Posts Tagged With: tententen

The power of ten – TenTenTen 2017

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!

tententen logo

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

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.

ten calm endcliffe

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:

ten hill fun VHR

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:

beautiful sight indeed

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!

ten loo alert

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).

luxury loo

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.

helicopter portaloo drop

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!

 

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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?

ten levitating man

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.

sight for sore eyes

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!’

 

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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.

 

ten venue

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.

 

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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 Hill

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?

hi viz hero

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.

ten how its done

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…

backmarking and selfie queen

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!

 

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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 🙂

smiley finishers

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.

You’re welcome.

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

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

Dogging in Endcliffe Park: reporting on the Debut Doggy Dash TenTenTen K9 2017

I know that some of you think I have at best entered a harmless fantasy land, and at worst developed some sort of weird unsettling variant of Munchausen Syndrome whereby I make up increasingly unlikely stories in order to draw attention to myself, but honestly, it’s all true.  I have got a place in the London Marathon, I am going to Cambodia and I have also got myself a time machine*.  The latter has allowed me to whizz forward a year purely so I could check out the Inaugural TenTenTen K9 Trail Doggy Dash of 2017, and report my findings back to all of you.  Well it surely isn’t just me that couldn’t wait to see how that grand plan was realised in action?  If you’d rather wait for time take its course than so be it, but if you want to know what the future holds read on:-

What could possibly go wrong?

everything-i-dreamed-of

It all started innocently enough, with a post on the  Sheffield TenTenTen Facebook page.  Flushed with the post-event glow of their seventh successive Endcliffe park based 10k trail run in 2016, a new idea was mooted:

What do people think about the introduction of a K9 dog race for next year? With Doggy treats at the end …… owners would run with their dogs in full canicross gear or with a regular lead. The start would be quite a spectacle 🙂 …… it may have to involve a river crossing too.

Erm. With respect.  Pretty dumb question huh?  The idea was always clearly genius, right from its inception.  It might have seemed like an impossible dream at the start, but we know don’t we, that you’ve gotta have a dream, cos if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?  Never was this statement more pertinent than in the vivid imaginings that helped the Inaugural Doggy Dash/ Endcliffe Park K9 come to pass, for this we must all be grateful.

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So a bit of background.  As I understand it, the main driver for this event was to provide me personally with some bespoke entertainment.   Motivation enough you would have thought for any new and welcome initiative.  Canines can be inherently hilarious as I hope you will appreciate.  Dogs being dogs are the cause of me laughing until I literally wet myself at a job interview once.  It is the only time this has ever happened to me during a recruitment selection process, and yet I can’t regret a moment of it.  Have you not heard that story?  Oh digression alert…  miss the next couple of paragraphs if you really don’t want to know, and who would blame you.

Diversion ahead: 

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So,   I’d been called to a group selection-day in Leamington Spa following my application to work as a trainer with Dogs for the Disabled (now dogs for good I think).   This would involve both training assistance dogs, and working with their people who would be partnered with them.   A bit like Guide Dogs for the Blind, only in the case of the DfD  they train dogs based on the individual needs of their owner which are not necessarily anything to do with visual impairment.  So that might be passing clothes, alerting to an oncoming fit, helping with domestic tasks like switching a light on, that kind of thing.  The selection day was all quite interesting.  We were interviewed; we had to experience both being in a wheelchair and assisting someone using one; we met with a service user; we observed experienced dogs working; we had to simulate teaching someone how to complete a practical task; we had to verbally explain how you tie shoelaces… so far so expected.  However, there came the point in the day when they needed to observe how we would actually interact with dogs.  Now, it takes a long time to train an assistance dog, so the selectors were not going to let us loose on any of their working canines.  Instead, we were taken out to a large soggy (that bit’s important) field.  After a few minutes of hanging around in the cold, two separate vans appeared from two different entrances. It looked really dodgy!  In the back of each van was half a dozen pet dogs, borrowed from staff of the organisation and their various friends and relatives to use for this part of the day.  These dogs weren’t necessarily particularly (at all) trained or obedient.  Further more, they didn’t know each other, they didn’t know the experienced handlers who were supervising the day and they sure as hell didn’t know any of the candidates for the day.  Still, they met the criteria of being dogs, so what was the worst that could happen?

You’ll never guess what happened next!  The back of the vans were thrown open, all the dogs piled out of each and there was basically an almighty fight as every dog in each of the two packs tried to sort out relative dominance with one another.  It was both terrifying and hilarious in equal measure.  The interviewing panel wrestled with dogs to drag them apart from each other, and eventually, some sense of order having been restored, the bedraggled organising committee handed each one of us candidates a dog for the day.  Up to this point in the proceedings I had remained largely continent and straight-faced – albeit giggle stiffling was really hard.  Anyway, you need to know that one of the candidates on the day was a really annoying young woman, who was convinced she was not only god’s gift to the world, but also was very over-confident about her dog-handling skills.  She was positive she’d be selected, because her dad was a police dog handler, and my didn’t we all get to hear about it.  (Yawn).  They handed her a large but innocuous looking Alsatian, and she handed out unsolicited and patronising advice to the rest of us about what we should be doing.

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It was then dear reader, that her large-but-innocuous-looking dog espied something in the hedge at the far distant corner of the field.  Suddenly, it was as if this was a wolf possessed by a demon, and it took off in pursuit of whatever it was it had seen.  I cannot tell a lie, I did actually wet myself at the sight of this young woman being dragged face down across a wet field at high-speed.   She was so determined not to let go she must have been taken a good couple of hundred yards.  I not only wet myself, I also cried with laughter, another job interview first, and my stomach muscles ached with laughing for days afterwards.  It was so worth it.**  I think it was this happy memory that made me so desperately want the dream of a TenTenTen K9 Doggy Dash to be made a reality in 2017.  If I could have that much fun so unexpectedly and in such an unlikely context, imagine the fun potential when the whole point would be (presumably) to unleash chaos and hilarity just for me?  Bring it on!

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Normal reading route resumes below:

Sooo, back to K9 Doggy Dash.  I feel I have already presented a powerful self-evident argument in favour of laying on this event which would be more than enough to guarantee its establishment in the Sheffield running calendar alongside the TenTenTen and Round Sheffield Run.  However, because the organisers are a conscientious team who like to pay attention to detail, they did nail it down a bit more than that prior to deciding to go ahead with the event.

The essential concept was always, I think it’s fair to say, to host an event that was as inclusive as possible, catering for a wide range of canine athletes.  It should be open to all: canicross event tourers in their matching kits; celebrity parkrun dogs like Sheffield’s very own Lily-the-whippet from Graves; fell-running dogs like Skip from Frontrunner; have-a-go dogs of unknown origins as well as much-loved pets.  All would be welcome in singles and pairs, and all should be free to participate in their own way.  It was also part of the participation pledge in the race ‘terms and conditions’ that all participants should respect the right of other entrants to participate in their own way.  I’m not sure about the collateral damage those greyhounds caused to that poor rabbit though.  Don’t like that at all.   It’s so hard to know how to police these events.  What is unavoidable suffering and what might reasonably be avoided.  Quite relieved it’s not my call to be honest.

Obviously, a straight-forward trail race would be rather dull, and make for an all too predictable outcome.  To liven things up therefore, there’d be a mass start, and a variety of challenges to be negotiated on the way round.  Originally, this was to be just a simple river crossing along the lines of The Trunce, but pleasingly, this idea was adapted over time.  In the final iteration, new obstacles were incorporated and constructed in advance of the event in consultation with local Sheffield dogging*** groups.  This resulted in the inclusion of both quick sand and bog sections.  There was significant and ongoing community involvement in building these things, we have some talented dogs in our catchment areas.  It’s worth remembering that these events don’t come from nowhere, it takes a dedicated team, a significant number of excel sheets/ Gantt charts, and in this case, kilos of doggy treats to get the course all set up in a safe and timely fashion.  As it was, earth movers were operated, tree trunks dragged and the site supervised with the dedication that only those with a genuine passion for what they are trying to achieve can muster.

Although much attention was paid to obstacles and inclusivity, less attention was given to the rules and regs for participation.   Which did lead to a few hiccups on the day, but nothing that didn’t add to the general commotion sense of occasion on the day, so that was grand!

The Doggy Dash kicked off the race series, with a 5km lap ahead of the juniors’ 2.5km run.  The misguided logic was that this would allow runners for the 10k later on to participate in both events (having rested up during the children’s event), and also – theoretically at least – reduce the number of over-excited dogs leaping about in close proximity to small children at the start.  This was true, but it also effectively trashed some of the trails that subsequently had to be negotiated by the more conventional running events that followed.

It was a lovely autumnal morning.  When I headed down to be there at the start of the proceedings the sun was reaching through the trees in Endcliffe Park and I could hear the dulcit tones of carefully chosen music floating through the air towards me.  The MC did well with doggy themed tracks.  We had ‘Who let the Dogs Out?’ (a personal favourite), and the ever familiar ‘Ain’t nothing but a hound dog‘ (not performed live though, I understand Elvis was most recently seen in June 2016 in America, so not been in the uk for a while.)

