Posts Tagged With: National Trust

Finally to Fountains Abbey parkrun, pretty pleasing as a rule :) in fact – FAbbey!

Digested read: got lucky with a lift to Fountains Abbey parkrun.  O.M.G reet nice out!  Orsum. Fabbeylous actually.  Really, it was!  🙂

Sarah Swinscoe picture 2016

Picture taken from Fountains Abbey Facebook page courtesy of Sarah Swinscoe, who not only takes a mean mid-run snap, but has a cool name too apparently!  🙂

Undigested read:

this could take a while, maybe get yourself a tankard of mead or something – failing that gin would do, unless you are reading this over breakfast before going to work, maybe not then, maybe then coffee would be best.  And if you are going for neat gin, maybe not a whole tankard, but you know what, each to their own.  I won’t judge, whatever it takes to get you through the read ahead.

Rolls up sleeves.  Here goes:

“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. For this reason the brethren should be occupied at certain times in manual labour and at other times in sacred reading.”
– From St Benedict’s Rule

As St Benedict quite literally set the rules for conduct at Fountains Abbey right at the outset, it seems only fair that anyone rocking up to the place on, oh I don’t know, let’s say a sunny Saturday morning 1,500 years later in 2019 for arguments sake, should at least pay a nod of respect to that legacy.  This can be achieved by avoiding idleness through being actively involved in parkrun, and then spending hours poring over social media posts all about it afterwards, in the spirit of ‘sacred reading’.  I reckon that has mind and body nicely covered.   And people do get most evangelical about parkrun, and rightly so, me too to be fair.  I am not alone in getting drunkenly emotional about it sometimes, how it brings people together.  All sorts of people, in all sorts of ways. Check out this octogenarian meet up at Bushy parkrun this weekend for starters.  Looks amazing, as does their celebratory cake.  Hurrah!

I know. Amazing!  Anyway, where was I, oh yes, Fountains Abbey, and filling you in on St Benedict, or ‘Big Ben’ as I shall think of him from now on.

Here he is  below, writing his rules apparently, in Latin, which isn’t massively inclusive to be fair, but I daresay he was a product of his time.  I’m sure nowadays he’d be more explicit about doing parkrun and then be pictured writing the run report afterwards (not in Latin), but here he is anyway.

375px-Heiligenkreuz.St._Benedict

I’m glad I don’t have to write this blog post standing up, and by quill pen, that would be a bit of a palaver to be honest, but I daresay he had more self-discipline and less access to the interweb and a blogging platform, so we are all but products of our time.  Though times needn’t be what defines us as parkrunners.  No indeedy, not at all, you see, it’s not about the times necessarily at parkrun, it’s about the taking part, a run not a race and all that.   Head for a PB if you wish, or enjoy a social romp round at a more leisurely pace.  Anyways, it’s extremely hard to concentrate on running round at Fountains Abbey because the setting is distractingly spectacular and if you are me, you therefore have to stop every 20 yards or so to take a blurry photo or interact with a marshal.  These things take time.  Documenting a parkrun location like this just can’t be hurried.

I mean just look at it – this isn’t my photo to be fair, it’s one from the NT website, but you get the gist, mine are more, erm, blurred authentically atmospheric.

surpriseviewandrewbutler

Oh, am I making no sense?  That’s not a first for me.  The thing is, apparently, accordingtoWikipediasoitmustbetrue, The Rule of Saint Benedict (LatinRegula Benedicti) is a book of precepts written in 516 by Benedict of Nursia (c. AD 480–550) for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot.  Fountains Abbey is a National Trust site –  not only that, but Studley Royal park, which includes the ruins of Fountains Abbey was one of the first sites in the UK to be inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage Site listings in 1986. That’s really, really impressive.  No wonder they have a stone to that effect, even if it does say 1987 on it, and I got confused when I first saw it thinking as foundation stones go, that didn’t seem all that old for an abbey…  If I’d understood the stone correctly, that would mean the abbey was founded the same year that top film releases included Cry Freedom, The Fly and Dirty Dancing.  Now even allowing for a lack of general maintenance of the site since then, it shouldn’t really have crumbled into quite such of a ruin in the intervening years.   …. it was helpful therefore to establish indeed it hadn’t.  It had just got confirmation of its World Heritage Site status which is jolly good, and entirely different.  Chronology clarified.  Phew.

DSCF2108

In fact, the abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks from St Mary’s in York. They’d grown fed up of the extravagant and rowdy way that the monks lived in York and so they escaped seeking to live a devout and simple lifestyle elsewhere. This was how they came to Fountains.  That’s what the NT website says anyway, so I’m guessing St Benedict didn’t deliver his rule book in person.  Not if he wrote it in 516, surely?

Incidentally, I think it a pleasing coincidence that right now, Unesco’s World Heritage Committee has been meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan to decide which sites deserve special status and protection.  How exciting. There will be new kids on the block, but just so you know, this means, Fountains Abbey ranks alongside these offerings, however, it exceeds them in respect of providing a parkrun, those other locations don’t …. yet.  It may of course only be a matter of time, but for now, Fountains Abbey is preferable as a destination of choice for a Saturday morning.  How fortuitous to me that is reachable from Sheffield if facilitated by an early start and a driver for the morning.  Yay!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

believe the hype!

It’s little wonder I’ve been wanting to do the parkrun here for ages, because whenever you see people’s photos of it it just looks stunning.  However, now I’ve been, I can report than not only is indeed stunning – stunning to such a degree that even the stunning photos you see don’t do it justice – but also it has a fascinating and extensive history.  You’ll have to google yourself but I will say this, according to historic uk . com Fountains Abbey:

lies along the valley of the River Skell about two miles west of Ripon. The Abbey, Britain’s largest monastic ruin, was founded in 1132 by thirteen Benedictine monks from St Mary’s Abbey in York seeking a simpler life, who later became Cistercian monks. The abbey was named Fountains Abbey because of the springs of water that existed in the area

and I have no reason to doubt any of this.  Upshot is, it provides the perfect overlap of parkrun and culture, all capped off with a particularly excellent cafe.  What’s not to like?

So back to basics, I’m ahead of myself..

My vague idea of ‘I’d really love to go to Fountains Abbey parkrun one day‘ became a more concrete plan after last week’s Round Sheffield Run.  In the post run chit chat, I bumped into some fellow Sheffield Hallam parkrunners, who are also very committed parkrun tourists who’ve ticked off a pretty phenomenal number of destinations, but crucially not as yet Fountains.  Let’s go together!  Hurrah.  It shall be so, how exciting!  Particularly for me as I’d got it into my head that Fountains Abbey is a million miles away from Sheffield, and you’d basically need to head off the Sunday before to get there in time for it the following Saturday – incidentally, that might in fact be true if you are reliant on public transport, as it doesn’t look as if there ish even a bus every day.  In fact, my fellow parkrunners were more optimistic thinking it was ‘about an hour’. Turns out we were both wrong, as it’s more like 90 mins if the roads are clear, and you aren’t as cautious as me about putting your foot down on the motorway, but you have to factor in YOU MUST NOT BE LATE.  There is a bit of a hike down to the start of this parkrun, and to avoid abusing the hospitality of the National Trust, if you ain’t within the boundary walls by 8.45, you ain’t getting in.  This may sound harsh, but having been to the event I can see why.  Also, they had a serious medical incident a while back, where paramedics were needed, and it brought home to everyone the importance of the run briefing and everyone being clued up on what to do.  Also, no late arrivals starting behind the tail walker.  Fountains Abbey parkrun have quite a good Facebook post explaining some of their course specific logistics as a pinned post.  I think it’s helpful.  Worth a gander.

Anyway, upshot was, date fixed, this was really happening BRING IT ON!

As with many parkrun adventures, this one began with an early morning start, and a trot down to my local corner supermarket, which is very fine spot indeed from which to embark on any new expedition or happening.  So it was, here I was 6.35 a.m. bright eyed and bushy tailed, all expectant and excited and on the look out for my conveyance for the morning.  Love Pops!  No wonder my eyes were popping out with excitement of it all!

It was drizzling a bit, but to be honest, I was quite relived about that, I’ve been struggling in the heat.

After a bit, good news, that’s it, that’s my conveyance coming up the road, with two cheery parkrunners within.  Soooooooooooooooooo exciting!   Even if in my excitement, I struggled to locate the door handle for the car.  Not my fault, it was all aerodynamically set in on the body work so disguised.  To gain access took a fair bit of initiative and problem solving skills on a par with completing a Rubik’s cube, which to be fair I’ve never actually achieved so let’s be a bit more realistic…. almost on a par with completing a Rubik’s cube.

rubik-3x3-solved

I was fully committed to getting to Fountains though, so it would take more than a hidden door handle to stop me getting in that car!  I was in, and we were on our way!

It was indeed an ok drive to get there, especially as I didn’t have the angst of actually driving.  The roads were clear, satnav took us to our destination, waving at Temple Newsam parkrun vaguely over the horizon as we passed it (sort of) en route.

And we arrived, at the deserted car park, around 8.15 I think.  The only problem was, because we were indeed pretty early – which is still waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay preferable to being even an eeny teeny bit late – there was no other sign of parkrun life. Also, the car parking area is sort of tastefully landscaped, which meant it was unexpectedly confusing about where you should park, it had lots of side parks, and the signage was tasteful and discrete so it took a little while to decide where to pull up and fathom what direction to head in.  The car park looks like this by the way, in winter – picture is from the handy Fountains Abbey parkrun pictorial guide.  In fact, I might nick some of their other pics, as they fill in the gaps in my own record very nicely.  🙂

carpark.jpg

After a couple of strategic circuits, trying to find other life forms and the best place to park, we pulled up near to someone else who was heaving on trainers, and then followed signs to the visitors’ centre.  It wasn’t very far, nor was it too much of a navigational challenge on account of the fact the visitors centre is ENORMOUS!

It was all VERY exciting.  Such amazing facilities, a huge cafe, loos, indoor and outdoor seating areas, fab views, a gift shop and…. most importantly of all loos.  I say loos, but honestly, what loos were these?  Pretty much a destination in their own right I’d say.  Never seen anything like it, and I’ve seen the loos at Osterley parkrun, which have their own topiary lining the path on the way in:

Now my regular reader will know that I do like to be able to avail myself of a precautionary pee pre parkrun, never more so than when undertaking parkrun tourism, when you arrive full-bladdered after a long journey.  Well, what can I say about the Fountains Abbey loos?  Not only were they present – always a boon – but they were hi-tech to such a degree that the sinks had instructions on them so the user would know how to operate them.  I know!  I’m not even exaggerating for comedic effect.  These were space age, sleek, immaculately clean and ‘touch free’ steel and white porcelain designs.  I mean just look on in wonder:

 

And it wasn’t just me who was amazed and impressed in equal measure.  Emerging from our respective ablutions, newly arrived runners remarked to one another with wonderment about what they had just seen.  Who knew that posh toiletry fittings could be such an ice breaker, way more user friendly than the Monty Python’s Big Red Book chocolate box selections which it is true would break the ice at parties, but was not to everyone’s taste.  Take for example ‘Spring Surprise’, chocolate wrapped around two stainless steel bolts that “spring out and plunge straight through both [of the victim’s] cheeks”.  Would certainly get people talking, but also create an awkward health and safety issue which would have to be resolved before parkrun got under way.

monty pythons big red book

As if the delights of the toilets wasn’t enough, there were more big reveals still to come.  Specifically, after the devastating discovery that there was a  disappointing lack of perennials available for purchase at last weekend’s otherwise excellent Round Sheffield Run, I am pleased to report dear reader, that here the Fountains Abbey parkrun venue offered up an excellent selection of plants – not only for borders, but for complete garden redesign.  Hurrah.  Told you it would be a good move to have this offer at the RSR next year.  I mean just look, and this was just our fly-by observations en route to the start!

