Digested read: It was the TenTenTen last Sunday. The quintessential Sheffield Trail 10k no less. I went. I ran (sort of) it was very nice thank you for asking. There were some moment of high drama like when the toilets didn’t materialise but crisis was averted, bladder infections avoided and all’s well that ends well. For those that lingered there were extra bananas! What’s not to like. Are you coming same time next year? Do so, you won’t regret it.
Is the re-writing of history ever completely innocuous? I don’t honestly know, but it certainly seems to be the case that ‘facts’ are often evolving and fluid and not as nailed down as some might choose to believe. Case in point. I thought (knew even), that the 101010 was so called, because the inaugural event took place on 10th October 2010. So in a genius bit of race naming, the TenTenTen was born. (You can see what they’ve done there 10/10/10, smart eh?). Hurrah!
It may have been genius, but it was unfortunately short-sighted genius, as what was a rousing and apt name choice in 2010, lost some of its relevance when you get to 2011 and beyond. This is harsh, as the very success of the event, and its longevity, made the naming of it potentially problematic. No worries, just a little tweak of history, and now the accepted wisdom has become ‘well, it’s a 10k, and it takes place in October (tenth month everyone, keep up) and it always starts at 10.00 a.m. so hence TenTenTen! Voila!’ I accept it is the prerogative of race/run organisers everywhere to name races as they choose, but it does mess with my head a bit. I have now heard disbelief from others as I state my recollection of the origins of this classic Sheffield trail run. Is that how easy it is to reframe history? We should all be scared. Just saying.
Even with this factual re-write, the name is confusing to some. It’s a problem with a lot of runs round here that unless you’ve experienced them the name doesn’t immediately communicate what they are. Trunce anyone? Dark and White series? I rest my case. Only last night I met a friend who was really impressed I’d done the 101010 (and rather surprised) as she’d thought it was called the TenTenTen because you run 10k three times. Three times! I ask you. Blimey, imagine doing 6 laps from Endcliffe park to get to the 30k, diminishing fun quotient I feel. Though I did like the marshal who on lap two was proclaiming ‘8 more laps to go’ insisting it is a ten lap course, hence it’s nomenclature. The possibilities for interpretation are seemingly endless. More so if I understood binary numbering systems. It’s probably computer code for something even more mysterious if I but only knew…
In any event, we can all agree that it is a 10k run, it started in 2010 and has become a (hopefully) permanent fixture since. Another from the kandoo stables of event conjury, it is described as ‘the quintessential 10k running race‘ this tag line makes me happy. ‘Quintessential’ is a fine adjective that gets not nearly enough exposure. It makes me love the event even more. For those of you not in the know, the TenTenTen website blah de blah describes the event as follows:
What is the Sheffield TENTENTEN?
It’s an exciting and creative multi-terrain trail 10k, attracting over 1000 runners each year the event has a great atmosphere, and is well supported. The first edition was on the 10th October 2010, hence the funny name!
Who is it for?
This is an all-inclusive event, anyone from 4 upwards can compete in the 2.5k Fun Run, and 15 upwards for the 10k. All abilities are represented, many have started their running journey at this event. The range is wide we have even had international standard representation (see course record). Then there is the rest of the family, bring them along to soak up the atmosphere and support.
The course has been created with a twist of creativity and innovation. It’s not your regular road race, it is run on grass, road, paved paths and woodland trails. It’s a really balanced mix, and introduces novices to the world of trail running gently. The course does have a few lumps and bumps, twists and turns, and all adds to the fun
So for the record, the official line seems to be that the naming of the TenTenTen is a indeed a reference to its historical origins, and those who spin other truths risk being branded purveyors of fake news, and that never ends well. The Kandoo team is very good at organising running events, but I wouldn’t necessarily have them at as the headline act topping the bill at an international comedy festival say. The name is novel, but not really side-splittingly hilarious to be fair. Perhaps funny-peculiar rather than funny ha-ha? They do have a sense of humour though, they must have to have initiated the doggy dash amongst other innovations. Plus all running events are inherently hilarious. So all is not lost. Well, I think they are anyway. On a personal level I sure as hell don’t participate in any running endeavour to experience individual sporting glory, but rather for the intrinsic merriment of what is essentially a pointless collective endeavour. It is completely illogical and ridiculous to just run round in two big circles for no particular reason if you stop to think about it. But you mustn’t stop, because then it wouldn’t bea 10k run. That’s not to say there aren’t members of the sporting elite at these events, only that the race caters for both ends of the running spectrum. If my experience is anything to go by, they are genuinely inclusive and celebrate the social side of running whilst applauding and rewarding running excellence as well. Quite an organisational coup to pull off I’d say. It all takes place starting in Endcliffe Park. Here is the park looking lovely, before the event village made camp, thereafter it still looked lovely, but in a very different way.