I thought I was early, but I wasn’t the first down.  This event is really unusual, maybe even unique, in that it is open not only to dedicated canicross competitors, but more delighted doggy dashers that are the canine equivalent of fun-runners.   It was fun seeing all the dogs and their accompanying humans muster.  Some were clearly rather more pampered pets than others – surely the accommodation options for a few of our canine friends suggested they were actually fully sponsored players.  Nothing wrong with that, it was always intended that the event should welcome a wide spectrum of entries, but I was surprised by the calibre of canines who’d turned out.  Check out the camping option for this pamapered pooch:

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 I’m afraid the photo options are a bit mixed.  I didn’t think to take any photographers forward with me into the future because I assumed they’d be there again.  In fact because the donations for ‘free’ photos were a bit disappointing last year, which is this year 2016, there was less incentive for organisers to prioritise getting photographers out in the field in 2017.  A real shame.  I think the 2016 TenTenTen snaps definitely merit a donation of some sort if people are using them. Maybe another way would be to add an optional couple of quid on to the entry fee to contribute automatically to the cause next time.  I don’t honestly know if the Endcliffe Doggy Dash K9 2017 event is a fixed point in time, in which case it’s too late to change the future, or if we can still influence it. On the off-chance we can, how about making that donation that you really meant to make before right NOW.  You’ll feel all the better for it:

 (The TenTenTen2016 event organisers are) collecting donations for Weston Park Cancer Charity in return for free race photos on Facebook – any kind of donation massively appreciated! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/TENTENTEN2016

Anyway, upshot is that in the absence of any official 2017 event photos,  I’ve had to improvise myself with a few random snaps and topped up with google, that’s why some of the pictures are illustrative rather actual, but you’ll get the idea.

The event was run like any official race, but with more bottom sniffing, play fighting and yapping than is usual at registration say.  How you feel about the random urinating up trees, benches and unattended luggage items depends on whether or not you have been fell racing. I’d say that on balance there was more of this than you might expect at a parkrun say, but less than at a real outdoorsy event or paris marathon say.  Ask Regal Smiley about her behaviour at the Dovedale Dash if you require clarification.

The attempt at a collective warm up backfired somewhat, disintegrating into near catastrophic chaos pretty quickly, which was great as a spectator sport, not so great if you want your dog in tact and  un-scarred for future showing purposes, or were particular about which dog mounted your bitch to produce an unexpected litter in a few months time.  Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed random copulation between participants at any running events I’ve attended previously so that was new to me (though I understand some of the overseas Hash House Harrier lodges can be rather risqué on runs – choose family friendly ones if you are traveling to be on the safe side).

All too soon, the cry went up ‘unleash the dogs!’  And with a frenzied baying of hounds the canine lurched forwards, in hot pursuit of a rather nervous looking trail cyclist who’d got the short straw and was designated pathfinder.  Never did see him/her again actually come to think about it?  No worries, I’m sure s/he was fine. Or if not fine exactly, expendable.  Probably expendable.  The important thing is that no animals were hurt or injured in the running of this event.

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A learning point for next year (2018), might be to use a different start call.  This particular phrase resulted in the literal, rather than metaphorical unleashing of many dogs.  It perhaps wasn’t made clear in the briefing (or couldn’t be heard over the ferocious barking) that ideally dogs should remain attached to humans for as much of the way round as possible.  I acknowledge it is completely unrealistic to expect that many people to have any degree of control – let alone complete control – of their canine companion, but perhaps some might have made more of a show of trying just to reassure the spectators.   Another possible area for improvement, is thought as to how many dogs per person would be appropriate.  Some handlers were rather more ambitious than others, a few were showing off quite frankly, and some got their just deserts for doing so. (See reference to woman dragged across field by Alsatian above).

Even so, I’m aware I’m quibbling.  As a spectator sport this event delivered in bucket loads and beyond.  It certainly met the ambition of striving to achieve an inclusive field at the start line.  Some dogs were more enthusiastic participants than others, but all shapes and sizes were represented on the day.  I got emotional watching the fun run last year (2016), but it was way more of an emotional roller-coaster being at the sidelines of the doggy dash.  Here are just a few action shots of some of the participants – it amuses me to see that even some dogs look terrible when photographed running, I’d always taken that as rather a uniquely human frailty.  Not so!

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For the record, I did both cry with laughter and wet myself through laughing whilst spectating at this event.  However,  no worries on either front.  Why?  Because I was  prepared.  It is occassions like this that Tena ladies were made for (there are male equivalents). Personally I think both options should be given out to participants on the day as they they register.   After all, it wasn’t just spectators who lost control of their bladders.  They may have done so through irrepressible laughter but  I’d bet a fair few of the competitors wet themselves too, through raw fear at being dragged round that course at speed.   The issue of distribution of such incontinence products would be straightforward.   You could just ask people to specify their bladder control requirements male/female, number of drops, on a drop down menu alongside asking about T-shirt sizes.  Simple.  Also, good public service role, as urinary incontinence is surprisingly common and really shouldn’t be a taboo topic.  I reckon the Doggy Dash would win an award from some sort of health promotion initiative if they did that – think of the publicity!  Hell, why stop at that, go all out and get sponsorship from some suitable company.  I bet they’d be thrilled.  You could use the plastic bag packaging from the tena pads for poop picking as well, multi-functional, genius if I say so myself.

Sorry I digress, I expect you want to know how the obstacle bits went.  Honestly, I think it depends if you were watching or having to negotiate them with a dog.  As a spectator, completely hilarious.  The photos speak for themselves.  I’m not sure if the prone runner is deliberately lying in a star-shape to maximise the distribution of his body weight over the widest possible surface area to avoid sinking into the quick sand, or whether he has just given up and lain down to die.  The results will probably say – if he’s a DNF on them it wont look good.  Infuriatingly, one downside of time travel it seems is that I can’t link to a yet-to-be-created website, so you’ll have to go along and watch for  yourself to find out the results in a few short months from now.

Watching at any of the bog/ quicksand points was a great option, but I also enjoyed gawping at the water crossing enormously.  It was here you could really see which canine/human partnerships were strong and trusting and which were… well, frankly not.  There wasn’t clarity in the rules about what was acceptable help for this river crossings, some of the techniques I witnessed did cause me to raise an eyebrow (well more accurately both of them, sadly I’ve never been able to raise just the one, a cause of unending disappointment to me alongside so many other of my life’s failings).  Honestly, the really fast pairs went through without outside assistance, so I don’t suppose it mattered too much – it comes down to ‘respecting everyone’s right to participate in their own way’.  They are only cheating themselves, as long as they don’t impede anyone else I suppose it’s fine.

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The course was testing enough that it did allow the cream to rise to the proverbial top.  Some dogs had a few navigational issues on the way  round, at least one had rather more outside assistance getting round than was intended… I don’t like rules for their own sake, but perhaps this does need to be looked at.

Also marshaling is a problem.  Dogs don’t seem to be able to read directional arrows all that well, and nor do they respond to pointing as obediently as you might hope.  Perhaps a scent trail would work better.  I think it depends on whether the dog or the person is in the lead position, not a given by any means.  More importantly, it depends on who is ‘top dog’ in the partnership.  Usually the dog, obviously.

So all in all, I’d say it was a massive success this event.  If you are canny with where you stand you can rush between the obstacles and then line up at the finish funnel for the Sprint Finish of runners and their dogs across the green field of Endcliffe Park.  I hope the organisers are really as responsive to feedback as they claim to be though, and consider putting in place either a viewing platform (think lifeguard stations) or alternatively have live outside broadcasting TV coverage relayed back on a large screen so you can watch all the drama unfold from the comfort of the Endcliffe Cafe. This would seem to me to be a fairly natural extension of the event village development anyway, it caters for most needs as it is.  Here are some of the field in the final push to the line, exciting stuff eh?

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At the finish, dogs and their dishevelled running humans being dragged along behind were awarded with the traditional TenTenTen medal for the humans, and a jaunty autumn themed bandana for the dogs.  This last innovation being a result of taking on board one particularly insightful suggestion from  an especially genius member of the public after first posing the idea of the event of Facebook. It just so happens that genius idea came from me, but I can’t take all the credit, at least the event organisers were wise enough to recognise a great idea when they heard it and to take it on board.

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There were doggy bags too, though I didn’t get one myself so not sure what they contained.

To be honest, the K9 event was so much fun, the actual 10k afterwards was something of an anticlimax, so I can’t be bothered to write-up the account of the TenTenTen 2017 just yet, maybe I will later on.

In the meantime just take it from me that what started as a genius idea from the outset came to be realised at this Debut Doggy Dash K9 TenTenTen in all its glory WITH SPOTS ON!  I feel confident this will become an established event in the Sheffield Running repertoire. Even if you don’t have a dog of your own, make a note in your diary to get down early for your own 10k run so you can soak up all the fun.

Thanks TenTenTen organisers, participants, spectators, marshals – all!  You delivered splendidly, you can feel very smug indeed.  Well done you!

Just one thing, do watch where you tread if you are among the front runners for the subsequent trail race.  Most dog owners are of course responsible, but there will always be one I’m afraid.  You have been warned.  Those of us towards the back don’t need to worry, it will all have been magically removed by the time we get round, particularly if we get lapped.

