed to say ‘fast runner’ on it, but actually it was ‘last runner’ just to be clear.  So I could be confident that slot was already taken.  Mind you, I’ve come in behind a sweeper before, so no room for complacency.

To aid identification, he was also sporting a brush on his head.  Well, I say it was to aid identification, but it might have been a display of purely gratuitous, attention-gaining, rampant exhibitionism.  Or maybe he just forgot to glance in a mirror on the way out of the house and didn’t realise it was there.  We’ve all done that.  Or maybe he tried to look in a mirror and was just too tall to do so to any good effect.  He’d be the right height for maybe checking there was no toothpaste or breakfast down his front, but not for inadvertant headwear options.  I have this situation happen to me all the time in reverse.  I’m quite, well, (spoiler alert) short, and have lost count of the number of times I’ve been in a house and can’t see into a mirror because it’s been hung too high for someone of my stature to see themselves in without the aid of a step-ladder or other outside assistance.  (So to all those people muttering behind me ‘what did she do, get dressed in the dark?’ now you have your answer.)  Maybe tall people get that in reverse?  Only ever seeing their chests or midriffs in mirrors across the world?  Like medusa, unable to ever take a good look at their faces.  Plausible I think you’ll agree.. anyway, despite this speculation, on balance, I think it was just an exceedingly good visual pun, because he was The Sweeper see.   Sweeping up at the back of the race.  More genius.  You can’t trust anyone who doesn’t appreciate a good pun in my world view.  Puns are great.   Just goes to show, there were a great many smart people out and about at Longshaw for sheepdog trial day.  Not sure you can entirely tell by looking…

Pleasingly, I then caught up with another friendly face, who acknowledged me in public despite being a Dark Peak runner, so that was good for my self-esteem.  We headed off to make use of the ‘amenities’ and I took the opportunity of the queue to do a pre-race selfie (yes it’s compulsory).  It is the only evidence I was actually at this event to be honest, so here it is:

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Still not raining, oh good.  Saw a fellow Smiley and went to say hello.  It was her first time in a Smiley Vest apparently, so quite an occassion.  Other Smilies were marshalling, so there were a couple around, but this event seemed to attract more hardcore ‘proper’ fell runners I’d say.  Not that we don’t have hardcore fell runners within the Smiley Troupe, but they weren’t particularly in attendance today.  That made me gulp a bit, to be honest.  The sweeper was explaining there is ‘at least one really tough bit‘ and he made mention of having got ‘just a bit lost‘ on the recce, and I was blinking at him thinking ‘but you’re a really awesome runner – oh crap!’  The race start time drew near, and an attempt was made to herd us towards the start field.  Rain started to fall. Then, after a bit, it fell more, and heavier.  As a bit of a light weight (running wise, not actually) I took refuge in the tent.

Peering out at the rain as it became ever more persistent.   Still, no point in bleating about that.  It was reminiscent of the start of Percy Pud last year when all I really wanted to do immediately prior to the start was go home.  Unlike Percy Pud 2015, a rainbow did not then subsequently appear in the sky just as we were required to run.   Still, not to worry, the start was delayed anyway, as the race begins in the field used for the sheepdog trials and that class was running late – one of the dogs at least wasn’t being all that co-operative, with rather more boisterous running around going on than actual herding apparently.  One runner quipped maybe we should have a go at the sheep herding and leave the sheepdog to take on the fell race instead!  How we laughed, one of us at least with a tad too much desperation and longing in their expression of ha ha than was entirely appropriate.   Anyway, seems this is a sheepdog trials with a fell race attached, as opposed to vice versa, so dogs (and sheep)  take priority.  Fair enough, every dog should have its day as we all know.  And maybe the rain would stop.  (It didn’t, just got more confident and unrelenting).

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Waiting in the tent got increasingly toasty as more and more runners sought sanctuary.  I met some nice people and some interesting people and some people I already knew and some people I didn’t.  I wont draw a venn diagram of who was who.  Chance put me the way of a very encouraging ‘proper’ runner who was unbelievably nice.  I was pumping him for advice on what to expect, and he was patient and supportive (also slightly cornered, by the increasing squash of people, but I’m sure that had nothing to do with it).  He did say that some bits would be technical and would have to be walked, and when I said I was aiming for about 90 minutes (I know, but I am slow, and I just took my trail 10k time and added a chunk), he gently suggested that if expecting to be out that long on the hills it might be a good idea to take along something to eat for sustenance.  Well, naturally I am immediately drawn to think positively of anyone who tells me I really should be eating more.  ‘You might as well if you are walking bits anyway‘ he pointed out. This was probably good advice on reflection, but a bit late. I was glad I’d found the sweeper earlier, he had already reassured me he’d got emergency rations with him enough for a faller and himself too.  Anyway, my new friend said he thought I’d do it in under that, and he’d see me at the end.  I did, but didn’t see him, I imagine he’d have been long gone by the time I got round.  Here he is in action though,  by way of example.  I think it’s a reasonable bet he was flying along a tad faster than me, but then again, I did also run this route, in my own inimitable way, so hey, go me!  Thank you for being nice  to me though whosoever you were, it was very encouraging (kindness of strangers and all that).  (Action shots courtesy of Accelerate by the way, thank you!)

Acc super friendly guy

So, after another half hour or so, we were shooed out of the tent and towards the start.  Rain was heavy by this point, I was sodden, and so were my spirits.  I’d got a bit cold, and despite my porridge for breakfast, that had been 5 hours ago and I was wondering if I would have enough fuel in the tank.  Oh joy. On a cheerier note, there was a really good atmosphere.   A very jolly compère gave a commentary as we assembled, pouncing on various participants for a quick vox pox en route.  Shout outs were given to running clubs various, and a certain ‘Stu’ identified at the front.  (I overheard another runner explain to a friend that basically when he turns out, everyone else might as well go home – though this was said in an admiring rather than begrudging tone – this fell race is his for the taking, year on year it seems).  It was all very good-natured though.  A briefing of sorts was given ‘you all know the route don’t you, that’s grand?‘ and to the uplifting (but somewhat strangled by the outdoor PA) chords of ‘Chariots of Fire’ we all took off.

Acc start photo longshaw 2016

The start was fun, definitely fun.  It was a tusssocky romp across sodden land, and with a slight downwards incline (shame this becomes an upward incline on the return, but I wasn’t thinking about that just then).  I was near the back from the off to be fair, but then again, consistency is really my thing with fell races.  Fell running is inherently hilarious by the way, whilst it is true that those at the front gracefully fly across the hills, there are still a fair few of us just blagging it with varying degrees of decorum towards the rear.  Trying to balance on tufts of reeds, and a few at this stage even trying to avoid the boggy bits. An entirely futile exercise, but all part of the challenge.  There is something joyful about a crowd heading off to the hills at speed for no good reason other than the sheer unadulterated merriment of it all.

Acc view from the back

Quick scamper across the fields, and then soon you get to the first road crossing.  This was so astonishingly well marshalled it was like there’d been some sort of national emergency declared at just this spot.  Traffic stopped, signs and hi-viz aplenty as only a well oiled machine of rapid response disaster management teams could.  It was fine going out, as a crowd of us scampered across the road like an army of soldier ants (albeit ones shrink – wrapped in colourful lycra), it was less fine coming back when I was so far behind the field I felt a fraud for holding up the traffic.  Oh well, that was still to come!

All too soon though, the upward bit comethed.  I was quickly over-taken by all but the sweeper and his running buddy (who claimed to have not run for ages, but then told tales of running conquests that suggested his legs would still very much have it in their muscle memory at the very least).  Inevitably, I found my place, at the back.  It was OK though, I’m getting used to this position.  You are allowed to come last at a fell race and not marry someone in the afternoon unless you want to I think, so keep it all in proportion if it happens to you.  Plus, you are near to the emergency supplies and don’t have to worry about navigation, or carrying anything.  All good too.

Whilst it was definitely wet, and getting wetter, it was lovely out there. It was ‘proper’ off road quite quickly.  Following sheep tracks and picking through the gritstones.  I was glad of my fell shoes, and they gripped really well, I got more confident in them as I – well, I was going to say bounded but it would be more accurate to concede – picked my way up the hill.  You could see the snake of runners way ahead (which was aesthetically pleasing if also a tad demoralising) and although the tops were shrouded in mist, the landscape is just awesome.  Heather and bracken all about, it is really beautiful.

I made what might generously be called ‘erratic’ progress, I put on a bit of a yomp wherever it flattened out a bit, or the stones gave way to more forgiving peat.  I love the springiness of running on peat, it cossets your feet, I’m very wary of falling on the stonier bits though.  I felt for the tail runners who were dutifully keeping a respectable distance as best they could, but would in honesty have liked to stretch their legs a bit more I’m sure. I gave them lots of braking practice with my stop/ start approach.  I’m sure they loved that.  It was nice for me though eavesdropping on their anecdotes with each other, and their negotiations over who would get to pick up the next bit of tape or marker.  Occasionally, when I was walking, we chit-chatted a bit, and that was fine, because I’ve always been exceedingly good at walking and talking as my hobbit buddy would gladly testify I’m sure.  Once I started running again I reminded them that I’d been serious about not being an especially communicative runner, adding that I wasn’t a particularly running communicator either.  Yin yan I suppose, yin yan.

The uphill bit did eventually pause at least, which was just as well as my vision started to be seriously impaired.  The rain was so heavy now it had washed off all my sunblock (I know, what was I thinking, to say I’d been afflicted by blind optimism in the morning seems to have been literally as well as prophetically and metaphorically  true!) into my eyes and stung like *&%+!  or, more politely ‘billy o’.  Periodically we passed marshals, some of whom must have been absolutely freezing as well as soaked through.  They’d had a long wait, not just for the start, but for me to come round at the back.  Even so, they were all incredibly encouraging and smiling.  Part of this was no doubt relief at my appearance as that meant they would now be free to abandon their posts, but it was also due to their innate positivity and cheeriness which is endemic to the run-marshalling community as far as I can determine.   Thank you all you marshals, you are STARS!   One marshal had the foresight to bring an umbrella with her.  Wish I had.  At Burbage Bridge it took me a while to identify a Smiley Elder (she of the visor self-sacrifice) as the marshal. She was comprehensively cocooned in wet-weather gear, so I had almost run past before I recognised her and I had to swivel back to exchange hugs.  I am a bit hug-orientated when running, haven’t yet dared to ask more experienced runners if that’s appropriate or bad form.  Nobody has ever refused a hug though, but perhaps that’s because they are too scared by the manic look in my eyes or caught by surprise by my embrace to do so. I might post a question about it on a running forum some day. Then again, I may not.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss.  There are truths that are better left unsaid.

After Burbage, you turn back and its downhill for a bit.  Loved this, you dip down out of some of the wind and wet, and the ground is soft and the downward incline more my thing. However, I was a bit gingery going down as it was a bit ‘technical’ to use the jargon.   The ground was very uneven and the path unclear.  I’m sure the faster runners fly round, they must do to achieve the times they get, but I wasn’t going to follow suit.  You do feel adventurous though, and sometimes I think, because I am slow and at the back, I am out of sight of other runners and it’s like I have the whole landscape to yourself.  Gorgeous.  I wasn’t even cold at this point, because I did keep moving, I think you’d freeze PDQ had you stopped though.  This might have been one of the very few events where the fleece-police would have let me wear my running jacket… maybe.  Wouldn’t bank on it though, they are very persistent.

You scramble down to a stream, and fortunately, there was a marshal positioned ‘on high’ up a ridge where he had a good view to direct you where to cross the water, which you do twice.  No stepping-stones here, you have to splosh through, but that was fun, and I was pretty water-logged by then anyway.  I don’t really mind what happens on the way home as you know at this point you are going to fundamentally be OK.  The guys at frontrunner set up my tomtom so it vibrates after each ‘lap’ of one mile ahead of the Sheffield half, so my watch had been buzzing periodically to tell me what my progress was.  I don’t ever look at my watch whilst I’m actually running, but I do like to feel the miles being ticked off.  You have at least a vague sense of being beyond half way or whatever.  So, fell shoes filled with water, I sloshed on and out of the stream.  There I saw another familiar face.  A wannabee runner who alas had missed the start, but come to walk round anyway and offer  support.  That was really nice!  Thanks for being there.  This was the really tough bit.  The hill was slippery, steep and treacherous underfoot.  I tried to keep going, but even with the sweeper, sweeper buddy, and now a marshal relieved from his post (honestly I was like the pied piper going round, only picking up more marshals in my wake with each mile of the course rather than small children) I had to stop periodically to give my legs a break.  It was more of a scramble than a walk.  I had to hang on to clumps of grass on the way up.  You couldn’t even see the top though I could hear the occasional strangled cry of a runner ahead.  I wasn’t sure if that was because they’d come to grief, fallen over a cliff edge, or were just expressing relief at having summitted (is that even a word?).  Still, it meant there were humans in the vicinity.

Eventually, like a guiding angel, Accelerate Man (yes, that is a new super-hero I’ve just invented, but it does the job, would be better if he had worn Patagonia made pants over running leggings for super-hero identification purposes, but work in progress I daresay) came into view.  Shouting encouragement, he actually offered his hand and hoiked me up the last bit.  There was another marshal at the top, who offered some water.  Unusually for me I took a slurp (I’m a bit OCD about sharing water bottles). I think I must have needed it, as I was a bit disoriented, and initially headed off in the wrong direction before being called back and being pointed the opposite way. The next bit was good, familiar yomping territory, a bit of down hill, and my tail runners were distracted by variously pulling up markers, chatting to marshals, having a picnic whatever, so they weren’t so much on my tail.  Grateful as I was for their attentions going round, it was nice to be on my own for a bit, taking it all on and in.  More marshal waving, and then as I rounded a bend for the homeward curve, there was Accelerate Man again.  I promptly nearly fell over as I felt I owed it to him to at least to pretend to be running throughout, and got distracted.  ‘Don’t look at me, look where you are going!’  It’s these sort of professional coaching tips that are worth so much in a race situation!  Here is a picture of what other runners look like when they are not falling over or gazing in the wrong direction, I have not made the cut for this album as yet…  You can also see the terrain.  Unlike these runners I got all this bit all to myself!

Acc sure it rained more than this ...