 

This kept us entertained for a bit, just browsing… for now but anyone from Sheffield could tell you that those Monday Mobsters know their onions.  She’ll be back if there’s a bargain to be bagged!

DSCF2103.jpg

and then we saw a sign pointing towards the start area, and espied a teasing glimpse of the horizon in the distance, through a gentle swishing screen of tall grasses.  O.M.G it was just so picturesque, if you haven’t been there yet, you’ll have no idea. Just go!

Now there was a dilemma.  We were still a good half hour early, but it takes 15 mins to get to start (ish) but I was thinking I might need a second pee before taking to the trail.  Well, the early start necessitated extra caffeine, and I hadn’t fully thought through the consequences of that.  But as we hadn’t been before didn’t want to cut it too fine trying to locate the start. What to do?  Well dear reader, I can report that as if by magic a cheery hi-vis hero appeared to save the day.  Not only did he give instructions to the start – which were quite complicated to be fair, but actually just follow the signs/ everyone else, but also he informed us there were more loos at the start!  This is the parkrun that just keeps on giving.  Stress alleviated, we could march on with confidence and without tena ladies.  Hurrah!  What a nice man.  You can just make out the abbey in the middle, but it sort of blends into the tree line.  Think of my photos as being about giving the gist of the occasion, a teaser to make you go find out for yourself, that way you will have managed your expectations and I can cease being embarrassed about my ineptitude with a camera and concentrate on being embarrassed about my ineptitude as a runner which frankly is quite time consuming enough!

DSCF2104

Thank you nice marshal.  He even took a team photo for us.  I think this is the only one that captures us all together, looking individually and collectively gorgeous I’m sure you’ll agree.

DSCF2106

so next mission, was to walk down to the start. Even this was lovely.  It was like a little treasure trail of discoveries.  Fantastic views, educational displays, interactions with other massing parkrunners, lots of wool – the only disappointment is that parkrunners were explicitly warned off the adventure playground prior to 10 a.m. which was a shame, as it looked extremely enticing!  Enjoy the smorgasbord of photos documenting our walk below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It isn’t massively far, but you do need a good 15 minutes because if you are newcomer you will definitely be distracted by the sights and delights on the way down.  You have to inspect the wicker monk for example, and spot the real hen alongside the model ones.  These things take time.

When you arrive though, wow.  I thought nothing was going to top the loos, but I was wrong.  It’s gorgeous, and we’d only seen a glimpse of what was to unfold.

DSCF2142

Once you reach the path at the abbey, you can spot the assembling volunteers, and a steady stream of runners coming to the start area.  I went for a mini explore, and can confirm there are indeed more toilets in this area, but also ruins, and views and places to go and people to see and also a random ladder on a path – in situ for the RD briefing, but I still couldn’t see that, but minor point.  Amongst the parkrunners was one adorned with a bespoke sash to mark the occasion of a both a birthday and a fiftieth run.  Nice planning there, well done.  I asked about a bag drop, and basically there is a handy ruin where you can stash things.  Excellent.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After a bit of milling and chilling, there was a call to move towards the start, and 400+ of us duly did.  The paths are pretty good, but they do ask you to line up in approximate finish times and have signs to help with that.  Dogs and buggies – along with accompanying responsible adults – are at the back.  There were a fair few tourists, and you could feel the frisson of  excitement as we skipped to the starting pens!  I was a bit confused by the sweatshop running club, I thought sweatshop went into administration, so not sure if that is a hangover from one of their running shops, or something else entirely…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Astonishingly, people were pretty silent for the run briefing, huge relief.  It does my head in when people talk through that.  Volunteers were thanked, milestones celebrated and the course was explained.  Usual things.  Thanks for some donated tops worn by the volunteers, but I didn’t catch quite what they were, maybe I’ll work it out retrospectively from the pics.

Oh you want to know the course, fair do-s.  The Fountains Abbey parkrun website blah de blah describes the course thus:

Course Description

Sheltered in a secluded valley only around 3 miles south west of Ripon lies Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden; a World Heritage site and one of the most historic and beautiful places in Europe. Starting from Huby’s Tower at the Abbey, this is a 2 lap gently undulating, clockwise course run entirely on National Trust land on firm footpaths, designed to ensure no runner will be lapped. The route is marked with high vis signs. All runners should wear road shoes in all weathers; there are no muddy sections.

The first shorter lap heads past the East Lawn, around the Rustic Bridge & Half Moon pond, following the River Skell back past the Abbey, the West Lawn and Abbey tea rooms.

The second lap passes the Abbey heading left of the Rustic Bridge around the stunning Studley Royal Water Garden crossing the narrow wooden footbridge in front of the Lake and following a stunning course back towards the finish line at Robin Hood’s Well, in sight of the Abbey.

The start and finish is a 10 minute walk from the Fountains Abbey visitor car park, cafe and toilet facilities.

and it looks like this:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Which personally, I think looks a bit like a child’s scooter, but that is probably just me.  Not necessarily a pink one, but definitely that silhouette…

So that’s the theory, all well and good, but what about in practice eh?

Well, when the call for ‘off’ went out, there was the familiar ripple of movements as runners started rolling forwards. I was positioned pretty much at the back, so it took a little while to get going, but what really delayed me was having to dive to the side every few seconds to capture yet another shot of yet another view, that and to thank all the marshals, which I do endeavour to do wherever possible.  I found the marshals really friendly and encouraging, by which I mean most were game for posing for a shot in between clapping enthusiastically and expert directional pointing.  They were pros for sure.

The first part of the route takes you directly alongside the ruins

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The path seemed to me to be pretty wide, and runners courteous.   The team do warn of congestion at certain points on the course namely the rustic bridge corner for lap one and the narrow – single track only – wooden bridge that you encounter on lap two.  Where I was, it was fine, I suppose faster runners might have to be more aware of one another where the corner is sharp and the paths suddenly narrow, but it’s a run not a race after all, so I like to think common sense would prevail.

After the abbey, the route opens up and it’s lovely grassland, with an artificial waterway separating you from the speedier runners heading back on the loop the other way.  I did try for some arty distance shots, but my camera isn’t really up to it, but maybe if you squint, you’ll get the idea, and remember people, it’s the thought that counts.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lovely marshals, some in pairs, they looked like they were having a lot of fun.  The nice thing about a two lap course, is that you get to meet them all again.  Yay!

Couple of things you should look out for in the photo montage below.  Firstly, note the exquisitely even spone casing, sorry cone spacing skills of one marshal.  Nice work.  Don’t be fooled by the jauntily jolly smiley marshal shooing you round the lake, he pulls a bit of a trick on lap two.  Nearly caught me out, but I’ve spotted marshals teleporting round courses before, didn’t fool me.  Also note the fabulous reflection shots that show so much promise and deliver so much disappointment.  Reference earlier comment about it being the thought that counts.  Also, note how the sun has come out, just to sparkle more vividly on the water and pick out the stone ruins and green trees in all their detailed loveliness.  Told you it was a nice one.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was dropping further and further back down the field on account of my stop start approach.  I might have been able to pass it off as interval training to the untrained eye, but most eyes were trained and not to be fooled.  My favourite marshals today though – I know you shouldn’t really have them, but well, I couldn’t help it – pointed out that as course photographer I had a busy and important role to fulfil so it was inevitable my times would be compromised.  I mean, really, I was martyring myself by so sacrificing my run!  Well, she may not of actually said that in so many words, but I’m pretty sure that was the gist of it.

As I looped round the back, I found myself leapfrogging the same few runners.  Specifically, this awesome twosome.   As they passed marshals, and indeed a few other runners, people were asking ‘where’s the carrot?’  Hmm, puzzling.  Less puzzling once I’d used my Sherlockesque detective skills and found an earlier photo on the Fountains Abbey Facebook page.  I can’t entirely account for the choice or reason for this particular companion vegetable being carried en route, but I think a bit of mystery makes the world a better and more interesting place.  Great running though, and great company too!  Well it was for me anyway, I daresay you may have preferred a cuddly root vegetable, but glad you made the best of the situation in which you found yourselves!

As I was coming towards the end of the first lap, I could now see the runners looping round on the opposite side of the waterway again.  It was again a lovely sight, but oh so hard to capture on film.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I have a renewed respect for those wildlife photographers who get stunning action shots of wildebeest on migration taken from a fair distance away.  Honestly, it’s way harder than you might imagine.  Mind you, if you were a ‘proper’ photographer, and got yourself down to this course you’d have an absolute field day, so much to see and so many brilliant spots to position yourself in.  Never mind feeling spoilt by an ambassador breaking open the Ferrero Rocher for a photographer, here you would rewrite the rule book about what it means to feel truly indulged!  Well probably, I’m not a photographer, I wouldn’t know, maybe you’d rather a challenge.  In which case, many congratulations for securing the gig for The M1 Appreciation Course.

_45156779_welcomenew_long

Also as you reach the end of the first lap, well if you are towards the rear of the field anyway, you get to see the marshals repositioning themselves for the finish tunnel and token scanning roles.  This is an event that has a lot of marshals, but they all seemed to be having a good time together, I get the impression if it was your local event you could join the volunteer team and get a warm welcome and feel part of it all quite quickly.  Oh, and hello, here is our friendly marshal from the gateway at the top earlier, also teleported down.  Hurrah.  I particularly enjoyed the guard of honour applauding in unison as I passed, but fine use of bright yellow flexi tubs being brought into operation.  As to for what purpose, all would be revealed later.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So you loopity loop round and back to where you started from, and round you go again – now I could STILL see the faster runners, this time queuing up in the finish tunnel.  I reckon that cheery looking marshal was actually quite feisty, her smiling demeanour a cover for how she might turn were you to break ranks and sprint in a straight line to the finish, splashing through the gently trickling water feature as you did so.   She’d outrun you for sure.  Not to be under-estimated these marshals.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You need to note that that the second loop is different, you go beyond the rustic bridge, finding the marshal has cunningly repositioned himself, almost brazen about it he was:

DSCF2275

So onward you go, no rushing across the rustic bridge this time, and lo!  You start to espy all these amazing – if slightly risque statues in amongst the water gardens.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was like being in a novel or on a film set or something. Actually, you probably are in a film set, I can’t imagine this hasn’t been the backdrop for plenty of costume dramas in its time, it’s begging for it.  What exactly are that naked couple doing, trying to recreate the scene in Dirty Dancing where they were practising in the water perhaps, but caught before they’d actually perfected the lift?  Yep,  that does seem the most likely explanation to be fair.  I mean look closely –

I have a point do I not?  Rhetorical question, I totally do!  I rest my case.