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So that’s it really.  I do like recording what happens at inaugural events, hope you enjoyed it too.  Til next year then.  Happy running y’all, pracise keeping those hounds under control!  Oh, and one further bit of late addition/ stop press/ hot off the press feedback. How about a Good For Age category for the dogs too?  It’s been brought to my attention that in dog years some of the canine participants were octogenarians, that should be recognised surely.  Also more fancy dress please.  Humans and/or dogs, matching outfits for preference.

You’re welcome.

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Some footnotes:

* Well, two out of three ain’t bad?

** Remarkably, I did get invited back for a further 4-day selection weekend, which, for various reasons I decided not to go for.  What a different trajectory my life might had taken…

*** I know it’s really childish, but I’m deliberately including references to Sheffield dogging in this post, as I found out recently that this was one of the search terms that directed a (disappointed) user to my running blog.  How, I have no idea, but be fair, it is hilarious!  If you have found yourself infuriated at being back here reading this again ha ha, hope you see the funny side, good luck with your searches elsewhere 🙂 !

For all my posts relating to the TenTenTen follow this link

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It’s not every 10k that gives you the red arrows. Marshalling at the Sheffield TenTenTen 2016.

Ambitious, but hey, why shouldn’t a Sheffield based 10k kick off with a bit of a fanfare? Frankly, promising the red arrows en route was only the beginning of the delights on offer at today’s tententen!  I’m genuinely touched by the efforts everyone went to to give we the marshals (not sure I can absolutely speak for all of us, but hey ho, why stop me now) such a grand day out!

So today was Sheffield TenTenTen day.  Yay.  The blah de blah on this is:

What is the Sheffield TENTENTEN?  Its an exciting and creative multi-terrain trail 10k,  attracting over 1000 runners each year the event is well supported and has a fantastic atmosphere. The first edition was on the 10th October 2010, hence the funny name, and has stuck ever since.

 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 upthe atmosphere and support.

 The Course  The course has been created with a twist of creativity and innovation. Its not your regular road race, it is run on grass, road, paved paths and woodland trails. Its a really nice 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.

 We hope to see you on Sunday the 9th of October 2016 in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield

This time though, instead of running (slowly) as in the previous two years, I was marshalling.  Yay.  The night before I wasn’t quite sure what to do in the way of race preparation.  I mean if you’re running then it’s all about the carbing up and tapering isn’t it.  I wasn’t so sure with the volunteering role.  I mean, would I be better off just resting up, or should I practise a bit more with the directional pointing and clapping bit, and maybe even have a go carrying a clipboard with an authoratitive but friendly air?  Tricky.  I was rather regretting having sold myself so assertively in the sign-up email.  What if they did some sort of audition at the 8.00 a.m. rendezvous and I messed up on say the decibel levels of my clapping (which can happen if you are wearing gloves or just miss when you are trying to get the palms of your hands to connect). The shame of being drummed out of the marshaling team would really sting.  I’d have to give up running, move from Sheffield, the whole of South Yorkshire, blimey, maybe I should start planning a complete relocation to Phnom Penh just to be on the safe side?  I didn’t want to peak too soon with the applause either, and find I had nothing left in the proverbial bag for the actual event.  It’s more stressful than you might think, this anticipatory angst regarding the responsibilities that go with marshalling.  Oh well, stick with what you know. Carbe Diem it was.  They do say don’t make any big changes prior to race day don’t they?  Why buck the trend.

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Anyway, I managed to wake up OK in the morning.  It felt like the middle of the night to be honest, but I was up and about before the first of my two alarm clocks had gone off.  Performed my necessary ablutions and packed my back-pack.  Not forgetting my glasses in case I had to showcase my literacy skills and e.g. match names to T-shirt purchases on a list of tiny typed out names.  I’ve been caught out like that before.

It was a very autumnal and crisp morning.  Perfect for running.  I was wearing pretty much every item of clothing I possess, as standing around in a dark wood in the cold can be a lot more chilling than you might think.  And not just in existentialist terms.  Consequently I was wearing: two thermal vests (one long-sleeved, and one short); my usual running top; chunky fleece; fuscia winter coat and an incredibly long and gorgeous scarf that I’ve only recently rediscovered( which once belonged to my Dad and says it was made in Peru so might even be made of alpaca fleece); some thermal leggings; winter socks; over-trousers; gloves; light weight walking boots – oh and my Smiley Buff too.  The advantage of wearing so many clothes was that I could have a reasonable expectation of keeping warm, but there were a couple of disadvangates.  Specifically, firstly, I was a bit worried if I fell over onto my back I’d be trapped like an up-ended tortoise, and unable to get back on my feet without outside assistance (at best humiliating, at worst actually fatal).   Still, at least I wasn’t wearing a turtle neck, that would be a real high-risk clothing item and make me guilty of contributory negligence at the very least. Secondly, it meant that disrobing was quite an operation so I basically would need to give myself three days notice if I needed the loo, or just wet myself.  Oh well, I’d worry about that should the situation arise…

I felt pretty cheery going down to Endcliffe Park.  Today was always going to be a good day.  I was already seeing some pretty significant up-sides to being at a running event without doing the actual running.  Copper and gold leaves in the trees were lit by early morning rays of sunshine bursting through the thinning leaf canopies.  (Not to be confused with canapés, which would be a different order of ‘extraordinary’ viewed in the same way).  It was really beautiful.  Pleasingly, on my way down I espied a pumpkin* growing and was able to take a gratuitous squash shot.  I know!  Great start to the day.  *I know it’s probably a miscellaneous squash rather than an actual pumpkin, but still part of nature’s bounty I’m sure you’ll agree.

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On the way down my excitement was building.  There were indeed red arrows about, and also blue ones, and some police tape cordoning off areas where the organisers were expecting trouble of some sort or other.  Presumably only more experienced volunteers with riot shield use training would be deployed there:

As I passed down by the bottom pond it was like arriving at a festival.  Or being present at the start of time.  You could hear music, and bright shards of sunlight were slicing through the trees back-lighting the scene.  It looked spectacular, definitely like the dawn of time.  This was going to be epic!

I arrived at the volunteer assembly point just a tad before 8.00 a.m. which was the appointed hour.  There were already quite a few people gathered. some even already in position at the T-shirt distribution point.  It was well organised (I expected nothing less, I think it would be a nightmare volunteering at a badly run event, but I knew this would be fine and dandy).  I had a precautionary pee in one of the handily positions portaloos before reporting for duty. It was quite an undertaking given the amount of clothes I was wearing, but I think practising by taking Roger in with me (fancy dress horse) on a previous event meant I accomplished this in relative calm.  Nobody actually commented to my face about the sounds of thrashing around that had been rising from the portaloo whilst I was within once I came out again, so I take that as a win.

My name was on the volunteer list, which is always a good sign, and we were directed to select first an orange hi-vis jacket (a jaunty alternative to the more conventional luminous yellow I thought, and appropriate for the autumnal theme), then I went in search of a T-shirt.  The T-shirts for this year’s tententen are really nice.  First year I’d actually voluntarily wear one in public.  Grey is flattering and the logo ace.  The sizing was a bit on the snug side.  I tried on the medium initially, but that was optimistic, instead I went for the large.  Mind you, I was hoiking it over pretty much my entire wardrobe, so perhaps I was expecting a lot of give in a medium size uni-sex offering.  There was then some companionable milling about, waiting for others to assemble and making small talk.

I wandered around wishing I was George, and taking some random snaps to document the occassion with mixed success.  However, pleasingly, I soon encountered my Cheetah Buddy, who after months off with injury is now re-entering the running fold, but like me volunteering today.  Cue selfie.   I still need to practise these, but hey ho, records our presence on the day.  I know the pictures aren’t great (no, really, I do) but I like how they get the sort of architectural structures of the tents against the sky line.  I might steal better photos from the official ones once they are made available, in the meantime you’ll have to make do with these, and your imaginations.  Good luck.

After a little while, I found I was on the list for the ‘bottom loop’ group.  Clearly, this was going to be a particularly vital role, with volunteers in no way arbitrarily allocated to position, but rather comprehensive skills analysis dictating who stood where.  I felt a bit for our volunteer co-ordinator, who made the rookie error of trying to remember all our names, which was heroic, and polite, but ultimately unlikely to be achieveable.  We all blinked at him, unhelpfully.  Oh well.  A little troop of seven of us headed off.  We were basically on the small loop of Sheffield parkrun if that helps.  One of our number had a particularly responsible role being right at the start.  As there would be first a 2.5km kids’ fun-run, then the official 10k race, with different routes, he was tasked wtih moving a stake with a bit of tape in it from one position to another AND back again to indicate the direction of flow for the lead runners.  I know, quite an awesome level of responsibility.  He was very tall, so I think the height advantage also helped, he’d be able to see trouble ahead much earlier than any of us more vertically challenged.  We abandoned him at his post, and trudged onward.  He did well – slight spoiler – but here he is in action at the start of the 10k.  Great authoratitive overseeing and confident pointing technique I’m sure you’ll agree!

I was designated marshal point two.  This was just outside the children’s playground if you are interested.  I’d have to do both directional pointing AND supportive clapping.  I was aided with some dome-shaped cones, which I positioned rather brilliantly, to guide runners away from the wrong turning and towards the correct route.  Would you call these markers ‘cones’ as such?  I honestly have no idea.  On reflection, I might have made more of alternating the colours say, and possibly that slight misalignment of the curve should have been corrected with the benefit of hindsight, but not bad for a first attempt.

