Posts Tagged With: trail running

Giving Sheffield the Runaround: Round Sheffield Run 2019

Digested read: Round Sheffield Run came round again.  Did that, got the medal, six out of six.  Yay!

Undigested read:

It’s a long one, but then who wouldn’t want to linger at a location like this?

Lingering location.jpg

Runaround NOW!!  Does anyone else remember that TV show.  No, only me?  Surely someone else is in my demographic.  It was a children’s quiz show, and they all had to run from one end of the studio to another to choose the right answer for some random quiz question and then there was a shout out to ‘runaround NOW!’ from Mike Reid and everyone ran around changing their mind about their answer.  Lots of running around basically, the clue is in the name of the show.  Ring any bells?  There was even a Runaround 1980 techno Christmas special in which an actual robot appeared as co-host.  Life changing AI on our TV screens, once the set had a chance to warm up of course.  You’ll be telling me next you don’t remember that, having to plan ahead and turn the TV on 15 minutes ahead of whatever programme it was.   Oh.  You don’t.  Sigh.  Did you really not even ever experience dispatching a household member to lean out of an upstairs window with a bent coat hanger, trying to improve reception on the aerial whilst you all shouted contradictory instructions at them?  Oh.  How times change.  Trust me dear reader. The past was another country indeed…. we did things differently there.

Hmm, granted, the caged children do in fact seem somewhat dodgy with the benefit of hindsight – anyway, you are completely missing the point.  The point is that come the summer solstice, near as dammit, cometh the hour, whilst the good people of Sweden are busy making their celebratory floral garlands – no really, they are – runners from near and far will be gathering in Endcliffe Park to commence the Round Sheffield Run, or … wait for it… the Sheffield Runaround!  See what I did there?  Because we all get to run-around Sheffield see?  Hilarious, not a laboured anachronistic niche buildup at all, just joyful, seamless expanding on a theme.

I’ll get my coat….

Phew.  That was hard work. It does rather spoil the overall affect if I have to explain it.  You know what, to be honest, if you aren’t experiencing being doubled up with laughter to such a degree that you fear your knickers may never dry RIGHT NOW, best walk away.  No honestly, that’s my humour at its peak, it doesn’t get any better.  For the most part it will get considerably blander.  You can just back away, and we’ll say no more about it.  You’ve not over-invested in reading this account, you can still scroll through a few photos if you want, I shan’t take it personally.  However, if you read on knowing what you know now, that’s contributory negligence, FACT. There isn’t a law firm in the country that will represent you whatever their ads may say to the contrary, so just don’t get drawn in.

Here’s a group sporting Swedish midsummer garlands by the way, just to prove a point.  This post may not amuse you, but you could learn something, nothing useful, but could save you come the compulsory ‘fun’ work quiz at Christmas. Your choice.

Midsummer_Sweden_09

Where was I?  Oh yes, cometh the summer solstice, cometh the Round Sheffield Run.  Not completely synchronised admittedly, which is an important detail, as it would have been a very long wait indeed if you hadn’t double checked the date for this year’s RSR and rocked up on the longest day.  That would have been 10 days early, but you get my drift – and at least that way you’d have been first in the toilet queue.

I lurve the Round Sheffield Run, and have been lucky enough to drag my weary carcass run round it every year so far.  It’s profile has skyrocketed since the year of its debut in 2014, when I’d venture it was just a few hundred from the local area rocking up to check it out.  Now it’s into ballot entry popularity territory and drawing runners from much further afield as a destination event.  Even so,  in my humble opinion it’s remained true to it’s essence of being friendly, inclusive, showcasing the best of Sheffield running and having a festival feel with guaranteed sunshine or your money back* and  it is also a flat one lap route, as in ‘Sheffield flat’ – the marshal at the end of Leg 1 was most conscientious and insistent on this point, alerting runners to the stretch of Sheffield flat just ahead as they approached Forge Dam.  Hilarious for the locals, potentially devastating for the out-of-towners of course, but what’s a bit of collateral damage to them set against the in-joke for them in the know eh?  Besides, all in good humour I’m sure!  You know who you are high-vis hero, but in case of ambiguity, here’s the body-cam footage I took en route.  Can also be seen keeping order at Sheffield Hallam parkrun, so has form on expert regulating of runners.  Hurrah! :

Personally, I really like events that are single lap as well.  It means once you set off you are basically committed aren’t you. You’ve got to make it back for tea at some point, so one foot in front of the other to make it so.  If you prefer the meditative quality of multi-lap offerings, then other options might suit you better.  There’s always the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3,100-mile race around a New York block. Yep, you read that right.  Not my bag to be fair, but people do it…  Some claim to have out of body experiences as they do.   Frankly I’m not surprised at all, out of mind might be more apt though…  At least you wouldn’t have to worry about navigation, though lord only knows how you keep count of laps. 5,649 of them you’d have to do.  What would happen if you lost count and had to start again from 1?  It would take a great deal of Zen calm to cope with that eventuality.