From here it was pretty much downhill, the terrain wasn’t too technical.  I had my personal coach in tow, alongside even, and got some impromptu advice on technique as we went round.  The main advice was to keep running, small steps, however slowly.  If you constantly walk, you end up just getting ever faster at walking, whereas if you run slowly, you will eventually run faster.  There is an unarguable logic in this, although I’m still going to power walk up the really technical bits.  It was good to have a bit of a chat and a catch up at this point, made me feel more confident about showing my face at woodrun again.  I’ve not been in ages because I’m so rubbish, but then again as Accelerate Man pointed out (with respect) ‘that’s bollocks‘ as an excuse, how else are you going to improve, and they are an encouraging rather than judgemental outfit.  (Incidentally, this conversation was not in violation of my ‘I can’t talk and run directive’, as I wasn’t travelling fast enough for it to apply).   Honestly, I would have got lost at this point if I hadn’t been with someone who knew the route, the markers were a bit further apart, and some of the route was properly cross-country, i.e. not on any path at all, not even a sheep track.  I have a theory that someone tall put out the markers here, as there was in fact a flag put up just over a hump in the terrain, but my eye line couldn’t see over the mound.  Hence I had a few moments of gazing around in all directions clueless until nudged in the right direction by my personal guide who knew the route.

Eventually, the marquees of the event came into view.  The course flattened out, and you could head to the finish. The advice was to keep to the trodden bit to save energy as the path is already there, walk crossing a dip in the land just ahead, then after three strides, start running again to achieve a sprint (ahem) finish. This was good advice actually, and when I write my own (best-selling) running text-book to inspire future generations I may include it.  It was thinking a bit ahead that helped,  I never do that when I run, I just run (or not), I don’t have a plan as such, but even that little bit of planning helped me keep up a pace.  Whilst I’m dolling out top tips for racecraft, I got another few bits on this yomp out.  One from the sweeper, who reminded me to push off with my feet when running (that does really help you to run more efficiently) and one from the sweeper’s buddy (I think it was him), who pointed out that if you are in danger of coming last, it’s a good idea to fall back as early on as possible, as that gives you the maximum amount of time to make up the distance during a race.  Wise words indeed.  I achieved the first bit of this advice all on my own by instinct, just got to nail the making up the distance later part.  Still one out of two aint bad.

So, I dragged my weary carcass up that final incline to the finish funnel (let’s gloss over the fact I got all confused and nearly went the wrong way round into it) and was greeted by Fell Race Compère Man (yes, another super hero in the making) who was providing a commentary as I came in.  Naturally, he was very keen to hear my thoughts on the conclusion of the race.  I gave my name and used the opportunity to vindicate myself when he asked me if I’d had fun out there.  ‘Of course I did, it was great,  that’s why I took my time out there I wanted to make the most of it!’  That’ll have fooled them.

I gave my name to the time keepers, and gave my number to a bedraggled and be-sodden hat-wearing small child who was brandishing an open bin-liner towards me for the purposes of number collection.  She’d done good work, out in all that rain collecting numbers all day.  The only people behind me were the back markers, so I waited to applaud them in, and shared celebratory hugs.  I thanked my impromptu coaching team for helping me round and then once again sought the sanctuary of the tent.

Usually by the time I’m back at a race the prize giving is all done and dusted, not so here.  I got an orange juice and lemonade from the bar, and hung on for the presentations which were imminent.  Top marks for the presentation, it was a hoot.  Total of entries was revealed as 176.  One person who entered apparently then almost immediately withdrew as the elements drew in, they were singularly unimpressed by the weather. The compère cheerfully pointed out that no refund had been given.  Fair enough, fell running is not the faint hearted.  One runner DNF.  There was a bit of a hub-bub around as people speculated what had happened to them.  Seems someone took a tumble and had been spotted considerably bloodied but unbowed, by various runners. They were sporting a nice gaping head wound according to at least one account.  ‘Are they here?  Are they OK?’ enquired the compère.  ‘They’re being stitched up at the Hallamshire’ heckled a spirited observer.  How everyone laughed.  What larks eh?  I later discovered that wasn’t so much a heckle as a statement of fact.  Oh well, where would be the fun in fell running if it wasn’t for the frissance of danger on the way round eh?

Prizes were given predominantly to Dark Peak  Fell Runners for actual running, well they are individually as well as collectively phenomenal, so not a surprise.  One category winner was absent though, but ‘not from round here so probably not daring to show their face‘ was wryly observed in jest (I hope).   Impromptu spot prizes were then handed out on something of a whim.  ‘Muddiest legs‘ nope, not enough interest ‘runner from furthest away?’  ‘Yay, get that‘, someone from New York was identified, but I suspect a scam.  Something in the intonation about having ‘travelled all the way from the great U S of A just to join us for the day‘didn’t entirely ring true, but entertained massively all the same.

Oh, you want to know the winners?  Well, if you really care, here is the link to results in full for Longshaw Sheepdog Trials 2016 .  And here is a photo of the stars of the day.  I think they win cake, worth running fast for.  Though honestly, neither of them look like they really each much cake do they?*  That’s the compère with them, not their minder.  Classy dress for the occassion don’t you think? Raises the tone of a run in my view.

Acc the winners are

*CORRECTION:  I’ve been asked to point out that there is a significant factual innacuracy here.  The Female winner does in fact eat a lot of cake, with enjoyment.  Must just run even more to burn it all off afterwards.  Unreserved apologies for that inadvertant libel.

By this time, I was getting really cold, so just time to splash out on some of the catering options and head for home.  Waving goodbye to compatriots various as I did so.  Would thoroughly recommend this event, it is a hoot, friendly, and delivered with considerable aplomb I’d say.  One of the funniest presentations I’ve been too, and I like the way they big up the whole affair.  Fiver, what’s not to like, apart from excessive rain, but don’t worry about that, it won’t rain next year, FACT.

So I headed home, negotiating  my car out the field went better than expected given the increased sogginess of the terrain, bit of a scary slide on the muddy road bit though.  Longshaw Sheepdog Trials 2016 had one parting gift for me though, the pun of the day!

On exiting I saw a sign from one of the event sponsors at the entrance of the site.  It was for an estate agent. ‘Come Buy‘ it proclaimed.  See what they did there?  Genius.  So much so, I actually went back the following day (just now in fact) to snap a shot of it, and the muddy deserted site.  All over, until same time next year.

So, are we putting your name down for 2017, or would you like to think about it?  Get your hair appointment booked in early perhaps?

For accounts of all my fell race efforts follow this link.

For accounts of my final finish position posts (that’s a not very smart euphemism for coming last by the way) use this link (content is quite similar to fell races link to be fair, but there you go!)

For another perspective on this yomp out see here Steel City Striders run report Longshaw Sheepdog Trials 2016.

Categories: fell race, off road, race, running, running clubs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Creatures of the mist? August bank holiday Trust 10k Longshaw.

Can you be semi-spontaneous?  Or is that like being ‘very unique’?  That is, not really a thing, but an abuse of the English Language.  I ought to know given my TEFL toe-dipping adventures past, but I don’t really.  Anyway, that is what this excursion to Longshaw was, so sue me grammar police, if you will.

Longshaw heather from their facebook page

The plan wasn’t initially to go to Longshaw Trust 10k.  (Surely you know by now, friendly trail run 10k, free to participate, inclusive event blah de blah).  The photo is courtesy of the NT Longshaw site by the way, thank you for that.  Anyway, this weekend I’d got a friend visiting (I know, they are multiplying, not only do I have a friend who sends me cards, I have another one that I used to work with who actually came to stay.  Can’t accuse her of being an imaginary one at least!)  We used to work together in another life, and have kept in touch, but not actually seen each other for more years than I can remember.  She’s very much into fitness, but not really a runner, but then I don’t know if I am.  I mean, I know I’m not a gym bunny, but the running moniker still sit’s somewhat uncomfortably with me.  Anyway, we did parkrun on the Saturday, and that was a success, but initially she felt a trail run the next day might be a bit much.  However, it seemed that so delightfully friendly were my Smiley buddies in greeting us both the day before, and so great was my kudos by association when I was greeted by name in my local running store* on the previous Friday that she had a change of heart.  (*Just for clarification, I consider being greeted by name in this way to be a symbol of having ‘arrived’ in the running community, and not at all a measure of having drawn inappropriate attention to myself through poor running techniques and/or etiquette in some way.  I do not wish to be disabused of this fact just in case you were thinking of sharing unsolicited views.) I have a good record with personal recognition in local shops. When I used to live in Leamington Spa (the timeless wonder) the post master in my local post office used to hilarious dive under the counter for cover whenever I entered.  What larks eh?  What larks!

So it was when Sunday morning dawned (I use the term loosely) Longshaw 10k it was to be.  Yay.  ‘Why not‘ announced my kindred friend, ‘shame not to‘.  Well quite.

The reason I use the term ‘dawn’ loosely, was because, despite it being August Bank Holiday Sunday, we were greeted by an almost autumnal mist.  It felt like dawn never came.  I’d been going on and on about how lovely it is round Longshaw, especially with it being heather season, as it was, we could barely see out the window for my ‘head out the attic window’ weather check.  This was not the plan.

We clambered into  my newly acquired and barely driven automatic.  I used to have an aged manual, but after 17 years sterling surface, it spectacularly failed its MOT a few weeks back.  I had been managing carless, but now have a new to me automatic.  We are not yet friends, me and this new car. I was so freaked out by my first tentative drive around the hills of Sheffield that I resorted to phoning my local (lovely, friendly and in my experience helpful and non-judgemental) garage for advice.  I explained that whenever I go up the hills of Sheffield (which is basically every time I go anywhere at all) I feel like I need to change gear, but obviously it’s an automatic, so you can’t.  He asked questions about my vehicle.  Now you need to know that I am not really interested in cars.  I once got into trouble with a four-year old who asked me what car I had.  I said ‘a red one‘ he said that was a stupid answer, he meant the make of car, probably model as well. Well, my new car is a blue one, and an automatic.  So, nice man from the Garage listened, and then asked how old the car is (old, relatively speaking, about 10 years).  ‘Ah‘, he said knowledgeably, ‘I think you probably just have an early version of automatic, a jerkomatic probably‘.  ‘Really?’ I said.  ‘No‘ he said.  ‘Doh‘.  I thought.

I’m normally quite good with dry wit and sarcasm, but it appears where cars are concerned this by-passed me entirely.  I really shouldn’t be allowed out in public, and definitely not engage in unnecessary interpersonal interactions.  Anyway, upshot was, he offered to give it a quick test drive with me just to check it for safety and this is what happened.   Turns out my car is indeed a jerkomatic, and when it changes gear it sort of plunges into it. It is not a defect in either the car or my driving.  It is however disconcerting.  I just need to get used to it.  It’s a shame that I was still getting used to it when I was transporting my friend through not just mist, but full on fog en route to Longshaw.  It made for a more harrowing journey than you might reasonably expect.  It was honestly a pea-souper out there early on, really strange.  I’m ambivalent about cars.  I wonder periodically if I could manage without one, I hate driving.  Then again, even though I don’t use it all that often, when I do it is really useful.  My running experiences, pitiful as they may seem, would be even more lamentable if I didn’t have transport to get to the trail races outside of Sheffield.  Maybe when I am a proper ultra runner I’ll just jog to the start of Longshaw, have a sprint round, and lope back.  Plenty of runners seem to do so, not quite my league yet though, not yet…  Here is one, emerging through the mist.  Not looking altogether inviting I grant you.  Probably wont be getting a stream of urgent messages from Longshaw Estate begging me to let them use this image on their Facebook page.

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So we got there, and parked up.  Despite the bank holiday and the sea fret conditions, there was quite a buzz.  It was fun on arrival introducing my visiting kindred  to the great and good of the running community, I built on my shameless ‘glory by association’ with runners  and GB triathletes various at parkrun the day before. Fortunately my running buddies are friendly and inclusive, and all proffered a warm welcome.  Unfortunately they are unnecessarily self-deprecating about their achievements, but no worries, I could big them up afterwards.  I have no need to be modest on their behalf.

I love Longshaw 10k.  It’s super friendly, well organised, and basically one big love in for the local running community.  There were lots of reunions.  As well as compatriot smileys, I encountered monday mobsters; parkrunners; accelerate woodland runners as well as familiar faces from other events and running clubs.  I even came across my new best friend/ photographer who recently outed herself as the tumbling party who fell early on at the Whirlow 10k.  She should not be characterised only as an accomplished trail somersaulter, since she is also half of the celebrity photography couple that take shots at many fell races hereabouts.  Think Torvill and Dean only with cameras rather than ice skates as their major accessory.  I can’t remember who was who to be honest, so there’s a limit to how far I can go with this analogy.  I don’t know if I was addressing Torvill or Dean.  I’m bored now.  You’ll have to fill in the details for yourself. Was it Torvill and Dean or am I thinking of Orville and Harris?  There are just so many celebrity couples to choose from, it gets overwhelming.

I’m pleased to report that, mercifully,  she appeared to have  recovered from those injuries and scrapes, yay!  Less mercifully she was however nursing longer term ones.  There was some very impressive taping and strapping up in evidence.  A pleasingly gung-ho ‘it’ll be fine‘ mentality  As in ‘well, granted I do have a few twinges, injuries, underlying biomechanical weaknesses, but where is the harm in a sprint round cross-country for 10k whilst effectively blindfolded due to the opaque running conditions? What could possibly go awry?  It will be just the job to help me assess just how debilitating those underlying twinges really are!‘  I love runners, you have to appreciate their (our?) optimism, hope over experience perhaps, but cheery in outlook nevertheless!  We took pictures of one another in an act of photographing reciprocity (my, there is a word that’s hard to pronounce).  Technically, it may not have been entirely reciprocal (as in equal exchange) as she knows how to frame a decent photo and I do not, but let’s not quibble.  Here we are.  Each with our respective buddies.  Aren’t we lovely, and isn’t that taping impressive?   Actually, the photo doesn’t entirely do it justice, you’ll have to imagine the weaving at the back.

So after being distracted by greetings en route, we went to register.  Personally greeted by the lovely NT Sports Development Officer who once again pulled off a super friendly and well organised event.  I think it’s fair to say she was a bit taken aback by how many turned out, but hopefully in a ‘that’s grand‘ rather than ‘what is this monster I’ve created‘ sort of way.

Toilet queues, friendly exchanges with first timers.  ‘how slippery is it exactly, will I be OK in road shoes‘ and eventually a whistle blew to encourage us to make our way to the start.  Is it only me that gets an uncomfortable flash back to school PE lessons on hearing that noise?  It isn’t so much a flash back, it’s more like an out-of-body experience, I travel back in time to that moment, and my stomach knots.  School games sessions were not my friends either.

Three briefings were given on the start line.  Play nicely and be careful out there were main messages. We were advised that there shouldn’t be any cattle on the course, as any on the estate were safely behind walls today, so unless they’d jumped over something we should be fine.  Well, that’s all well and good, but it did rather suggest that this meant should we come across a cow it would be a particularly super athletic and possibly demonic one, that had gone to great lengths to reach us.  Cows are good jumpers.  At least one has been documented as having jumped over the moon as any child who had attended pre-school in the UK could probably tell you.

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Then, suddenly, we were awf!  The mist was thick, and there was an eerie quality to the run.  If you don’t believe me, have a look at this link, which I’ve borrowed from the  Steel City Strider Facebook page .  Thanks Sam Needham, fantastic footage of the start of the Longshaw 10k August bank holiday Sunday 2016, wooooo it’s spooky out there!  Click here to be amazed by the video footage of mysterious beings emerging from the Longshaw mist.

