Digested read: I was a blow in at Bakewell parkrun today. Hurrah. It was very nice, thank you for asking. There were lots of milestones and therefore running plus cake. What’s not to like? #loveparkrun
Well Erik was irksome.
There were overnight gusts and gales forecast, but I was still quite aghast at just how many parkruns were cancelled the night before and on parkrun morning evening. Still, not worth messing with Erik, you aren’t going to come off best. Trees were down all over the place and wayward branches cracking and falling at will, tossed over parkrun courses everywhere, of course there were cancellations. I don’t know why I was so surprised, since I can further report that my own weather analysis included being woken up in my attic bedroom in the small hours by what sounded like a wind-themed Armageddon going on outside. That was dramatic. Once I’d surrendered to the fact that any more slumber would be impossible with all that commotion going on outside and got up to go to the loo and look out the window, I bore witness to my wheelie bins tossed around the garden. Oh ok then, Storm Erik meant business. Even so, there were really a lot of parkrun cancellations. Sad for some, especially as snow and ice caused many to be called off last week too.
At least one parkrun was cancelled because of polar bears on the course, that’s right actual polar bears. FACT. It was Bradford parkrun, I like them, they have initiative. They worked hard to keep the event on, even attempting to coral the polar bears into being marshals apparently, but it didn’t work out. It’s important to remember being a hi-vis hero is a voluntary role, once mammals are compelled to do it, it just doesn’t happen in the same joyful way. Good effort though, I’m going to try to visit you soon I think… might wait for the polar bears and low flying squirrels to move on by though.
I got lucky though. Last week I was at Bushy parkrun which went ahead just fine – more than fine absolutely fabulous in fact – and this week, I had already planned to go to Bakewell parkrun, milestones a-plenty being marked there, so celebrations, Smiley comrades, Vegan friends oh yes and celebratory cake. Would that be on? Hmmm. *Spoiler alert* yes it was! I got lucky two parkruns on the trot. Hooray!
The cancellation list is sad, but also entertaining for how core teams choose to record their reasons for cancellations. Alongside the ‘usual’ gusts, flooding, trees obscuring the course, today Bradford parkrun reported, accurately I’m sure based on my own observations, as follows:
Bradford parkrun: Apocalypse in the park, low flying squirrels
It’s a shame they had to cancel, but I’m sure it will be a huge consolation to them all that I have chuckled at their cancellation entries on the parkrun cancellations listings. Bradford parkrun communications officer, your talents are noted and appreciated, by me at least.
Some impressive cancellation photos doing the rounds though – check out Somerdale Pavilion parkrun course conditions, less parkrun more aquaplaning. Didn’t happen though, can’t blame them.
Astonishingly, Haigh Woodland parkun went ahead despite a few hurdling/trip hazards!
Ormskirk parkrun published and shared its cancellation protocol for RDs to refer to in the event of high winds. Most public spirited, and most enlightening too.
But back to Bakewell. That was expecting to go ahead, but had to get there first though. Oh my, they weren’t lying when they said on the news it was gusty out! Fortunately it was mild outside my house, but whoa, hang on a minute, I could barely stand up. I had a literal wobble in the wind, and then a metaphorical one as I wondered if it would be safe to drive. I decided to start off and see, I’m quite high up, so if there was a problem it would be obvious and I could abandon my trip. Off I went. So many branches down everywhere, but the car chugged along fine as we headed out of Sheffield, once we got towards Longshaw though and the roads were more exposed it was like driving through the end of the world. No wonder they shut the car parks at Longshaw first thing. There was loads of debris was being tossed around and I could feel the car being buffeted about as I drove with incredible caution towards Froggart. Fortunately, the cars behind me were being similarly careful and keeping a respectful distance, but I don’t think I’ve ever been blown around so much in a car, wouldn’t have wanted to be doing that in a high sided vehicle.
Easy run out, and I managed to park up in the free section of the Hassop station car park, coincidentally right by Smiley Selfie queen who’d rocked up for some parkrun tourism and to mark the milestones of friends various too. I got out of the car for long enough to say hello, and establish it was blooming freezing there, and wet, with little shards of rain bearing down on me. That wasn’t expected. I’d only put my running jacket in as an afterthought. I got back in the car for a bit, and then got out again for pre-parkrun precautionary pee and general hello saying – which took a while as a fair few familiar faces were rocking up as the start time approached.