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Once in position, I wasn’t sure what to do.  I hung about for a bit, and after a few minutes, some of the other marshals who had now been put in position a bit further on from me appeared.  We did some companionable team-building, mainly involving selfies, sharing running anecdotes and laughing at how much we were worrying about getting it wrong.  It is amazing any of us are able to live independently, or even dress ourselves, given the collective angst we were sharing about whether we’d be able to meet the demanding responsibilities that were about to be thrust upon us.  It was hilarious, it seems I was not alone in suddenly imagining I’d point the wrong way, accidentally run screaming into the runners demanding they’d stop causing a pile up and major race incident or in some other, as yet unimagined way, inadvertantly sabotage the whole event.  Why we were all so insecure I can’t adequately explain, other than by saying it was because we were all runners, or supporting runners and we all really wanted the day to go well.  Our concern wasn’t an indication of our imcompetence (necessarily) but it was a measure of how much we cared about getting it right. So if you are wanting to volunteer at any event, not just this one, just do so, you’ll be fine.  Be brave and stick your hand up to have a go.  You can fake it to make it if necessary.

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We did see the funny side of it, and it was reassuring to share our collective apprehension.  If you are thinking of volunteering but suffering a similar disproportionate worry about getting it all wrong on the day don’t let that stop you.  It really was pretty straight forwards and whatever ‘stupid question’ you may have, others are probably thinking it too.  Yes, dear reader.  We did go and look at the directional arrows and query which way the runners were supposed to be going.  It is in fact, blindingly obvious.  The runners follow a bike out, and the arrows were comprehenive anyway. Also, the way this loop was set up at least, we were within shouting distance, if not actual sight of other marshals, so you aren’t really on  your own.  Or if you are, it’s only in the existential sense that we are all alone in the end, but let’s not dwell on that now.  Instead, here are some selfies with my new best-friends forever.  Aren’t we awesome:

One of these runners is doing the Sheffield 10k in a couple of week’s time; one is doing a Portugal marathon, and one has secured a ballot entry for the London Marathon 2017 but doesn’t know it yet.  Can you work out who is who?  What do you think of my scarf by the way?  Pretty comprehensive neck coverage I think you’ll agree.

After a bit of faffing, we took up our positions in anticipation of the event building up momentum.  Runners started to arrive, some known, some unknown.  I had to exchange a few sharp words with one running buddy from Smilies who OPENLY GUFFAWED at my michelen-woman effect outfit.  I pointed out to her that she shouldn’t ridicule marshals in this way because ultimately her safety, health and well-being might well depend on how well I carried out my marshaling duties at the event.  Besides, I’m sure the ‘layered look’ is probably very in vogue for the winter months, I’m probably just (as always) ahead of the trend.  I can rock layered, see me work it:

I wouldn’t say she was chastened exactly, not at all even, but I put this down to her pre-event race nerves.  We made up afterwards so that was OK.  Post race proof of this below.  You can tell this is after the race, because she has a medal, I no longer have my hi-vis, and the nice people at the cafe have put up loads of special bunting just for us to mark our reconciliation.  Also, don’t let on, but when I actually saw some pictures of me in action in my clothing choices for the day, I did have to tacitly concede she may have had a small point.  I still think ‘abominable snowman’ was going a bit far.  I shall endeavour to rise above such ridicule, but have logged it for future reference nevertheless.

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I got into my stride responding to enquiries.  I liked this bit.  I forgot at first I was wearing a bright orange tabard, so was a bit taken aback by random people approaching me with questions.  ‘I must have one of those approachable faces’ I thought to myself in self-congratulatory tones.  It was good when I knew the answers.  Most frequent questions were ‘Where are the loos?’ ‘Where do I register?’ ‘Is there a bag-drop?‘ and ‘what’s going on here today?’  Reader I was brilliant, I got all the questions right.  Just shows, you know more than you realise sometimes, and also shows that all those precautionary pees I’ve had over the years have really paid off!  It was great, I felt massively competent based on extremely little expertise, it boosted my confidence!

The domed cones were a bit more of a challenge though.  You would be amazed how many people trod on them, fell over them, or otherwise couldn’t cope with the challenge of stepping over them.  It was extraordinary. Toddlers couldn’t walk past them without scooping them up, which I felt mean having to prevent.  They treated the cones with real delight, like some unexpected and rare treasure come across on their ramblings.  The world is indeed full of wonders when you are discovering it for the first time.  The dogs made me nervous, all that sniffing, I was sure one would cock a leg at one point though none did.    One alsation puppy was terrified of them, cowering as it approached the line of cones, and  backing off at the end of its long lead as its accompanying human tried to reassure him/her that there was no cause for alarm.  Eventually it bravely raced past them tail between it’s legs, and then jumped about with relief and delight at having negotiated such a terrifying and unknown obstacle safely.  One particularly law-abiding citizen came to a dead halt in front of them, like it was a mile high wall of razor wire with watch towers atop it and flood lights as well as weaponry trained on her.  ‘Is it OK for me to pass?’ she enquired, magnanamously I let her through.   Get me.  Powerful, but fair in how I chose to exercise that power.

The junior 2.5km race was due to start at 9.15 a.m..  We were all on tenterhooks awaiting the start.  Confusingly, from a distance, there was a warm up taking place, and so there were lots of loud counting down ‘three, two, one’ shouts. I kept thinking this was the cue to start, but in fact I think it was either counting down numbers of squats or to start of whatever routine.  It all helped build the mood of expectation though.  Fab!  It was Trib3 leading the warm up apparantly. Go them (thanks tententen facebook page for the photos).

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Then, bang on 9.15, after a little encouragement to all the runners to shuffle back behind the start line, the shout went up and they were awf!  It was ridiculously exciting!  My those kids can sprint!  The bike shot off a bit ahead of them, and within next to no time the lead runners were whizzing past me with barely a glance in my direction despite my awesome clapping, encouraging shouts and helpful pointing.  It reminded me very much of the tour de france when it came through Yorkshire.  I hung around for hours, having a lovely time with other spectators, and then when the pelican or whatever it’s called, eventually came through it was ‘blink and you’ll miss it!’  Phew, mission accomplished, marshaling duty one complete.    Most of the children were running with enthusiasm and confidence.  I must be less cynical or marginally more hormonal than I realised, because I actually felt quite emotional watching them. They were great.  There were a few adults in the throng keeping their offspring company (or maybe warming up for their own race), only one poor child at the back seemed completely overwhelmed by it all and was not having the best of times.  I hope they cheered up and carried on, but well done to whoever it was for even making the start line.  It’s a ‘proper’ event after all, with registration, race numbers, warm up, timing, crowds, it was bound to create a bit of anxiety for some.   I’m loving the photos.  Check out the marshal high-fiving one of the runners (his son I think) in one of the photos.  You’d have to have a heart of stone not to get just a little tear in the very corner of your eye at seeing that surely…  I’m sure you don’t really want to be called out as a heartless bastard on a lovely autumnal day like today?  Look at that logo, isn’t it great?  Definitely best yet.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I love everyone today, it must be the post-run endorphins kicking in by association with runners if not an actual run 🙂

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The great thing about my volunteering position, was once everyone had passed, I could move up to watch the finish.  That was brilliant, so much joy to behold.  Also, and I particularly enjoyed this aspect, exhausted parents/nominated responsible adults comprehensively outrun by their sprinting youngsters.  The smiles on the faces of these runners wearing medals that probably should have been confiscated on health & safety reasons as they weighed more than the average young runner’s head were brilliant.  That bling would have any self-respecting runner grinning from ear to ear!  I’m not sure about the appropriateness of posting a picture of a random unknown child I don’t know on a blog post, so here instead is one of a known celebrity Sheffield running dog to give you the general idea.  (Credit to Skip at frontrunner)

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So then, that race done and dusted, there was a bit more loitering waiting for the main event.  Well I say the ‘main event’ but to be fair, that’s not true if you were in the fun run, so each to their own.  I regrouped with my BFF marshals, and we debriefed on our pointing and clapping techniques sharing top tips and expertise.  One’s child had run in the event and rather sweetly they came to show off their medal.  It really was enormous in comparison to the child.  I reckon, it would be like the average adult walking around with a canon ball round their neck. Still, there were loads of vouchers kicking around for white house physio so hopefully no irreversable damage.  And, to be fair, I’d carry round a medal that weighed as much as a canon ball if it looked as awesome as that, and I’m over five.  More familiar faces appeared.  People from parkrun, people from Smiley Paces, some I know a bit from using their photos here.  Monday Mobsters came by to say hello – I made a mental note to look out for them as they ran past.  When you are marshaling, loads of people come to talk to you. It was really good.  Some were running or spectating.  One runner was supporting his son and suffering from runner envy, reminded of his more competitive days.  Some were random people who were perplexed about having stumbled on this parallel universe of geometric tents, ostentatious bling and colourful lycra.  One new to sheffield was delighted to discover she had this running venue on her doorstep (Sheffield Hallam parkrun recruit – tick).  I also managed to recruit some people to the Longshaw Trust 10k so that’s good.  Not everyone was delighted by the event.  Some were seeking to take evasive action, others were really pleased to be able to plonk themselves down at the edges and watch everything unfold. Well, we certainly had the weather for it did we not?