As I romped away from the start, I  heard a cheer of encouragement from a Monday Mobster who was atop a mound on a good vantage point to give a meerkat inspired shout out!  Thanks for that, every little helps….

Although there seemed to be quite a crowd at the start, there were no bottle necks today, not really, perhaps we’ve got better about ordering ourselves in the start (speedier runners towards the front) or maybe there were fewer than I thought.  The official results say 127 completed the 10k, and I know there were some DNFs and people who did the 5K loop and called it a day too, so that would boost the numbers a bit.  The one who isn’t Torvill or Dean, depending on who was who (i.e. the on this occasion non-running partner who was responsible for photography today) did indeed take some snaps.  I think he may even have done this whilst running himself, but that was confusing.  Once again, the pair make their Longshaw 10k photos available, but politely ask for modest donations to Buxton Mountain Rescue if you choose to use them (see this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/The-Jeffs-fell-photos)  Here are some action shots to get you in the mood.  Come join us next time, if you haven’t already it’s high time you did!

So, off we romped.  Fortunately, even though I was excited to have my kindred visiting, she understood about my not being able to run and talk.  Therefore, rather than set off yomping together in a companionable stride for stride rhythm, we agreed to completely ignore each other on the way round.  It was lovely to be back at Longshaw, and it looked gorgeous in the mist.  Friendly volunteers appeared now and again like ghostly figures (as much as it is possible to appear ghostly and mysterious when wearing hi-viz) and cheered us on.  Despite the mist, it wasn’t cold.  It was perfect running.  Recent rain had made the trails springy, but not all that water-logged.  The going was good.

I didn’t do too badly at first.  But my, that first steep hill coming out the woods is still steep.  I freely admit, I gave in to the inevitable and started walking quite early on.  Then I heard a shout behind me.  A fellow Smiley had decided to disrobe en route.   A sort of running variant on getting your 25 yard swimming certificate when you also had to perform complex manoeuvres whilst maintaining speed.  For the swimming certificate you had to dive down and pick up a brick from the bottom of a pool whilst wearing your pyjamas didn’t you?  Do they still do that even?  I’ve always thought if I was about to drown I wouldn’t bother to dive down amongst the shopping trolleys at the bottom of the canal looking for a brick to bring back up with me before I resurfaced. Maybe this ignorance about swimming etiquette is why triathlons don’t appeal to me?  That, and the possibility that you will collide with a deer en route.  Anyway, her running context variant was to rip off outer smiley vest, which she handed to me whilst we power walked on together, and then she removed her T-shirt from underneath before restoring the Smiley Vest to her person and shooting off again at a run.  It was all very slick.  We were like an olympic standard baton handing over team.  Unfortunately, we were a bit like one of the olympic relay teams which got disqualified from not doing their baton exchange properly, but I’m sure you get the general idea.  I am merely illustrating that it was warmer than you might have thought from the surrounding mist.

Another runner was like me going for the power walk option.  We mutually quipped that this was all part of our overall running strategy, pacing ourselves, aiming for a negative split.  (I’m still not entirely sure what that means really, but obviously I feigned understanding and nodded earnestly).   In fact, I learned from this knowledgeable Steel City Strider that what we were doing was following racecraft.  That’s good to know, I must admit before I had that external validation I’d had an inner voice telling me in no uncertain terms that I was actually slacking.  After our conversation I could crush that unhelpful voice to oblivion by pointing out that ‘au contraire‘ it was all part of my larger game plan.  Unfortunately, as I am unable to walk and run at the same time, this internal dialogue required a brief period of being stationary before I hoiked my weary carcass over the wall (thank you smiling wall marshal for being encouraging) and then it took nigh on super-human effort to get going again.  But I did dear reader, I did!

The strider strode on ahead, as striders are want to do  Later on he fell over unfortunately, but seemed to be walking wounded so that’s OK.  Them there hills can literally as well as metaphorically catch you out, need to be treated with respect.  Also, if my stalking of the Steel City Striders Facebook page is correct, he really only fell over due to a hex put upon him by other runners beforehand.  It had at the time seemed to be but in jest, events on the day however suggested otherwise.  I’m just saying…  competitive lot those Striders.

As we yomped round, the mist seemed to start to clear.  The volunteers were as ever a cheery crew. One seemed to  wave enthusiastically from miles away – although granted on closer approach he turned out to be midge swatting and dodging (to little or no avail to be honest, but he could but try).

Coming to the end of the first lap you are greeted by a little squad of volunteers, supporters and time keepers which is very jolly. They do fine work cheering you round.  I’m wondering though if, now the event is more established, they too could up their game.  I’m thinking more of an official cheer leading routine.  Not necessarily involving baton twirling (though that would be lovely of course) but possibly some human pyramids and cartwheels.  That kind of thing.  They could take inspiration from here:

sheep pyramid

As I started the second lap, I became aware of some more hardcore runners with ultra back packs closing up on me.  They had come to Longshaw not for the 10k, but as the starting point for a 20 miler I think.  As they first passed me, they quipped about having gin and sandwiches in their packs.  A little later they graciously (though unnecessarily) gave way to me as I was obviously ‘in a race‘ (they concluded this because I was wearing a number rather than the speed at which I was covering the ground methinks), anyway,  this forced me to yomp off with more speed than I could feasibly sustain, with the inevitable humiliation of them overtaking me again about 100 metres later.  Not to worry, I asked them to go on ahead and set up a trestle table and get the hamper out ready for me with the veg option sandwiches, which they assented to, before annoyingly heading off on a different fork in the path meaning I’d never see them again.  I wonder what sort of sandwiches they had with them?  Now I’ll never know.

There was another photographer out and about today. Usually nobody is.  So here are some more gratuitous running shots, lifted from Facebook, for which I thank Jo Carnie.

Sam Needham was also on a roll – love this shot:

sam needham photo

For the second lap sun the came out!   An amazing contrast, it was like we’d been teleported to a different climate zone.  The volunteers second time round had apparently colluded with one another to make their own entertainment.  By this I mean, they all seemed to have taken some steps to change their appearance.  A man and a woman at the ‘wood turn’ were now in possession of a rather sweet dog – which I’d swear wasn’t there before.  I was disproportionately pleased to see it, and cooed delightedly at its unexpected arrival … and then as I ran off on my merry way I thought perhaps that was too appreciative of the canine and not sufficiently appreciative of the volunteer marshals, so I shouted back ‘you are lovely too of course!’ in a vague belated attempt to, if not exactly apologise, at least restore some modicum of decency by expressing my overt appreciation of the volunteers’ labours.

Another trio of marshals had become a duo.  Dont know if there was some sinister cause to that or if it was just natural wastage or ‘creative differences’.  Another marshal had moved away all together, having disappeared from her post which involved standing in a car park and pointing us towards the whole in the wall and the last uphill bit on the way home.  Another still had disrobed her upper body, having removed her jacket in order to disguise her appearance entirely.  All enrichment for the observant runner.  Weird climate for volunteering today, nippy start, hot finish, and no doubt plagued by midges too.  Marshals, I salute you.

As usual, I was almost, but not quite, last back, but hey ho.

last one home

Managed to track down my kindred who’d had a good time but bowed out after 5k, and took a few snaps of Smiley buddies coming home together at the finish.  One big love in.

No time to linger for coffee today (which felt very wrong to me) but we had to head off as coach to catch.  Just a few rushed farewells and promises to meet up again for next month’s run.   I feel so lucky we have this on our doorstep.  Sad to be heading off just as the sun was really coming out, and showing off the heather in its last few days of glory before it fades away again.

Just one minor tomtom upload panic when I got on home, (we all know by now I think that if it’s not on strava it didn’t happen) due to my laptop just unilaterally turning itself off mid upload. However, after this unexpected phut – it recovered, and I hadn’t lost the data after all.  I hope it doesn’t mean that my computer is in its death throes.  Hopefully just having an off day.

So there we are, another Longshaw 10k done and dusted.   Long may it continue!

 

For video footage of mysterious beings emerging from the Longshaw mist I thank Steel City Strider Sam Needham.  Thank you to other photographers whose images I have used, Sue-Nigel Jeff and Jo Carnie.

To see all my accounts of running the Longshaw Trust 10k trail follow this link.

Categories: 10km, off road, running, running clubs | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We all just jogged to Jakarta! Longshaw Trust 10k first birthday bash triumph.

Unlikely sounding I know, but apparently that is what has happened.  I have basically just jogged to Jakarta!   A.Maz.Ing.  This is not even a Wikipedia stat, but a National Trust produced one so it absolutely, definitively must be true.  Not that I intend to check it out for myself, I’m not Strava enabled to that level of detail or indeed competency.

What happened was this.  Another day, another running anniversary.  This time, it was for the Longshaw Trust10 First Anniversary.  Doesn’t time fly eh?  Though only when you are enjoying yourself, not necessarily when you are actually running in my experience.  Nevertheless, it is apparently one year, almost to the day, since the inaugural Longshaw Trust10 trail running event first started.  Today, 24th July 2016, was therefore something of a special occasion.  Yay! Definitely called for bunting.  Actually, I have to concede the festive bunting that was out and about en route from the Longshaw car park to the tearooms, was evidently part of the standard Longshaw summer services National Trust recruitment and Longshaw Estate information display team offer, (not quite the Red Arrows to be fair, but jolly all the same) and not birthday specific for the Trust10 anniversary celebrations, but if you can’t parasitise someone else’s bunting on your birthday when can you?  Certainly got me in the party mood on the yomp down to registration.  Then again, I’m easily excited and entertained as has been pointed out to me before by say, The Runderwear Ambassador who I encounter out running at regular Sheffield area running events.  (She knows who she is, and she speaks the truth).

So, for those of you not in the know (sigh, where have you been), the Longshaw Trust 10 is basically a timed 10km run (twice round a scenic 5km off-road lap), held on the fourth Sunday of each month at Longshaw estate at 9.00 a.m..   Free to participate, just get there in time to register at the tea rooms from 8.15.  Keep your number for future events if you can, more blah de blah of the Longshaw 10k calendar is here.  Bring money for car-parking (if not a National Trust member) and for post run coffee (allegedly optional, but really, do you want to miss out on a posh latte with your trail running buddies?)  Anyway, today, as well as being the fourth Sunday of the month,  was the first anniversary of the inaugural Longshaw Trust10 run.  Hooray!

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In honour of the occasion we didn’t sing happy birthday to us (shame, seeing as how it’s finally legal to sing Happy Birthday on the record) I think we should have personally, but I am guilty of contributory negligence and will concede it could be my fault for not being more proactive and kicking off a communal rendition during the pre-run briefing I suppose.  However, we did get a very jolly flier explaining some of the many and various milestones achieved over the past year on the run at Longshaw at the finish.  Honestly, I would have preferred a more traditional party-bag with a balloon, stickers and maybe a piece of cake to be handed to me at the end of the run, but let’s not be churlish.  The leaflet was interesting too, and may yet provide useful pub-quiz fodder in the future if ever I should be required to say how far it is from Longshaw to Jakarta for instance.  Surely only a matter of time before that question comes up!

trust10 birthday facts

So, anyway, yes indeedy, we were given some Trust10 birthday facts to peruse.  I am assured there won’t be an exam as such, but surely great kudos in regurgitating some of these stats to your running friends (or indeed to your non-running acquaintances should there be any you have been looking for a discrete way to ‘unfriend’ by making them drop you for whatever reason), therefore, for your edification and in expectation of your no doubt unbridled enthusiasm and inadequately expressed gratitude, I will repeat some of the key points below:

In one year 1260 runners have taken part from 46 different running clubs (that’s loads actually isn’t it?  Very impressive.)   They have covered a total distance run of 11845 km.  Presumably the statistician who compiled this leaflet didn’t have their attention drawn to the fact that it’s just possibly one of the ‘runners’- (potentially even me) – might (just might) accidentally on purpose, have walked up some of the steeper bits, thereby slightly shortening the distance of actual running, but the principle is the same.  Surely, you wouldn’t be so mean-spirited as to quibble with that?  Anyway, assuming you are in fact in possession of a kind heart, and an understanding disposition, then you will perhaps also accept that this is the distance from Longshaw to Jakarta in Indonesia!  Ergo, we have all pretty  much jogged to Jakarta.  (Well, those of us who have ever participated in the Longshaw 10k have anyway.)  Go us!  That means, if we’d worked together a bit more, we might have ended up there (see picture filched from internet below), but personally I think Longshaw is just as lovely to run round as some tropical paradise, so don’t see that as a missed opportunity in navigation purposes.   Actually, whilst we are on the subject of orienteering (yes, we were), I will just mention to anyone thinking of coming to the next Trust10 but nervous about the route finding aspect, that it’s incredibly hard to go wrong at the Longshaw 10k, what with the pathologically friendly marshals to direct and cheer you round complementing the zealous pink-flag marking of the entire route.  There is no real getting lost potential here I’m afraid, if you were banking on that as your excuse for not giving it a go…

Indonesia

I’ve been to this Trust10 a few times now and I love it.  Gorgeous trails, mixture of terrain, friendly marshals, toilets for precautionary pee purposes (including nigh on unheard of innovations  in the context of other off-road running events, like toilet paper and hand driers), and proper coffee available in the tea-rooms afterwards (with optional cake and other refreshments).  Incidentally, the tea rooms today seemed to be staffed by Smiley Paces Sheffield Women’s Running Club progeny to a large extent, so I don’t know when that breeding programme was first thought of, but pretty impressive to see how it has come to fruition.   Here is a photo evidencing the availability of toilets pre-run, I resisted the temptation of taking one more ‘in situ’ so to speak, an act of restraint for which you should all be grateful…

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Right, I feel I’m a bit out of sequence here, I’m going to return to more traditional chronology.  Life has got in the way of my reluctant running adventures of late, so I was a bit ho-hum about Longshaw this weekend.  However, when I was reminded a couple of days ago by a proactive Smiley – who shall henceforth be known as  The Smiley (with responsibility for logistics),  that it was taking place today as she posted on the Smiley Paces Facebook page to see who else might be going.  I had a quick check of the Longshaw Estate Facebook page (because it seems I can’t count to four and hadn’t realised it was this weekend), and realised it was not only happening, but it was the first anniversary run.  Couldn’t miss that, even if there was a mistake on their info and so they forgot to mention the usual requirement on anniversary runs for participants to wear fancy dress.  Still, it’s only their first year, the team are on a learning curve inevitably.

Having mentally committed to doing the run, I therefore dutifully carbed up the night before by eating a four-pack of raspberry mini-magnums (yes I did feel sick afterwards) and downing several large gin and tonics (need to keep fluid levels up too) whilst pinning my brilliant number 999 – onto my Smiley Vest in preparation for The Big Event.  (Can’t be bothered to explain again now how I came to be in possession of this coveted three digit sequence, but suffice to say crime pays and life isn’t fair, sad, but true.  Just like Brexit).