I’m not completely uncritical of the RSR though.  Where would be the fun in that?  I’m actually still quite peeved they’ve not taken on board my feedback at all about either increasing the number of unicorns cavorting about the wooded sections or having an archway of rainbows to get you through the finish – despite the latter suggestion clearly being way more reliable than the inflatable archway option (just saying), and probably more environmentally friendly too, now I come to think of it.
whatever it takes

Incidentally, do you think holding up the inflatable finish arch comes under the ‘any other duties’ line on the job description for Event Director?  There are worse unexpected tasks to be fair.  Only the other week I was a supporting artist on a film being made in Sheffield which I shan’t name but which is set in Sheffield and features a drag artist.  Between takes, one of the costume and make-up team was tasked with kneeling at the feet of the lead actor, who was overheating in his phenomenally impressive drag outfit – wig, heels, tights, the whole shebang – frantically flapping away with a paper fan to waft air up the drag artist’s dress in order to try to keep his nether regions suitably cooled.  When you imagine getting your lucky break as a dresser or in the costume department of a feature film I’m guessing this isn’t quite the scenario you’d imagined in your fantasy of a day tending to the stars on set… definitely a key supporting role though, and certainly encompassed by the ‘any other duties’ line, which all we serfs know covers a multitude.

Anyway, undeterred by the silent treatment my quite brilliant suggestions have received to date (I really thought the compulsory fancy dress suggestion would have been enthusiastically embraced at least, it’s inexplicable to me that this hasn’t happened – yet) I’m hopeful that my offering for this year will hit the mark.  Thing is, the after party is all well and good, but having recently discovered the joys of gardening, I feel the post run offering would be massively enhanced if they had a few plant stalls in between the coffee and pizza stalls.  Maybe even a horticultural swap shop, now that would be lovely.  Perfect end to a perfect day.   Just imagine, medal round your neck, pizza in one hand perennials in the other.  Bling and borders covered. Result.  I feel sure pop up plant nurseries are a thing, and if they aren’t, well clearly they should be, and it wouldn’t be the first innovative thing the RSR has brought into being now would it?

Anyway, look you really need to stop distracting me, this account is all over the place.  I want to get this post written up in time for next year’s run at least.  Still, best get the basics out the way.  For the uninitiated – apparently, there are still some of you out there who have yet to savour the delights of this splendid event and have still have no idea what I’m on about – the Round Sheffield Run website blah de blah explains the event thus:

The Round Sheffield Run is the original multi-stage trail running enduro.

​An original, unique, creative and social concept that brings all the best bits of running together into one exciting event.

A superb running journey linking some of the top trails and parkland Sheffield has to offer.

​It would be a tough task to find anywhere in the UK that showcases these kind of trails and scenery within its city limits.

​11 Individually timed Stages each with their own challenge and character make up 20km of racing over the 24.5km route.

The unique format breaks the route down into stages. Each stage being raced, and competitors receiving both results for each stage as well as a combined overall result. Plenty of opportunity for friendly competition!

​Between stages competitors have the opportunity to rest, relax, and regroup with friends (new and old) and refocus before the next stage begins. Competitors can walk or jog between stages. The novel concept creates a supportive and friendly social vibe.

The race format also opens up the course to a wide range of abilities. The support round the course is also something special.

​To top it all off a festival atmosphere at the end with draft ales, tasty food, and great DJ to ensures that everyone can celebrate in style.

Run as an Individual, Pair or even a Team with some top prizes to be won! Including beer!

Fancy yourself as an Elite? This years Elite wave has 250 runners going for top honours! See the entry form for the qualifying criteria.

On the way round, you can eat your body weight in jelly babies or even stop for a latte or ice lolly if the mood takes you if the pics on Facebook are anything to go by, and afterwards join in the big party in the park.

​Astonishingly, some participants choose to forgo the refreshment breaks en route, and actually run the whole thing crazily fast, like a proper race as opposed to a social run, but then again, there is some fine bling for the taking, and if you are sufficiently rapid to get yourself to the front of the queue for the beer tent, why wouldn’t you?  Kudos to those who can.  And, in deference to them as like that sort of thing and are speedy enough to do so, there is an ‘elite wave’ that departs first, so they don’t have to overtake slower runners on the trails as is inevitable if you are a fast runner in one of the following waves.  They have to demonstrate a qualifying time somehow or other.  Not quite sure how, but I think there’s a common sense rather than officious approach taken.

RSR fine trophy

That’s not my trophy by the way, in case you were wondering, though it is my age category for the record, which is why the Runaround reference made sense to me, but I’ve moved on now, I’ll let that go…   I just have to accept dear reader, that you may not even know how to use log books and a slide rule – possibly not even be familiar with colour factor, how you live independently I cannot begin to imagine.

colour factor

So you will have probably sussed by now that I have a huge soft spot for the Round Sheffield Run, I’ve run completed it every year since it started in 2014 and it’s always a joy.  Not even type two fun, but actually type one – in parts anyway –  which given the distance and elevation (1981 ft) is no mean feat!  I managed to enter and even get my preferred wave, the first one of the day!  No, not the elite wave obvs, but the one immediately after, which because you start off early, gives you extra time to get around, and, in my case, disguises my slow progress.  There was some shenanigans with the entry system this year, because of the increasing hype the event attracts. A veritable tsunami of wannabee Sheffield runarounders swamped the site as soon as the entries went live.  This resulted in a crashed site and a hastily introduced semi-ballot system in which I got lucky but others didn’t. There was some flack directed to the organisers which I think unfair. It’s hard when an event becomes so popular that it is over-subscribed, to come up with a universally approved and fair entry system.  However, in reality, as entries open so far in advance, there are always places that come up later on as injury or circumstance means others have to pull out. There is a waiting list that you can join, and you can always secure a ‘free’ place by volunteering to marshal at either the TenTenTen or the RSR in one year – or indeed, getting a friend to do that for you, and blagging their freebie.  Oooh, nice pic on the volunteering info link – am nabbing that – see the views that will unfold before you if you partake of this running banquet through the green spaces of our great city.  Yay, #lovesheffield 🙂  And it really is like that when you get there, there being Meersbrook park.  Stunning views.