By the way, one of the attention to detail things they typically do is to make TenTenTen run photos freely available via their Facebook page, but request that if you use them, you make a donation to their nominated charity The photos are always excellent and pop up on profile pages everywhere, so here’s hoping if you enjoy them, you’ll be minded to make a contribution too. It’s not so very much to ask, as the organisers put it …
Some inspiring Finish pics from Race Image Photography – Ian has very kindly decided to donate his photography fee to Weston Park Cancer Charity If you do end up using your pics do consider a small donation www.justgiving.com/tententen2017 Photos also supplied by True Glass Photography and Ben Lumley Photography
So there were plenty of snappers on hand for runners to direct their ‘seen a photographer face’ at. Always a boon. This is my favourite photo of the day by the way:
I’m guessing swift up that hill but I’m thinking fractionally slow on the uptake in spotting the paparazzi, but the result is a gift to us all in the form of this photo that is a joy to behold. So can we have a shout out to all the photographers on the day for fabulous photographing throughout? I thank you.
That might be my favourite photo of the day, but this was my favourite sight:
Sometimes you don’t really appreciate a thing until you think it has been taken away from you. More of this later.
I will out myself now. I do have a bit of a soft spot for the TenTenTen. When I first moved to Sheffield as a complete non-runner (as opposed to the pretend runner I pass myself off as currently), I saw signs for the forthcoming 10k trail run and marveled that people did such a thing and hankered after being able to do such a seemingly impossible thing myself one day too. On the day itself, it was torrential rain, really, a lot of water out there. All coming out the sky (unsurprisingly) and bouncing back at ya from the ground as well. I happened to see my bedraggled next door neighbour returning from having run it sporting his bling and looking hardcore. I was very impressed. Six miles running on a trail in that was clearly not for the faint hearted. Fast forward, and it still seems extraordinary to me that I can now count myself as one of its participants. I’ve only run it a couple of times, and last year volunteered in return for a free place this time round (an enjoyable option if you fancy a year off or can’t run because injured some time). Through volunteering I made two new friends and so sourced some outstanding running buddies, and you can never have too many of them. However, the event has a symbolism that goes beyond what it is, which is a basically a very nice 10k trail in two laps from Endcliffe park. As I could in theory at least run that any time, it’s appeal is perhaps a bit disproportionate, but it is the camaraderie and added value that being able to access a proper coffee and pizza wedge afterwards that elevates the event beyond the ordinary. I was looking forward to it.
Well, I was looking forwards to it, and then the unthinkable happened. Not in this instance the realisation that I’d be expected to run. But when I had my pre-event peak at Facebook in case of any updates I saw this:
Morning guys – we have a bit of an issue this morning – our toilets have been cancelled on us at 3am this morning! As a result there are very limited toilets onsite – we are trying to rectify the problem quickly!
Please try and arrive Having done your business! Please bear with us!
They tried to ease the pain with a nice photo, but really. It was all very well saying ‘fingers crossed’ it’ll be sorted, but I had visions of having to run the whole event with my legs crossed! That was my whole pre-race ritual out of the window. I must have a multitude of precautionary pees before any organised event. This was bad. I imagine though, my horror, was as nothing to that of the organisers. What good is a 3 a.m. cancellation to anyone. Co-incidentally, that is about the time that always wake spontaneously for my night-time pee. We must all be synchronised to do so across the land, if this is when cancellation emails are sent and received.
I’ve no idea how they got it sorted, but amazingly they did. An hour later, new loos were in situ. Not just any loos, but luxury ones with fluffy white hand towels, gold-plated taps and a spa whirlpool annexe round the back. (Not really, but it was such a joy to behold them, they may as well have done).