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On waking this morning it was hot, hot, hot.  Running didn’t seem quite so appealing.  I’m feeling pathetically unfit even by my own standards, but fear of missing out is a powerful motivational force.  Coffee drunk, trail shoes donned (and other appropriate running clothing too), Smiley Vest to have an outing, even though this meant I’d need to wear a vest underneath as I don’t have the body confidence to flaunt my upper arms to all and sundry (I know that’s stupid, but at least I’d conceded that it wasn’t going to be a day when I’d get away with running in my fleece).  I headed off in my phutting car (MOT on Tuesday, not looking good, wonder if it will be our last shared adventure together) and was at the carpark nice and early.  I met the carpark marshal and his dog whilst I was getting my parking ticket.  Both were friendly.  On seeing me, one crawled towards me almost incontinent with rapture at the very sight of me, rolled on to his back to present his stomach for caressing, and then licked my hand in obvious appreciation and delight as I dutifully delivered the requested tummy rub.  I’m not saying which of them it was that behaved in this way, though to be fair, you can probably guess.  I wish I had the confidence to get away with such blatant demands for attention in public places.

I’m not good on dog breeds, I think it was a Yorkshire terrier.  It was somewhere between a Great Dane and a Chihuahua in size if that helps at all.  No?  Sorry about that…

On to registration via the bunting and my regular view scenic shot.  Still not perfected the composition, but in the interests of continuity here it is:

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I was nervous about going today, but felt better as I approached the runners already gathered and saw some familiar faces.  Accelerate woodrunners, newt-spotting pond-watching group, and, of course compatriots from Smiley Paces.  Not so very many of us, but quality not quantity I think you’ll agree.  A few first timers were in evidence, encouraged by The Smiley (with responsibility for logistics) Facebook post to attend.  She herself was  playing hard to get, and not in evidence.  I’m thinking we can all learn from this, by her absence she created a tangible air of eager anticipation as we looked out with bated breath for her arrival.  It was a veritable media circus.

What’s that?  Why was I nervous? Well, just off form really.  Granted my form is generally nothing to write home about (do people do that any more?)  It was fear of being in Moulin Rouge, or do I mean cafe rouge?  Hang on, not cafe rouge, I’ve boycotted them (they must be really scared) ever since a waiter skidded on a chip whilst carrying a bowl of soup to an adjacent table to mine, and sent the whole bowl in a perfect arc which upturned all over me and got in my hair and on my coat and everywhere.  I was with my Dad eating out at Cafe Rouge in Leamington Spa (oh the timeless wonders of that place) at the time, and didn’t want to make a fuss (special meal for some reason) so said no harm done, just give me £5 for the dry cleaning bill and the manager (true story) said couldn’t possibly do that without seeing the bill first. I am still seething to this day, not so much at that response, but that I didn’t pursue it and make a scene, they were lucky I didn’t claim for burns and hair-wash etc etc, as it was I didn’t even get payment for dry-cleaning bill, nor so much as a complimentary glass of wine.  So NEVER GO TO to LEAMINGTON SPA cafe rouge, or if you must, please speak not of it to me.  Yes, I know it was a quarter of a century ago, but I have a long and bitter memory.

So it must be Moulin Rouge then? No, wait, I remember, it was fear of Lanterne Rouge!  Easy mistake.  For those who are not avid Tour de France followers, or have not otherwise picked up this phrase from cycling enthusiast friends, this is the term used for the final finisher in cycling races.  According to Wikipedia

The Lanterne Rouge is the competitor in last place in a cycling race such as the Tour de France. The phrase comes from the French for “Red Lantern” and refers to the red lantern hung on the rear vehicle of a passenger railway train or the brake van (USA caboose) of a railway freight (goods) train, which signalmen (USA dispatchers) would look for in order to make sure none of the couplings had become disconnected

Lanterne Rouge

So basically, I was worried about coming last. I don’t know why, I have often been last at running events (Wingerworth Wobble and Bamford Sheepdog Trials Fell Race just for starters)  but I’ve lost a lot of confidence with my running, mainly because I started off crap, and have got worse over time.  Possibly because I don’t train enough, but that’s probably a knee-jerk judgement, surely it must be correlation with not cause of my ineptitude.  I don’t mind being last generally speaking, but I sort of wanted an anonymous run today, and it’s hard to be anonymous when the whole organising party of an event are peering over the horizon in hope of a sighting and wondering at what point they need to trigger the call to air ambulance and/or helicopter mountain search and rescue.  However I gave myself a pep talk, and decided that there is great dignity in coming in the final position.  It is in fact a particularly important  function at any running event.  The yin to the yang of the first finisher, last woman or man home completes the event.  They should be celebrated, and indeed some are.  It doesn’t matter what speed you go at, you are still running the same distance, and arguably showing greater stamina than earlier finishers by more time spent out on the course!  You run, therefore you are a runner, speed doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t.  The picture isn’t me by the way, though I agree the likeness of our silhouettes is uncanny (apart from the baseball cap, obviously)!

Real-runner-feature

A bit of time was spent doing the runners equivalent of dogs sniffing each other’s arses.  In one case this involved trying to remember what we were supposed to include in a warm up routine for a running event.  Regrettably, it took us so long to remember the acronym and what the various letters stood for (RAMP – though this version isn’t THE version we’d been working with on wood run) we didn’t have time to do any of the actual exercises, which was just as well, we’d have been knackered before we started otherwise.  Then, on the whistle, we dutifully trooped down to the start.  There was a triple briefing as we were reminded of the hazards (coos on course had a ranger in attendance, but we were on our own with the boulders, tree roots and uneven ground).  Triple briefing because the poor run director can only project her voice so far, time for a whip round and a megaphone purchase I say.  We were warned/ advised that a National Trust photographer was present to record this momentous day, it being the first birthday and all.  I think it was National Trust not National Geographic, but it was a bit hard to make out so we shall see…

Reasonably punctual start, and awf we went.  Blimey it was hot.  Soooooooooo humid, I set off at a reasonable (for me) pace, but was soon inelegantly dripping.  I do like this run though, you are quickly by the lake and through a couple of gates where smiling marshals are in attendance.  Into the woods there was a marshal clutching fronds of fern which she used to fan herself.  I was hoping she would create enough of a turbulence in the air to cool us passing runners as we sped by too, but that was not to be.  I’m not really sure about the butterfly flapping it’s wings causing a tornado somewhere else anymore to be honest.  There was ferocious wafting of foliage going on here at Longshaw and very little obvious airflow as a consequence in my experience.

Various people were out and about, some were probably family and friends of runners (special shout out to the kids in their white shirts covered with red-spots, very cool attire referencing tour de France); two women sat deep in conversation on a rock at one point apparently oblivious to  their positioning right on the migration route of runners passing directly in front of them.  Some slightly startled dog-walkers either gave way to the moving tide or didn’t, runners negotiating them like water round stones in a fast flowing stream.  There were also lots and lots of ants en route.  Not running as part of the throng, but being pissed off about having runners thunder overhead I expect.  Imagine finding your previously quiet rural escape was now on a flight path for fighter jets.  That’s the best analogy I can imagine.  I’d be annoyed, bet they were too.  I quite like insects, they get a bad press.  These were I think wood ants, but I couldn’t help wondering if maybe the high heat and humidity (did I mention it was HOT) might have brought out some flying ants too, but I didn’t stoop down to inspect closely enough to confirm.  Now flying ants are spectacular insects indeed, coming out on certain days of the year in their hundreds to find new homesteads.

Incidentally, have you seen that Stephen King film The Mist, with those massive scorpion flies?  They remind me of flying ants.  Those people in the shopping mall were stupid though, what did they think would happen with all those bright lights wedged against a plate glass window when it was all dark outside?  Have they never encountered the phenomenon of moths to the flame? Nor indeed ever watched a horror film?  Idiots.  Here are some gratuitous wood ant and flying scorpion ant creatures shots to break up the text.  You can google The Mist film yourself and live with the humiliation of that coming up on you internet search history at some future point in time and work on your own excuses as to how it came to be there…  I’m going with the wood ants identification for now, until I hear to the contrary.  Hope they weren’t too disrupted by our pounding on their patch.

Shout out to regular marshals (man with bike) and some new faces too.  The parking marshal with the dog, and with the tummy to be rubbed, had relocated to keep an eye on us coming through the mini car park you have to pass through en route.  Spoiler alert –  I had thought we’d hit it off, me and that dog, what with sharing the tummy rub moment, and all that euphoric licking, but I can report it completely ignored me when I passed him again en route.  Maybe he was playing hard to get.

I can’t talk and run, and because of my pace (pretty slow to be fair) I did a lot of today’s run on my own in zen like meditation.  This does reduce the scope for anecdotes, unless I make them up, but that’s hard.  I will say though that I was disappointed not to see Pokemon Go trekkers in action.  Everyone is going on about this like it’s some kind of plague, but I haven’t really got any idea what the appeal is. Mind you, as I don’t have a smart phone I guess I’m not their target audience.  Even so, I was a bit disappointed by the omission of this particular demographic group at the Trust10 event, as I was wanting to make the point that there is an incontinence product being advertised regularly ton the telly just now hat I would swear has a Pokemon character randomly appearing in it as a speaking bladder.  Or is that just me?

So, back to the run, without Pokemons.  There was the haul up the hill which was a killer in the heat.  Only the flies stirred up from the bracken provided motivation for me to halfheartedly pull away at a half-run half-shuffle pace.  The tracks today were the driest I’ve ever known them.  I was in trail shoes, which I always wear for this run, but in honesty you possibly could have got away with road shoes today.  At the top of the hill is a dry stone wall. There is always a marshal stationed here.  I like to tell myself this is because it’s a sensible vantage point from which you can survey much of the run, inwardly I fear it’s because it gives the marshal a good laugh watching weary runners heaving their drooping carcasses up the steep gradient of that killer hill… The marshal today was encouraging though (as they invariably are) and on the second circuit even offered water.  I took her up on the offer. She handed over a sports bottle warning that loads of others had slurped it previously.  Heading her words, I unscrewed the top, and tried to pour water untainted by contact from other unknown and sweaty runners, directly into my mouth.  Turns out I’m a terrible shot, most went down my front.  I risked looking like a wet T-shirt competition, but you know what, it didn’t half cool me down. Thank you saviour marshal. I don’t normally carry water on a 10k, but today was ridiculously tough in the heat.  Time for a contour shot I think.  Let me see if I can get one from Strava.  610 ft elevation, which doesn’t sound much when you write it down, but felt like it today, and obviously 6.4 miles, ever so slightly over 10k.

longshaw 10k (2)

I enjoyed the second loop.  Longshaw is really gorgeous to run round, I don’t know why I’m so tardy about going there spontaneously to run or walk in between the Trust10 events, oh hang on, yest I do.  Terminal inertia, that’s it!  On the second loop, as I approached the finish a random passer by was cheering us last few runners home, ‘you’re the best looking one I’ve seen so far‘ he called at me as I rushed past.  Now, I’m very aware this sounds incredibly inappropriate and creepy when I write it down, but it weirdly enough felt encouraging at the time.  He didn’t specify of what I was the best looking example of the day, so maybe that’s partly why.  Anyway ‘you too‘ I cried out in response (only seemed polite to do so) as I romped along the final few hundred metres.  It’s fun once you have the end in view.  There is always a little clutch of volunteer marshals and organisers and sundry earlier finishers to cheer you in which is a very cheering sight.  With the warmer weather there was a quartet of Smiling Smilies waiting too, which was extra nice. I retrieved my camera from the cafe and got to cheer a few final finishers too.  Including, our elusive The Smiley (with responsibility for logistics) who had done a Zorro like secret arrival just as the runners departed and joined the back of the throng as we set off apparently.  Hooray!

I also took the opportunity to get the organisers to pose for a mother and daughter shot.  I’m not entirely sure of the ethics of this, does my desire to capture this relationship on film amount to collusion with the practise of elder abuse?  Mum claims to be happy enough, but really, standing out there in all weathers noting the times long beyond the point where her fingers have gone numb and for no recompense beyond the breathless thanks of passing runners… it’s hard to be sure.  She seemed to be genuinely chuffed by the recently acquired timing technology though, might look like a manual adding machine to you and me, but in reality it is the secret of how they record timing successes of the Trust10 team.  They look happy enough though don’t you think?  Thanks for organising, you are a great team, great motivators, and great cheeriness whatever the weather.

As the final finishers came home, the National Trust/ National Geographic photographer was on hand to record the returners.  He recognised our logistical smiley as  they had previously met at some event ‘Ah it’s The Smiley‘ he said warmly. Hence I have a frame of reference for logistical Smiley henceforth. The Smiley, it shall be.  How very apt.

I downed the  bottle of water I’d brought with me whilst waiting in the queue for coffee.  Eventually I was suitably accessorised with a freshly brewed latte elegantly served by Smiley Paces Progeny as previously referenced, I then joined my other Smiley compatriots.  In my absence they too had been accessorised. Not with conventional party hats, but with much coveted Trust10 shocking pink bobble hats.  I hadn’t brought mine with me, it was at home with Fraser Bear (I wonder if he might be a bit hot in it actually now I come to think of it, maybe I should take it off…)  They were looking suitably chuffed, and indeed in party mood.  Who wouldn’t be in similar circumstances.  Cue, much posing with hats.  I think we shall probably all have to wear them at the next possible opportunity, mid-summer or not.  August bank holiday Trust10 run?  Bring.  It.  On.

As we sat, the temperature dropped a bit which was  a relief, and we managed to get a willing passer by to get a whole group shot.  Well, I say ‘we’ actually it was one more assertive member of our group acting alone who facilitated this, but we were grateful for both her negotiation skills and personal initiative in doing so.  Nice photo, aren’t we all lovely and suitably smiley on this occasion:

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So coffees drunk, the need to return to the realities of life forced us eventually to make our move, stiffly.  Creaking my way back up the grit path to the car park I was a bit confused.  I seemed to be making such heavy going of just that 200 metre stretch it seemed nigh-on impossible that I’d lumbered round the 10k earlier, even at a PW rate. Ah well, that’s one of the mysteries of Longshaw I suppose.  You really should give it a go if you haven’t already.  Next fixture Sunday 28th August 2016, diarise it now, you know you want to!

So that’s all for now.  Thanks for reading…

If you feel like acknowledging the bounty of Longshaw and the National Trust for putting on this free event, they state on the same flier that:

‘We do not charge for the Trust10, but if you would like to donate to the upkeep and protection of the Peak District text PEAK to 70123 to donate £3.’  they add small print to the effect that ‘This is a charity donation service.   You will be charged £5 for this call plus one message at your standard network rate.  The National Trust will receive 100% of your donation’ (which presumably means the reference to £3 above was a typo).  ‘If you’d rather we didn’t contact you in future, text NOCOMMS NT to 70060.  If you wish to discuss this mobile payment call 0203 282 7863.  A Registered charity in England in Wales (no: 205846)  nationaltrust.org.uk/sport

So now you know.

