Posts Tagged With: National Trust

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!

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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…

 

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

 

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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.

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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:

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and this as an exit view:

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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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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:
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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

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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!

 

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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 🙂

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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.

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🙂

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: , , , , | 6 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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….

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂 .

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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!

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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.

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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:

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

The website says succinctly:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Volunteers are epic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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there was the run briefing.

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

Birthday celebrant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

back onto the open hillside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🙂

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

£20 could get a nest for dormice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

longshaw trust 10

Undigested read:

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

could have been at Graves junior

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

longshaw

I know, close call.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Longshaw 10k route

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

see no ships

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

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

Longshaw 10 start line up

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

 

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

 

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

Longshaw cafe christmas tree

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

longshaw queue

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Longshaw 10 coming round

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

See you the other side in the meantime:

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

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

*Please delete as applicable

** Erstwhile Flat Mate.  Obvs.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sheep pyramid

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

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

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

sam needham photo

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

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

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

last one home

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

trust10 birthday facts

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

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

Indonesia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lanterne Rouge

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

Real-runner-feature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So now you know.

Happy Running.

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

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

Trust me. Who you gonna call? Trail busters!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

theyre off Longshaw trust 10 22 may 2016

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

fourth emergency service

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

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

hill running

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

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

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

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

Smiley finishers

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

what running is all about

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

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

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

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