My expression on the left is because I’m cold by the way, not because that’s my intended running strategy to supplement the support offered by my current sports bra. Yep, still sporting the Juno. I do like it more than any of my other sports bras, but I’m sure there must be one out there that is as comfortable and offers sufficient support. My expression on the right is because it was taken within the warm confines of the roasty toasty cafe – which is open pre parkrun for comfort breaks and probably coffee too, if you don’t fancy hanging out in the wind and rain on the Monsal trail yourself of a Saturday morning (hard to imagine many would fall into that category though, with all the parkrun love being bandied around 🙂 ).
We were lucky, Bakewell was most definitely going ahead. Hooray! There were plenty of last-minute cancellations elsewhere, which is understandable – that happened at Graves junior parkrun once, had to cancel at about 8.50 because a branch fell down on the course just as the runners were arriving. Not worth the risk. However, the element of surprise cancellations did seem to trigger plenty of micro-adventures around the country as parkrun plans were scratched and back up plans implemented. Some social heroics though, parkrun tourists heading to Graves this morning staying in a nearby Airbnb arrived at 8.40 to find it cancelled, but were scooped up and deposited at Castle by friendly Sheffield parkrun locals. Trust is a funny thing isn’t it, of course you’d assume an abduction by a fellow parkrunner to be benign, just a new adventure #loveparkrun! Well done parkrun explorers.
Back to Bakewell. We were assembled, parkrun was on. Yay!
For your information Whangarei parkrun in New Zealand went ahead too, although they had ‘nice weather for ducks’ it was their 160th event, and loads of them were wearing shorts out and about on the parkrun course too, so draw your own conclusions about how they define inclement weather. I have a soft spot for this parkrun though, because they have in the rather brilliantly, and showing initiative as well as dedication, run an extra parkrun at a time to coincide with it being run in the UK. Whangarei parkrun ran an unofficial parkrun at 9pm New Zealand time to mark international parkrun day in October 2017. Everyone needs to be reminded of/ know about that! So hello nice Whangarei people and high fives to your high vis heroes! Happy Third Birthday Whangarei parkrun for next Saturday 16th Feb 2019, I’m sure you’ll party on with parkrun style!
So Bakewell parkrun was going ahead. That was good, obvs. But the weather, aaaargh. How did it get to be so cold and wet when it was all mild in Sheffield when I poked my arm out the upstairs window to do the temperature check first thing? Me and Smiley Selfie Queen and her escort ventured to the start line. Where we greeted by the sight of a cheery run director, wearing shorts! What was that about? I didn’t know whether to be impressed of horrified, in truth, I was both. He said he is doing XC tomorrow so trying to acclimatize, fair do’s, but seemed high risk to me. I went through a similar mental battle deciding when to leave the sanctuary of the Hassop Station cafe, head out into the cold early by way of transition, or hang on in there ’til the last moment. Tough call.
Here is the cosy interior of the Hassop Station cafe viewed from outside (thank you Denise Burden for sharing your photos, from which I’ve borrowed freely):
and here is the cheery run director, sporting his above the knee number in the service of XC acclimatization. I respect his position on this matter, but will not emulate. Just to be clear.
The cheery run director did the first timers’ briefing. I think we can all agree the body language in the photo from the briefees, betrays that it was most decidedly nippy out, whatever the misleadingly bright sky overhead may deceive you into believing. Mind you, a lot of these people are sporting shorts, running briefs if you like, maybe that’s why it was called the first timers’ briefing?:
I wasn’t a first timer, so went for a power walk up and down the Monsal Trail a little way to keep warm and check out the wind conditions. To be fair, the RD did assure us that he’d sorted out the wind to guarantee it would be behind us all the way out and then helpfully reverse and be pushing us from behind all the way back too or we’d get a full refund. It is true there was wind all around us, but not noticeably helping progress, more like whipping us up into a swirling vortex of arctic blasts. Oh well, at least it made parkrun a micro adventure all over again, so that’s good, and the seals felt quite at home in the freezing conditions. Smiletastic challenge people, if you don’t know, best not to ask, just enjoy speculating as to why else was this synchronised seal basking necessary post parkrun. Has to be a Smiley Paces winter running challenge really doesn’t it? Even if this photo isn’t really capturing the running part of the challenge, it’s getting the collective team effort bit… for better or worse! Their likeness to actual basking seals is uncanny! The Smiley Paces people are in the picture on the left… oh, or is it the one on the right? One or the other though, just for clarity…
Oh hang on, you might want to know about the course. So the Bakewell parkrun course blah de blah, describes the course as follows:
Out and back course on the Monsal Trail. Start and finish are in the same place by Hassop Station
Which is basically all you can really say about it!