Happy Running.

Oh, and if you are bored, you can read all my posts about Longshaw Trust10 events here: https://runningscaredsite.wordpress.com/tag/trust10/ or not, you choose.

Categories: 10km, off road, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trust me. Who you gonna call? Trail busters!

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I think I know now, why it is that superheros and heroines wear always their knickers over their tights.  It’s taken me over fifty years to work it out, but I’m pretty confident I’ve got it sussed.  I mean it can’t be just a coincidence that the first time I get a number directly associated with an emergency response reflex I get chafing.  The irony is, that only yesterday I was talking to Fell Flying Smiley who related a tale about a fellow fell runner who’d suffered a chafing related wardrobe malfunction mid race.  She’d ended up accosting a marshal for help in getting her knickers off up in the hills somewhere.  (No, not like that – lawks a lordy you have a smutty mind!).  She commandeered some scissors, and with a bit of a discrete snip on either side of her hips and the offending knickers were whisked away with the skill of a stripping pro aided by cannily situated velcro (apparently).  I never asked what she did with the offending briefs now I come to think of it.  I don’t know if she had to finish the race running clutching them in her hand; brazened it out with the knickers relocated to her head as an improvised buff; or sheepishly passed them to the aforementioned marshal for safe-keeping.  I do know that she continued the race commando.  Anyway, point is, I was a bit mystified.  Who suffers from knicker chafing on a run I pondered?  My situation today was a bit different, I made it round the 10km of the  Longshaw trails without any need to recourse to direct action at the time.  In fact I thought I was just fine and dandy and tickety-boo during the Trust10 event, and even afterwards, scoffing my scone, I was in oblivious ignorance of what was lay beneath (so to speak) but by the time I got home.  Ouch.  Not a problem I’ve had before, could slight misalignment between my leggings and pants be at the bottom of it perhaps?  Well, I suppose that’s technically possible.  However, very much more likely I think you’ll find, was that this was more accurately attributed to being a direct consequence of my run number for today.  It seems that you cannot be a superhero/heroine, nor indeed masquerade as a member of the emergency services, and expect to escape a chafing injury, unless you correctly position your pants on the OUTSIDE.  Learn from me dear reader, learn from me.  The only other possible explanation is bad karma (devious appropriation of a run number using underhand means)  but more of that later.  What I do know, is that if I get this number again, my pants are going over the top!  Though this is a pretty unlikely scenario, so no cause for public panic just yet….  Anyway, below you can see the evidence for your own eyes (not of the chafing) but of my number.    In the picture I may look about 12 years old, but I am also looking pretty self-satisfied because of my BRILLIANT run number 999.  Yay!

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So today was the fourth Sunday in May. so Longshaw Trust10 day again.  (Free 10k run at 9.00 a.m. on the Fourth Sunday of each month across the trails of the Longshaw estate).  Hooray.  It seemed to come around quick.  In fact, it came around especially quickly for me because I had it on my calendar for next weekend for some reason, and so did lots of others.  I wonder if it was on some promotional literature somewhere with that date at some point, and those of us who can’t count as high as 4 went with that date, rather than ticking off the Sundays as perhaps we should.  Anyway, good news.  Sunshine forecast, and a positive flurry of enthusiastic Smileys up for an outing.  It’s always fun when we are a little gang out on a mission together somewhere.  I nearly got a lift, but wimped out because 007 Smiley had to do some secret ops immediately after the run and would be making a speedy getaway. Whilst the idea of rocketing off in her open-top sports car, wheels spinning and hair flying as we hit the high road was most definitely appealing, a disappointing reality check dictated otherwise.  Given, the speed I run round accepting the lift might mean forfeiting post-run coffee (and what’s the point in running 6 miles if you can’t have a latte afterwards?  No obvious motivation there that I could work with in a meaningful way).  I couldn’t compromise on this point so drove myself in the end.  Cheetah buddy who I’d hoped might join us for her inaugural Trust10 is STILL indisposed with bone breakages (well a stress fracture times more than one, which amounts to the same thing) so in the end I went off on my own.  I did feel guilty for doing so – not very environmentally friendly way to travel –  but hey ho.  These things happen.  Yawn, you know the drill by now surely? Nice marshal to wave you in, park in Longshaw cafe car park, £2.60 for up to four hours.  Beautifully fresh and green everywhere, the landscape has transformed itself since I was last there.  Verdant spring has surely sprung!

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I’m never quite sure who I’ll spot at these gatherings, but I’m pleased to report that immediately I saw compatriots from Smileys.  Both our familiar Hallam photographer and his royal escort/ power behind the lens, surely the celebrity running couple in these parts?  We skipped together to the cafe from the car park.  Well, I skipped, they are both a lot taller than me, so that was the only way I could keep up.  As we made our way down we compared training plans for the Round Sheffield Run. (RSR)  I confessed that many of my training yomps with hobbit buddy have had a tendency to fall back into walking and talking as we are so easily distracted on the way round.  ‘Look, a pigeon!’ or ‘look at that funny shaped twig/ bit of moss‘ one of us will shout, and suddenly we are both paused staring into the middle distance trying to work out what wildlife wonder we have before us.   It is companionable, but not conducive to improving our performance.  Regal Smiley admitted to having faced some similar issues of being easily distracted on her training runs with her RSR pair.  It is so true isn’t it, about running being as much in the mind as in the body. Focus, that’s what I need..  now, where was I?

Oh yes, Longshaw.  So traipsed into the cafe which was already filling up.  It was however lots warmer than the last few times out, so nobody minded to much about spilling outside after signing up.  I went to sign in and collect my number.  Now, I don’t know if I should really admit to this, but what the hell, I’ll feel better if I do.  The etiquette is, if you’ve been before you are ‘trusted’ (first mistake the Trust makes with its runners I fear, in my case anyway), to find your name, sign beside it, and then take a number off the top of the pile (yes, that’s The TOP of the pile) and write this number alongside your name so you can be identified in the event of any emergency.  Well the thing is, the next number on the pile was 994 or something like that.  I couldn’t help myself.  ‘I wonder…. ‘ there were lots of people about, but nobody actually looking.  It wouldn’t hurt to have a bit of shuffle through I thought.  I hesitated, not because of any moral scruples, but because I couldn’t decide which would please me more, being adorned with the number ‘1000’ or the number ‘999’.  I decided that whilst one thousand has a certain satisfying wholeness to it, 999 definitely has more comedic value. Plus, it might be even funnier if I put it on as 666 now and again, so a versatile number choice too!   I snuck it out of the pile, and then evened the heap up a bit, to cover my tracks, before signing the registration sheet with a look of as much innocence and meek compliance as I could muster.  Seconds later, at my shoulder is Regal Smiley.   She was shameless – brazen even!  ‘Oooh, I’ve got an idea’ she exclaimed, reaching over to the pile and having a shuffle through herself.  ‘Oh!’ I had to ‘fess up.  Well, I could hardly do otherwise as minutes later I’d be wearing the number for all to see.  I thought it was hilarious though, that we’d both identified this as a legitimate source of making our own entertainment, and she was most gracious about being pipped to the post in this way.  Well outwardly anyway,  who knows how she will wreak her vengeance when next exercising her power of veto when reviewing parkrun shots in future.  Still, that’s a risk I’m just going to have to take… Maybe now she knows about the associated chafing she won’t mind so much.  I live in hope.

Back outside, my number on I got a few quips almost instantaneously, my bad etiquette being instantly rewarded.  ‘Who you gonna call?’ and ‘Hey, emergency cover!’, that kind of thing.  I smiled and shrugged it off with a nonchalant ‘I know, who’d have thought it/ what were the chances!‘ sort of demeanour.  It was fun outside in the sun.  a fair few Smileys had gathered.  Here are some of us, aren’t we lovely?  Actually, one of those pictured is strictly speaking a woodrunner, (not to be confused with a roadrunner, which is a type of American bird – a ground cuckoo to be exact).  She is on this occasion to be awarded honorary Smiley status, because she is on the cusp of joining, so that’s OK.

Whilst we were posing for photos (thank you marshal who obliged), a few other happenings occurred.  Some more tense than others.  Turns out that there is a ‘friendly’ (pah, yeah, like really we all believe that) rivalry going on between Gentle George (our personal photographer at Sheffield Hallam) and the feisty Smiley non-Smiley who is now in fact a Smiley after all.  She may have a winning smile and a fabulous collection of running leggings, but she is also a formidable runner, and she and George battled it out at Longshaw last time round.  Keeping pace for pace much of the time.  One swift and light on the flat, the other powering up them there hills.  Today was a rematch.  The tension was palpable.  I wanted to get a photo of them eyeballing each other at the start, but felt it was a bit high-risk.  Did manage to pap the papper though, in his club colours.  I feel his agreement to pose for this picture is a gift to the running community.  It is not quite as good as the one of him in the turkey hat, but it is a running-related one.  In fact there are two, but one wasn’t taken by me… He’s the one on the left by the way.  Sorry the action photo is a bit dire, but you are so rarely on the other side of the lens its the only action shot I’ve ever seen.  Your public needs to know what you are capable of.

Because I was early, there was quite a lot of social milling around.  Large Steel City Striders contingent. Smiley non-Smiley who is in fact now a Smiley tussled with me re my fleece, but in fact I was quite willing to give it up on this occassion.  Partly I’m resigned to peer pressure now preventing me from running in my preferred gear of a duvet, and partly it was genuinely hotting up.  Also saw a Rustling Runner buddy I’ve not seen in ages (grand to catch up my friend), though in my excitement at seeing her I just talked at her without breathing for 5 minutes, and then we had to go to the start.  I must book myself on to one of those ‘how to interact with people in a socially acceptable way‘ courses, surely they still exist somewhere?  Oh well, by way of distraction, here are some mingling at the start shots.

And here is a photo of a planted up wheelbarrow that was just outside the cafe, because someone put a lot of work into getting that done, and it deserves some recognition:

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On time, we ambled down to the start.  About 169 of us according to the results, of whom about 10 did a one loop 5k and one DNF.  There was the usual safety briefing, and we all clapped at the point it seemed to be appropriate to do so even though we couldn’t really hear.  I made my now rather stale quip to anyone who would listen about not knowing what we are clapping and hoping it isn’t someone declaiming ‘Trump for President‘ or something similar. The random person I shared this with laughed appropriately, but I had a sudden panic.  Not only is my attempt at a joke conceivably wearing a bit thin now, what if one day I say this to someone and they look nonplussed and declare themself a Trumptonite or whatever.  I maybe need to review my pre-run quipping strategy.  Food for thought…

At the shout for off, the collective torrent of GPS devises being turned on beeped as one.

theyre off Longshaw trust 10 22 may 2016

I was further ahead in the start tunnel line up than usual as I’d been encouraged by Regal Smiley to give it a go at a new point and stand with her.  I felt a bit of a trespasser, and very short.  Well, I am pretty short I know, but I found myself amongst Amazonian people.  Maybe they really do only cover the ground so much faster than me because they have longer legs?  To be fair, these unfamiliar surrounding runners definitely did make me start off quite appreciably more quickly than I do usually, I was so scared about being trampled I put on quite a spurt.  I didn’t want to revert to being ballast too quickly.  Thanks lovely Longshaw team for the photo 🙂

fourth emergency service

Off we went, like soldier ants in search of a dead animal.  Despite the heavy rain of the last few days the trails were surprisingly dry on the whole.  Lovely and bouncy in fact.  I boinged off with the best of them.  Off on the road, sharp right onto the tarmac path, through the little gate and sprinting past the flowering rhododendrons (I think that’s what they were).  Onwards, past the lovely lake, hopping over a couple of puddles en route.  An injured Smiley was on gate duty at one point, it was sad that she can’t run at the minute, but nice to have her encouragement ringing in my ears as I passed.  Through an open grassy area along a pretty decent footpath, and then into the wooded area where it was a bit muddier underfoot, but basically fine.  You have to pick your way a little bit more cautiously as there are a few tree roots and rocks, but it is quite manageable.  The route is well-marked with little pink flags, and the occasional more prominent sign if you need to turn off  the main path at any point.  In the wood, our multi-talented marshal who had earlier been besporting himself with my camera obliging us by taking photos was now pointing towards where we needed to exit the wood and head up to the hills. – By the second lap he was saying (with some justification)  ‘hurry up, my arm is hurting!’  ‘Good point well made‘ I called in reply, because it was.

Then there is a short (but doable) scramble onto a new path – you do need to watch your balance there a bit where the route opens up onto ‘proper’ off road.  There is a sort of sheep track type path across the moor.  This bit does have a couple of boggy sections, and if it’s been raining (as earlier in the week) you will get wet feet at some point for sure.  There is one brook that requires a mini jump or a complete stop so you can take a longish stride across.  However, although it is definitely across moor, it isn’t technically challenging and it is fun!  Hard core runners no doubt sprint up here effortlessly like mountain goats on speed.  I have no idea, they have never still been in sight of me as I reach this point.  I prefer to consider it a legitimate tactic to walk up these bits, and so save my energy for the flatter bit which follwos.  Also, this way you can chat to other runners whilst walking.  (I was passed by almost the whole field of other Smileys on the run at this juncture, all of whom said encouraging things to me as they yomped on by).  If you really don’t care about times, then it is worth turning back to look at the view too.  It was gorgeous today.  You could always pretend you were looking out for one of your other club runners that you were concerned about if you feel self-conscious about stopping altogether.   The photo that follows was lifted from the Peak District National Trust facebook page and was taken at a different Longshaw Trust 10, but shows the route and terrain beautifully:

hill running

At the top of this hill is a cheery marshal who I have a feeling always has this spot.  He has a friendly word of encouragement for everyone who passes, and is a runner himself (did the half-marathon earlier in the year).  He always remarks on the Smiley Paces vests, memo to self, Smile, always.  You are representing all smilies when you wear the club vest, no room for Ms GrumpyMcGrump face if you are!  After this rather deceptively savage climb, you get onto a woodland service track, so if you have any energy left you could pick up speed. It is flat and even.   It is straight for a while, then marshal man with bike (who was wearing shorts today) was there to point you up hill again.  This bit feels steep, and today anyway, was probably the mudiest part of the course, but it isn’t all that long.  You emerge at the top and again can pick up an easier even path, that leads to another car park where friendly marshals shout encouragement.  From here it really is only one tiny bit of uphill before you get onto a lovely wide flat, well-drained grassy footpath that means the end of the first loop is in sight.  From here you just dive through a narrow opening by a gate and down the gravel path to the car park where you will be met by a guard of honour (a squad of timers at the half-way/ finish point) and you can do it all again.  Yay!  (or not, some people do the 5k as one lap, but I dont think you get an official time for that, though your participation is recorded).  Here follows a shot taken from the Longshaw Facebook page of the long flat final sprint bit, you can see why I like it – look at that view!  At about this point a marshal was coming towards us clutching a takeaway coffee.  I was rather hoping it might be mid-point refreshments, but apparently not.  That innovation has yet to happen…

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Up until this point I felt I’d been running pretty well, (though later Strava told a different story).  I was scampering along the home run, and chatted a bit to a woman who was walking the same path and asking me if I’d remembered to look at the view, which I had, and it was indeed spectacular.  However, just as I had the gateway in sight I saw a runner grounded.  Two other women reached him before I did.  I didn’t see what happened, but he’d taken a hell of a fall and was quite bashed up.  A faster runner whizzed by and said he’d get help, while the three of us offered assistance as best we could.  Eventually he said his wife was in view – it turned out it was she I’d just been exchanging pleasantries with –  and that he was OK.  I was about to continue running when an extremely polite girl appeared like an enchanted sprite out of the mists (except she wasn’t a sprite and there wasn’t any mist) and said ‘if you are a Smiley, can you tell me if you have seen my mum?’  It was very sweet, and I was quite chuffed that uncharacteristically a small child hadn’t run away from me screaming like I was the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but rather was spontaneously engaging with me.  I felt bad that I couldn’t help.  Her accompanying adult appeared and so I explained it was a two lap course and we were near the end so hopefully the family was reunited somewhere round the route.  I can’t believe any other Smiley’s were behind me at this point though.  So after this delay of a few minutes, I picked up speed again, and continued, passing the organiser sprinting out to attend the injured runner.  She was armed with a backpack that was so huge it must have contained not so much a first aid kit, as a National Trust sponsored mobile medical unit ready for deployment, so that was reassuring.  If it turned out he’d not  fallen but rather needed an appendectomy for example, I reckon she had it covered.  (He was fine by the way, so happy ending, I like them).