Did you know there is actually a Dirty Dancing Festival where they recreate the lifts amongst other pointless activities. I never really got that film to be honest, I was more a Fly person.  Not actually a fly person as in part fly part person, but as in liking that film The Fly better. It was partly a Jeff Goldblum thing if I’m completely honest.   This is a famous fly person though, George Brossard  sticking up for insects everywhere.

George Brossard

so you romp on round, knowing, that at any minute you’ll finally get to run on to the MUCH EXCITEMENT little wooden bridge, that definitely has trolls underneath it. It must do, otherwise why would they marshal it so thoroughly and get you to keep in single file.  It’s because that minimises the number of people on the bridge at all times, so if the trolls should strike, you limit the numbers affected.  A bit of collateral damage perhaps, a few parkrunners lost en route, but a risk well worth taking for such a fun and iconic pathway.  It couldn’t have been lovelier, bright sunshine reflecting on the water, low flying swans gliding over head.  Marvellous.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I wanted to get some arty shots of some other runners behind me crossing the bridge – obviously, I had mixed feelings about what I’d do if a troll came out to grab them whilst I was shooting – exactly the complex sea of emotions a wildlife photographer has to navigate when his migrating wildebeest negotiate a river crossing and some will get snatched by crocodiles, awful shame obvs, but great photo.  No trolls emerged this time though.  Took a while for the runners to cross.  I spoke to them later.  They weren’t hesitating because of troll watch, but because they’d seen me lining up my shot and didn’t want to spoil my landscape picture.  Very thoughtful!

Not too far to the finish now, but you have to drag yourself away from an astonishing statue of Neptune, I presume.  And check out the adornments on the folly – if it is a folly, it might be a building with a purpose, I have no idea.

those marshals can’t be expected to wave and high-five themselves now can they?  Hang on, haven’t I seen that teleporting marshal somewhere before?

DSCF2316.jpgand that most excellent view is calling you round, whilst behind you are photogenic runners giving their all.  Incidentally, I have the photos in higher resolution if anyone wants them, get in touch.  Or if you don’t want them in this post let me know and I can remove them. We will still have our memories.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

and then ‘suddenly’ there they all at the finish, to cheer you in!

It’s a great welcome through the finish funnel, but slightly odd in that because it’s a narrow spot, they encourage other runners to move on through and place the barscanners a hundred metres or so ahead.  Then you are on track to get back to the cafe, and parkrunners are, for the most part, to just keep on going once they can smell the coffee.  This means it’s a warm welcome from the core team, but not a place where you’d be encouraged to wait to cheer in your friends as I suppose it has the potential to get crowded.

No matter, have token, will scan:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

and then a lovely scenic wander back round to the start, where, if like me you have running buddies with you, there can be a grand reunion, before plodding back up the hill and to the cafe.  One of our group, see if you can guess who he it was, strode on a considerable distance ahead.  It’s just his their thing apparently. Good to know.  Maybe it’s like the royal family, you know, apparently they never risking travelling on the same plane together, you know, just in case.  Best not to be in the vicinity of your other half when on manoeuvres, you know, just in case!  🙂

Hilarious.

I thought so.

Mind you, it’s been said before, I can be all too easily entertained.  There are worse qualities to own in life surely.

I’d taken so long to get round, my buddies were having a lie down and a power nap by the time I got back to them, but they were roused on my return.  Our walk up the hill was interrupted by having to pose with wicker sculptures, you’ll do the same when your time comes.  It’s actually compulsory I think, for first timers anyway.

DSCF2360

There is also a picture of me, having a cuddle with a pig, because they are my favourite animal.  Well warthogs more specifically, but I’ll settle for a pig.  However, I have exercised editorial control over that snap for now.  Did you know that if you scratch a warthog on its chest, it makes the hairs on its back stand on end.  A tame one that is, I’m not sure a wild one would be quite so impressed.  Love a warthog.  Sigh.  Happy days.  Here is an actual warthog giving a proper cuddle, way better than a wicker pig.

Still no point in being nostalgic for pig encounters, time to focus on the cafe.  En route we passed a wedding party with huge hats and morning suits coming down the other way.  I suddenly felt very under dressed!  Apparently last week, a bride and entourage did parkrun pre their wedding at Fountains.  Hang on, let me see if I can find a pic.

There you go – taken from Fountains Abbey parkrun Facebook page photos.  I’m sure they won’t mind.  Looks like they both picked nice days for a white wedding.

Into the cafe.  Now, I thought the loos were good, but the cafe was grand too.  Spacious, not too noisy, and with ‘usual’ National Trust fare.  I was a bit discombobulated by finding not one but two queues, one very much longer than the other, but the short queue didn’t seem to have any cheese scones left, which every National Trust cafe user must appreciate is the food of choice.  Amusingly for me – but we’ve already established that doesn’t take much – the couple behind me in the queue were having exactly the same dilemma.  We all went to the long queue, but then joked – with slight tension – about what we’d do if we all got to the front and found only one left.  OH NO!

Fortunately dear reader, that eventuality did not come to pass, so all’s well that ends well.   There follow mandatory cafe shots:

We debated about where the cafe sat in our top ten of post parkrun eateries, and it’s definitely a contender for first place.  Spacious, clean, surprisingly not too expensive, and, not noisy either.  Also huge outdoor space for post parkrun lingering and putting the world to rights in the summer.  For general ambience, one of the best, for me, I’d have liked to have seen some more imaginative veggie breakfast options.  Pom in Sheffield a veggie/vegan cafe is the best for actual food, though not for comfort.  This place was excellent though

Only when we left, saying farewell to the token sorters, did we realise we’d missed out on the nibble and scribble option.  Never mind, next time eh, next time?  Hang on a parkrun minute – I’m sure I’ve seen that token sorter somewhere before…

We didn’t miss out on the shop stop though.  Browsing blooms and books with enthusiasm.  Wish I’d bought some basil now, bargain at £1 a pot.

and then, that was it, time to go.  Bye bye Fountains Abbey parkrun, it’s been a blast, thanks for the warm welcome and the wondrous memories, watch out though, we’ll be back! parkrun Wonder of the North indeed.

DSCF2383.jpg

For all my parkrun related posts click here.  Or don’t.  It’s up to you.

Mind and body though, need to keep your sacred reading up alongside your parkrunning remember though, just sayin.

You’re welcome.

🙂

Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oooh, Oh-stonishing Osterley parkrun

Digested read: parkrun tourism took me to Osterley parkrun.  I went in search of an ‘O’ and discovered an ooooooooooh!

DSCF8998

Undigested read:

Well, that was unexpected.

Events have again taken me away from Sheffield and down south again.  I was seeking a different parkrun to take in some tourism at a new venue, done Kingston and Bushy parkrun already.  Bushy parkrun is obviously especially epic, but you know, seen the unicorns and rainbows there a fair few times and felt like I ought to check out some of the other local options this time round.  I was initially contemplating heading out to the Old Dear Deer Park parkrun, because that sounded lovely and is relatively near to where I am staying.  However, and I hope this doesn’t sound too ungracious, when I read the blurb for it on their parkrun page I was put off by fear of having to drive through Kingston on a Saturday morning to get there. I’m a scaredy cat what with the sheer volume of traffic and the mysterious hieroglyphics of its one-way systems – though I do have a particular soft spot for the falling phone boxes sculpture.  Always loved that.  You know the one I mean?  You don’t?  That’s terrible, you’ve missed out, let me google that for your…. here you are:

 

Love it!  I’d rather have functional phone boxes, but if we can’t any more I’m glad they’ve been preserved thus.  In the olden days when we used slide rules at school, had to endure the test card waiting for the TV to come on I always used to carry a 2d coin with me in case you needed to phone for help, and dear reader, it doesn’t seem all that long ago I had to use the red phone box on the corner to phone the fire brigade when my next door neighbour’s flat caught fire!  I know, I’m a living, breathing oral history project just waiting to be discovered…  anyway, you’ve distracted me, begging to know about the telephone boxes, where was I? Oh yes, debating parkrun options.

The other off-putting aspect of the Old Deer Park parkrun  was that further investigation of the route left me horrified to find it is basically three loops on grass that looks suspiciously like playing fields.  I’m still traumatised by having to run round a field at the start of Penistone parkrun last weekend, and it feels a bit too soon to subject myself to the twin trauma of humiliating flashbacks to both school sports days and my more recent misguided foray into cross country running.  (Ask yourself not ‘how hard can it be?’ but ‘honestly, why would you?’). I’m sure the Old Deer Park parkrun is delightful, and I will do it, but not for me this time round, too close in time to other XC type running scenarios. Hmm, what to do?  The thing is, when I stumbled on it on the events list, I was swayed a bit by the handiness of it starting with the letter ‘O’.  I’ve got the game-changing running challenges chrome extension thingymajig, and so I know I lack this for my parkrun alphabet.  Actually, I lack loads of letters, I’ve got hardly any, but I do know that the O s are hard to come by.  Hence, whilst I’m only half-halfheartedly pursuing that particular challenge – to complete a parkrun beginning with each letter of the alphabet apart from X because that isn’t currently an option –  the prospect of securing an ‘O’ was definitely appealing.  Hmm, so how to weigh up the pro of getting an ‘O’ against the con of reliving the humiliation of a cross country run?

The solution was to find another ‘O’ parkrun in striking distance, and so it was I came across Osterley parkrun.  Never heard of it, but it was only about 12 miles away from where I am staying, didn’t require going through Kingston traffic so why not.  My decision was made.  Some classy photos too on their Facebook page too hmm, looking grand.

Oh hang on, you probably want to know about the course blah de blah.  According to the Osterley parkrun website the course is described thus:

This is a 2 lap course on firm paths which starts and finishes in front of the mansion house.

Oh.  Concise certainly.   Somewhat minimalist, but not sounding too much like a cross country course.  Accurate too, now I’ve done it, but it really doesn’t quite convey the totality of the Osterley parkrun immersion experience.  Nor do the maps of the route, though they offer up a few teasers I suppose.  Proximity to the M4 isn’t an obvious selling point perhaps, but there’s a fair bit of green and blue boding well…

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’d find out soon enough.

After the heat wave of last weekend, it was distinctly chilly, blustery and wet on rising this Saturday.  I left ridiculously early in case of hitting London traffic, and driving down cherry tree lined roads had my windscreen ferociously battered by blossom brought down by the winds.  I’ve never previously thought of cherry blossom as potentially endangering life, but it was unrelenting, a veritable pink-out of petals impeding my vision.  I’ve not had such an unexpected alarming blossom related experience since the eighties, when I was helping a friend move house and accidentally moved her set of five foot paper hyacinths into the wrong house.  I so wish I had a photo of them, they were magnificent, but this was the olden days when to take a photo you had to use film that came in a roll of 12 pictures and you had to take it to the chemist to be developed so really, just never took any.   It was an honest mistake, could have happened to anyone after all, what household doesn’t have to transport five foot paper hyacinths that are a prop from an Ibsen* play every time they move house?  The thing is, seeing as how you are asking.  I’d gone on ahead so I could stuff my car (an 850cc mini called the Jolly Titanic – not got a photo of her either) as much as possible, and she was going to walk on round behind me.