There was quite a carnival atmosphere at the ‘event village’ catering options, running gear options, backage drop options, portaloo options and pens for the runners.  All needs catered for.  I can’t explain why Frontrunner had its own dedicated emergency response vehicle (that’s another way of saying ambulance in rather more words).  I also don’t know what the animal is or which end we are viewing, but all pics are they not.  They are courtesy of tententen team, George Carman and Steve (Mossienet) Frith.   Please consider donating to Weston Park Cancer Charity in return for free photos – they raised an incredible £1500 last year and are hoping to smash this target this year! 🙂 https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/TENTENTEN2016 :

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So, more greeting of arrivals, more hanging about, adjusting my dome-shaped sports boundary marking cones (I’ve just looked them up on the interweb, and that is their technical term apparently).  Time went quickly, as the 10k route was in a different direction, I actually went up to watch the start.  I thought I’d get some pointing and applause practise in early.  Again, a prompt start.  Watching all the runners sprint off was amazing.  When you are taking part in an event you never really get a proper sense of  the continuum of ability; the assortment of body shapes; ages; running styles; club tops; causes – everything really.   I think there were around one thousand participants, and it took quite a while for them to stream past.  Long enough that I realised I was going to have to really pace myself with the clapping once I got back to my marshaling point as my upper arms were killing me from just this one fly-by of runners at the start!  It was fun looking out for Smilies, though there were rather fewer Smiley vests than I’d expected, and at least one Smiley was in disguise, donning her work-sponsored T-shirt in preference to her club vest.  This is what comes of being a wage slave I suppose.  I still cheered her though.  Mysteriously, couldn’t spot the Monday Mobsters… strange.  Only later when they came to say goodbye did I find out they weren’t running.  Doh.  I’m hardly Ms Marple am I, not wearing running gear was perhaps a clue had I but had eyes to see it…  Oh well.

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Back in my position, it was only about 15 minutes or so later before the elite runners were snaking back through the park, first lap down.  There were about three of them way ahead of everyone else, it was extraordinary.  At the risk of stating the obvious, they can really run!  The rest of the field was a bit behind, and then the mass of other runners started flooding through. I’ve used the analogy of wildebeest on migration before, but really, that is the best image.  This unstoppable organic mass bearing down on you.  It would crush anything in its path.  I got into my pointing and clapping stride, but cheering was harder than expected.  I should have done some voice exercises to warm up.  Still, I did my best!  ‘Great running‘, ‘good job‘, ‘Go Smiley‘ (but only if it was actually a Smiley running), and calling out random names or club names if I had time for the letters to come into focus before the runner sped on by.  I did worry at one point if my commentary might be deemed as patronising, but then again, if you’re running the fast one’s wont hear/wont care, and others like me are grateful for any support vocalised and don’t generally waste time grading it on levels of acceptability.  Even if they do, I can say hand on heart, no-one stopped running to come across and critique my cheering skills or express annoyance at my choice of phraseology, so don’t worry, just follow your instincts on that one if ever you are required to cheer runners on in a public place.

Looking at my ‘action shots’ of the day, I have to reluctantly concede (sorry about the split infinitive) that the outfit isn’t one of my finest is it really, oh well, astoundingly, I don’t do running related activities because of the flattering clothing choices it offers up!  Just as well frankly.

The next 20 minutes or so was a blur of directional pointing and clapping.  It then started to get a bit stressful.  The problem was, faster runners started to lap the slower ones and were coming to the finish.  The slower runners were caught unawares and what with the corner, and spectators milling around trying to get a view of their mates completing the first lap I was really worried the finish funnel would be blocked.  I was shouting frantically to people to keep clear of the finish but, not unreasonably, the spectators couldn’t really fathom what I was on about.  Fortunately, the psychic race organiser appeared like some Deus Ex Machina to save the day by expert relocation of some of my dome-shaped sports boundary cones to signify the finish funnel.  Disaster was thus avoided.  Phew.  Here is a picture of him in action:

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It is eye-opening marshalling.  Most people were really lovely, but some seemed to have zero awareness of what was going on around them.  People sort of wandering into the path of oncoming runners who seemed surprised and amazed when I asked (politely, I was very polite) to keep clear.  It wasn’t even that they were making a point about it being a public park and their entitlement to use the paths, more that they didn’t seem to compute that taking on maybe 800+ runners piling towards them by ambling towards them in the opposite direction wouldn’t end well.  Some runners had children supporting them at the sidelines, and periodically whoops went up as high-fives were exchanged.  A few people asked me random questions when I was in the midst of particularly high-pressure directional pointing.  Timing people, timing!  Oooh, the adrenalin was certainly flowing.  It was one such question about – oh I dont know, where to buy duck food or something – that prevented me from either enquiring about how her shorts were faring or indeed setting off a rousing two-way ‘honey’ ‘g’ call and response chorus in honour of our elite Marple Smiley Runner, so that was a missed opportunity now lost for ever.  Probably just as well.  I particularly asked that people today kept me abreast of any wardrobe malfunctions after compression-shortsgate last year, but no official notifications were made to me so I presume all was well.

A different set of challenges ensued once a proportion of the runners had finished but others were still passing the half way point, or coming through to the finish themselves.  There seemed to descend a sort of runners’ haze, which I’ve experienced, but not really witnessed in such graphic terms before.  A wall of runners stumbling towards me, making their way home with medals and goody bags along the finish funnel in reverse, and back out from whence they came. They wore dazed expressions, and just walked five a-breast right out on the course, completely obstructing the entire route. With apologies if it’s a distateful analogy, but it was honestly like those photos you see on the front page of newspapers catching the aftermath of some horrific disaster.  You know the one, black and white images of victims emerging from collapsed buildings, hardly able to comprehend what has just happened, zombie like, with dust billowing behind them and ruins all around.  They stagger onwards, unresponsive, unhearing and (in my view) insufficiently compliant with marshal directives such as ‘clear the course, clear the course!’  Amazing!

I put some thought into what to shout by way of encouragement to the runners more towards the end of the pack.  I started by shouting ‘sprint finish‘ as my position at the second lap was  a few hundred metres from the end.  But then again, I remembered how I loathe it if people pressurise me to do more than I want on a run, and also I remember how at the Round Sheffield Run (still my favourite race of all time) I strategically kept walking as long as I was hidden by the handy concealing hedge, only picking up a ‘lumbering run’ (yes, that is a technical running term) once I was in sight of any spectators.  I therefore amended my approach to a more ambigious ‘get ready for your sprint finish!’  If I say so myself, this was an act of creative genius.  Why?  Because serious runners, could indeed do just that, but the have-a-go crowd could if they preferred simply share a hollow laugh or knowing wink, enjoying the hilarious use of irony at such a moment.  Nice bit of marshal/runner bonding.

Another grand thing about my location, was I got to see lots of people I knew as they departed.  I’d hoped to be able to take some action photos of runners too, but abandoned that plan early on.  It was more fun clapping etc, and you needed to be able to see what was going on.  Marshalling  wasn’t difficult as such, but it did require more concentration than I expected to encourage people to give way to runners.  Also, runners’ haze again, some participants who had ended up on their own for whatever reason, and presumably didn’t know the park, did get confused about  where the route went despite me pointing, all the arrows and the crowd lining the route.  ‘Which way?’ was a plaintiff cry more than once.  I didn’t mind, it met my criteria of making me feel busy and important, without actually making any great demands on any specialist skills, always a bonus.  The sense of feeling important is a pretty rare occurence in my own life, alas.

Hobbit buddy survived her run in tact, which is nigh on miraculous give the state of her feet and her recent near-death experience!  She performed some good photo duties, and I took some delightful snaps of her too.  She looks very bling happy indeed.  She hasn’t just been shopping by the way, those are the bountiful goody bags dished out at the event, no wonder she was so happy.

Surprisingly, well I was surprised, you do remember who has been round, and I was aware that at the back were a group of charity walkers a bit behind the main throng.  After about 100 minutes, it was clear everyone else had finished bar this group.  We weren’t quite sure what the protocol was around when to leave our posts.  I was happy to stay until the very end, but my BFF marshals appeared saying that they needed to leave.  We weren’t sure what to do, but we could espy our volunteer co-ordinator taking down tape on the finish line and collapsing tables.  The others went off to ask, I stayed put because I wasn’t in any particular hurry, and as a slowbie myself I appreciate it if there is still some evidence of life when you come in.  My new BFFs reappeared.  We were to stand down.  The group were with the tail marker and OK to finish together.  Fair enough.  We said our farewells, handed back our hi-vis and said emotional farewells.  Not all that emotional, but we had bonded, I’d definitely recommend volunteering it was a hoot.