Presumably Mr Kandoo has a batphone link to emergency toilet purveyors. I suppose they get helicoptered (or bat-dropped) in on demand if you have the right contacts. I so wish I did, that would be such a boon at events when you are desperate for the loo and there is ne’er a toilet cubicle in sight. Mind you, I can’t help but think if they had gone ahead with the Doggy Dash plan (doggy run as a prelude to the main event), then most people present would have come with a supply of poop bags for their canines and incontinence products for themselves as a precautionary measure in case they wet themselves with either fear or laughter during the K9 run proceedings. This has all been documented previously.. In that case the lack of loos would have been less of an issue as runners would have been prepared. Just some helpful feedback for the race team to take on board there.
Even so, I would welcome that as a super power quite frankly, the ability to conjure up a loo any time, any place, anywhere. Would be great if you could extend it to introducing sanitation into areas of the world where there is none, I wouldn’t only use it out of narrow self-interest, though I can’t lie, I’d probably do that too.
I decided against an early show at Endcliffe Park, delaying departure as long as possible. I’d picked up my number in advance from Front Runner anyways so no particular need to go early other than to queue up perpetually for the loos. Once a Facebook update indicated the problem was sorted, I ambled down.
It was a glorious running day, perfect autumnal weather. No rain, cool but a little promise of sunshine to come perhaps. It was fun walking down and enjoying the familiar rituals of the event, the ‘road closed’ signs and coned off entrance to Bingham park ahead of The Hill.
Better yet there were familiar faces in their expected marshaling points. This particular marshal pretty much owns this mini-roundabout. It wouldn’t be the TenTenTen without her in place. Apparently this marshalling post requires someone
arsey, gobby and with a voice like a fog-horn who is not to be messed with with excellent leadership and negotiation skills as it can be a bit challenging being situated where the road is blocked off. Fortunately, cometh the hour, cometh the woman who can. Shout out to one of our very own Sheffield Hallam parkrun run directors and volunteer par excellence strutting her funky stuff. We who are about to run salute you!
Then you start to encounter the first of many red arrows – not quite as exciting as I first thought to be fair, being more earth-bound than flight bound, but nevertheless, leading the way.
As I went through the park, I met with the first of the 2.5km fun runners. I had a bit of a pang that I was missing Graves junior parkrun today, but this was almost as good. Some of the young runners really do sprint by, but there were a few merrily making their way with miscellaneous adults in tow which was quite sweet. And I was delighted to spot a Smiley out and about so soon as well. Go Smilies! I didn’t think the adults on bikes was entirely sporting, but then again, you have to stay ahead/ keep up with those speeding juniors somehow!
I missed the communal warm up for the junior event, but the photos made that look well impressive. It was led by the amazing levitating man from Trib3, but even more impressively, he had some of those juniors levitating too! What do they get up to at that gym?
Coming into the event village, there was a joyous sight for sore eyes to soak up before taking in the glories of the other facilities on offer.
I did get to see some of the juniors return victorious. Cute quotient of junior runners for a Sunday was thus fulfilled. Phew. You’d have to be in possession of an ice-cold heart not to smile and share the joy in some of these shots. I like the use of a personal trainer at the finish and the hand holding over the line. Altogether now …. ‘aaaah!’
After cheering back some of the juniors, then it was milling and chilling time. Trying to find other smilies mainly. I did a circuit to say some hellos to the great and the good and then joined the perpetual motion immersion experience that is queuing for the loos.
I didn’t find all that many smilies to be fair, but enough for a couple of pre-run selfies which was the main thing. Other smilies were volunteering, and there were plenty of familiar faces from other clubs in general and parkrun in particular. It’s great doing local events in that respect, you can’t fail to recognise loads of people and it makes the whole thing feel supportive and friendly. Well I find it to be so anyway. Depends how you feel about the value of anonymity when running. I had to field a few disappointed queries from those wondering why I was solo ‘what no giraffe‘ but I explained about Geronimo resting up at the moment. I think I did a bit too much with her a couple of months back what with Vitality Move and the Round Sheffield Run so I’m keeping her rested up til Christmas now probably. Maybe next year though. We’ll see.