When I got to the house, the front door was open, and I could hear the other tenants moving about so I just moved everything into the hallway whilst I was waiting for her, imagining how pleased she’d be at how I’d cracked on.  … then she arrived.  It was the wrong house.  Her new house was next door.  Now, consider if you will what etiquette is required here.  It’s one thing to be caught accidentally moving stuff into a house, but more problematic exiting a house carrying boxes.   Should we alert the residents to what had happened?  Well, the answer to that is probably yes, but obviously we were too mortified to do this, so just carried everything out as quickly and silently as possible, leaving them none the wiser.  I still would have liked to have left one of the giant hyacinths behind just to imagine their reaction when they discovered it, mysteriously appeared in their hallway.  The weird thing is (yes, there was only one weird thing about this anecdote in fact) was that I must have been pretty noisy bringing stuff in, and nobody in the house came to investigate.  Strange but true.  The lesson in this story is that even blossoms can cause trauma in particular circumstances, which is perhaps why a phobia of flowers isn’t as irrational as you might at first think.  There’s a word for that by the way, in case you are putting together a pub quiz or anything – anthophobiaYou’re welcome. See if you can drop that into a conversation at some point today.  By the way, since googling this, my laptop has been over run with pop ups of where to buy flowers in full blossom RIGHT NOW – that’s not great if you were googling because you really were phobic is it.  Stressful sort of phobia, hard to avoid methinks…

hyacinths

Anyway, if you keep distracting me, I’ll never get to tell you all about Osterley parkrun.  Suffice to say, I made it through though, we Sheffielders are tough!  Besides, lots of unexpected delights accompanied my journey. Generally, radio 4, this always delights me (apart from just a minute, religious broadcasting, and, usually, the cloying smugness of ‘thought for the day’ but you know what,?  Learn from me dear reader and cast aside your prejudices, because today en route to utterly o-stonishing Osterley parkrun I listened to Thought for the day, and – get this – parkrun got a mention!  Martin Wroe – writer and journalist contextualised his ponderings speculating on those getting ready for the London Marathon on Sunday by mentioning the 170 thousand people across Britain getting ready to take part in parkrun right now, of which I was one!  He too ‘came out’ as a parkrunner, describing the sense of achievement on completing his first one, quietly proud and slightly bewildered – how did this happen?  A sentiment I can most certainly relate to.  How exciting.  parkrun is mainstream now, and I think this is for the greater good.  I may be chugging solo to a new parkrun, but I’m one in a 170,000 all doing the same thing.  Isn’t that amazing!

Satnav TW7 4RD, Jersey Road, took me through urban territory, and below alarmingly low flight paths as mahoosive planes came in to land at Heathrow. Well, I like to think these were all planned landings at the nearest airport, and not wayward joy-piloted Boeing 747s attempting to avoid detection by flying low enough to go under the radar.  They looked close enough to touch.  I was alarmed.  Eventually, I arrived at a relatively grand entrance, surrounded by an old red brick wall.  Nice.

DSCF8973

FYI, the satnav wanted me to turn right here, but I threw caution to the wind and went straight on through.  It’s impressive, not quite as impressive as the entrance to Lyme Park parkrun, but pretty good.  I do like a drive way with acres of horse-filled paddocks on either side, and with mature trees a-plenty to provide an avenue of shade.  I was so early, there wasn’t any evidence of other parkrunners, but the venue was epic and plenty of time to locate the start.

Ooooh, this is looking really very nice, very nice indeed.

DSCF8974

The drive also had savage inverted speed bumps.  See those innocent looking cobble stripes? They are in fact sunken pits that will rattle you car to its core.  Treat with disrespect at your peril.  Don’t look down.  One wannabe parkrunner did just that a few weeks back, and he’s still trying to make his way back up by the look of things…

 

I arrived super early, of course, and parked up in the National Trust car park.  Oooh, National Trust, that’s good.  Even more surprised this parkrun had previously evaded my parkrun radar.  You don’t have to pay for parking if you display your barcode apparently, but to be fair, there was no-one at the car park booth to take payment, so I think you’d possibly be OK without, but I didn’t risk it. I always have a squillion spare barcodes about my person and conveyance to parkrun too, for just such eventualities.

It was cold, but I was early enough to head off to explore.  Found a handy sign:

 

Headed off towards the house, bravely side-stepping the posse of pigeons.  I like birds, but these seemed vaguely sinister, they had an air of entitlement, which I wasn’t about to test.  They weren’t giving ground to anyone.  Later I saw the bird that had perhaps inspired them to hold their territory, and I concede freely, they’d learned from the best.  Indistinguishable from one another those avian cousins.  It’s all about attitude at the end of the day.  Believe you are indomitable and a winner, and command all you survey, and it shall be so!  Well, so the theory goes and the photographic evidence suggests it can help you up to a point.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was exciting approaching the start of the run.  It was good going to an unknown venue with zero expectations, as everything was like a grand reveal.  First off, the lake, blooming epic!

DSCF8986

There was a teasing glimpse of the house the other side.  Huge mature trees of gorgeous spreading branches graced the beautifully landscaped space.  Even the ducks were upmarket, some stunning mandolin Mandorin ducks were strutting their funky stuff.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In amongst the lilies were the first ducklings I’ve seen this year.  Super cute.  Now generally, as I don’t have children myself, I try to never pass comment on the parenting skills of others, but the mallard mum had got out onto the edge of the lake, leaving her youngsters squawking a foot beneath the vertical edge on which she was standing.  I was a bit worried, they had no way of getting out, and I remember seeing ducklings drown in similar circumstances.  I’ll spare you that story as we really do need to crack on… I decided against intervention, they’d have to work it out, as I presume they eventually did.  Disappointing though, I do love a duck, and they have strong protective instincts with respect to their young, but unfortunately, seem not to be blessed with great spatial awareness or problem solving skills.  I empathise.  Cute though.

 

So on and on I went, round the lake, it was distinctly nippy, also wet.  Wasn’t expecting wet.  Eventually, the house came into view and let me tell you this for nothing – Osterley park and house is pretty goddarned amazing!  No wonder it gets used as a film location.  Impressive doesn’t quite do it justice, it was like stumbling across the Bradenburg Gate – never seen so many pillars and steps!  Compare and contrast if you will.  See, practically indistinguishable!

 

I remembered vaguely that the run starts and finishes by the house, and it is quite a rendezvous point.  There wasn’t much sign of parkrun life, but a give away wheelie bin was in evidence, and one or too early birds in high viz commencing the set up.  I felt a bit self-conscious,  I was so early I felt I ought to offer to help set up, but it’s awkward as a tourist because obviously you don’t know the route and there is the potential that you will be more hindrance than help if you rock up unannounced.  Good work though hi-viz heroes!

 

Instead I just asked for directions to the loo. Well, ultimately my need for a precautionary pee took precedence.

DSCF9007

My regular reader will know I put considerable store by pre-parkrun toilet facilities.  You will therefore be mightily relieved (as was I, literally and metaphorically) to hear that I declare the Osterley parkrun precautionary pee facilities to be outstanding.  They didn’t just exist and were open, and had toilet paper and all of that, but check out this as an entrance view:

DSCF9008

and this as an exit view:

DSCF9014

Seriously classy, it is far more landscaped than the entrance to my own front door, and considerably raises the bar for toileting facilities at parkruns elsewhere.  In future, I expect all my ablution areas to be contained with perfectly shaped topiary.  I had no idea what I’d been missing out on up until this point.  It may be true that you don’t miss what you’ve never had, but it is also true that there’s no putting the proverbial cat back in the bag once it’s out.  Mandatory topiary for public toilet blocks has to be the way forward.

The interior looked like this:

 

No, I wasn’t ever going to go for quite that much of an interior in-situ shot, I’m not completely dis-inhibited, not yet anyway.  Don’t you think every home should have a solid gold toilet, no wonder they have recently installed one at Blenheim.  No more bizarre than having five foot hyacinths, in fact the features would complement each other rather well now I come to think about it.

Impressed and relieved, I decided to head back to the car in search of a running jacket.  As I passed the steps a huge gust of wind sent the parkrun kit flying everywhere, it was like a re-enactment of that famous Odessa Steps sequence.  I made an attempt to help with the retrieve, but the high viz heroes were already on it, I’m guessing this may have happened before – not with a pram, but maybe with the instruction folder and parkrun signage…

 

I headed back to the car in search of some extra clothes and money for post run refreshments.  It was nice to have a bit of an explore, find a pony to gaze at and discover a marshal now on car park duty, pointing cars to another lesser used, but equally convenient car park.  I asked if I was ok where I was, at the main one, and that was fine apparently. Oh good.

 

I was back to the house again in time to see the finish funnel being set up – that looked like quite a work out, bending down to put out each and every cone at lightning speed.

 

Soon other parkrunners were beginning to arrive.  The atmosphere was building, parkrun would soon be go!  The steps up to the house provided a great vantage point from which to survey the action.  It was fun people watching, though those steps are pretty vertiginous.  And the hi-viz heroes did look exceptionally busy and important.  I always thought that was a consequence of the high viz (entry level importance) enhanced by the addition of a clip board and peaking when in possession of a loudspeaker.  In fact, it seems the gold standard is met by standing on the top of a humungous flight of steps, that confers absolute authority, it’s why that big bird pictured earlier was clearly not to be messed with.

 

After a bit, there was a gathering for the first timers briefing.  There were a few first time ever at parkrun people.  Wow, their Saturdays will never be the same again, how exciting to be on the cusp of absolute change.  Also some fellow tourists, some donning the cow cowls.  I didn’t wear mine.  Not an absolute oversight, but possibly an over-reaction to last time I wore one down here at Kingston parkrun some weeks back.  A friendly fellow tourist came over to say hello but I’d had a stressful and traumatic few days, and a night entirely devoid of sleep.  Consequently, I was sitting shivering on a bench,  mid snot-producing sob due to emotional overload and exhaustion,  and could hardly speak.  Consequently, I probably came across as quite unfriendly which is not the cow cowl way.  I thought I’d let myself go under the radar more here, just in case, although, with the benefit of hindsight, taking loads of photos is a bit of a giveaway that you are a newbie at a venue, though that stimulated lots of friendly interaction without me becoming inappropriately tearful so that’s good.

Here we are at the first timers’ briefing.  They train up their marshals from youngsters at Osterley – excellent work!

 

then we were all calmly back down the steps in readiness for the start

Battleship 03

Some ambling and milling in anticipation of the Run Director’s briefing:

 

Runners in position, a set of steps appeared for the RD, and the briefing was miked.  Excellent.  I found it hard to judge the numbers, but around 300 were there in fact.  It was all very orderly.  Cheers for milestone runners, good luck wishes to marathon runners for tomorrow, this parkrun has a lovely vibe.  If it was your local, I’m sure you’d get to know people really quickly, it felt friendly, well organised, and sported a good cross section of participants too.  It felt a lot more diverse and inclusive than some of the others I’ve been too.  I don’t know if that’s to do with the catchment area, probably, but it has to be also to do with it having a welcoming ethos I’m sure.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I met a couple of ebullient tourists, who were up for being photographed, so that was nice (wave) this was but a preparatory introduction preceding properly getting acquainted later on.  I can’t talk and run, so rarely befriend new people during a parkrun, though it’s not entirely  unprecedented either. Even so, good to swap friendly greetings and chit chat at the start line, it makes for a more companionable experience all round.

The start seemed to come suddenly.  We were awf.