panorama rsr

So you enter in, I don’t know, January or something insanely early like that, when you are sat on the sofa fondly imagining yourself having transformed your body into nothing but sinew and muscle by the time the event comes round ‘it’s ages away’ after all, and then you think no more about it.  Until, suddenly it seems it is upon you, and that rigorous training routine you dreamt of, well, in my case at least, spoiler alert – it hadn’t come to pass.  In my defence, I’ve had a particularly shite year, running, however badly, being way down on my list of priorities.  I did consider withdrawing, but then again, it wouldn’t be the first time I’d rocked up to a run woefully unprepared, and I do have the advantage of knowing the route really well.  Also, it is indeed true the event gets you round because of it’s supportive ethos.  It is also true that it is better to rock up under trained but uninjured than over trained and carrying some sort of running related twinging, better runners than me by far have been caught out by less.  This is unfair of course, but true.  As with much of life. But let’s not got too far down that line today.   Today is about positivity and all being well with the world, even if it isn’t at all really, and that’s just the running endorphins kicking in… we have to take what comfort where and when we can.

So I entered, and winter moved into spring, and spring into summer and suddenly the RSR Facebook page is commencing countdown, ooh look here are the t-shirts – here is a teaser of a run stage the week before.

Oops, this was becoming very real suddenly.  Then, after weeks of rain, it became scorchio.  Crappity, crap crap.  Heat is my running nemesis (oh, and hills, and roads, oh and the actually being required to run bits as well, also humidity – that’s even worse possibly –  but mostly heat.)  I am not good in the heat, this does not bode well.  Heat really stymied my London Marathon experience, and I really didn’t fancy doing the Round Sheffield Run under the glare of uninterrupted sunshine.  It didn’t help I got sunburnt on the Friday by accident.  I rocked up to Hallam parkrun on Saturday slathered in sunblock.  Yes, I know proper athletes rest up the day before a big event, but I’ve only really got one gear at the moment, so might as well do parkrun the day before – particularly as I had to go into Frontrunner anyway to make an emergency electrolyte purchase, I’d be near Endcliffe park anyway.  So at parkrun, a couple of things happened. First off, my thickly applied unblock sloughed off as I ran (cough), glooping in a sweaty pool of white stripes congealed in the deeply attractive folds of skin in my neck, giving me the appearance of a new born alien being recently ejected from my egg sac and still dripping afterbirth, or just been doused in ectoplasm or something.  Just to be absolutely clear here, this is not a good look.  Gloop pops up in many different guises, it’s hard to get the adjective that perfectly captures the texture, but you’ll get the general gist I’m sure.  That’s an actual picture of me post parkrun on the right.  Don’t use that look in the nivea sunblock ads now do they?

Some things, only a true friend will tell you, so special kudos to this fab friend, who pointed out this was not the best look, and promised to let me have a go with her non-glooping, but effective S20 the next day.  Wonderwear ambassador, once again I have you to thank for sharing your wisdom!

DSCF2072

Wiping the gloop off my turkey neck as best I could, I went on to Frontrunner in search of electrolytes.  Skip was in charge, effortlessly ignoring me as I went in.  I was thrown initially because they’d moved their display around, but then was informed in response to my enquiry that THERE WERE NO ELECTROLYTES! Well, not the tablets anyway. Oh my gawd, calamity.  This just did not compute.  I stared blinking at the alternative options but I know from bitter experience there is no point in using sports gels or drinks as they trigger my gag reflex more even than framing the tattooed skins of your loved ones for display in the lounge (other room choices are available) after they’ve died.  And trust me, that’s saying something.

Anyway, I used electrolyte tablets for the first time at London in the hottest marathon on record, and I’ve relied on them ever since when the temperature soars. They really do seem to help, they avoid that ‘inquenchable thirst’ sensation, and post run headaches, or have for me anyway.  The thought of doing a hot RSR without them was not the best.  I was annoyed with myself too, because I’d used the last one in my hydration pack for the Hathersage Hurtle, which was ages ago, and I’ve been meaning to nip in and replace them ever since.  Crap. Also, turns out, just blinking vacuously from time to time in between staring in disbelief at the space on the display stand where the electrolyte tablets are supposed to be, doesn’t make them magically appear.  Who knew?  I retreated.  I needed a plan b.  Plan b was maybe get some electrolyte sachets like the ones that are sold for tourists to re-hydrate after getting the runs in a different sense whilst on holiday.  Problem with plan b, was that I couldn’t be bothered to find a proper chemist, and they didn’t have any at the mini Sainsburys I pass on the way home.  Oh well…  eek.

Day before angstiness was well under way.   Things brightened up a bit when I dug out my hydration vest to get my kit ready.  There are water stations on the way round, but I knew I’d probably need more.  This route actually goes past shops during some of the recovery sections so in theory at least, you could nip into the co-op for a bottle of water en route if desperate, but best to go equipped I feel.  Anyway, good news, my slatternly habits are such that I still had an almost full reservoir of water in my running vest, and what’s more, one in which I had previously dissolved electrolytes for the Hathersage Hurtle.  Turned out, didn’t need as much fluid then as I thought.  I had been meaning to empty that out and sterilise it all for ages, but on this occasion, result!  I know it’s probably not the most hygienic thing in the world to keep the water thing filled and lying about for weeks on end, but my need for electrolytes outweighed any risk of near instant death by sepsis from being infected by my own germs.  Hurrah!  Anyway, clearly I’ve survived to tell the tale, so good to know, eh?