We were in time for the prize giving presentations.  I went across to see what was going on.   A lot of the winners had already departed (not died, just gone home) but there was still a good line up on the very impressively proportioned podium.  I decided that rather than go for the obvious winners shot, I’d try and get one of the photographers instead.  It didn’t really work.  The particular shot I wanted, was one of all the photographers with their impressive lenses, viewed through the legs of the winners.  However, just in time it dawned on me that if I did  indeed attempt that shot, I’d also have photobombed every winners’ shot, and probably not in a good way.  Oh well, I tried.  It was my attempt at a tribute to all the photographers who turned out on the day and laboured unseen behind their magnificent lenses to capture all that unfolded on the day.  We thank you.

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By the way, STOP-PRESS, my stealth photography project wasn’t wholly successful, but on the plus side, this photo is hilarious, so that’s OK then!

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Just as the prize-giving was concluded, the final finishers were in sight.  Those of us still around were encouraged to gather round the finish to cheer them home, that was a really nice gesture.  Aw, what great people are behind this event, the attention to detail, and the inclusivity is really impressive.  Here they are, the final returners I mean, and some of them put in such a turn of speed with their unexpected sprint finish, I’m afraid they got a bit blurred. Sorry about that. You will also see though, that I have captured some great volunteer marshal shots.  See the skill with which they are proffering those medals.  That’s quality  technique I’ll have you know – but it doesn’t mean it couldn’t be you dishing out the honours same time next year!

Free from responsibilities, I wandered about picking up friends along the way and hearing their running tales.  Very soon I came across cheetah buddy who appeared with another volunteer (her new BFF from the top loop), both were stuffing their faces with burgers – they’d got pretty chilled on the Hanging Water Road location which is shaded, and were in calorie deficit replacement mode.  Still, I could be sympathetic at their plight, yet not miss out on the chance of shooting at an open goal.  ‘Is that what you’ve been doing all morning?’  I quipped with great originality and hilarity ‘scoffing buns?’.  How they laughed at my merry jape!

Cheetah buddy correctly identified that my real problem was jealousy.  For reasons I couldn’t quite fathom (being cold from volunteering mainly) she and her marshal buddy had got free food!  It seems I might also, AND there was a vegetarian option of lentil and aubergine soup, which was actually delicious.  I was quite peckish, well breakfast was now almost 8 hours ago.  I wondered if I could get a roll wtih my soup.  Wasn’t technically on offer, but they had them for the burgers after all.   ‘Can I have a roll with my soup please?’  ‘No, we don’t have any rolls, sorry‘.  I was completely non-plussed.  I could see an abundance of rolls.  What was going on?  Fortunately, another staff member came to my assistance, correcting her colleague.  ‘ We have lots and lots of rolls, it is simply a question of the vernacular, of course she can have a roll, but it is not a roll, it is of course, a breadcake!’  Me and my soft-southerner incomprehensible ways eh?  Still, all’s well that ends well.  I got my soup.  I got my roll/breadcake, and I even got to tell a story I’ve not had the opportunity to share in ages.  When I was about 17, a friend of mine had a job at Thorpe Park (amusement place near Staines in Surrey).  She spent an entire summer telling every American tourist who visited that she was sorry but ‘no, there are no restrooms available within this attraction‘.  Hilarious.  Well, Americans can be demanding cant they, how was she supposed to know they didn’t mean they wanted a bit of a lie down before taking on the next queue for a roller-coaster or whatever?  Incidentally, that food place had a particularly great view of the portaloos from their tent didn’t they?  See how I’ve framed it with such artistry in the shot.

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Once we had our soup, and buns, and whatever, we plonked ourselves down on some free seats outside the cafe.  This turned out to be an unexpectedly good move.  Not only did we score big time, finding ourselves joined by regal smiley, her talented offspring and her dedicated celebrity photographer, but we were also joined by another Smiley compatriot who has PROMISED to do the Wingerworth Wobble next week (this is important as I am in fear of doing it on my own); but also, I found if you sat there long enough people brought you free things.  No really, I came back laden.  Firstly, cheetah buddy procured some amazing chocolate fudge brownies – which admittedly she had to pay for but I didn’t, so I may be regarded as a social parasite but I still got free food thrust upon me.  It was from these people I think:

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Then, after a bit, someone was offering free bunches of bananas.  Get in, you can’t go wrong with a free bunch of bananas.  And Then… ‘free rainbow drops, anyone want free rainbow drops!’  I know, real multi-coloured droplets from actual rainbows!  There didn’t seem to be a catch, this was no child-snatcher.  I don’t even think I like rainbow drops (what with my body being a temple and everything) but I got a bag of them too.  Though on reflection, we may have despatched a child to procure them for us.  Still, result.

Finally, my cheetah buddy had brought me bountiful produce from her allotment, so I went home with freshly harvested apples and pears.  Not a bad haul. I’m slightly worried that I brought nothing to the literal or metaphorical table, as I wasn’t even knowledgeable enough about camper vans to join in that conversation, but perhaps I’m holding back on my more bountiful qualities so I can use them for a special occassion.  Once the supply of all the free things had apparently been exhausted, we started to depart.  It had been a good day.  However, amazingly it wasn’t over, there were more surprises yet to come!

We went to watch the parkour play area for a bit, the athleticism of those young people is amazing.  In fact, it was inspirational.  For reasons that made sense at the time, we decided to find out how hard exactly it is to do a crab as an adult.  Regal Smiley and her Celebrity Photographer have recently discovered it’s way harder than you remember from your childhood.  We decided to have a go.  My approximation at this is not awe-inspiring, but may have comedic value.  It’s so strange. Your head gets stuck, like it’s nailed to the ground, and your arms don’t quite work either.  Have a go, you know you want to, and you might amuse any young person in the vicinity more than you know.  Think of it as a random act of kindness, and maybe choose a less public place to experiment though be mindful of your safety.  Don’t lock your front door in case emergency services are needed, and keep a mobile phone in reach, even if you have to activate it with your nose or eyebrows.  Here is the experiment and the joy it brought about.  You’re welcome.

So, that was that.  Home.  Thanks all for a great day.  Well done to the race organisers.  It can be lonely at the top.  Well, so they say, I suspect this is a team effort, but I like the narrative that allows me to include this picture. Also, special kudos for matching top and shoes, that’s classy!  Thank you runners and marshals all, both are needed, there would be no event of any worth if either side of that equation was a no-show.

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On the way home I took some photos to capture the season’s colours.  Potentially pretentious granted, but why not?  I find you can still have post-run endorphins even if you haven’t actually run anywhere, it was grand!  I loved everyone, and I loved the world… well, I did until the latest news bulletin, but that was always inevitable.

Oh lawks a lordy, I almost forgot, for those of you who care, there are results available here for the tententen 2016 and 2.5km fun-run.

When I got home, I got to enjoy my top.  You get a free one for volunteering, also free entry to next year’s event, which is a very good deal really, because marshaling was no great hardship, au contraire, it was a lot of fun.  The best thing about this top is that it is flattering.  I was going to wear it forever, but unfortunately got baked beans down it within hours of this photo being taken, so that plan didn’t quite work out, you might be luckier.  Just don’t eat baked beans wearing it, or wear a bib, or learn to get food in your mouth on a fork first time.  Takes practice, but I understand it can be done.

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Same time next year? Go on, go on, you know you want to!

If you are a seasoned volunteer, you might even be wise enough to bring your own chair.  Serious pros caught in action here!

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Oh, and another thing, there are lots of photos available on facebook, though as in previous years, the organisers ask that you consider making a donation to Weston Park Cancer Charity in return for free photos – they raised £1500 last year and are hoping to smash this target this year! 🙂 https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/TENTENTEN2016

and finally, if you dont have a life, or need a procrastination tool because you are supposed to be working towards your masters or whatever, then follow this link for all my running scared posts on the ten ten ten follow this link

You’re welcome.  Happy running.

Categories: 10km, off road, race, running | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Can clap and point – will I get to volunteer at the TenTenTen?

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I did way too much faffing re this one this year.  I’ve done the TenTenTen twice before, and I do really like it, buuuuuuuuuut, for various reasons I didn’t get my proverbial arse into gear in time to enter for this one.  Partly, I wasn’t sure that I’d be around; partly I’m a bit skint and watching the pennies at the moment; and partly it seems a bit decadent to pay for a race on trails that I run all the time anyway (though that logic is actually stupid, because in many ways it’s way more fun scampering over familiar routes – doh).  Also, I thought, based on previous experience chances are I’d get away with making a last-minute entry nearer the time.  Not so.

keep-calm-and-oh-wait-too-late

The event was sold out by 12th September or thereabouts, which I’ve decided is actually good news, as it means there is an appetite for such events in the Sheffield ‘running community’ if there is such a thing (I think there is).  The consequence is, that although it may be temporarily disappointing to have missed out on entering this year, on the plus side at least I wasn’t made to book a hotel for four people before being allowed to look and see if there were still any places available –  and also chances are it will remain a regular fixture in the Sheffield running calendar, so I can always run it again next year – just need to be a bit quicker off the starting blocks next time…  (see what I did there?)

snaking-across-the-green

So, if you don’t know already, the Sheffield TenTenTen is, according to the website blah de blah:

What is the Sheffield TENTENTEN?

It’s an exciting and creative multi-terrain trail 10k,  attracting over 1000 runners each year the event is well supported and has a fantastic atmosphere. The first edition was on the 10th October 2010, hence the funny name, and has stuck ever since.

 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 nice 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.