 

It’s two laps, well marshalled, and it is indeed on tarmac paths, but oh my, the route is lovely!  I’m afraid my photos just don’t do it justice, well, it was quite an overcast day and taking photographs isn’t really my forte, nor is running, nor are most things, I’m hoping I’m a late developer and will stumble on my forte eventually, though time is running out for me to be able to make the most of it should any as yet untapped talent finally make itself known to me…

You pass by mature hedges, get glimpses of impressive cows, through a little bit of woodland, past lake, and pastures, all sorts really!  Inevitably, the first lap was something of a blur as you encounter things for the first time.  It didn’t feel crowded, the running surface was good.  There was a weird moment when you could hear traffic from the motorway on the left hand side, but see rural loveliness if you kept your eyes right – and the backs of departing parkrunners ahead of course, as always.  It does feel like a patch of green rural idyll oasis in the midst of what is basically urban sprawl.   Friendly marshals pointed and clapped and other spectators stood and cheered enthusiastic encouragement too, which was rather fine.  You know what, unusually for me, I’m going to let the pictures do the talking…  There are a lot of pictures, and if each is worth a thousand words, that’s quite a lot of chit chat going on below.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I tried to take a snapshot of every marshal I passed, mixed success perhaps, but let’s try to remember it’s the thought that counts!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Inevitably faster runners lapped me towards the end of the first lap.  Some were super speedy indeed,

 

You pass the finish funnel at the end of the first lap, so I paused to get some pics of the early finishers.  It really is such a spectacular location, it raises the tone of the entire gathering.  It felt more like a pop-up running festival than a conventional parkrun!

 

The second lap, it all thinned out, and I took time to admire the cows – no idea what sort they were, but they looked splendid:

 

I was flagging a bit, I’m just not running regularly at the moment and it does make a difference. Surely the second lap couldn’t be longer than the first?  They hadn’t had time to add anything.  Could have been worse though, might have been running on a treadmill with a dubious distance registering GPS. That was on the news on Saturday as well.  Fitness trackers can add miles to your marathon – up to 10.8 miles apparently, if you are running on a treadmill.  That is astonishing, but then who wants to run on a treadmill anyway? You’d have to be desperate surely.  For me, the entire point of running is to get to new places, the thought of running on the spot, makes me shudder, and can you imagine that, doing, an extra inadvertent and unacknowledged 10.8 miles!  That’s three and a bit extra parkruns – and you wouldn’t even get to brag about it on Strava afterwards presumably. That’s a whole new level of pointlessness.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In a break with my usual conventions, I did get chatting with another super friendly runner and Osterley parkrun regular towards the end of the second lap.  She was really knowledgeable about the history of the house, which I now can’t remember, but was impressive at the time. Somewhat embarrassingly I would suggest, the history of Osterley Park House seems to be covered rather better on Wikipedia than on the National Trust’s own site about Osterley House – maybe I was looking in the wrong place.  Neither account was as informative, personalised and entertaining as this parkrunner’s though, plus she could say which films it has appeared in – interior shots for one of the more recent batman films being but one, because Osterley House has its own batcave entrance.  Hurrah!  The upshot is, if you really want to know the history of this place, look out for this runner and stick with her.

 

We even ended up crossing the line together, what with us now being new best friends and everything.  Thank you lovely fellow parkrunner. Unfortunately, despite saying I’d join her for coffee I lost her, becoming distracted by chatting to other parkrunners and confused by the tearoom logistics, but more of this later.

Still plenty of support for the second lap – including a parkrun tourist who’d already finished coming back to cheer his other half home.

 

I lingered round the finish funnel to cheer in the fun factory at the back, child labour was still in evidence here, dishing out chocolates to finishers in this extra role.  I’m not sure what it comes under on the volunteer rota ‘other’ probably, though surely it’s only a matter of time before all parkruns include ‘sweetmeats dispenser’ as a core role on their rotas.  Always room for innovation as parkrun evolves.  It’ll soon be like having a photographer volunteer role, future parkrunners will be astonished it wasn’t a given from the outset.  Granted, it takes a special sort of parkrunner to take on such a role, so it can’t always be guaranteed, but it is there as a vacuum abhorred by nature and seeking to be filled if someone is sufficiently gifted, willing and able to step forward for the task.  I wonder what the chrome extension running challenges badge for that would be.  Extra splendid and much coveted I’m sure.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I then trotted up the steps again, partly to retrieve my bag – left under the cover of the colonnade whilst running – and partly to try and get some atmospheric, beautifully framed finish shots.  Unfortunately, my dreams were a bit beyond my capabilities. You get the gist though… maybe it will inspire some ‘proper’ photographers to drop by and show us how it’s done!  Honestly, I’m embarrassed by how poorly my photos have come out, it is such a gorgeous location, one of my favourites so far.  Granted, it doesn’t have the wild feel of my preferred locations, but the unexpected country estate splendour of this place cannot be over stated.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Back down the steps and to the finish line, in time to see this amazing couple finish.

 

They are Osterley parkrun regulars and we had a good chat, they shared their considerable running wisdom, and how running with the wheelchair at parkrun lets them share quality time together each week.  We talked about lots of things, what parkrun means to us, and I explained about my mum and Elisabeth’s corner at Bushy parkrun and how emotional I feel about what parkrun does for individuals and communities which goes way, way beyond providing an opportunity to go for a run with your mates.   However, the point I remember most clearly, and indeed cling to, is that the gent sporting the 500 milestone tee and pushing his sporting wife, shared with me that he got his last pb at the age of 72.  I’m a mere stripling at 54, a veritable youngster with almost two decades in hand before I need to worry about never again getting a pb.   This was really encouraging, I’ve barely started, and everyone knows you don’t want to peak too soon.  Much better to build slowly and steadily.  After all, did you know that the oldest female runner in the London marathon, Eileen Noble didn’t start running til her fifties , so I’m well on target for improving my performance and it’s perfectly possible I too will peak with a new and final pb aged 72.  Hurrah!  Good to know, she’s 84 now, and London this year was her 19th marathon.  I’ve done London once, so got years in hand before I knock out my next 18 between now and when I’m 84.  Once again I learn, it is indeed all about attitude!  I can do this.  My future running successes all lie ahead of me, and they may be unexpectedly epic! Tautology or not, good to know.   First though, coffee and cake.

Eileen noble

Lovely as the location was, and exciting as my parkrun progress had been, I was lured away from the chill of the outside by the prospect of coffee.  Now, this was a further conundrum, and explains how I so rudely lost sight of my running buddy.  You see, the thing about this place is that it is a two cafe venue.  Yep.  You read that right, there are not one, but two coffee places, right next to each other.  With the benefit of hindsight, I think that one does more cooked breakfasts and ‘proper’ food, whereas the other specialises in quick coffee and cake.  I went to the latter, because the queue was shorter, and I’d been reunited with the cow cowl wearing tourists from early on so we decided to sup caffeine together.  I couldn’t see my new best friend, so maybe she was in the other place, or maybe she’d been and gone by the time I’d done all my faffing.  Sorry about that though, the conversation that might have been, didn’t mean to be rude…

 

Inside the coffee place, was a counter of delights in which the truly disinhibited might cheerfully have face planted.  I settled for a photo.

 

I say I settled for a photo, but actually I had a latte and a cheese scone.

I joined my new friends for parkrun debrief.  They were experienced tourists with many a tale to tell, so it was most educational and enlightening.  Always good to meet a tourist, especially when I discovered they set up their own parkrun Tourism Journey Facebook page which is another cheery space to swap parkrun tales.   They also took the obligatory parkrun selfie of the three of us, so that’s good.  Not seen it yet, but one day maybe.

*STOP PRESS* – here it is, the selfie pic:
three muses parkrun gorgeousness

I know, pretty special aren’t we?  Individually as well as collectively gorgeous and sharing the parkrun lurve!

We swapped parkrun claims to fame – I milked being related to my mum (obvs) but I think they won for having used the same toilet cubicle at Mr S-H himself during a parkrun ambassadors conference at Warwick.  Not at the same time I hasten to add, and no documentary evidence was provided, but you wouldn’t lie about a thing like that would you?  Surely not.  But think about that for a moment, it means his buttocks have been caressed by the same plastic toilet seat that previously caressed those of parkrun royalty!  I  know.  Amazing the doors parkrun has opened to us.

We also shared enthusiasm for the National Trust.  I never dreamed in my youth there would come a day when I’d aspire to membership of the National Trust, but now I do.  It just goes to show that life doesn’t always take you in the direction you expect, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Recently I discovered a friend of mind got given life time membership of the national trust for her fortieth birthday from a very generous relative, and I actually felt a flicker of jealousy flash before me!  How times change.  One day I’ll get around to joining!

Inevitably, the time came when we had to say our goodbyes and go our separate ways.  It was hard to tear ourselves away but not as hard as it was for this runner to cross the line of the London marathon.   I don’t think it’s an absolute that you shouldn’t laugh at the misfortune of others, surely it’s OK to have a little chortle at this as it ended well and he got extra sponsorship money too.  Well, I say it ended well, but it depends where the story ends. He crossed the finish, and then someone stole his costume later.  That isn’t funny.   Time called on Big Ben costume – mind you, someone is trying to fleece Piers Morgan as a condition of returning it, so that’s a dilemma I don’t generally approve of blackmail, but moral positions aren’t always that clear cut.  Anyways,  let’s not dwell on that, let’s enjoy this again instead:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-48084878

28th-april-2019-london-england-the-2019-virgin-london-news-photo-1140047324-1556617296

and that was that, quietly proud and slightly bewildered at another parkrun done and dusted, it was but a leisurely walk back to the carparks and a parting of our ways… ’til next time only.  There’s always a next time!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In summary then, it was Oooh, Osterley was ostonishingly good.  Thank you lovely parkrunners, organisers, tourists, supporters and all for a lovely welcome at a gorgeous venue.  Very impressive.

Any cons at all then you ask?  Erm, not really, not that I can think of – only that if you have anthophobia, you should probably avoid Osterley parkrun at this time of year and beyond as there was a lot of wisteria in full flower, and I think if it’s well cared for – as was this –  you can get more than one flowering a year. that’s a lot of blossom lurking.  Just so you know 🙂

DSCF9022

Wherever you are heading for your next running fix, have fun, remember all running is awesome, it’s all in the attitude and mindset, not in the actual speed.

running

🙂

Incidentally, parkrun uk did a profile of Osterley parkrun back in March 2018, looks like they had a slightly different finish then and also that on at least one occasion there were dinosaurs on the course.  Splendid and good to know.

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

*may not have been Ibsen – it was a very long time ago, be fair.

Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Discovering the Dizzying delights of Disley – Lyme park parkrun

Digested read: went to Lyme park parkrun, it was delightful, thank you for asking.

Undigested read:

Yes, you do get dizzy with delight at the beauty of it all, but you might also feel a bit dizzy with less than delight if you set off too fast up that hill at the start.  More of this later. Let’s start at the very beginning, as that’s well-known as being a very good place to start.