It is perhaps a little unfortunate that the group shot was snapped at the precise moment one of our number spotted the Endcliffe Park flasher, but these things happen. At least it gives the photo an authenticity it might otherwise have lacked. Can’t accuse us motley crew of being too posed!
Photos snapped, gossip shared, bags dropped. There was a warm up for the main event, but I took the precaution of not joining in too much for fear of wearing myself out. Instead, I took my place in the starting pens alongside new best friends from TNT who let me peer inside their tops for sizing purposes. I seem to have accidentally signed up to do some cross country with them next month, and needed to know about kit. Those tops look tight though, even by running top standards. Could be a squeeze. I love that it’s OK in running start line ups to ask such questions, you aren’t normally allowed to put such posers when queuing in the post office say, but in a running context, completely acceptable behaviour. Discussions on moisture management socks are probably OK too, but I’d generally make my opening question about choice of running shoes to be on the safe side.
So after milling and chilling, there was warm up, hanging about and then ‘suddenly’ we were off. Actually, it was a bit slow going over the starting mats, but no worries, it’s all chip timed anyway, so only the purists focusing on gun times would have had an issue, and I expect they all started at the front anyway.
The first obstacle of the morning was an impromptu lake. This was before we’d even left the park, and it was hilarious how many of us tried to pick our way around it, as if this would be the only water we’d encounter en route. I am learning that it’s best to get your feet soaked early on in trail events so you stop pussy footing around and just plough through. You’ll get wet feet anyway, but surrendering to the inevitable early on, you gain confidence and a more direct route round. A sound investment if you are but bold enough to take it! Here is the puddle, and some gratuitous trainer shots, courtesy of the TenTenTen photography team, who know the power of such titillating running shoe images. Well I think it’s the shoes, not the calf shots. Each to their own though. That water feature would have been quite good for the doggy dash incidentally … maybe next year that fantasy will become a reality. We can cross our fingers for that, now we don’t have to keep our legs crossed any more.
Out of the park, onto Rustlings Road. Lawks a-lordy how I hate running on roads, especially in my trail shoes. Not anywhere near enough cushioning, I could feel my feet splintering. I need to go to Trib3 and learn to levitate, or concentrate more at Accelerate trail runs so I can be lighter on my feet. Meantime, I’ll just wince a lot. And complain.
AFter the road, it’s pretty much straight away The Hill. It’s only a really short section, but it’s a steep grassy bank of exceptional slipperiness. You are supposed to cycle up it according to the signage, maybe that’s part of the problem.
The photo makes it seem pretty innocuous, but it is like trying to ascend a greased up slide. Have you ever watched Total Wipeout? Pleasingly, I learned from Front Runner on a recce of the course some years ago that it is legitimate race craft to just walk up this hill. Why exhaust yourself over such a short distance, only to be thwarted by a bottle neck as you enter the woods down a narrow path at the top of it. For all but the elite, running up it is pretty much futile, though it is massively entertaining for spectators, so it comes down to how much of an exhibitionist crowd pleaser slash competitive athlete you are on the day. Great photos though. On a serious note, I have no idea at all how the lead bike got up it, it was a mud slide by lap two…
Mercifully, I was spared a photo of myself tackling the hill. Possibly because I crawled up on my hands and knees, and therefore was under the sight line of the photographer throughout.
This hill is probably the worst/best bit, depending on your point of view. On reaching the top, you duck into the wood and it’s a lovely sheltered woodland trail. You have to watch out for tree roots, and it is narrow, so pretty much impossible to overtake. Again, that doesn’t worry me, but it did slow me quite a bit, maybe I should have gone a bit further forward in the starting line up after all. It was a nice yomp through, periodically marshals appeared to point and cheer and warn of any particular hazards ahead. It all feels very well supported and safe. There was one moment in the trails where I heard the tell-tale shriek that signified we had a runner down, a woman had taken a tumble in the woods. By the time I got there a number of people were helping, I asked if any help was needed but was told not. A bit further on there was a marshal who had obviously been alerted to the incident and was making their way back to her clutching a first aid kit. Hope it was a first aid kit with something more than a sling and an elastoplast or it might have been a challenge. Joking apart, she was walking wounded, so even if a regrettable DNF, which seems likely, I don’t think it was too serious. Hope not anyway, recover soon whoever you are.