Although delayed by events, the adrenalin meant I picked up speed and whizzed (relatively speaking to my usual pace anyway) round.  Some spectators on a bench applauded me as I did so, which was heartening. I  made a bit show of running as fast as I could and called behind me ‘I’ve been running like this the whole time!’  They laughed appreciatively, a bit too appreciatively possibly, but I’ll take whatever support I can!  I got into a rhythm on the second lap, for a long time I wasn’t in sight of any other runners, so just went at my own pace, enjoying the scenery.  I knew my time would be slow even by my standards because of stopping, and it was a relief in a way not to push on furiously against the odds.  After a bit I caught up with some other runners who it turned out were first timers.  ‘Does it get any easier?‘ they asked.  I told them my secret.  That basically I’ve given up trying to run up the hills in favour of power walking them, so I can save a bit of energy for the flatter bits.  I suspect this means I get a faster time than otherwise I would, although I do freely admit the only way to get quicker at running up hills is probably to run up them ever more quickly which clearly I don’t really do.  I did explain though the necessity of running when in sight of a marshal/ slash photographer, and they seemed satisfied with this run plan.  We yomped off quite companionably for a bit of chunk of the route, though inevitably they did pull ahead of me in due course.

The second lap seemed to go really quickly.  I was even hot running despite running with my arms exposed for the first time in living memory.  Practically naked!  As the finish came into view I got the full benefit of Smiley Support.  Every available Smiley it seemed had hung on at the finish line to applaud home the final finishers.  It was splendid!  I felt like a celebrity rushing back to  a chorus of people cheering my name.  There are some adantages to being slow, fastest Smiley back would ironically enounter a wall of silence I presume?  I felt so chuffed to be a Smiley.  It is great being part of a supportive club, and fun to share running tales afterwards as well.  We cheered back the last few, not many more behind me, and time to pose for a finish shot (containing one injured Smiley, one honorary Smiley pending joining,  and one who wasn’t wearing her Smiley vest and needs to bring a note with her by way of explanation if that ever happens again).  Nice photo though!  Courtesy of our official photographer though devoid of his usual lens he had to rough it with someone’s mobile phone.  Performed pretty well in the circumstances I thought.  He was probably feeling pretty good about himself to be honest as he’d won this latest round of The Battle of Longshaw in the race with Smiley non-Smiley who is in fact now a Smiley (just so you know). There will be other matches to come though I feel sure!

Smiley finishers

So, all assembled, next stop was mandatory visit to the cafe, because that is what running is all about surely?  I was going to have just a latte, but then Regal Smiley ahead of me in the queue was getting a scone, and that looked tempting.  And then she got a little pot of clotted cream to go with it, and whoosh, that was the sound of my will-power vanishing into the wilderness.  I had a glass of water, my latte (naturally) and a scone with clotted cream and raspberry jam.  Yep, they even had a choice of jams, I mean really, that’s class isn’t it.  Personally, I thought the coffee was a tad bitter today, burnt even, but nobody else seemed to notice so just me then.  A few more end of events shots as we squashed onto one of the outside tables.  I was a bit unsure about whether or not to share this photo as I don’t want to expose the identity of 007, but she’s disguised in sunglasses (or is she?  Could be a double bluff…)  as are a number of us so I reckon that’s OK.

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So we did some putting the world to rights, but not so as you will have noticed, as we were a bit distracted by food, and coffee and running anecdotes, you know how it is.

Eventually, coffee drunk, scones scoffed, and a new stream of National Trust visitors in the form of an eleven a.m. organised walking group arrived and so we dispersed our separate ways.  Another really glorious yomp out at Longshaw (apart from the chafing).  I can’t believe we are so lucky to have this on our doorstep and for free really (I don’t begrudge the parking charge and no run is complete without coffee afterwards anyway).  If you’ve not been, well why not?  If you don’t fancy doing the 10k, quite a few do only one loop and that’s a 5km, perfectly respectable, plus you will be at the front of the queue in the coffee shop.  I’m just saying…

So thank you lovely Longshaw folk for putting the run on. Special thanks for the cheery and cheering marshals along the way.  Your efforts are much appreciated, even if sometimes runners pass you looking less than enthusiastic leaving little more than beadlets of sweat and curses in their wake as they pass on by, it’s just our little idiosyncracies in how we express our appreciation manifesting themselves.

Here is my (now traditional) shot of the impressive view from Longshaw, which I like to think will illustrate the changing seasons.  Don’t disillusion me, please, I know it’s too dark so you can’t really tell what the vegetation is doing, let’s just pretend it’s helpful shall we?  Thank you.

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So happy running ’til next time y’all.

Also STOP PRESS crime pays.  I get to keep my number.   Everyone can! Well, not MY number 999, but whatever it is you end up running in. Save it, pin it on, reuse next time out, just don’t forget to write it down next to your name when you sign in.

The End.

Categories: 10km, motivation, off road, running, running clubs, teamwork | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Loving Longshaw: Trust 10 springtime yomping

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Brrrr, bracing out!

So, this was London Marathon day, it was also Blackpool Marathon day, which may have slipped under the radar for many, but just so you know, that was a venue where many Smiley Paces members also triumphed in their respective age categories, so ‘Go Smileys!’  Just saying.

In the circumstances, given so many Smileys were out and about, running around doing Marathons and Kinder Downfall in the snow (I know, sounds scary), and even the OMM lite (which is an oxymoron if ever there was one), I felt the least I could do by way of solidarity was turn out for the Trust 10 at Longshaw last Sunday.  I always enjoy this event, I’ve been a few times now and it is just lovely.  However, even though it’s most definitely worth it when you get there, the whole business of waking up and venturing out the door into an arctic blast is always a bit of a challenge.  Lucky then, that due to high level negotiations at parkrun the day before, I’d agreed with other Smiley Paces members that we’d all turn out in force.  I am ever conscientious if not keen as you may know.  If I say I’ll do it, then do it I will.  It really helps with my motivation if I’ve told someone what I’m up to, and we’ve shaken on the plan to do it together…  Less lucky then, was a last minute message from one of aforementioned running partners to say family illness would stop play.  Oh well, by the time I got the message I was in my off-road shoes anyway, so in a sense the mutual pact to attend had still worked it’s magic.  I was committed now. Off I would go!

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I have just had an extraordinary light bulb moment.  It occurs to me that, inexplicably, there may be people out there who have not yet seen the light with respect to the Trust 10 series.  As a concession to the uninitiated, the blah de blah about this event is as follows:

Trust10 is a free monthly trail run across selected National Trust sites, open to both members and non members. Come along with your friends and family, explore the landscape and enjoy the outdoors

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It’s really not that complicated, you just have to remember that at Longshaw at any rate, this event takes place on the fourth Sunday of every month (except when Easter and Christmas holidays annoyingly mess up the timetabling) and turn up in time to register on the day.  That means from 8.15 a.m. for a 9.00 a.m. start.  I can’t speak for other host venues, but it’s all friendly and straightforward at my local Longshaw, and it’s lovely too.  First timers have to fill in a few basic contact details, repeat runners just sign in and help themselves to a number, write this number alongside their name which is listed on a pre-printed sheet, and once it’s pinned into position, they are ready to go.  Longshaw even provide safety pins, but as there is no cost to attend the event I’d suggest bringing your own to keep it as low cost for the organisers as possible.

So I made it to Longshaw early as always.  There was a volunteer helping direct vehicles in the carpark.  I scrabbled around in search of change – it’s just £2.60 for 4 hours parking, so a bargain.  I keep meaning to join the National Trust though since, as the attendant pointed out, if you go to the Trust 10 regularly, then the membership would soon pay for  itself through free parking.  This is true, and it is worth mentioning that if you do join, and do so at the Longshaw site rather than online say, then some of that membership fee goes directly to that particular venue apparently.  The problem with joining at a running event, is that as all runners will tell you, you tend to just carry the absolute minimum with you, so a five pound note stuffed into my pocket for emergencies (like say a latte and a scone post run for example) and not a debit card suitable for the purchasing of NT membership say.  Oh well, maybe next time…

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Longshaw always rewards the effort of stepping out the door.  Even though it was absolutely freezing in the chill wind as I stepped out of the car, there was still a sense of occassion as I joined the other runners mustering at the assembly point.  The estate looks lovely, I am terrible at taking photos, but game all the same, so here are some atmospheric moss shots, enjoy.

I know, I know, it looks grim and dark.  Trust me, it’s loads nicer when you get there.  So first stop, roasty toasy warmth of the Tea rooms to pick up my number.  Pleasingly it was 789.  Easy to remember.  It was a bit of a squash in there, with newbies turning to the left to register and repeat offenders to the right to just sign in.  I saw a few people I knew to exchange ‘hellos’ with, so that was nice.  Including one poor soul who is suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, which I’d never heard of before I started running, but the thought of which now makes my blood run cold with fear.  It’s a rubbish ailment as it seems to just mysteriously appear and sometimes eventually, resolve itself, yet is stubbornly resistent to any particular treatment as such.  It can go on for months and months and it really does stop you running.   Really unfair and frustrating because you can’t DO anything much apart from rest… or maybe not, because even that isn’t definitive advice… She was volunteering instead which was good of her, and also I got the silver lining to her cloud, i.e. benefit of another familiar face to cheer us round. She got the double cloud, misery of Plantar Fasciitis, compounded by misery of standing around in the cold.  Sorry about that.  You are appreciated though, little comfort though that may be…

The volunteers here are always fabulous, very encouraging and supportive on the way round.  Also very cold I would think.   They are lured to volunteer by altruism, the fun of watching the runners pass by and the bait of a bacon sandwhich (or vegetarian equivalent) at the end.  It is lucky they are so rewarded, as they are also made to wear an orange high viz jacket and a pink bobble hat which isn’t the best colour combo to be honest, though it is certainly eye catching.  (They are allowed to wear their own clothes underneath as well, it isn’t quite as cold or eye-catching as all that).   If you like the idea of being involved in some way, but don’t fancy the actual running bit and think you can carry off a pink bobble hat with gusto, then remember volunteers are always needed.  You will be welcomed with open arms, just get in touch with the organisers.   Marshals help direct the runners, but also shout out encouragement and clap a lot too.  I think the clapping part is quite important, if only to help keep warm!  Don’t worry though, it’s easy enough to pick up what’s involved, there is no actual audition, and full training is provided.   The route is also well signed for runners by a succession of colourful pink flags all the way round too.  I don’t think you could get lost on this run.  Mostly, this is a good thing, but it’s worth remembering you also therefore lose any excuse to duck out early on by claiming you would have loved to continue but alas inadvertently strayed from the track, so what could you do?  Lost on the moors, your only option was to navigate your way back to the safety of the tea rooms.  Hmm, won’t work, sorry, you will need a better plan.  A pink flag picture follows to illustrate the point, pretty unambigious I think you’ll agree.

There was a horrifying near miss incident in the cafe, when one of the staff carrying two huge tray, laden with scones tried to squeeze past a runner who was signing in  just as they and their backpack repositioned themself.  There was nearly a (tragi-)comic moment of the trays flying upwards and the scones falling downwards in slow motion due to the impact of a seemingly inevitable collision.  However, the skilful staff member somehow averted a crisis, swinging the trays out of the way and to safety and continuing on his path.  It was extremely impressive evasive action.   I can report scones were available after the run, and very nice too.  I had a rhubarb scone which was a first.  It was very nice actually, but it did look a bit like it had grass (not that sort) sticking out of it, which some diners may find off-putting.  Not me, I’m quite open minded when it comes to carbohydrate options along the cake-scone-bread continuum.

So I extricated myself from the heaving mass of runners to head off for my precautionary pee (good facilities here).  Toilet paper aplenty, and mirrors too (not so much appreciated by me at least).  Here in the queue I caught up with more Smiley Paces – veritable plague of us out and about today.  Including one who was sporting a new running backpack in preparation for some marathon off road or other (Nine edges?  No, it was a longer one than that I can’t remember).  Her plan was to practise running in it as she’ll need to carry provisions for that longer yomp.  The backpack did have slightly the look of bondage gear, but naturally I was too polite to mention it.  The fitting also had a sort of armoury lift and separate look to it, it was unclear at this stage whether that would offer helpful stabilising or unhelpful chaffing, but then again, that was the whole point of the exercise.  You can see it here in profile – what do you think?

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I couldn’t make up my mind whether or not to go back inside where it was warm, but then the shock of coming outside again would be even worse by comparison.  Or whether to loiter outside as part of a process of acclimatisation.  I did the latter in the end, watching some of the more hardcore (or just sensible) runners warming up by sprinting back and forth from the start line.  (Just to be absolutely clear, they were doing the sprinting back and forth, I was doing the watching).  I think that’s what they were doing, maybe some of them were just going the wrong way or trying to get a sneaky head start.