Lyme Park parkrun has been on my parkrun ‘to do’ list for ages and ages.  I did toy with the idea of doing it for my 200th run, but didn’t in the end, for reasons I can’t be bothered to elaborate on.  I felt like it ought to be saved for a special occasion, given the rave reports that echo outwards from its epicentre of parkrun gloriousness.  It’s beauty is legendary, the steepness of its start a marvel even to those of us who hail from Sheffield and think we know all about hilly parkruns, and the post run coffee options classy – it’s hosted at the National Trust property Lyme Park after all.  Also, a one-lapper, my favourite type of run, and they are few and far between.  What’s not to like?  The only down side is that it’s also quite a long way for me, and not really a route to drive in winter, well not for the lily-livered likes of me at least, so you have to pick the right day to go.  You can do this by ripping the innards out of a chicken and consulting The Oracle – not the premier Berkshire shopping destination, but the one at Delphi, which I understand has a more reliable track record in predicting the future depending on what you make of the ancient classics.  If like me,  you don’t live in Greece and are vegetarian anyway, as an alternative you can just check the weather forecast on the BBC website.  Whatever, for me the weather forecast runes looked good.  Even so, heading off to Lyme Park parkrun this morning was a bit of a last-minute call.  My running is so lamentable at the moment I feel more comfortable heading off to new parkruns where I can run (I use the term loosely) without any pressure by being anonymous.  I did consider going to Penistone parkrun, which had its inaugural today, but then felt they may prefer a low profile start – they don’t seem to have a Facebook page as yet, so I took that to mean they might be trying to stay under the radar – also, no loos at Penistone, maybe I should work on my pelvic floor for a bit before making the pilgrimage to that one, so all in all, I’ll save that for another time. Last night, I just decided, ‘why not Lyme Park parkrun?’ and why not indeed? (rhetorical question, there is no reason why not at all that could keep me from it!)  I charged up my sat nav and laid out my cow cowl in eager anticipation.  I would make it so.

I had a terrible night’s sleep.  I have completely lost the ability to slumber it seems.  If I could choose a super power it would be to be able to sleep at will.  Oh well, on the plus side, at least I was wide awake from about 4.00 a.m. so no worries about running late in the morning, only about actually potentially being expected to run, though parkrun is for all of course, walk, run, jog or – as in my case – walk/run/gaze about taking photos – all welcome.

Up, porridge, tea, arm out of the upstairs window revealed it was blooming cold, and blinking out there was actual frost on the grass and even ice on the car’s rear windscreen!  Well, I didn’t order that.  There was also the most glorious pink sunrise and a sky full of promise for a bright sunshiney day.  Hurrah!

The drive out to Lyme Park was beyond stunning.  I’ve been away from the Peaks for a while lately, and it’s ages since I’ve headed out through Hathersage, Hope and beyond to Winnats Pass.  Before I even got that far I thought my head would explode with the fabulousness of the views.  It was just stunning, completely perfect in morning sunshine.  I couldn’t capture it on film, but that didn’t stop me pulling over and having a bash

DSCF8262

you had to be there really.  The light was perfect.  It was hard not to be distracted by the scenery, it made me long to get back out and explore these fantastic open spaces we are so lucky to have on our doorstep from Sheffield.  Not today though, today I was passing on through.  When I got to Winnats Pass I thought my heart would burst.  I remember the first time I discovered this place, after relocating to Sheffield and I could hardly process what an extraordinary landscape was unfolding in front of me, it’s beyond comprehension really, when you see it without any advance warning, but even now I know what’s coming it remains amazing.  When I was driving back home later on this morning along the same route, there was a car coming up the other way and whilst the driver was resolutely focused on the road ahead, the passengers were lent out of the car windows at waist height, brandishing their mobile phones like tourists on safari, compelled to remain in their vehicle but desperate to capture on film the astonishing and unbelievable vision of the landscape in front of them.  Africa may have its lions, but the Peak District has geography to make your eyes pop just as much.  Go see for yourself.

DSCF8263

It was a bit heart thumping going up it in my little automatic car though.  I always worry it won’t quite make it up the hill, to be fair, this wasn’t the only time today I worried my carcass would never reach the summit of a steep incline.  Worth it though, on all occasions.  And I did make it too.

I drove past the heading off point for Mam Tor – not been there since the Mend Our Mountains sojourn, must get out and do that romp again in daylight this time.  Not my picture, but if you want a taster, this is what it looked like in the setting sun – not too shabby eh?  Not my photo, obvs.  Embarrassingly, I’m not sure who took it, think it was an ‘official’ one.  Thanks lovely photographer for sharing, whoever you were.

BMC MOM image

It was a bit over an hour to get to Lyme Park, and it was very straightforward, apart from me being a scaredy-cat on the steep hills.  I wouldn’t attempt driving there in icy conditions.  There is a sharp, but well-signed turning off the A6, and you go through some incredibly grand gates that will either make you feel you were – or should have been – born for this, or that you are trespassing. I felt like I was trespassing.

DSCF8268

and that pic isn’t even the proper gate, but the extra mini one after you’ve turned off.  The drive to the actual house goes on for miles and miles, literally, not just metaphorically.  Top tip, if you are being dropped off for this parkrun, don’t wave away your ride cheerily at the gatehouse saying ‘it’s fine, I’ll walk from here‘ unless you are either a speedy and experienced ultra runner, or don’t mind delaying your Lyme Park parkrun until the following Saturday, you’d never make it to the start line in time.

I chugged down the driveway, and then there’s a little hut, where, once the park is officially open, you’d presumably have to stop and pay for parking.  I’m not sure from when to be fair, but I was there about 8.30 ish and just cruised on by.  Looked like if you were paying, it was cash only and right money preferred.

DSCF8272

Onwards, the park is jaw-droppingly lovely.  I did pick the most gorgeous weather imaginable to attend though, the light backlit the trees and landscape spectacularly.  I kept having to pause and wave my camera hopefully through the car windows to try and get some shots.  Poor substitute for being there I know, but will give you a flavour of it perhaps?

There were hidden treasures lurking, mysterious towers on the horizon, tempting paths, weaving up through trees and over hills.  Yep, so far the reports of the loveliness of Lyme would seem not to have been exaggerated.

Finally, there is the house on the left, a kiosk, a scattering of hi-vis, and a pleasingly empty car park – though of course that meant I had to do the ‘where is the best place to park dance’ which is quite complicated and references my indecisiveness a bit too authentically.  It’s factoring in how to get out later on when it’s full, as well as which is the best space to secure when empty.  A complex equation I find.  You will either relate to this or not. If you do, then your heart will bleed for me, too much choice, too challenging to decide, if you do not, then you will have to learn to live  on with that sense of genuine bewilderment and incomprehension.  I guess it’s like those puzzles which say can you see the elephant or whatever in this image and you either can or can’t and if you can’t it’s just beyond belief anyone sees otherwise.  This isn’t an elephant though:

duckRabbit01-700

Actually, strictly speaking, it isn’t a duck or a rabbit either.  You do know your art history I take it?  This is not a pipe either….

MagrittePipe

Glad we’ve cleared that up. Anyway, need to crack on, you’ll be wanting to know about the parkrun and I’m nowhere near describing that yet.  Once parked, I went over to where the Run Director and team were gathered, adjacent to a closed refreshment kiosk and some parkrun arrows yet to be put into place  to check out what was what.

I established the star and finish were in different places, and that you could – depending on the RD – potentially leave a coat to be taken to the finish, though I decided to leave mine in the car in the end.  Most importantly of all, I was directed to the loos. Just as I had thought my heart would burst from the beauty of the landscape en route to the event, now I’d arrived I thought my bladder would burst from the litres of tea I’d quaffed pre-departure.  Fortunately, the National Trust have lots of loos. Hurrah!

DSCF8283

They also had helpful signage about alternative names for dandelions, who knew?  And a lake.  And a tea rooms, and a National Trust gift shop, yet to open.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Phew, much relief.  Slight panic when I thought I’d picked a cubicle without loo paper, but worry not, it actually had not one, but two toilet roll dispensers, presumably to cater for exactly this eventuality – I do love National Trust hosted running events!  I saw there was a Trust 10k sign up by the lake, so presume there is a Lyme Park Trust10, that would be epic!

Precautionary pee satisfactorily executed, I was able to have a bit of an amble about and check out my surroundings.  Great selection of warning signs here – is it reassuring or alarming to know the tail walker has radio contact with HQ in case of emergency?  Just not sure… and don’t get me started on the BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!  It is bad for the nerves!  I nearly had to go back for a second precautionary pee because of all the anticipatory excitement!  Didn’t though.  Need to practise running with my legs crossed in case I make it to Penistone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There were enthusiastic – or possibly lost – runners doing warm up loops, and marshals were heading out to their designated clapping and directional pointing spots, the event team were milling and coordinating and going about the busy and important tasks that keep the parkrun show on the proverbial road.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear one of them at least was in possession of a clipboard, that’s how busy and important they looked!  Friendly and welcoming too though, you’ll be glad but unsurprised to hear, it is the parkrun way 🙂 .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As 9.00 a.m. drew near, people started to migrate towards the starting gate, which was at the bottom of a rather upward flat section.  Gulp.  The gathering commenced.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now would probably be a good time to describe the course to you, as it’s a well known fact I can’t talk and run at the same time, so it’ll be hard for me to properly tell you about it once I get going.  The Lyme Park parkrun website blah de blah describes the course thus:

Course Description – Breathtaking. Literally!
Lyme Park parkrun begins towards the back of the main car park – the open gate marking the start line. The first uphill section (almost exactly 800m) is tough, narrow and loose under foot, however your perseverance will immediately be rewarded as you pass through a second open gate into the woods, which is rich in colour, but more importantly, flat! As you pass under the trees and along this next section, you will reach a second open gate where you should turn 90 degrees to your left. This narrow trail runs parallel with the park wall and is gently undulated and highlighted with small crossing streams. Glance to your right and you may be treated to your first deer sighting. At the end of this section, turn left again, through a third open gate and run straight ahead, passing the archery field on your right and through the final open gate. Please take extra care at this short part of the run, as you pass the staff car park on your left. Bear round to the right and follow the road until you spot the first large stone, turning left as you reach it, and head towards Lyme Park’s Cage. This huge open space with spectacular panoramic views of Manchester and beyond, will almost certainly give you perspective, and take your mind away from any aches or pains. Pass to the right of the Cage and head downwards over a rocky path, taking care to lift your feet on this loose (and unforgiving) terrain. As the path blends into the grass, it becomes very slippery and ends with a sharp turn to the left. Marshals will be ready to catch you at the bottom! Dig deep for this last section, a gradual incline awaits up to the finish line, a few hundred feet in front of the house, and in perfect situ to head off for a well-earned breakfast at the Timber Yard Coffee Shop

and it looks like this:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

and Strava tells me that there is 496 feet of elevation, which doesn’t sound too bad to be fair, but in the doing of this parkrun, I did think I might bleed from my eyes at some point, so be warned.

Assembled, next thing was the run briefing.  Milestones various were acknowledged, this seemed a friendly parkrun with regular runners cheering each others various achievements.  There was just the one celebrity runner, the Incredible Hulk, something must have made him mad as he was in his green, bulked up form, but fair does to him, whatever else he might have to contend with, the Hulk doesn’t skip leg days when working out.  Good work.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was a brief briefing, and a refreshingly quiet and attentive parkrun crowd – though maybe they were saving their breath for that upward flat section starting out… and then it was awf, and awf we went, some with more enthusiasm than others!