Just a matter of digging out my running top.  Erm.  Oh dear.  This was a problem too.  The thing is we have some new Smiley Paces kit.  Now, hear me out, I love my smiley paces buddies, and the ethos of this super friendly club crammed with awesome Sheffield women, however, the kit is not my friend.  The old kit was unforgiving to say the least, and so I was pretty excited when there was a prospect of ordering new kit, in a new design with a clean slate.  I ordered, it duly came.  Now granted, it looks epic on some, the new graphic design is fab, but the actual cut of the shirt.  It’s a no from me.  It only seems to suit a particular body shape which I do not share.  It’s best suited to a coat hanger, but failing that an athletic frame.  My frame is only athletic in the sense that a space hopper might be described as athletic, i.e. not really very athletic at all.

Space_hopper,_Walker_Art_Gallery

I ordered a size big enough to squeeze over my bust, but when it arrived it just swamped me everywhere else on account of being a mens’ fit.  Well, they call it ‘unisex’ but clearly this is bollocks – and I use that term advisedly, because ‘unisex’ always means designed for men.   I might as well run in a toupee teepee.  This garment doesn’t just belong on a coat hanger, but on a coat hanger popped on a rail hundreds of feet in the air.  Not being one to see the glass as always half-empty, I will say this.  Up until the point of trying it on I had thought my self-esteem had already hit rock bottom, but it seems I must have been feeling positively cheery, since the devastating effect of seeing my reflection in the glass whilst wearing this item suggested that in fact I hadn’t, there was still a fair old distance to fall.  I was beyond crushed, it made me never want to leave the house in daylight hours again, and no, I’m not posting a photo of me wearing it even for comedic effect.  It’s too humiliating.  It has been cast to the back of the wardrobe on the floor, never to see daylight again, unless I inadvertently ingest enough growth hormones through my diet to grow an extra three foot in height.  This is unlikely, as I’m vegetarian, so generally avoid ingesting growth hormone in my food.  The problem was, what to wear instead?

I dug out my original smiley vest, but this has endless variants of my name on it, as I personalised it for the London Marathon.  That’s a good top tip actually, if you have your name on your shirt, you get more shout outs from the crowd and it helps keep you going.  I don’t regret that, but such a highly personalised top seems a bit OTT to wear at a local run.  It just would feel a bit egotistical to head out on the RSR with my name front and back, and a bit misplaced given the speed with which I’d be progressing round the course.  Aaargh.  It felt bad, but I honestly didn’t want to be seen in public wearing either garb, so instead reached for my parkrun volunteering tee.  It’s the most forgiving of the running tops I own, and pleasingly, colour co-ordinates with my inov8 parkclaw trail shoes, which I love.  That would have to be the way to go, it seems my loyalty to my running club has some limits.  If only I were an international sporting icon – or indeed some other sort of celebrity, I could have my own kit custom made for my body shape and it would look and feel fab.u.lous.  Here’s hoping that I come to inhabit such a parallel universe comes to pass before the next time I venture out in public for a running event.  Not in time for this year’s RSR alas.

I felt sad not to have a Smiley Vest that I felt confident enough to wear in public, but hey ho, maybe it would be as well to go under the radar given my current fitness levels.  Wouldn’t want to bring the name of the club into disrepute after all, not so much with the requirement to run fast, it’s an inclusive group, speed isn’t everything, it’s more that if you have ‘Smiley Paces’ emblazoned across your front, there is something of an obligation to smile throughout any event when out and about.  Wearing a smile and wearing that new Smiley vest are mutually exclusive.  You can’t force a smile when you are blinking back hot tears of humiliation because what’s been seen in the mirror cannot be unseen. Also, I’d be out and about for rather a long time potentially, that’s quite an endurance test for smiling throughout, even if the smile came easily to begin with …  Maybe I could wear the top and distract people by, oh I don’t know carrying a giant carrot around with me for the duration?  That makes other people smile apparently, thereby potentially removing the obligation for me to do so.  It was a thought…  Mind you, timings a bit tight for making one overnight, that papier mache would too long to dry, and I have no orange paint either, still, there’s always next year.  It’s not Ken Livingston by the way, though possibly his doppelganger.

melbourne carrot man

I wonder how they did the leaves.  Do you think they are actual palm fronds, or made of plastic?  Hard to tell.  Will have to nip across to Melbourne and ask him in person sometime.  He is known for carrying a carrot with him by the way, it’s his thing. Maybe like our John ‘the man with the pram’ Burkhill with the green wig or Tony tending the War Memorial in Endcliffe park.  A known character, part of the landscape, with a particular USP.  We have running icons in Sheffield too.  Pirate Flag man anyone?  All Sheffielders know who I mean!  Spotted at the bottom of the Meersbrook Park hill by me today, but sure he will have popped up all over.  Always worth keeping an eye out for him on Sheffield runs – not that he’s especially hard to spot to be fair, but just so you know to be on the alert.  It’s like the notion of Sheffield flat – man brandishing his enormous jolly roger in the woods, no worries – it’s a Sheffield thing, you’ll work it all out in time!