So, people, and dogs, continued to gather.  As the registration area got ever busier, crowds spilled outside.  I was still wearing my running jacket at this point, wondering how close you can stand next to people in order to maximise the benefit of mutually exchanging body heat whilst not too obviously invading their personal space or breaking important British conventions around being too intimate with people on first acquaintence.  I’m all too aware of what you can get away with on a tube train, and believe me, I’d have loved to have got squashed up to any number of people to get protection from the icy winds of Longshaw, but fortutiously my natural inhibitions prevented me from doing so  Good turn out though:

I’d already left my backpack on a seat in the cafe.  You do so at your own risk, but I’ve never had a problem.  If someone is that bothered about knicking my carkeys, so be it (it isn’t a swingers party though, so don’t get your hopes up).  I’ll make it easy for you.   Mine’s the magenta range rover spread across two parking bays with a valet in situ.  Take that one if you dare!  We did get a celebrity guest this week to spectate – Jess Ennis (who we love most of all) has strolled by before, but this time it was Royal patronage.

Most people ignored her though, in favour of standing around shivering in the cold; looking hangdog and forlorn; jumping about between handy rocks; hanging around under the bird feeders (that was just the ducks to be fair); faffing about with numbers; stretching and queuing for the loo.  By the way the shivering runner in her parkrun 50 milestone Tee doesn’t have a wooden leg, it’s just an optical illusion.  The shivering was real though.

Eventualy, the start time drew near.  I had a last minute moment of bravery, admittedly in part because of giving in to peer pressure from other running buddies, and rushed back into the cafe to dump my jacket, before joining the migration of runners snaking towards the start.  The marshals having long before made their lonely tracks to wherever it was they were standing out on the trails.

It was a good, but not record turn out – just about a hundred and fifty I think, with a fair few first timers.  Bit hard to hear the briefing, though the run organiser made sterling efforts to walk up and down the line repeating the instructions so everyone had at least a sporting chance of hearing some of it.  No doubt, the collective consciousness and comraderie of The Sheffield Running Community (I believe there is such a thing) filled in the gaps.  The gist of it is that it is off road so watch out for tree roots, mud and each other.  I think that last point was meaning in the sense of looking after each other, rather than a warning about the risk of other runners shoving you out the way or deliberatbely tripping you up, but I didn’t ask for clarification.  It’s a two lap course, follow the flags if you are in the front, follow the leader if you’re not.  Then we were off!  Yay!

It was a slow and steady start, as it takes a while for the line of runners to thin out.  At intervals on the course there are gates which you have to pass through in single file.  Personally I prefer just to jog along enjoying the views and the company and leave the more competitive runners to fight it out at the front.  Despite the bitter wind at the start, it was amazing how I warmed up as soon as I started running.  The sun came out and the setting was just glorious.  The woodland  parts were full of fairy glades, mossy walls and picturesque fallen tree trunks as well as tall elegant trees bursting into life with spring.  On the more exposed hill section you could enjoy bog jumping, and if you took the time to look across to your left as you climbed upwards (good excuse for a breather anyway) you could enjoy the sight of new born lambs all a-frolic no doubt positioned there especially for our benefit.  It was really beautiful.  I snuck back along the route after the run to take some photos, which don’t do the scenery justice, but may give you a flavour of what was possible.  Couldn’t be bothered to walk right back to the lambs though – (well, I had just run 10k and I needed to get back home in time to be able to sit on the sofa in my pants, drinking tea and watch the London marathon on TV later, interspersed with live updates on Facebook about how various Smiley Paces runners had got on with their multitude of super-human running challenges over the weekend).

The marshals were as ever fabulous.  Holding gates open, cheering and clapping in support, and slowly turning blue as time passed.  Second time round their valient attempts to stay upbeat were looking a little more precarious, no number of layers were enough to stave off the cold it seemed.  There is a pattern emerging with the volunteers.  There are a couple in the wooded area to make sure you don’t overshoot the sharp turn left up and out the trees to carry on the route.  Then there is another distinctive tall character who stands astride a stone wall gazing down on the ant-like runners traipsing up the steep off road hill section, some with more enthusiasm and speed with others.  This must be quite an exposed place to watch the action, but a great vantage point for seeing runners facing their inner demons as they try to keep going up that gradient.  Further on there is The Bike Man, who points, silently, dettering you from  taking the short cut back to the cafe, instead tacitly commanding you to continue along the longer route round taking in more uphilliness whether you like it or not.  His positioning is cunning.  I don’t believe it was just me who felt a great moral pressure NOT to cut the corner there, however much of a temptation it seemed.  There was definitely a sense that even if he didn’t actually make you come back and run it properly, he and you would both know you ‘cheated’.  (‘It’s not me you’ve let down, it’s yourself‘ – you know how  that lecture goes I’m sure). Later, there is a flattish bit, coming up to the second car park.  Here again are two volunteers – three, if you count the one actually in the car park.  One was standing looking over the wall, you could see her bobble hat like a pink beacon from miles off, again, this compels you to try and run a bit at least so as not to disappoint.  Drawing closer, there was another volunteer standing in the gap in the stone wall, smiling and shouting appreciation of my Smiley Paces vest as I passed.  Further down and in the carpark another volunteer insisted that there was just ‘a little bit uphill’ and then flat all the way.  Full marks for this trio of volunteers too, who like the others, managed to shout out encouragement and greetings both times I passed.

The description of the rest of the route from there was sort of true, but that ‘short bit of hill’ before the homeward straight is punishing.  I love it once you get back onto that final track though, you know it’s flat and then down hill, and it’s only half a mile if that, so if you have it in you to sprint finish now’s your chance.

As I came round to the end of the first loop, there was a little quartet of volunteers/ organisers, clutching clip boards and wearing matching pink bobble hats.  They looked for all the world like a choir of carol singers, wrapped up against the cold and clutching songsheets.  I took the precaution of telling them this as I passed, and they did say they might sing next time round, but I couldn’t help noticing they didn’t.  Maybe I just took too long on that second loop, and they’d long finished their repetoire of Christmas Carols by the time I made it to the finish.

The second looop saw me running mostly on my own.  Some runners dropped out after just 5k, so I was well towards the back of those left on the 10k route.  I don’t mind that, and weirdly, found that I did better on the second loop, just got in a rhythm and enjoyed that feeling of running on my own.  I had a sort of competition with a runner just behind me, I didn’t want her to over take, and a runner ahead, who I didn’t want to quite disappear from view.  The runner behind me did (of course) overtake me, but only on the hills.  She was impressive, running up them whilst I just gave up.  However, I seemed to recover more quickly than her as a result, and whilst she was still getting her breath back, I managed to pass her again once we got to flat bits.  We kept leap frogging each other for quite a way, and it helped us motivate one another too. It was supportive more than competitive, we called congratulatory encouragement to each other as we took turns passing, albeit through breathless gasps.

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Finally, and a bit randomly, when we got to the final flat bit, I did sprint ahead ‘you coming?’ nope, I was on my own, I managed to just catch up with the woman ahead.  A male friend of hers had already finished, and double backed to keep her company for the last mile or so.  As I approached, he called out ‘sprint finish!‘ I tried to accelerate, but my, that woman went off like a rocket!  I must have really scared her!  She shot off, and finished a good few seconds ahead of me, very impressive turn of speed.  I stumbled to the finish, and was welcomed by familiar faces cheering me home.  Thanks Smileys, and National Trust people, it was great to have you waiting for me at the end.

Also at the end, were free water bottles.  You’ve got to like a good freebie.  They are quite cool I think, and an incentive to remind people to fill in the online survey about sporting activities and the National Trust I would encourage people to fill this in if you can as it would be great for free activities like the Trust 10 series to continue, but I guess as with all things now the Powers That Be will want an evidence base to feel justified in keeping these events going.

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There wasn’t any water in the bottle, so I joined the queue in the cafe for my latte, previously mentioned rhubarb scone, and a complimentary glass of water.  It was all very cheery, debriefing on the run and generally catching up and feeling warm and pleased with ourselves.  Chilled volunteers joined the throng too.  That is as in cold, rather than ‘cool dudes’ though many of course would be categorised as both in a suitably drawn venn diagram displaying their many and various delightful qualities.  Restored, I headed off, taking a quick detour for photos, and thanking again the organisers and volunteers as I left, they too were slipping away until next time…

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So that was that, all done ’til next time, I got back in time to watch the first finishers returning from the marathon.  However, it’s a sobering thought that the whole time I’d been at Longshaw, running, drinking coffee, driving back and generally pottering about, some runners had been out there continuously running.  What’s more, plenty more still had hours more running ahead of them.  Pretty inspirational is it not.  Oh well, good for them, Longshaw was way more fun for me.  I got to run in a beautiful landscape and still soak up the ambience of London from the safe sanctuary of my sofa afterwards.  What’s not to like?

So til, next time, thank you Longshaw and happy running y’all.

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Oh, and for those of you who care about such logistical details.  Timings here are done by hand with stop watches and then manually updated on to a spreadsheet of some sort, so you will get a time emailed within a couple of days of the event, but it won’t necessarily be all that accurate.  If you are bothered about that, take your own timings is my advice.  This week, the times came by lunchtime the next day, which was super slick and speedy – which was more than can be said for my 10k time.  Oh well, work in progress eh?

For other accounts of my fun times at Longshaw Trust 10 see here.

Categories: 10km, motivation, off road, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s a wonderful world – Longshaw revisited

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The shorts were unnecessary, I felt.  Not ‘unnecessary’ in the sense that the wearers should abandon covering their nether regions altogether, but ‘unnecessary’ in the sense that it was flippin’ freezing out there and bare legs were at best inappropriate – and indeed ‘unnecessary’ – and at worst reckless exhibitionism.  I’m not saying this just because the last time I sported a pair of shorts I ended up looking like a cross between an Oompa Loompa and a Jumbly, (though admittedly there is more than a smidgeon of envy in my judgementalism) but also because I think runners have a duty of care for themselves.  All that exposed flesh was surely just a snow-flake’s width away from hypothermia.  There are hard core off-road runners and there are the adrenalin junkies who seem to embrace living life on the edge of human endurance.  Judging by the numbers of those in shorts out and about today, Sheffield is home to more than it’s fair share of such people who taunt the elements with their naked knees.  Honestly, what were they thinking?

Reader, I am of course remarking on one of the many and wondrous sights to behold whilst at Longshaw last weekend for the Trust 10 off road running event.  Alongside the beanie hatted runners, were a few in skimpy shorts and T-shirts.  I was shivering in my long-sleeved top with running vest over it, leggings over thermal tights and my generously proportioned bobble hat.  Whilst I concede they may get warmer by running a bit harder, surely there is a limit to how much heat anyone can generate by running alone, these few seemed to defy the laws of physics as well as near enough those of common decency in the winter months.

For the record, I did pluck up the courage to ask a guy on one of the Accelerate Thursday Ecclesall wood runs (a snip at £2 a throw) why he was wearing shorts in sub zero conditions.  To his credit he said he was miserable doing so, and it was only because he didn’t possess any longer runner tights, being more a gym bunny of late who hadn’t been running outside all winter due to injury (or apathy, I forget which now).  He is therefore exempt from my incredulity, having a perfectly reasonable explanation for his state of undress.  For those hardy few at Longshaw last weekend looking like they’d turned up to take part in a summer fete’s Dad’s fun run (and it was all men in shorts to be honest, we women apparently either know better, or are more self-conscious about our cellulite and wobbly bits) how could you do it?  More to the point, will you do it again?  You must have been absolutely freezing.

Hey ho, I’m ahead of myself though.  So, last Sunday, was back to lovely Longshaw for their monthly Trust10 10km trail run through the estate.  For those of you who are knew, or skim read that bit last time I posted on the topic, this is essentially a free event held on the fourth Sunday of the month at Longshaw (apart from March and December when confusingly they are on the third Sunday due to the inconvenience to the running community caused by Easter and Christmas – tell you what, best just check their website each time to be on the safe side…).  You have to register to participate, but you can do this on the day, and it is an inclusive 10km route on trails and a bit of off-road, well marshalled and very friendly.  You do get a time, but they don’t guarantee it will be accurate, so if you are fussed about that take your own GPS tracking device with you.

This is one of my favourite local running events. It’s off-road – or at least traily, so you feel sort of adventurous, but actually it’s very safe.  It is also highly social, and a good progression from parkrun for the likes of me.  You can rock up on the day, and enjoy novel facilities such as warm interiors for registration and toilet paper in the loos prior to the run, and then afterwards catch up with running buddies from near and far as well as sip a decent cup of coffee.  I say it is amongst my favourite runs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have pre-performance angst every time the day comes around, and last Sunday was  no different.

I’d done parkrun the day before, with a bit more gusto than planned due to an extended sprint finish (not my idea and one I couldn’t sustain thank you for asking), and then the day of the Longshaw 10km dawned and it was bitterly cold. On the plus side this meant I’d get to bag a sub-zero bonus point for Smiletastic, on the down side in order to do this I’d have to go outside and run in the freezing cold.  I was shattered before I’d even started.  It did not bode well.   Nothing in life is free it seems.  I’d agreed to scoop up a running buddy en route, so headed out to get her around 8.00 ish.  Even though I know where she lives, I used satnav to get there.  This meant I went the most bizarre route ever to her house, discovering back streets of Sheffield that hitherto I had not realised existed.  Leaving the house is always an education.  My buddy was waiting, and clambered in. She doesn’t have a car, so has to submit to my driving and navigation which must do wonders for elevating her heart rate.  She is too polite to say so, but I fully appreciate being picked up by me is a little like being forcibly abducted, because I never really know where I am going and so can end up taking some more obscure routes if I lose concentration and ignore the satnav.  She has got a bit better at politely forewarning me when I seem to be about to breeze past a turning and I think we are evolving a team driving/ navigation ethos which will have us competing in off road rally driving competitions before too long.  Whilst I’m talking about scaring passengers into thinking they’ve been abducted, the last time I ever picked up a hitch hiker I did just that.  It was a long time ago, and I was a bit naive, driving north from London I stopped to pick up a hitcher just before going on the M1.  He climbed inside and expressed both gratitude and surprise that I’d stopped.  ‘Why are you so surprised I stopped?’ I asked ‘well, he said, rule number one of picking up hitchers, don’t pick up hitchers without luggage, and rule number two don’t pick up hitchers without a destination sign, and rule number three, don’t pick up a hitcher if you are driving on your own.’  ‘Oh‘.  So that was three out of three. He went on to explain whey each of these rookie errors could be so catastrophic. ‘So should I be worried?’ I queried lightly.  ‘No,’ he said, ‘I’m fine honestly, but I am jumping bail.‘  ‘Oh‘.  I said.  Anyway, it was all fine, but it turned out I was going to Leamington, and he wanted to go to Coventry, and I knew a back route to where he was heading.  Long story short, once I pulled off the motorway and started going cross country he started looking really, really nervous.  The power dynamic entirely shifted as I realised poor guy was completely lost and feeling really vulnerable.  He was ever-so pleased and relieved when I finally deposited him by a road sign saying 2 miles to Coventry.  I’ve not picked up a hitcher since, but I am more mindful of the power dynamics of being both a lift-giver and liftee so to speak.  I did once hitch a ride with an alleged murderer, but that’s a tale for another time too.