You can’t really tell from the pictures, but the start is a bit of a shock.  It’s a steep climb upwards for about 800 metres.  You would get super fit if this was your regular parkrun.  Spoiler alert, I failed to run all the way up the hill.  I like to think this was because I was wanting to pause for photos en route, but I am well-known for harbouring self-serving delusions.  Don’t mock me, it is this delusional thinking that allows me to return to parkrun week after week.  A fair few people did opt to power walk as well, perhaps this is a known and legitimate run craft strategy and not a cop-out at all?  Yes. I like to think it is, therefore henceforth, that is what it shall be.  Strategy in action. Go us, but slowly, to save ourselves for the more forgiving inclines and genuinely flat bits!

There weren’t a massive amount of marshals on the course, it doesn’t really need that many, you can’t get lost, but the cheery support was welcome.  I’d swear some of those marshals had the super-power of teleportation though, as they seemed to Pop up more than once along the way.  Canny lot the Lyme Park parkrun crew….  Here are some, in all their glorious loveliness:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So you go up a gravely roady bit, and through a foresty bit, and emerge onto a moorland bit and it undulates up and down and the views are a.maz.ing. FACT.  I was, as ever, in the fun factory that is the rear of the pack.  There were a fair few juniors embracing the event, which was quite motivating, as if they can do it on their little legs, I can do it on my little legs too. Granted, they aren’t carrying the same tonnage, but equally, they have less idea of what they have signed up to.  Maybe ignorance is indeed bliss sometimes, it’s so hard to be sure…

This is definitely one of the toughest parkruns I’ve done to date, but also one of the most beautiful.  It would probably be quite brutal in snow and ice, but it was blooming lovely today, despite it being pretty nippy out.  After a bit, you are directed off to cake!

DSCF8367

Oh hang on, no, not cake, cage.  Rookie error.  I have no idea why the folly, or castle or cage or whatever it is.  A hunting lodge according to google…. it does look a bit like the Tower or London, and to be honest, it wouldn’t have surprised me at all to learn we’d run that far as it was hard going up that hill, as well as being pretty breezy up top!  Still, you are rewarded with the most amazing views, and it’s amazing what you can put up with given an incentive like that to keep on going.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Past the cage, and there was a lovely down hill where you could be an aeroplane if you wished on the way down.  More marshals were in position by trees and with a succession of rather cute canine companions.  There was also a high vis clad horse rider, I’m thinking that was just a coincidence, rather than a crowd control measure unique to Lyme whereby they have a mounted marshal/police presence just to be on the safe side.

The downhill bit continues, and then you have to curve round towards the left towards the final finish stretch (don’t get too excited, it goes up again before going down).  Here, I induced panic in the marshal at his station, as I veered to the right to get a shot of him in situ leading him to think there was a navigational emergency unfolding before his very eyes.  He shouted and waved at me with not a little desperation. It’s good to know marshals take their directional pointing responsibilities so seriously, thank you my hi-vis friends for your vigilance as well as diligence on course today!  Also, in my humble opinion, best bobble hat of the morning too, although that award brings with it only kudos, no other acknowledgement as such, you’ll have to make do with the warm glow of recognition I’m afraid.

Once I’d cornered successfully, it was past the plastic cone mine (or possibly resting place, I’m not sure).

On the summit behind, you could just make out the tail walkers and marshals standing down from their posts:

DSCF8396

ahead, parkrunners ran on, the finish funnel within their reach…

and just when your morale was beginning to sap, a further sign of encouragement, literal as well as metaphorical – I do love it when parkruns have their own personalised signs, it’s cheering!

DSCF8411

and even better, it was actually true!  You are nearly there, just a few metres round the corner, the finish funnel came into view, and you run into the warm embrace of a flurry of timers and funnel managers and finish token giver outers and barcode scanners.  Hurrah!

and so it ends.

I lingered to watch the tail come in – didn’t have to linger very long to be fair…

and you know what was especially heartwarming, to see the hi vis heroes jumping for joy.  And why not, volunteering at parkrun is fab fun.  Didn’t quite get him airborne, but this picture potentially has more comedic value, so every cloud eh?  Just realised, do those plastic cones match the bobble hat stripes?  Methinks they might.

DSCF8425

and that was that.

Lyme Park parkrun done.

I ambled back to the car, trying to get some atmospheric pics en route, along with the obligatory slightly awkward selfie.  Where is Smiley Selfie Queen when I need her?

We definitely had the best part of the day for the run, as it was getting decidedly nippy by this point.  As it was a long drive back, I stopped off at the cafe for a veggie egg and sausage sandwich and a latte.  Service was friendly but slow, presumably because they had to go and get a hen to lay an egg for me before they could cook it. However, that was fine, as queuing is an impromptu opportunity for parkrun socialising.  I met a fell devil runner who is also doing Round Sheffield Run in a few weeks time – note to self, I should train for that probably, and also was able to see the RD again, and marvel about the wonders of the Lyme Park venue, which I could confirm in person, most definitely had lived up to its most excellent reputation.  It is definitely ‘undulating’ though, and I run in Sheffield.  Just saying.

Mind you, it’s not as tough as the Marathon des Sables, and a dog just finished that, so perhaps we can all do more than we realise if we are but motivated enough, and we runners are mightily easily led by the prospect of a fine bit of bling…  This is most certainly a dog that’s finally had its day!

It really is exceedingly fine.  You should try it sometime. Best try to manage your expectations about the stately home actually levitating on the lake though, I mean it is very spectacular indeed, but there are limits.

DSCF8460

So once again, thank you parkrunners and parkfunners all in general and Lyme Park parkrunners in particular.  It was reet nice oot.  I’d love to come back some time soon.

For all my parkrun related posts click here.  Or don’t.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.  Bit of a time vampire, if you do, you might be stuck on the sofa for a while, ‘just researching options’.  Hmm.

Happy running in general and parkrunning in particular until next time.  I wonder what parkrun delights next Saturday will bring.

🙂

Categories: 5km, off road, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

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.

DSCF7469

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

adding

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

DSCF7607

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

DSCF7622

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Cease your slumber – get to Clumber! Clumber park parkrun tourists up and at it!

Digested read:  lots of inspirational running stories doing the rounds today, so great to spend the morning at parkun. New venue Clumber park, home of celebrity triathlete Bailey, glory by association. Friendly run, great coffee. What’s not to like?  🙂

I might have stolen that rallying cry from the Clumber park parkrun Run Director to be honest.  But, couple of points:  Firstly, I wasn’t the only one giving him grief during his pre-run briefing, and secondly, I think you’ll find that it isn’t plaigerism if you properly reference your sources.  Oh no, it becomes ‘modeling’ and helpful triangulation of primary sources, probably so that’s all fine.  Don’t worry about the ethics of this post on that account.  Feel free to fret about the post contents on many other areas of dubiousness if you so wish.  But on that particular point, I’m most definitely in the clear….

So, to business.  It being Saturday, it is parkrun day, obviously, but I felt in need of a bit of parkrun tourism today.  Much as I love and feel loyal to my usual Sheffield haunts, it’s good to ring the changes from time to time. And besides, keep this up, and one day there may be a cow cowl in it.  Plus, entry through those elusive wrought iron park gates into the UK parkrun tourists group.  I can but dream.  In search of a new venue, I settled on Clumber Park.  I was hopeful of a scenic route, maybe some woodland tracks, and it’s far enough away to constitute a pleasing ‘day out’ but near enough not to be a bit too extreme for an early start.  Bearing in mind that I do like to be paranoiacly early to things, especially parkrun.  Plus, free parking apparently (always a boon) and toilets for my precautionary pee.  What’s not to like?  Oh, and it’s a National Trust property, so high hopes for post run refreshment opportunities.  Also, bluebells in season, and you know what?   There were!

bluebells

So my day actually began with watching somewhat erratic live streaming of the much-hyped  sub 2 hour marathon attempt. I only watched the last ten minutes or so (I’m not that committed/stupid as to get up at 4.45 a.m. or whatever it was).  But it turned out to be surprisingly compulsive viewing.  However passing your interest in running in general and marathon running in particular, you’ve got to respect the nigh on superhuman effort that went into that.  Not just the running very fast for a very long time part, but the maintaining elegance in running form and coping with having a camera trained on your running face in high-definition colour for the duration.  No way would I subject myself to that.  Though I suppose on reflection, the fear of that image being on display somewhere for the duration of my time in motion would probably speed me up quite a bit.  The other point of interest, is that it seems – somewhat surprisingly –  that I do in fact have much in common with the last man standing.  Or more accurately running.   Because, even though I know parkrun is a run not a race, and it doesn’t matter what speed you travel those parkrun paths at, in my heart I too would have been very disappointed not to get a sub 2 hour run at my parkrun effort  today. Really, the only discernible difference between me and Kipchoge is that I achieved my time goal, but he alas missed his. Still, he did jolly well though.  Really he did.

Kipchoge

Seeing an inspirational runner first thing in the morning did put a spring in my step.  I do get motivation from seeing what limits other runners will push themselves too.  It makes me work a bit harder, and today seemed full of inspirational runners stories.  The news as also full of Mr Gorilla  AKA Tom Harrison who has raised nearly £50,000 for gorilla conservation by crawling around the 26.2-mile London Marathon course in costume over six and a half days.  Not my chosen way to move forward, but you have to admire the tenacity of that progress.   I find it hard to stand upright again after bending down to tie my shoelaces, his back must be either honed to steel or completely broken.  I fear the latter.

gorilla man

And if that wasnt inspiration enough, arrival at Clumber park brought me into the same space as another inspirational runner and celebrity triathlete in these parts.  The amazing Bailey Matthews.  I had quite forgotten this is his home parkrun, but more of that later.  The point is, that if you, like me, sometimes find your enthusiasm for running flagging, take heart, courage and inspiration from all those amazing athletes out there.  Be they Kathrine Switzer – not only first woman to run Boston marathon, despite officious man trying to drag her off the course, but also running it again, fifty years later!  Local hero Corin Leach, Fastest marathon dressed in a Ghillie suit (female): 3:58.57 (2016); the woman in this year’s marathon who attempted to break a record for the fastest tree.  (Didn’t quite make the record, but not the point, nor did Kipchoge) or Mary Keitany of Kenya who broke Paula Radcliffe’s women’s-only world record to win the London Marathon in two hours 17 minutes one second, the second-fastest time in history.  That’s really, really fast.  Or how about, Mahsa Torabi and other women, still making history by running at all in contexts where women are not supposed to be visible.  Running might feel hard, but at least we can take for granted our right to do so.  Time to get up, get out, and get running.  Yay!

So, upshot, out and at it. I drove to a friend, who drove us to Clumber park.  We were a bit confused about where to go. Turns out the park is pretty big, with multiple potential entrances and parking point. We just headed to the visitors centre, which was in fact fine, and easy to get to, with a massive car park where the main problem was which space to choose of many at that hour in the morning.  Shortly after we arrived, a couple of high vis parking attendants arrived, so I ambled across to check out whether we were in the right place, and whether or not we had to pay. Basically, I grilled them with parkrun related questions until I’d established that we were indeed in the right place, and we didn’t have to pay – as long as you display a spare barcode somewhere prominently (or are a NT member). Good to know.