The 10k is in two 5k laps, so you emerge from the woods at intervals onto road crossings, so there are plenty of opportunities for supporters to cheer you around, and in between are smiling clapping marshals. Here’s one by way of illustration, but other marshals were available to. Thank you all for being all-round awesome. Much appreciated – which isn’t an observation I’d automatically make to any random man loitering in the woods in the expectation of runners coming by shortly. So much etiquette in life is context specific don’t you agree?
Have I mentioned already how brilliant it is doing a local race because you’ll know so may people out and about on the day? I did? Well, every silver lining has its cloud. The downside of being part of the local vibrant running community is that there is really nowhere to hide. It was like running under surveillance, every time I nursed even a distant thought of slacking off a smiley or woodrun supporter would pop out from behind a tree and shout some words of encouragement and support. It would be rude to be caught out walking in such scenarios. If I saw them first I was able to implement my ‘I’ve been doing perfect running form all the way round‘ mode, and knock out a few strides of graceful (by my standards) bounding. If they saw me first, I had to do an apologetic little spurt of ‘honestly, this is the first time I’ve backed off the whole time‘, not sure how convincing either performance was… With some I just stopped and went in for the hug or the shameless wave. It’s quite a complex social interaction to be fair. We all have our own tactics when running under observation. It’s not just me, it’s well documented. Have you never heard of the Hawthorne effect? Nevertheless, it was unconditionally brilliant to be cheered round. You almost feel like a celebrity if you hear the Go Smiley shout out, and as for an actual name call, well, that’s the ultimate accolade. So thanks everyone who popped up. I applaud you all. Whether you bounced out from behind the railings on Rustlings Road; gave a post- Tissington hug in Endcliffe Park; shooed me round the mini-roundabout at Oakbrook road; high-fived me in a family quartet near the lake; cheered me on the road as I turned back for home; enquired about my party hat at the road crossing or cajoled me up the hill. You are appreciated. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Running buddies are The Best. Fact.
Known supporters are particularly welcome, but you know what, I’m shallow, I’ll take encouragement from wherever it comes. There was lots. A few children offered up high-fives which is always a boon. I made one miscalculation though, going in for a high-five with a little girl who seemed up for it, but then the sight of me bearing down on her caused her to have a change of heart. I fear I may have left her mildly traumatized even though I aborted my manoeuvre just in time. Feeling guilt ridden, I was therefore massively cheered to see as I cornered a family quartet of known supporters, positioning themselves so I could go for the full monty of a perfect four high fives on passing. Reader I did it. I couldn’t have been more impressed by our co-operation and co-ordination if I had indeed been part of a red arrow fly past display. We were genius, and far better in terms of CO2 omissions too. I mean no family experiences that much fatulence surely, even with the excitement of procuring cumulative high fives factored in?
Alarmingly early on in my first lap a bike started to push through. I was initially annoyed, ‘why is a cyclist being so assertive in the midst of a load of runners?’ then I realised it was the lead bike. The first runner home was way ahead of the pack. Admittedly I have been lapped previously at the TenTenTen, but only just at the half way point, this was much earlier on. He led by a good few minutes, it was impressive, but almost disturbing, that’s got to be super-human speed surely. It’s not a massively challenging course, but it isn’t as predictable as road running, he was super fast.
By the time I got to half way, there were a few more runners streaming to the finish. I contemplated joining them, but figured first woman home was a bit of a stretch, and what’s the point. I headed on round and to the water station, where a fellow smiley was on the bottles so to speak. I haven’t sussed drinking and running, so stopped to drink and walked on for a bit. I really do need to work out how to hydrate on longer runs, it isn’t efficient to just zone out for a while, though it is fun watching other runners pass.
Soon I was back at the hill. It was even more slidey now, and I struggled to get up it even with my grippy innov8 shoes. I didn’t mind too much that I was struggling up as other runners were similarly cautiously trying to pick their way through the mud. Less supportively, and more mysteriously, by the time we came round for the second lap there were some kids playing by just running up and down the hill apparently entirely effortlessly. I could have wept. How do they do that? How come it’s even possible? They were veritably skipping up it I tell you. SKIPPING!