So me and running buddy bounced on the uneven roads of Sheffield wending our way to Longshaw.  It was funny driving across, at that precise moment I just couldn’t imagine my legs doing any running at all.  I sort of knew I would run the 10k because that is what happens when you turn up at these events, but I didn’t feel remotely enthused at the prospect and felt like there was nothing in the tank.  I always wonder if ‘proper runners’ ever feel like this.  Is it hard for them to muster the motivation too.  I know there will come a point at which it is enjoyable, but right then I was most definitely not feeling the love.  Oh well.  We were sort of committed by that point anyway.  The scenery was spectacular though, I wasn’t quite sure if it was actual snow on the ground or a deep frost, but my, it was beautiful.  Cold, but bright and wintry in a gorgeous Christmas cliché sort of way.

We arrived early.  I’m delighted to report that after last times shenanigans with not knowing where to park, (too much choice of spaces) this time the lovely people at the National Trust had left nothing to chance.  A marshal with a very fine pink flag was on hand to direct us to a parking place. This was great, I didn’t have to expend useful brain energy on early morning complex problem solving.  I could save that for the running later on.

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It was fun already at the point of arrival.  It wasn’t fun that I realised I’d left my running coat at home, but I was sporting both my Smiley Paces vest and my newly acquired thoroughly splendid pink Trust10 bobble hat (for which I thank you nice Longshaw NT person).  As I was faffing about getting out of the car, my buddy got us a ticket for parking and I struck up a conversation with the driver of a monster truck in the adjacent parking space.  He was friendly, and noting my Smiley Paces vest made a comment along the lines of ‘I didn’t realise that this event was attracting hard core proper runners‘ I was a bit thrown, as I clearly don’t really meet any of those criteria.  I explained about being the one in the club who makes the other Smiley Paces feel great because they get to overtake me.  He turned out to be a Steel City Strider, which was even more confusing, because they really are hardcore, and what’s more, probably the ones most likely to be wearing shorts in the snow to be completely honest.  Still, this guy was friendly enough, and claimed to be like me one of the ‘also runs’ so who knows, could have been bluffing, but it was a friendly enough exchange.

I didn’t do any selfies this week, for which you must be grateful, however, I do feel compelled to include a photo of my fine hat, which is being modelled in the picture below by my bear Fraser.  He isn’t really a runner, and I couldn’t persuade him to wear my Smiley vest as it is so unflattering, but you get the idea of the overall effect I think, for better or worse…

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So we did some car park faffing, getting tickets, picking our way over the frozen surface and marvelling at one or two arrivals who appeared to have run to the venue from over hills and vales far far away.  I felt almost pathetic fretting at the prospect of a measly 10k.

When we arrived in the Longshaw Tea rooms to register it was already heaving with people and lovely roasty toasty and warm.  This was good, apart from the fact that prizing yourself away from it to go outside into the cold again was made even harder by way of contrast.  I don’t think there were quite as many runners overall as last time out, but there were heaps and heaps of Smileys.  In Smiletastic terms (our running club.s winter challenge) all of the five teams were represented.  As we would therefore each bag a bonus point for our own team, we effectively cancelled each others efforts out.  However, it made for a very social gathering.  I met a few Smileys I hadn’t seen before, only as names on Facebook, so that was fun.  I also had the rare experience of having some insider information and therefore (admittedly short-lived and tenuous) expertise, as some of the youngsters (get me) from both the Squawky Chicks and Clucky Ducks hadn’t actually done Longshaw before.  This gave me the chance to dispense words of wisdom, which doesn’t happen all that often.  I was able to reassure them that it was eminently doable (lawks a lordy – look at the sight of me, and I manage to drag my weary carcass round) plus, I shared my secret Top Tip for attainment tactic.  It is simply this.  There are a couple of really steep hills.  Now some will attempt to run up these, but exhaust themselves and that is poor for morale.  I suggested not ruining a perfectly lovely walk with an opportunity to take in some lovely views by forcing yourself to run up a near vertical incline.  Treat the run strategically, conserve your energy for the top!  They seemed satisfied with this legitimate running technique, and I felt a certain surge of contentment at having led the youngsters so easily astray.  (Though really I maintain walking up the really steep hills is indeed a legitimate technique to avoid injury and tears on your first time out.)

There were so many Smilies to catch up with, and even a couple of Rustling’s Runners (a group I used to go out with before I came to realise they are way too speedy for me to keep up with them, but they are a friendly duo), it was a shame to have our chit chat interrupted with a call to the start.  We shuffled into position.  I didn’t wear any kind of a coat, but I did have gloves and my hat.  I put myself sort of in the middle of the bunch this time, didn’t want to get stuck behind walkers too early on.  Couldn’t really hear the briefing, but it was presumably along the lines of look out for each other, watch out for slippery bits, have fun, that kind of thing, and then we were awf!  Yay!

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One advantage of the cold, is that it is actually a bit of a relief to get going.  Now I am more familiar with the route, it feels a bit quicker.  Also, because the ground had been frozen, it was hard and not as muddy as last time out.  Although it was white underfoot in parts it didn’t feel too slippery. I was in my ‘proper’ off road shoes, and I was glad of them, but I think I might be getting a bit more confident on my feet now.  It was lovely.  I don’t feel the same lurve running on roads, but it was stunningly beautiful out in the countryside.  The sky was initially dark and a bit broody, but it made for breathtaking scenery.  It was cold, and apart from us runners and the hardy marshals – who have been highly trained to smile apparently continuously, without even a moment’s lapse – there didn’t seem to be many people about.

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It was very pleasing to report that our  Extra Smiley Smiley (200) Formerly Known As Smiley Non-Smiley was amongst those marshalling.  Not only did she hold that gate open early on with real dedication and aplomb, it meant I got to be on first name terms with one of the marshals.  It does make it more fun running when there are people to cheer you round.  Even more pleasingly, she then relocated to the half-point/ end point so could cheer again at the mid-stage and ending.  Great value out of her volunteering skills there.  It didn’t feel too crowded today, and I got into a rhythm early on, a slow one granted, but a rhythm nevertheless.  It was gorgeous, the trails felt springy, the woods were lovely, and if you remembered to look up when you got to the steep hill not only did this help your breathing but you got an awesome sense of place.  I had a few broken exchanges with people on the way round.  Nothing too much, (regular readers know I feel VERY strongly about not being expected to talk and run at the same time), but enough to touch base companionably with others, and shout acknowledgement.

At the hill point, I came across another backwards runner!  What’s that about?  I know I saw one at parkrun the other week, but I really thought that was a one off.  I asked if it made the uphill easier if you couldn’t see the summit.  ‘Yes‘ was the enthusiastic reply ‘especially second time around!’  I didn’t really want to think about the second lap at that point to be honest, but it was an observation worthy of consideration.  I heave-hoed up the hill, and did cave in to walking, though I can truthfully report I was not alone in this.  My relationship with hills is complicated, I still can’t run up with them, but the views at the top are joyful and then there is always the thrill of the descent to come…  Living in Sheffield I feel cheated if ever I go for a run and there isn’t a hill somewhere.  Mind you, can’t really think of any occasion when that’s happened round where I live to be fair, you can’t escape them!

reward for uphill

 There was a friendly marshal at the top though offering cheering words of encouragement.  It is nice once you get over the wall to be on a flatter forest path and quite soon two marshals came into view, one in the gateway acting as a decoy presumably, whilst another appeared to be in hiding behind a stone wall, but had her presence betrayed by her fine pink bobble hat.  My own bobble hat got a bit of attention on the way round.  One passing runner told me she’d been eyeing it from way back, focusing in on it to catch me up and then overtake me.  I was quite delighted at her observational skills and compliment, particularly as she herself was sporting a sort of Peruvian three bobbled hat creation, that truthfully might have incited a bit of bobble envy had I been of such a disposition to mind.  Truth is, you don’t really care about anything very much when you are running, well I don’t.  It looked a bit like this, only more colourful, it you are struggling to visualise it:

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I was worried you might be imagining more of a jester’s hat, which would be silly, obviously.

The route seemed to go quickly today, I was cheered round the half way point by name (nowhere to hide) and yomped onwards with renewed vigour.  The field scattered out a bit, so for the second lap, although I was in sight of people throughout, I was more or less on my own.  I was aware of my running buddy (the abductee from earlier) just behind me, and although we’d agreed mutually that there would be no talking and running, I wanted to avoid getting shoulder to shoulder with her in case we ended up chatting.

On the second lap you really need to remember to make a point of looking at your surroundings.  There are gorgeous mossy tree roots, lovely rock formations on the horizon, and in the woods, some fabulous fantastical configurations of trunks and branches that make alluring dens.  I saw one parent with two small children clambering around the magical roots, it looked like a parallel universe, it really did. I could quite happily have ditched the running and gone to join them, but if my body is ever to be a temple to running, then I need to keep on running in my asymmetric, minimalist way.

Also on lap two as I went through one of the smaller car park areas (no, don’t know what it’s called) there was a nice couple (well I say they were nice, they may have been axe-murderers  for all I know, but it wasn’t obvious that they were, so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt) asked how far we were running. I said breathlessly ‘10km‘ and they ooohed and aaahed in a ‘gosh, how impressive‘ sort of way as they heaved on their walking boots and let their dog out of the boot of their car.  That helped me pretend to run on with a bit more enthusiasm than I was actually feeling at that point, I didn’t want to let the side down, and in a hundred metres or so I knew I’d be comfortably out of their line of vision so could heave into the undergrowth if necessary.

In the last couple of kilometres I suddenly noticed ahead of me a Rustling Runner, she is training for the half-marathon, so I was wondering if I could somehow catch her.  Not out of competitiveness, but more to see how my running is comparing with hers.  She was/is a much better runner than me, and has done half marathons before.  I reasoned if I could catch her, then maybe it is realistic for me to at least start the half in a few weeks’ time.  It was an effort, but I did catch up with her.  Then though, I could hear another runner behind me right on my shoulder, and it sort of spurred me on.  I didn’t want to be overtaken at the last 100 meters.  Disaster, her partner (presumably) appeared at the gateway to the finish, and started cheering her on ‘come on, you can do it, you can beat her‘.  I don’t know if I felt outraged exactly, but being aware I was someone  else’s target made me really want to hang on.  I gave it super-human effort, found my turbo sprint button and charged onward.  I did think I might either be sick, or fall over, but I did make it.  Whether I’m ever going to have enough in my tank to do the Sheffield half, I really don’t know…  I have to get to grips with running up some hills at some point, and not long to go.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.  Maybe my insurance policy should be just to get one of these, and run in that, job sorted.  How do you think it compares to my usual running vest?

The organisers and marshals at the end were in fine form, voice and had great commentary and organisational skills.  ‘Second dog home‘ they called out to the runner just ahead who was accompanied by her pooch and ‘ooh smiley‘, and then ‘come on Lucy‘ as I was recognised by my pink hat (which I can report had stayed on throughout) and presumably, matching pink face and puffy cheeks as I charged into focus at the finish.  Afterwards I spoke to the woman behind me who was most gracious about my determination to stay ahead, from her perspective I think she wasn’t too fussed about catching me anyway, it was motivator at the sidelines who was being uber-competitive, but to be fair that made me find reserves I didn’t know I had.  I still wasn’t that fast mind, but I was a good 5 minutes faster than last time out.  A lot of that to be fair is due to the firmer footing rather than any improvement in my inherent athleticism, but all the same that’s good for morale.  (But NOT good for Smiletastic, for which PBs only attract points next month, and I doubt now I’ll be able to improve on this time, very poor gamesmanship on my part there I’m afraid.  Best not tell the other Flying Feathers, I’ll be drummed out of not just the team, but Smiley Paces too.  Driven into exile I’d have to join another running club instead… somewhere flat!  Fate worse than death.)

It was pretty cold once we stopped.  My running buddy was very close behind and about five Smilies all crossed the finish line within a few minutes of each other, so that was companionable and nice.  We did lots of mutual congratulations, before retreating to the warmth and comfort of the tea rooms for coffee and run de-brief and Smiletastic tales.  It was really, really nice.

Another triumph, thank you marshals, for clapping, smiling, pointing, holding gates open, and offering cheery commentary as we passed.  It was and is much appreciated, you must have been freezing out there!

There were long queues in the cafe, but it was all good-natured.  I felt a bit for the 11.00 o’clock walking group that were probably not expecting to find themselves in the middle of a pack of steaming and slightly over-excited runners, but hey ho.  Refreshments eaten and drinks drunk we performed the super human feat of getting up after stiffening into a sitting position, and hobbled back to the car park, newly crippled.  I spotted an abandoned cross in a tree en route back.  Hope it wasn’t in memory of someone who didn’t quite make it.  The snow scattering had almost vanished, giving way to bright sunshine, but it was still distinctly nippy out there.

Back at the car park, there was a random woman roaming.  Turned out she was on a mission to spot the next vacated parking space, so as we reversed out, she was frantically gesturing in another car.  We did fine, but there may be some logistical problems ahead for Longshaw if the running contingency start overlapping too much with other activities.  Speaking for myself I couldn’t imagine being fit enough to run up to the start from Sheffield, but a fair few runners do.  Maybe when the weather is warmer and days are longer I could give it a go, as long as I can take a picnic with me for emergencies.

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Meantime, thanks again lovely Longshaw, it was gorgeous out, worth the effort, and I like having another number to add to my collection.  Wonder if we can get even more Smilies along next time, it was like a club outing, but even so, the more the merrier I say, reckon we could easily double it next time.  Now that would be a treat…  Till next time, happy running y’all!

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Home, dropping off running buddy en route.  I did a quick detour laying bait for rabbits, more of this later.  It’s not easy doing Smiletastic, first Elder Smiley Super Geek wanted our hearts, now she wants hares.  I can’t find any, so I’m resorting to laying out organic produce for them in a possible vain attempt to lure them hither.  Will it never end…?  It’s an organic one, which is why it isn’t very symmetrical.

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If you wish to compare and contrast with previous Longshaw experiences you could check out mud, mud glorious mud and/or lolloping Longshaw, but really I wouldn’t take any notice of what I have to say, just if you are tempted get out and do it.  I would recommend trail shoes, but apart from that it’s eminently doable, fun, friendly and free.  What’s not to like?  Plus, if you do decide you need to bale at the half way point (and for the record I did see one runner do just that as we passed the tea rooms first time around) you absolutely can, no-one will care, or even notice probably, and it’s not like they’ll put it on a blog and tell the world or anything, so keep your worries in perspective.

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