Just as I turned on my heels and walked away, another potential parkrunner turned up with an identical set of questions.  I heard a brief exchange: ‘are you wanting parkrun?’  enquired the helpful parking attendant, to which the upbeat and direct response was ‘it’s not a question of want, I need to be here, because I’m fat.‘  We all have our own running motivations it is true.

So after a bit of sitting in the car, and sellotaping the barcode to the dashboard, we ventured out in search of the start.  We headed off, basically following a couple of runners ahead who looked like they were parkrunners. Soon there was another two people in our collective wake who’d made the same location finding calculation.  That is, follow others in trainers who look like they know what they are doing… However, as we seemed to be led ever further from the signs to ‘The Burrow’ me and my running buddy eventually bailed, leaving the two behind us in a state of confused indecision. For those who come after us, just follow the signs to ‘The Burrow’ not the speed merchants who are running a quick lap of the route in reverse as their parkrun warm up. Well you could follow them I suppose, but do so at your own risk.  Turns out bailing was a good move, we found our way to the cricket pitch instead, and almost stumbled across an unexpectedly huge gathering.

As we headed up the not-too-steep hill to the start area, we found ourselves at an already big, but ever-growing assembly. There is a cricket club there (which was having an open day), lots more parking (though I don’t know quite how you find it) and an extraordinary number of runners and hi-vis heroes.  I hadn’t expected this particular parkrun to be so big, I don’t know why. It was very well attended, with 334 runners this week.  As we arrived, the volunteers were in a circle formation, from afar, it looked like they were engaged in some pre-run initiation or building up to some sort of Maori haka inspired posture dance. I really hope they were.  Though if they did, I missed it, probably due to having temporarily disappeared in order to avail myself of the facilities.

volunteer haka

We managed to nab someone to take our ‘proof of presence’ obligatory team shot, though I concede it could have been taken practically anywhere.  Good to see we have mirror image people on our shoulders.  We are working towards doing a complete Zaphod Beeblebrox at some point, but I think there is still some way to go, you get the idea though.

There were indeed brick-built loos, (no need for brick s**t house puns though) and some handy parkrun innovations that may or may not be unique to Clumber park parkrun.  Like a special trolley for the safe keeping of personal paraphernalia; a Bailey Board (outlining his latest achievements); a map of the route.  All sorts.

There was an absolute first-timers briefing, and then a more generic run briefing, which was a hoot.  In my opinion it was improved by heckling of the incumbent Run Director, by the young pretender, celebrity triathlete Bailey, who had taken on the role of Run Director last week it seems.   Not content with melting hearts and defying expectations, turns out he is also a dab hand at the pre-race briefing.   The usual RD put on a good show of not minding, but clearly he’s going to have to up his game to hold onto that position.  It was less a master class in managing heckling, and more like watching an impromptu double act in the making, whilst being a little unsure who was going to be the ultimate fall guy…   There was even audience participation ‘Have you got your barcodes?‘ the RD shouted out ‘yes!’ we chorused in crazed union; ‘Will you go through the finish tunnel just once?’ ‘Yes!‘ we screamed back delightedly. I was going to call it a  ‘runner centred’ delivery, but on reflection, maybe I was experiencing the early stages of being groomed in preparation for signing up to some sort of cult of personality (I’ve already crossed over into the benign cult that is parkrun I know).  It felt inclusive rather than scary though.  I wonder if that is how these things always start?

first timers briefing

The route was run through (two laps); tourists were welcomed (Whitley Bay parkrun rather trumped our Sheffield offering).  We were reminded to be respectful of other users, though personally I never came across any cyclists, horse riders or indeed the promised naked rambler.  Maybe I misunderstood the descriptions and just didn’t recognise them as they appeared?  After these cheery formalities, we all turned around and started a migration to the start.  I was a bit confused about which direction we’d be facing, so had a brief panic I’d inadvertently find myself in the front of the pack, but that didn’t happen. I joined the mass moving to the start, which was a little round the corner from where the briefing as held, and then, soon enough (though a bit later than 9.00) we were all awf.

For those of you who like to properly know the route, the Clumber park parkrun course is described on the Clumber park parkrun page thus:

Our route is clockwise and starts and finishes close to the Burrows café.
Runners head east into woodland, then turn right following a downhill path, turning right again onto the lake shore path. You then run back towards the main carpark and turn right before the cycle hire point towards the start / finish area.
Remember it’s two laps

This doesn’t help much. It doesn’t convey that it’s quite a lovely route. The paths were mainly hardcore, with just one short bit of springy forest track.  Road shoes would have been fine, I wore my hybrid trail ones.  You run past mature trees, see bluebells, green meadows and at one point have  a great view of an artificial lake that appeared seemingly out of nowhere.  There aren’t that many marshals going round, but those that were, were very encouraging, and clapped a lot.

I’m a slow and steady runner, but even so, with a much bigger than expected turn out, I did get a bit boxed in at the start, which didn’t bother me, but faster runners probably do need to position themselves a bit further forward.  There were also lots of children around me, that rushed about like ball bearings scattered across a dodgems’ rink.  That is, somewhat speedy and erratic.  Kept me on my toes.  Incidentally, have I ever told you the story of my childhood friend’s most mortifying day on earth ever?  It was when she accidentally spilled the entire contents of a tampon packet out of her pocket whilst on the dodgems during a teenage group outing to a local fair. As they spun off in all directions she wanted nothing more than to die.  It became the stuff of legends.  Try it and find out why for yourselves.  It’s worth it.

I digress, off we went. One parkrun walker was carrying the tiniest baby imaginable, start ’em young indeed.  It was great to see!  It took a while for the field to open up, and I uncharacteristically even started to overtake a few runners ahead of me, although the novelty of that wore off disappointingly fast.   I was having a few unexpected twinges when running.  My regular reader knows I have a lot of problems with foot pain from arthritis, but today I think it was due rather to a change in gait.  I was running in some new Hoka One challenger shoes.  They have fantastic cushioning, and for the first time in years I’m allowing my toes to take the running force, and even risk bending them a bit, rather than crabbing onto the side of my feet which is what I tend to do instinctively to avoid that and to minimise pain. Ultimately, I think this will be a good thing.  However, it has shifted how I run, and I was getting some strange tugs as I moved my feet and legs in unfamiliar ways.  I am used to running in pain, but not these random ‘stop!’ signals that felt like nerves being trapped and released as I mobilised my foot in new ways.  It’s only their second time out, I probably need to get used to them.  I like them, but they require adjustment.  I still could really do with some running shoes with a really big toe box though.  I have yet to find some that properly accommodate me and my disproportionate plates.  Basically I need clown shoes, but with lots of cushioning and decent grip for off-road. Any ideas of where I can source them, please do let me know…  As of now, my quest for the perfect shoe continues, though I do rate the hokas a lot.  They feel bouncy, but in a good way, not in a ‘this bra isn’t working as I hoped‘ way.

 

A contributory factor might also be that I’ve finally made it back to the Accelerate Woodrun sessions.  (Every thursday in Ecclesall Woods – I’ve not been in months due to working away) upshot is I was trying really hard with my form.  I know that sentence will cause those who know me to spit out their tea in disbelief, as I’m not known for paying attention to my running technique, but dear reader, it is true.  I was concentrating on pushing off, and not over-striding, with the inevitable consequence of starting to over think things to the point that I couldn’t sustain it, and rapidly started falling over my own feet, and getting my leg and arm swings out of rhythm to boot.  It becomes alien.  I have started volunteering at junior parkrun recently. The way those children run, effortlessly, and with grace, charging round with an instinctive good form is extraordinary.  I wonder if I’ll ever crack doing what seemingly ‘comes naturally’ to the very young. When did we all unlearn that?  Such a shame….  I also found out recently that I skip wrong too.  Disappointing.  Discouraging even.  Oh well, best to know the worst and be able to tackle it, than run and skip on in ignorance perhaps. …

So, pain aside, good views made for a good run.  One extraordinary feature of this run, is that it appears to have more downhill than up.  I have no idea how this is possible, but it really does. There is a lovely long stretch where you run down towards the lake, and the first time I sped (cough) along there, I enjoyed it, but was a bit fearful of what uphill might come later, but it doesn’t really. There is a long gentle incline, but that held no fear for me coming from Sheffield where the word ‘hill’ has an altogether scarier meaning.   The other cheery fact about this run for me, is that I didn’t get lapped, which these days is unusual for me on a multi-lap course.  I suspect it’s because this isn’t an especially fast parkrun, and for me that is a good thing.  You get your monies worth if you are out and about enjoying it all for a bit longer!

I was able to parasitize the motivational talk other runners were shouting out to their accompanying children.  One father was saying ‘I’m so proud of you my girls, you are brilliant‘ and it put quite a spring in my step as I tried to keep up with them on the off-chance he might be up for adopting me at the end – or at least making me up a personalised compilation tape of motivational phrases.  Another runner, catching up with a young sprinter who had temporarily slowed similarly tried to encourage.  ‘Come on lad.  Imagine the shame if you let me overtake you – look at the state of me, you can’t let me get ahead!‘  It was most comical, gentle and effective.  The youth looked at the runner, assessed the situation, and set off at a sprint with renewed vigour!  Incidentally, just to be clear, I am extremely mindful that slowing and walking is perfectly fine, and nobody should be pressurised to do more than they want at a parkrun, or made to feel like slowing is failing if that is what they need and want to do – however, what I witnessed was a lot of good-natured banter.  This seemed a very friendly run.  Great atmosphere.

The turn into the finish was quite remarkable.  I’ve never seen quite so many marshals at the end. There was a whole wall of hi-vis to direct and cheer you in.  I was fast through the funnel and quickly scanned, and then I joined the cheering of some of the people coming in behind me.  I love this bit. There is something joyful about being at the finish line of parkrun, and that novelty doesn’t diminish.  Ever.  There is always drama and glory on display.   One eventful finisher was the woman with the dog who came charging up to the finish, seemingly giving his handler a running edge, until it suddenly dived to the side, dragging the woman with it as it went to greet a familiar face.  She recovered, but it was a powerful argument against those who maintain running with a dog brings any kind of an advantage!

After a bit of clapping and cheering, time to go in search of post run refreshments. There is a coffee shop right at the finish. Which includes a tempting soft play area!  Alas, the coffee machine was broken. Disaster!  However, no worries, we headed off to the visitor centre area, which was a good move.   Squishy chairs and a lake view to enjoy along with our lattes.  There might have been scones too.

Refreshments taken, we then had a wander about taking in the delights of the discovery centre (tadpoles and sticklebacks); local art exhibition (ho-hum to unexpectedly good); history of the site (genuinely interesting); garden centre and second-hand book shop.  All in all a grand day out.  With parkrun too – pretty  much a perfect saturday morning!

So there we go. Clumber park parkrun?  Tick.  A really good morning, best run briefing to date for entertainment value (which is high praise indeed, Sheffield Graves parkrun briefings are awesome always).  Nice route, super friendly, and great facilities.  Not for speed merchants perhaps, but I really liked it, worth the trip for sure.  If you want to read the official report of the Clumber park 6 May parkrun you can do here.

Thank you Clumber park parkrun lovelies for your warm welcome and slick organisation. I’ll be back!  ‘Til then, happy running y’all.

🙂

For all my parkrun related posts, scroll down through this link

Categories: 5km, motivation, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

2016-08-28 20.33.34

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.