Hydration ready?  Tick.  Kit ready?  Tick.  Legs ready?  Well, as Mr Loaf says, two out of three ain’t bad.

And you know what was even better?  Whilst I was getting myself ready, the kandoo team were getting the park ready.  So exciting.  This was the night before the morning after.

RSR night before

Looking good, quite a logistical operation. It’s a well oiled team that pull it all together, but even so, must be a relief for the organisers to get to this point. Yay!

So to bed, and slept appallingly and woke up stupidly early.  Oh well.  I was up and about by 5.00 I didn’t need to be, but was awake anyway, and didn’t want to risk dropping off again.  Anyway, pre-race prep rituals won’t do themselves.  Learning the trick of smothering your feet with Vaseline to avoid blisters was a game changer for me, but there is an art to the application so you avoid greasing your entire living space with oily hand and foot prints.  Anti chafing precautions also necessary, and much pinning and repinning of my race number to ensure compatibility with my running vest.  All takes time.  I was in the 8.35 wave, and headed out to walk to Endcliffe about 7.00.  It was a gorgeous day pending, and I felt surprisingly cheery heading on down.  There was a bit of a breeze and sunshine pending, but that was OK, I had my hat, and my tomtom feebie sunglasses, plus the day had dawned, I was going, all good.

The park looked lovely as I approached, all dressed up for a party and swathed in early morning light.  Plenty of route signs along the way too.  It seemed to me that they’d gone to town with directional arrows this year, there seemed to be loads of them, also chalk markings on the road at critical junctions.  Inevitably someone will miss a sign along the way, but hard to see how.

Queen Vic was overseeing everything as always.  I wonder how many different runners, walkers, joggers and doggers she’s seen using this park over the years.  Bit late to start counting now.  It was quiet, but building.  Volunteers were congregating, the bag drop and number and timer stations getting into gear.  Exciting!

and here are some way better official pics capturing the behind the scenes vibe:

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I dumped my bag in the bag drop, got my dibber, and began a scout of the grounds.  I was struck by the sight of the ambulance bike, corralled behind crowd control safety barriers.  I wasn’t sure if it was being secured in this way to protect it from us or we from it.  I commented as much to a fellow runner who had also noticed it.  ‘I’m not surprised it’s shut up, imagine all the great drugs in that lot!‘  Whilst this is potentially a good point well made, and it says much about my lack of imagination that this had never occurred to me, it just shows what a law-abiding lot we good folk of Sheffield are that no-one would dare desecrate the sanctity of such a boundary, oh no, that barrier would be unhurdled and whatever lay within the enclosure was safe as safe could be.  Even though I bet there was at the very least some highly desirable compeed plasters and more than a token foil blanket there for the taking but for those formidable barriers!

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I was extremely flattered to be greeted by name by first the event director and then the dibber distributor, ‘my they must only use super-recognisers to staff the laptops here, I had no idea so many of them lived in Sheffield‘ I thought to myself… before remembering that my number had my name on it.  Oh well.  The novelty didn’t wear thin though, loads of marshals throughout the day shouted support by name to every runner.  Impressive!  It’s nice, it makes you feel like you matter in that moment, however fleetingly, it also meant that in honesty I might as well have worn my old Smiley vest, but hey ho, too late now.

The marshals were being briefed and kitted out with the equipment for their various stations.  Looked like everyone got a set of ski poles as a precautionary measure.  Fair does, you do get pockets of micro-climate in Sheffield, Graves park especially is notorious for being in snow whilst everywhere else enjoys balmy climes and you never know what will face you as you emerge at the top of Ringinglow, it pays to be prepared.

Managed to make contact with one Marshal who is such a regular at this event she has her own nominated spot in Nether Edge.  My how pleased I’d be to make it to her later on in the day.  Also spotted a fellow Smiley – who was rocking the new look with confidence and panache, we paired up for precautionary pee (no queue there yet) and to pose.  We were desperately trying to get snapped by the official photographer, being extra smiley and trying to look casually enthusiastic and photogenic, or at least photo-interesting.  Epic fail, couldn’t get his attention at all.  Had fun trying.  I have form on this actually, decades ago, one long hot summer me and a next door neighbour decided to try to get in as many pictures in the local paper as we could by turning up at church fetes in huge hats or doing hilarious placards at local demonstrations.  That was also an epic fail, not a single picture, not one, but we did also have fun trying then too.  It’s a cheap and harmless hobby – as long as you don’t take things too far and put kittens up trees and dogs in lakes just so as you can rescue them, which is a version of Munchhausen’s I suppose and not to be recommended.  Today, we made do with our own selfies.  Aren’t we lovely?

and my wonderwear ambassador and Hallam parkrun buddy too.  And it wasn’t even 8.00 a.m.  The people are coming!

Traipsed over to get a squirt of S20 sunblock.  I’d got my own on as well, but just wanted to allergy test for the other stuff, as people keep telling me its fab, but it’s expensive if I react to it.  Then, coming back, the queues had suddenly started to appear.  I was glad I’d picked up my number and dibber already.  The queue was immense, and although it was moving relatively quickly, it was daunting to behold.