It looks like this:
You really aren’t going to get lost on this course unless you set off facing the wrong way. I just couldn’t comment as to whether or not that’s ever happened. I have myself started a parkrun facing the wrong way before now, so it’s not inconceivable, though it may not be on record, those people could still be running now for all I know. …. Assuming you do head off in the right direction, then cheery marshals spin you round at the turn around the point 2.5 km up the repurposed railway path. So that’s good. Fret not. This parkrun has it all. Coffee and loos pre-start, easily navigable flat course, and parking. Some free if you get there early. What else do you need to know? Friendly marshals and parkrun love in abundance are givens, surely?
Where was I. Oh yes, power walk, meeting and greeting of various people as they assembled for their fiftieth runs,
two hundredth run and every possible variant forward and aft of those. At first I thought this parkrun was going to be thinly attended, but of course people were lurking in warm corners or in their cars and emerged on a just in time basis, like the most finely tuned and responsive of logistic firms, to hear the pre-run briefing
and sprint off at ‘go’!
OK. So that picture was obviously before they set off. Plenty of bare legs though, no wonder they are jostling to be in the front, want this pesky parkrun in the cold over and done with as soon as possible so they can get back in the warm I’m sure. The next photos do show some parkrunners, properly underway, charging through one of the fab tunnels that adorn the Monsal trail. I love tunnel running, but been through that already (see what I did there? Gawd I’m hilarious sometimes, love a good pun, and so what if I laugh at my own jokes, at least someone is thereby entertained).
I started in the middle of the pack as I think it is only sporting to give other runners a target to overtake, and most did take the bait to be fair. Oh well, lucky I don’t do parkrun to get a pb. It isn’t the widest of paths, so it was a little crowded at the get go, but it’s all very good-natured, and you soon spread out. It was social, I liked eavesdropping on odds and ends of conversations, and this was my favourite pooch for today, in case you are interested.
it headed out at a fair old lick, despite only having erm, well let’s be honest, short legs. Whizzed by me with abandon. Then, seconds later, stopped a la Paula Radcliffe for an emergency poo, unlike Paula, this pooch had an attendant on hand to poo pick, so that was good, and then it trotted on again, by the time it got to the turn around point it seemed to be slightly regretting the early turn of speed, and had a strategic walk for a bit before picking up the pace again. I empathised more than I probably should, I mean, I have short legs, and have also been known to regret heading off too fast … though I didn’t need a poo stop, my toileting habits having been impeccably timed for parkrun purposes, thank you for your interest!
I’m a slow runner I know, but one advantage of doing an out and back route, is you get to enjoy the spectacle of speedy runners charging home and to high-five and cheer your mates as they pass you by in the opposite direction, so I try to see this as a good thing rather than a mind game. Depends on your mood obviously. Today, Bakewell parkrun had a photographer to capture people on the way back, right near the finish, so here are some of those who I got to exchange greetings with as they hurried homewards.
So the vegan runners celebrating their fiftieths (and not looking a day over 49 as they did so) were amongst those charging round with abandon. Looks like they might have fallen for that old gag about ‘it’s a two lap course’ though, as one at least of them passed me again as I was coming in and they were heading out again. That guy on the left with his hand over his mouth – see him? He’s definitely in on the joke, think he’s trying to suppress a chortle there for sure!