 We hope to see you on Sunday the 9th of October 2016 in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield

The only thing really not to like about this event (apart from potential for near biblical weather, torrential rain has been ferocious for at least one run in previous years), is the fact that it is a two lap course.  As someone who is destined perpetually to be lapped by faster runners this can be demoralising as they romp past me to the finish and I’m only approaching mid-way – not even that at the Percy Pud, but that is an out and back route so a bit different perhaps…  On the other hand, this fact did lead to the capturing of what I consider to be my favourite ever run photo – I fear I may not be able to find it.  However, imagine in your mind’s eye a female runner quite literally dropping her jaw in disgust and horror as she realises the guy running past her looking like a living god, is sprinting to the finish whilst she has yet to make the half way point.  We’ve all felt this on being lapped, well, us slower runners anyway, but rarely has it been made so outwardly manifest and the exact moment of realisation caught in all its naked emotion on camera.  Award winning snap in my view.  It shows just how high the emotional temperature can be when you are out there busting a gut at the TenTenTen.  Whether the fact that this photo pleases me would console the runner in question I know not, but it still makes me laugh every time I see it.  I’m going to have a look for it now, can’t remember if it was 2015 or 2014 race.  Hmmmm.

OK, so looking at the photos was a bad idea, because now I am properly jealous of the runners, and also it was a massive time vampire as there are hundreds of photos to browse.   Couldn’t even find the photo.  Oh well, you’ll just have to imagine the picture for yourself…. CORRECTION.  Fantastic news,  no you don’t! I have found it!  Such is my tenacity and dedication to authenticity in this blog I’ve just wasted an hour of my life sat on my sofa picture surfing looking for this, but it’s paid off.  Plus, I got to watch some of the paralympics too, so multi-tasking really, not slacking at all, practically a work out.  So, here it is, yep, I can report it does indeed still make me laugh!  Although, maybe I’m reading the shot wrong, could it be this trio in pink were just very surprised at finding themselves lapping the frontrunner guy?  Just saying we maybe shouldn’t assume.  It was 2014 by the way, just so you know.

whos-lapping-who

Nevertheless, all is not lost.  Fear Of Missing Out can yet be averted.  Today I emailed the TenTenTen team to request that I go on the waiting list for a place, and failing that I am up for marshaling.  I think it would be a hoot to volunteer actually.  I have explained in my email enquiry that I am very good at pointing and shooing runners in any particular direction, and also at clapping.  As a runner, I think these are the most important requirements for a marshal at an event.  If there are more complex demands, then I may require training, or at least a pre-race briefing, but I daresay they have dealt with amateurs before.  This could be me, looking busy and important.

I hope they don’t want me to lead on the bike, that would be hard puffing up those hills.  Mind you, the cyclist might not be a volunteer marshal actually. He’s not got a hi-viz on has he?  Maybe that’s just taking race-craft to extremes, not sure the rules say anything in writing about use of a bike en route.   OK, I’ve checked, he was definitely chancing it.  Here is a photo of the official lead cyclist, hi-viz you see, that’s the clincher, so now we know.

on-yer-bike

What is it they say, don’t try to run faster, run smarter.  Something like that anyway.  My ideal volunteering position would require no responsibility beyond pointing and clapping (which I’d enjoy) but failing that, any role requiring a clip board would be good.  However, I’m pretty flexible, will take on whatever is required.

The new logo is good by the way, I prefer it to previous years.  Nice and autumnal.  So, we’ll see.  I am happy to leave the nature of my participation in the 2016 TenTenTen event to chance.  Whether I am to run, or not to run, whether I am in fact to  volunteer/marshal instead it will be fun.  My only real fear is that I’ll find volunteering is way better than actually running.  That is, it will have all the fun of running (social, out in the great outdoors,opportunity to eat cake afterwards) without the unpleasant running bit.  Such a realisation might jeapordise my future enthusiasm for running.  That would be the thin end of the wedge with respect to bringing about a waning in my pursuit of fitness as well as potentially the beginning of the end of my actively running career before it’s even started.    Oh well, risk worth taking.  I wonder if volunteers get a T-shirt, that would be good. Don’t mind so much about the bling, I feel you should actually run to qualify for that.  But a T-shirt would be nice…

Right, off to practise clapping and directional pointing, you need good upper arm strength to keep that up for a whole 10k I’m sure.  It’s hard enough at a parkrun!  I wonder if you are allowed to shout ‘Go Smiley’ if you are volunteering, or if that is considered too partisan?  Maybe if I shouted it at all runners not just members of the Smiley Paces running club that would be OK?  I’ll ask at the briefing…  I think you are OK to dispense hugs though, down to individual judgement.  I’m quite excited now, it’s going to be fab!  Bring.  It.  On.

Sheffield TenTenTen Facebook page has loads of photo albums by the way if you want to have a browse.  They do ask that we all  ‘Please use these pics as you wish and consider donating a small amount to Weston Park Hospital 🙂 https://www.justgiving.com/Weston-Park-Hospital-Cancer-Charity3′ which I think is fair enough, they are fab pictures are they not?

I thank you.

For all my posts about the tententen follow this link. To read my account of the 2015 Ten Ten Ten see here.

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

Running Ups and Downs – the Sheffield TenTenTen

crowd scene tententen

In this case the running ‘ups’ included a particularly steep hill (twice) and the downs included falling over.

So, today being the 18th October 2015 it was show time for the annual Sheffield TenTenTen.  The name comes because the first time it was held, it was a 10km race on the 10th October (tenth month) quite possibly in 2010.  So you can see what they did there (although I suppose if all those details are correct it ought by rights to have been called the TenTenTenTen, so perhaps there is some myth making going on there too.)  Now years have passed, the name is marginally less apt, but sticks.  This is a 10km trail race, very local to me.  Some of it is on the same trails and paths used by my weekly Parkrun, so it is a very familiar route.  I only have to roll out of bed and stagger down, I’ve even already picked up my number in advance from the local running shop.

My leg still feels a bit numb, and I’ve got a sore throat, so I’m a bit whingey to be honest, but there is no-one about to hear my moaning, and I decide I will just go and take it easy.  I don’t want to miss out, and it’s not an especially tough course.  I decide on my pre-race goals (see, I’ve learned nothing from experience).  I decide I will be happy not to be lapped by the faster runners (it is a two loop course) and not to fall over on the way round.  I know all about setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic – and Relevant, and Timebound).  These goals are definitely that….

I woke really early, so had a coffee and some porridge with nuts and seeds and dates in it.  Yum.  I realised to my consternation that I do now have a bit of a pre-event faffing routine.  I always use a hair drier to dry my feet after a shower, because I think if my feet are damp at all then I’ll get blisters when I run.  This could be a good theory, but last couple of runs have involved getting seriously soaked crossing streams or sinking in bogs, so it’s rather an academic point.   This being so, maybe I should face up to the possibility that maybe I’m just a bit weird doing that, at any rate definitely displaying behaviour that’s towards the puzzlingly eccentric end of the continuum.   I also usually wear my long sleeved top, but today, I thought I’d go wild and break with tradition, and wear a short sleeved one instead.  I’d like to say this is because I plan to run fast and furious and this will be cooler, but the real reason is I hope it will be marginally more flattering than my long sleeved one as I am heaving my Smiley Paces vest on over the top of it, and frankly that is always a bit of a squeeze with my bulkier top.  I safety pin my number on.  A running friend did say she’d got me some magnets to use instead, but they haven’t found their way to me and I’d rather be organised.

The race  starts  at 10, but there is a 2.5km fun run for children before (don’t tempt me), I head out just after 9.00.  I am met by a forlorn looking older couple in a car.  They wind down their window.  They have lost their much loved dog.  It is a golden Labrador/ Staffordshire cross, with a pink sparkly collar – and they look heart-broken.  I say I’ll try and get it put on social media at the event I’m going to as there will be lots of runners there.  I did ask at both the café and at the bag drop, but don’t know if they did, pretty sure they didn’t.  I felt like it was my responsibility, I did let some other generic runners know as well.  Oh it’s so sad.

Walking down I pass the kids running their 2.5 km challenge.  Some of them are seriously fast. How can they do that?  It’s extraordinary, and many of them are positively laughing with joy as they stream by.  There is a photographer waiting to snap them as they pass.  He sees me, clocks my Smiley Vest and queries why I don’t appear to be Smiling as it claims on my top.  I promise I will try and smile at him when I come running past later (astonishingly, I do achieve this, albeit it has something of the quality of a pained grimace after all that running around, but it shows willing does it not?).  It is the second lap though, smiling comes more easily when the end is in sight…

   smiling in my smiley vest - must be lap two!

Reaching the start I find that it is as always (well, I say as always, it’s only the second time I’ve done it) incredibly friendly, well organised and well laid out.  There is a bag drop; registration; ambulance (delete the memory of that but good to know it’s there); coffee; food; kit for sale; physiotherapists; podium for presentations later (doesn’t impact on me to be honest, but shows the attention to detail), and lots and lots of fluorescent jacketed marshals and helpers.  I feel at home here, because it’s very much my Parkrun patch, it makes the whole event less intimidating.  It is crowded though, lots of runners and their supporters too.  There are also loads of smiling enthusiastic marshals, that really helps to get you round!

paramedic support en route 2015

Arrival turned out to be quite social.  A veritable pleasing plague of Smileys are in evidence, and quite mixed abilities too which is always heartening.  I meet one who had also been dithering about whether or not to run, she has a poorly ankle as well as problems with her feet.  We debate whether if we took the working parts from each of us we might be able to create some super runner, but regrettably this seems very unlikely.  We are both not blessed in the feet department, and that would be a problem, also neither of us is particularly tall – she gets to tower over me at 5’2″ to my 5’1.5″.  The plan is abandoned.