I say it was daunting, but it was also apparently invisible to some, well, maybe not ‘some’ maybe just one actually.  Who came round the corner, breezed up to the first laptop operative she saw and was all dibbed up before she raised her gaze to see the queue of other runners snaking over the horizon and out of the park.  Oops.  Maybe her route to the park took her along Twentywell Lane and this sign entered her subconscious – it wasn’t deliberate, but it was nifty!  Again, discretion prevents me outing anyone here, this is just a completely random shot of another friendly runner in the vicinity of the start at about that time.  Just so long as we are clear.  Any association arising in your mind as a consequence of the juxtaposition of the billboard signage and the female runner alongside apparently holding a newly acquired dibber is purely coincidental.  Good.

Still a bit of time, so decided to go for second precautionary pee of the morning.  Oh my.  This is a gripe to be fair.  The queue for the loos were beyond your worst imaginings.  There are never enough loos for the RSR, and it is tricky I guess because you need loads all at once and then they aren’t much needed for most of the day once all the runners are on their way, but there weren’t enough.  Good 20 minutes queuing and they got longer all the time, like some alien regenerating snake, the more you lob bits off as people did their bit and exited the queue, twice as much new length would be added at the end.  Is that the Jason and the Argonauts film, the one with the skeletons that replicate the more you cut them up… hang on, just a google moment – nope it wasn’t that – though it is an epic fight scene, I’m thinking of the hydra, cut off one of its heads, and two grow back.  Shudder.  Ray Harryhausen was amazing though, wasn’t he just?  Wow.  The toilet queue was too, but not in a good way.  Maybe more runners than usual turned up on the day, what the weather being great and the RSR becoming a destination run and all, but, more portaloos would be boon for next year.  Might stop some of the alfresco seekers, for whom desperation trumped decency.  And better signage for the urinal portaloos might have sped things up too…

The toilet queue was exactly like that.  No wonder the wait was scary.

I could hear the build up to the start of the red wave – the elites, but they were underway by the time I was wending my way to the start funnel.   This means I missed the panic stricken face of the photographer who nearly got trampled as the runners stampeded through, fortunately, this was captured by one of the (other?) official photographers, hurrah!  Probably one of my favourite pictures from the entire day!  Though, in fairness, I too always feel completely panicked at the start of any race.  ‘What, we have to run now!?!’  I’m invariably astonished, then alarmed to be surrounded by so many runners and then finally swept up by it.  By the way, lots of excellent photos have been made available on Facebook by the RSR team, they politely ask that you consider a donation to Weston Park Cancer Hospital in return for use of the images. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rsr19

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Spotted a Graves Junior parkrun RD inhaling a banana just before off.   Brave move, these elites eh, they live life on the edge!

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So I scurried to join the pen for the orange start at 8.35.  Announcements came over the speakers, and the shout went up to ‘Runaroouuuuuuuuuund NOW!’ or possibly a count down and then ‘go’, I can’t quite remember, and we all shuffled through to dib out in turn under the archway, and then we were spat through and launched and on our way!

No we hadn’t finished, it’s just that you come through the funnel at the end as well.  This is a consequence of running round in a great big circle.  You finish where you started from.  Clever eh?

One slightly bizarre thing about the event being set off in waves, is that as you you set out, running purposefully up through the park, leisurely arrivees are strolling down to registration, so it feels a bit weird.  Also, some people sprint off, whereas I take a while to get going, so the immediate first emotion for me is not so much a surge of adrenaline as shock and confusion.  Also, because it’s on the parkrun route, it’s like you’ve cheated and skipped the bit at the start, all very surreal.  It’s still uphill though, and a long way to go to get round the whole thing.  However, not too far to the first crossing point and the first dapper dibbing marshal of the day at the road crossing.  Not gonna lie, slightly disappointed not to see our ‘usual’ marshal in situ – another Hallam parkrun RD who has her designated spot at this event.  Not the same without her there, but she had selfishly opted to go fly a helicopter or something instead.  Honestly, the lengths eh?  Never mind, the spot was ably filled with competence, flair and excellently authoritative traffic control skills.  Can’t really argue with that.  Thank you marshal!

Over the road, onwards and upwards.  The field was thinning about, but other runners were coming up behind.  The overtaking had started.  On the plus side, I got to exchange cheery waves with familiar faces, some in a blur of speed as they passed, others pausing for brief sweaty hugs, all with big smiles.  There is something about the RSR that is inherently joyful, right from the off, once you’ve got your precautionary pee out the way of course.  Obviously it’s going to be stressful until you’ve got that bit of body maintenance sorted 🙂

This did sort of set the tone for the day to be fair.  People I knew, or friends I hadn’t yet made, sprinting up behind me, shouting a greeting and then whizzing by, their ever shrinking silhouettes disappearing over the horizon ahead of me.  Still, at least it gave me something to chase eh?  Plus, you get a chit chat opportunity at each dib point. Some people pressed on through, others eeked out each wait for as long as possible, strategically incorporating recovery time into their race day strategy, which is both the point of how the event is set up, and entirely mysterious to me.  The social anthropologists amongst you will notice the culturally significant green and gold bobble hat being sported by the high vis hero.  However, for me, the real interest lies in the fine exemplar of team work.  The Smiley Paces pair are saving precious seconds by having clearly demarked roles, whereby one does the donkey work of dibbing in and out and being responsible for custody of the timing lanyard, whilst the other nails looking triumphant and getting the glory.  Ran like that the whole way round, no mean feat!

Loving your work Smilies, loving your work.