The field spread out a bit more in the second lap, and weirdly I found this second 5km much easier than the first. It seems to take me 5k to warm up. Maybe I should try doing an actual warm up before a run one day and see if that helps. High risk though, don’t want to use up all my stored carbohydrate supplies too early on in proceedings. It was fun seeing the same marshals the next time round. All of them kept up a constant stream of words of encouragement. Well maybe the ‘only eight laps to go‘ quip wasn’t entirely encouraging, but it was funny, and that marshal did correctly inform us this was the highest point of the run so kudos to him.
Oh yes, and there were the race photographers too, they took some great photos (make your donation to Weston park people, it’s the least you can do). Now might be a good time to put some more in:
Whilst the photographers did a grand job of taking photos (not entirely unexpectedly, that is sort of their area of expertise I suppose) also out on the course was the Selfie Queen and back marker for the day. Injury limiting her running plans, she was making the most of taking it relatively steady en route. Bonding, sharing the joy of running and documenting the occasion. Plus, on flag removal duty on the second lap, that’s a lot of multi-tasking going on there. I have been accompanied by a back marker on fell runs. On one particular occassion (Bamford Sheep Dog Trials) the tail runner kept disappearing into the bushes every few hundred metres or so. I spent a long time thinking he really should get his prostate checked out before I twigged he was dismantling the course behind me! Anyway, I give you the perfected running selfie. I know, impressive. I don’t know how she does it, she hasn’t even got a selfie stick, or go pro or anything, just a natural I suppose…
So then almost suddenly, it was the final loop and back in the park towards the finish funnel. There was still a crowd to cheer runners home, and it is wonderful to experience that. There is such an outpouring of goodwill at the kandoo events. For that moment you can really believe that running is fun, and be all enthused about doing it all again as soon as possible!
So you pass through the finish, get your bling (always excellent at this event, though the fun runners are under a directive only to use the bottle opener feature for ginger pop opening unless they are catering for the needs of their adult supervisors). You could queue up for a DIY goodie bag (crisps, banana, rather good peanut butter and caramel or something bar, water, voucher for Trib3 all within a Sainsburys bag for life). Better yet, there were smilies about and even a Smiley supporter (and my high-five quartet) who was distributing slices of pizza! I know. Oh my god that was brilliant. I felt a bit guilty accepting (didn’t want the family to go hungry) but I got over that pretty quick, and then further exploited the child labour on hand by getting them to take some post run shots. Well, in for a penny eh? Thanks though 🙂
Then I joined a short queue to get an instantaneous print out of my time, before rejoining my Smiley buddies ahead of the prize giving because one of our own was champion V60 Smiley. Back and on it after an injury induced absence. Yay! We gathered by the podium for the awards. It was a very cheery spectacle. It was also the occasion of the annual moss family photo as between them they won just about everything in all categories. I wonder if that is a genetic coincidence or the product of a captive breeding programme. I didn’t like to ask. Well done though, very impressive.
The awards are great, not just the cash vouchers which were no doubt welcome, but the silver trainer trophies with writing on the side. Very good.
As the awards ceremony was underway, a shout went up for the final finisher and back marker coming in. We broke off to go and cheer them home. It was quite emotional watching them come across the finish holding hands. They’d had a ball out there. Congratulatory hugs all round and new running buddies forged.
I might have had something in my eye watching that.
More prizes, and then it was foraging for coffee, massages, post run anecdotes. All needs were catered for!
So I lingered for post run coffee with awesome running buddies. And then just when we thought things couldn’t get any better, there were bananas being gifted in abundance, like they grew on trees or something. We final few went home laden. Hurrah.
So that was that, goodbye TenTenTen for another year. Thanks everyone, organisers, volunteers, running buddies all. All ended apart from the chafing. I do so wish they did enormous g cup compeed plasters, then there would be no more bra related injuries for me. I’ll add that to my wish list of sponsored goods for when I’m a famous sporting personality and get to commission my own gear.
Oh I nearly forgot, for them of you as care about such things, the TenTenTen results from over the years are here.
Happy running til next time.
This could be you in the frame same time next year. Just saying. 🙂
For all my TenTenTen related posts click here, scroll down for older entries
For Kandoo Round Sheffield Run related posts click here, scroll down for older entries.
Like the pictures? Go on, make a donation, every little helps, and the feel good factor will make you run faster next year www.justgiving.com/tententen2017