A gaggle (or should that be a giggle?) of Smiley’s assemble in the start funnel. We are having a really good natter in fact, which annoyingly is cut short by some sort of collective warm up.  We wave our hands aloft, copying the people in front, and not really sure what is going on.  It seems benign but a more serious point would be how easy is appears to be to get people following orders in this way.  It could have been some bizarre cult initiation ceremony for all we knew, goodness only knows what we’ve now been inducted to… The conversation picked up again (on the topic of social media faux pas mainly) and then again was annoyingly interrupted by having to go for a 10km run.  I’d been so stuck into a conversation about the tyranny of  ‘to like or not to like’ on Facebook, that I’d genuinely temporarily forgotten that was why we were there, I was somewhat shocked and affronted therefore to find myself in a stampede of whooping runners, but hey ho, here we go!

shooting off at the start 2015    smiley start

I’m not entirely sure how many starters there were – around 950 perhaps?  I was in the 60-70 minute band, and it took a while for us to get through the start, doesn’t really matter as the chip timers are in the number anyway.  The first bit of the route is snaking across the grass of Endcliffe Park.  This is my least favourite bit of the course, because you feel like you are doubling back on yourself (perhaps because you are) and also, I feel a bit conspicuous as here are spectators, you have to pretend to run with vim and vigour!  You quite quickly leave the park and end up on the road.  This was a bit confusing to me, as we are so programmed to NOT RUN ON THE ROAD at Parkrun, that I instinctively migrate onto the pavement which slows me down loads.  Then it dawned on me I could take the more direct route, I sped (in my terms) along there, feeling quite anarchic!  Oh the joys of the open road…  This momentary pleasure is displaced by the first encounter with The Hill.  It is very steep it is true, but honestly not that long.  It is  a grassy bank that seems to rise almost vertically up, and is surrounded by spectators that are either there to offer moral support, or could be there in the hope of witnessing some sort of blood-fest as runners tumble back down the slope with a dominoes effect on all those in their wake depending on your perspective.  I do start by running up, but quickly give way to walking.

uphill struggle

To be honest, I’m also quite relieved to find a bottle neck at the top where a narrow path takes you back into the woods again.  An opportunity to catch my breath.  The next bit is my favourite part of the run, it’s a nice woodland trail, not desperately fast because of the uneven path people do stop and start a bit.  There are a couple of friendly marshals warning about specific hazards (sudden down hill or unexpected fallen trees) but the BEST BIT is that someone has put up some posters saying ‘Come on Smileys’ at intervals in the wood.  It does really give your spirits a lift.  A much needed lift, as I’d just overheard someone pointing out to a friend the exact point where they’d taken a tumble in last year’s race.  We cross a couple of roads, a few non-running Smileys appear as Marshals or spectators and shout encouragement.  I feel like I’ve been caught slacking as they always seem to appear from the woods as I’ve started to slow.  Wearing a Smiley Vest is great for support though – that and the fact that this year’s race labels have your name on them, it makes you feel like a celebrity if you run and someone calls your name.  Actually, that’s not strictly true, the first time I heard my name called I thought I was in trouble, but that’s probably just me!

snaking across the green

Eventually we turn around and run back down through the wood, yay, downhill, it is a lot easier.  As we go back towards Endcliffe Park we are back on tarmac paths, and spectators and slightly non-plussed walkers are around.  One runner remarks to another ‘those people must think we are completely mad!’  I am compelled to interject ‘actually, I do too!’  They laugh in recognition – and then overtake me and speed away – surely not something I said?  We pass the steep hill again – this time we can see the fleeter runners tackling it for the second time – some of them look like they are actually bounding up it!  I like seeing the better runners, I don’t like being lapped by them, but I do love to see them in action.   It is amazing what the human body can do, not mine perhaps, but some people’s somewhere, somehow!

Back into the park, more woodland, I started to feel more confident again as it’s very familiar paths and almost the half way point.    I am snapped in action unawares, and seem to be actually voluntarily running  (as opposed to posing for the camera running) in the shots which is a first – even airborne in one (if you squint)

       woodland running Finally airborne lucy in the woods

Reader, alas, this temporary elation is short lived.  A couple of hundred metres later and I am lapped on the path round the corner, where the finish is in sight it is true, but definitely lapped.  Seconds later I also fall over.  How did that happen?  I didn’t hurt myself (well, grit in the palms and public humiliation, but nothing much), nearby runners did stop which was nice of them, I felt very foolish.  Then I had to do the horrible grassland plateau run again. This is so much harder second time around as I was sort of on my own rather than in a big herd of other runners like wildebeest on migration.  Also, I can hear the commentator bigging up the first few finishers and cheers of adulation and appreciation go up on their return.  The second lap is going to be tough.  I get a stich and feel a bit miserable, but I am determined to get round.  Road then that hill again, this time a bystander shouts ‘it’s OK to run up here you know’ and because I recognise him from Parkrun I retort ‘it’s OK to give us a helping shove from behind!’ and then I have a moment of panic that this could be read as an open invitation for assault.  Last time I got helped round a course was at the Endurer Dash and I had a huge number of strangers shoving my ample arse to get it (with me attached) over the obstacles there – this isn’t quite the same situation, and I didn’t really want to be assisted in the same manner here.  Doh.  No such assistance was forthcoming in any event – much more fun to watch us all heaving ourselves up the slope looking like we’d perish in the attempt or perhaps they were running a book on who would vomit first (or most prolifically) on reaching the summit.

Despite my fading morale, I did get around – helped a lot by upbeat marshals who seemed to have a word of encouragement for everyone who went by.  I even enjoyed the last kilometre – there was a real crowd at the finish, and I passed by grabbing my medal and into the collective warmth of a smiley hug.  They are so good my fellow Smileys it doesn’t matter if you are fast or slow the cheer is the same on your return.  In fact, people like me who are final finishers probably do get more people cheering for us at the finish line, just because more have made it back ahead to welcome you.  It’s quite humbling.

I still don’t quite look like they do crossing the finish in Chariots of Fire but I’m sure my sense of achievement is just the same!

the finish  medals

The only downside is that I was way too late for the smiley team photo, oh well, not the first time that’s happened to me, and wont be the last either…  I swapped stories with some other Smiley runners, thrills and spills en route; injuries; running adventures.  It’s amazing how much you can find to chat about at the end of a race with all those endorphins charging through your system.

group shot

Even our fastest runner (second woman back no less) had a tale to tell.  She had apparently suffered a serious wardrobe malfunction en route.  Her compression shorts, were, it seems, ill advised, ultimately compressing into a thong, leaving little to the imagination as she hurtled round.  I’m not surprised she went so fast, anyone would be in a hurry to get to the safety of the finish line in similar circumstances!

So just a question of picking up the goodie bag.  We already had bling. This goodie bag had: banana; crisps; bottle of water; Lucozade sport; weird looking popcorn bar and some chewy sweets.  Very respectable and in a quality bright red plastic bag which pleased me probably disproportionately.  Once this was safely in my possession, I joined the queue for the physios.  A local company provide quick sports massages in return for a charity donation to help restore runners aching muscles post run.  They turn up at quite a few local events and I am a complete convert.  I never understood the point of sports massages, but I had one after the Round Sheffield Run last year, and although it really hurt at the time, the following day was the first time EVER I’d not had cramp in my calves the day after a run.  Miracle.  Plus, today I hope that they’ll be able to tell me if I should worry about my numb leg.  Which isn’t particularly worse after the run, but definitely still has a pins and needles feel to it.  The woman who massages my calf calls over a more experienced colleague.  He has me on my back and stretching my legs up in the air to test their flexibility – he pronounces that it probably is a bit of sciatic pain (though this is not the same as sciatica as such) and that I oughtn’t to ignore it.  Actually, I’ve been meaning to get it checked out for a while, and as there is a 20% discount for TenTenTen runners AND I find they offer physio in the local running shop I will do this now.

So over-animated conversation with a fellow smiley as we go through our race experiences together.  We pose for a photo, hoping our juxtaposition next to the ‘sub 40’ sign will send a subliminal message to anyone who subsequently sees it, that we actually, honestly, ran really fast.  Of course, they are unlikely to fall for this, and it may well be they assume this time relates to a 5km not a 10km, oh well, it can still be my little joke for me…  I also get a really excellent cup of coffee from the back of a mobile coffee place at the finish.  That was great!

sub 40 crowd tententen

Home, bath, blog, photos, I love the post run feeling, smug and happy – tomorrow I will be stiff and sore, I shall just concentrate therefore on enjoying today!

Oh, and to recap on my goals: no falling over, no being lapped.  Epic fail on both counts.  Still, there’s always next time I suppose.

Categories: 10km, running, running clubs | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

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