On you go, into the woods, over the next road crossing – ‘thank you marshal’ I have a theory you can spot the parkrunners amongst the throng as they have been conditioned into shouting thanks to anyone in a high vis that they run past even if it’s a worker checking the wiring for a BT phone cabinet.

After the next road crossing, more Smilies!  We get everywhere, and these two in particular are a fab partnership, pathologically smiley, as is the smiley way!  Oh and they’re off again, smilies disappearing into the distance ahead of me, also a smiley staple.  Not running away from me as such, just giving me a lead!

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and somewhere around this stage I think, another Smiley caught me unawares with some action shots – you have to push yourself to get results… thank goodness for the dark glasses, I’m sure no-one will recognise me.

and this was around the end of Stage 1, where I’d been promised a sweaty high-five which I duly claimed.  Great to do a run where you see familiar faces on the way round.  This was the marshal sharing his local knowledge by declaring that ‘flat section ahead – Sheffield flat’ as runners dibbed out and headed towards Forge Dam.   The locals know, the blow ins will find out soon enough.  …. it’s not like they are going to come back down the hill to query it later are they!  Or are they?

Grand to see you my friend, thanks for the gardening tips at parkrun, and the backing for lobbying for the perennial plant stall, I’m quietly confident!

The forge dam cafe was just opening, and there was the opportunity to join another toilet queue if you’d missed out earlier.  Now into the woods. More familiar people whooping on their way past:

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My lack of training gave me a wobble, it’s a lot of uphill.  I doubted myself.  Then, soon I heard familiar chuntering coming up behind.  Yay!  My favourite twosome of the day.  Storming it.

also, it was somewhere around here, I met a Chorlton runner walking back down – I was concerned that this meant one of us at least was going the wrong way – unless he was just doubling back to remonstrate with the marshal about the ‘Sheffield flat’ quip – turns out his knee was crook, so game over for him.  It made me appreciate how lucky I was to be out there and injury free.  I wasn’t ever going to fly round fleet of foot, but I was going to get round, I was confident of that, time to stop fretting about what I can’t achieve and be grateful for what I can.  Poor guy, gutted for him.  Mind you, one remarkable thing about the RSR, which I’m sure is to do with the option to take part in a more relaxed way, is how very few are DNFs.  Less than 10 I’m sure.  No idea about the DNS though.  That may tell another story.

Onwards and upwards.  Doing a rare bit of overtaking of those following the route somewhat over prepared for the run -much like me on the Dig Deep Ultra, where I took absolutely everything with me because I had no idea what to expect. Well, the breeze blocks might have come in handy if I needed to create some steps to stand on to get over a dry stone wall for example.  Oh hang on, they were Duke of Edinburgh Award Schemers – did think the sleeping mat was possibly a bit OTT even if it did have definite appeal…

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And so you emerge from the wood, into the glade with tables laden with jelly babies, bananas and bottles of water, and friendly chit chatting – like you’ve stumbled on some sort of impromptu runners social – which you basically have.  There was plenty of water, and it felt leisurely, they’d put out a lot more sacks to keep the recycling together, but there was a lot of plastic waste.  I wonder if this event will follow recent welcome trends of other running events and try to go plastic free next year.  It ought to be possible, especially with the feed stations being in recovery stages and with the growing awareness of the problem with single use plastic.  I reckon so.

Restored, there is a 15 minute or so walk past the alpaca place and to the top of limb valley.  I always think this event must seem so peculiar to locals, as the road sections all tend to be recovery stages, and that means that in this ‘race’ no-one appears to be doing any actual running.  Worst run ever in that respect!  So called ‘runners’ strolling past chatting to one another and exchanging cheery waves with other participants ahead and behind.

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Stage three.  Limb valley section.  Basically, fab views, firm terrain – corralled away from scary cattle thanks to last year’s crowdfunding initiative – and you get to ‘whoop‘ and ‘wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee‘ all the way down, going as fast as your little legs – or long legs where applicable – will carry you!  Always time to take some pics along the way though, even if they are somewhat pitiful by comparison to the official pics, nevertheless, they capture moments in time and memories too.   And you know what, I actually think this picture, which I took all by myself, is fab.  If anyone knows this runner I’ve got a sequence of her in high resolution she can have if she gets in touch.

The official shots for this stage are fab – some possibly tipped over into not so much joyful but manic, however, that’s understandable in the circumstances.  You can also compare and contrast effortless running style of super speedy smilies v my trundling efforts.  Also, alarmingly, one Smiley has been caught on camera, not smiling and seemingly mid altercation with another runner, note to self – need to carry out an enquiry within my crochet club to check out what really happened there… More importantly, check out that Vegan jumper.  Respect!

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Oh hang on, they’ve just uploaded another album!  It’s great that there are so many pics, but it does take a while to scroll through them all. Oh the excruciating tyrrany of trying to pick out just the best… Lots of late nights for RSR runners the week after the event, poring over photos and reliving it all after a long day at work.  Anyways, picked out a few favourites below.  Please note, the guy apparently playing ‘chief bunny’ which I thought was a game everyone was familiar with – much like the rizla on the head game – but it might have been a shared house thing back in the day.  So I’ll leave that hanging.  Also, kudos to the levitating man, that’s some height you got to there, and then I just really liked the happy runners having a blast in blue.  Nice jump shot too.  That’s another thought actually, really ought to incentivise the giant leaping, spot prize for best photo capturing such athleticism, to be shared between jumper and photographer obvs.  Still think the vegan runner above is winning so far though…

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Wait, another album, album 3 – hope you are making your just giving donations people – and more evidence.   They have to be playing chief bunny, see the guy using both hands, he’s the chief and then those on either side should do one hand up each – the one nearest the chief bunny, and they are so doing it.  I need to seek out a Marple Runner at the next possible opportunity to verity my suspicions, but it’s too much of a coincidence to be otherwise, surely?