She still finished her 10km in the time it took me to do 5km apparently. Oh well, I don’t mind, those vegans had splendid cake. So splendid, that I had to fight hard the urge just to face plant into once it came within my reach. And you should have seen their bat-themed napkins. Epic! If only I’d had my camera with me I’d have taken a photo…
Anyway, I trotted along, I was so far back it was quite spread out, and running along the trail was quite meditative. Although it was cold in the wind, the rain stopped, and shhh, don’t tell, but I actually got too hot running, I think it helps that my jacket is pretty wind proof. I got a bit put off the Monsal Trail because I ran it endlessly for marathon training last year (no need to splutter out your tea, I didn’t say I ran it fast, only that I did it, not impossibly apparently, unlikely yes, but not actually impossible for me to do the London marathon it seems) . It was quite nice to be back on it today, the surface is so level you can run very rhythmically, and it’s been a while since I’ve had such an even and consistent run. Maybe I need to start bringing it back into my training, just to get the continuous running in without bailing every time there is any elevation – which is basically all the time in Sheffield. Even so, quite nice to see the finish, and supportive friends to cheer me in.
Job done, barcode scanned, thanks said. Celebratory parkrun milestone biscuit eaten. I actually ate mine before photographing it, but here is someone else’s biscuit, who showed more restraint and had the foresight to capture a snap of it first! And a tray made earlier. Nice!
Impressive aren’t they?
Next stop, fleece retrieval from car, and cafe. There I got a parkrun breakfast for a fiver. This is pretty good value, a granary or white bap with sausage/ veggie sausage and optional egg plus a filter coffee or tea. In the circumstances we can perhaps overlook that their sign proclaims Park Run breakfast offer … who is going to pluck up the courage to tell them #aowalc – All one word, all lower case? You go right ahead, I’ll be just behind you, holding your bap. You’re welcome.
I was a bit torn because there were just too many people to socialise with. I played my hand strategically, joining the bicentenary celebrants first as I munched down my veggie sausage bap, and then adjourning in time for the vegan half century shenanigans. They were so buoyed up by success they were contemplating undertaking a duathlon next, but I don’t honestly think they’ve properly understood the rules. I mean having a pacer is one thing, but I’m not sure a rickshaw would make it under the radar. I didn’t say anything, didn’t want to take away from their celebrations:
Obviously I did a bit of nonchalant circling around the offerings feigning indifference to begin with until I saw my chance…
Well, I didn’t want to seem over keen, and it was only fair to let the vegang have fist dibs! Didn’t take long for me to make my move though. I undertook some fairly
lightweight expert photography duties to capture the speedy seals as above, which you have to concede I did with considerable excellence, so maybe that was some sort of exchange. Hospitable lot the vegan runners though… I think their generosity was unconditional. It is true though, on reflection, it does rather look as if that small child is just carrying out a citizen’s arrest on all those seals and putting them in handcuffs. Not sure what the implications of that are exactly… best move on.
Plus, I think they had seriously over catered! It was basically like their very own vegan bake off. Seriously sweet delights on offer. Yum! Thank you bakers, very impressive, very impressive indeed. I had the Victoria sponge. No, not all of it, but a hefty chunk. An excellent choice.
So all in all, a very fine, and celebratory parkrun morning. The fifty celebrants were rightly chuffed by their milestone, and as I said to them, assuming bicentennial woman now ceases parkrunning henceforth, in a little over three years, as long as they don’t miss a week, they’ll have caught up with her too! Very impressive. Well done all.
It was hard to tear myself away from the bonhomie and squishy chairs, but inevitably that time came when we needed to all go our separate ways. Quick shout out for the cafe’s outside area though, it has an undercover space with sofas and play houses and all sorts, just right for bringing your own cake and pop up party!
Special thanks to the Bakewell parkrun hi-vis heroes who made it so. You are awesome. It was a blast at Bakewell, the arctic blast bit wasn’t the best but the fun blast was epic. Thank you!
Time to go home, but it was a very jolly parkrun morning, and a bonus that we’d landed on one that went ahead. The gusts died down, the sun came out, and I was rewarded with clear and spectacular views, and no scary being blown off the road fright moments on the drive home. I do like happy endings.
Hope you made your parkrun too. 🙂
Happy parkrunning wherever you go, just #dfyb
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.