Oh, and breaking news, vegan jumper isn’t winning any more, this guy is.  For now…. he’s definitely taking the concept of a sugar rush to new heights, hard to be sure, but he has to have ODed on jelly babies.  Thought he could handle it I daresay, and then this!

RSR jump jump

At some events they have a ‘photographer 100m ahead sign’.  Well, only if they are 100m ahead, it can be changed to say 50m or ’round the corner’ or whatever, depending on context.  That gives runners the opportunity to pretend to be running hard, or to get a run up into a leap, or wipe the snot and sweat off their faces and ensure they have their boobs on an upswing in readiness, or do something equally eye catching, hilarious and camera ready which is harder to achieve when caught unawares.  I like that.  Mind you, these are universally fab pictures from this event, thank you Mr Linacre, it’s astounding to take, literally thousands of shots, and them all to be this good.  I sense a hive of activity on Facebook with people updating their profile picks with RSR run action portraits over the coming days… also a post run tradition.  That and running club caption contests, of which there will be many, the suggestions for some of which it is fortunate will remain forever contained within a closed Facebook group!

Where was I?  Where next?  Oh yes –  then into the woods down towards Whirlow, lovely section, and cool under the trees.  The running conditions were perfect, a cool breeze and bright, but not hot, so lucky, especially after yesterdays scorchio and soul sapping parkrun.  I gather that faster runners might have preferred harder ground, but my arthritic feet appreciated the soft forgiving terrain.  Reet nice out in fact.  Lovely.

and you emerge out the woods:

cross the road, and back into the woods. Ecclesall woods this time.  It was ages before I worked out how this relates to the Ecclesall Woods Discovery Centre.  I love Ecclesall Woods, but I seem to get very disorientated when I’m there.  Totally get why Hansel and Gretel got lost in the woods that time.  Trees are beautiful, but a wood in its entirety can swallow you up quite easily.  In this section I got the most fleeting of glimpses of Smiley Selfie Queen, but she did pause for long enough for a fellow runner to get a shot of us together, just for the record, we occupied the same space at the same time. You get to look longingly across at the miniature train in operation just the other side of the stream, but no time to take advantage of that today alas.  So this is where you emerge onto Abbeydale Road South, and stroll down past the railway station, trying not to think about the steps of doom which await you once you’ve traipsed up Twentywell Lane…

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Twentywell Lane, did have a queue to get into the woods.  I felt a bit for the marshal here, as this is point that requires a lot of proactive traffic management, and to be honest looked like one of the more stressful locations to be based at.  He was doing a fab job though, directing runners and traffic to keep everything moving.  Once we were over the road and into the wood, the steps awaited.  Oh my life, they are killers, that climb, untimed or not, is brutal.  I like this part of the route if I’m running on my own, but it is a tad stressful for the RSR.  I try to give way to faster runners as much as I can, but there are one or two really narrow bits on this path and you can’t step aside without plummeting down a vertiginous slope so it’s a tad stressful.  Having said that, runners were universally courteous, I think enough people now know the route to recognise it is what it is, and with the best will in the world, sometimes slower runners can’t give way and faster runners can’t over take.  All smiles. Well, to each other, they may have been some unseemly cursing about the challenge of the actual terrain!

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Phew, was glad when that section was over.  You emerge onto a road and have to run on by Beauchief golf course.  If you are called Sandra, you get your own signage to help you press on at this critical stage.  Go Sandra indeed, you chose your supporters well!  I don’t know if the idea is they will only have signs for Sandra, as this was a new development for this year, maybe other random names will appear, or maybe she has special dispensation to have her own signage. Will have to rock up next year and find out I suppose.

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The end of stage 5 takes you onto Greenhill Avenue, and more uphill and you go through Chancet Wood.  This stage I always forget about and get confused and think I’m already in Graves park, which you aren’t.  If you are ever lost on a course, and inexplicably see me ahead of you – which is fairly unlikely – don’t follow me, I’ll be lost too.

I was flagging a bit by now, so it was a fabulous surprise to see a Smiley superstar in support mode at the start of the Graves park section.  Hurrah!  Obviously, any Smiley is a fine sight on any and every occasion, but for the record, best thing EVER to happen to me on a run was when she and a fellow Brutelles turned up on the Houndkirk Road to see me towards the end of the Dig Deep Ultra. It was brilliant, so chuffed they’d turned out for me.  You know what, if you are a supporter rather than a runner on occasions, or indeed always, don’t under estimate the impact you have. You are awesome. Support en route can make or break an event.  All adds to the party atmosphere.   Now after that tribute, it’s unfortunate that I don’t have a suitably epic photo to share, but I do have an offering at least. Thank you Doctor Smiley!  Plus, she not only had vegan sweets – which had run out when I got there – but took photos of other smilies, even those who’d apparently got dressed in the dark which would account for them accidentally put on the wrong running vest. AND, she saw a rather cute mouse whilst waiting, which I find worthy of note.   Check out that half of the Smiley pair who is still managing to keep her arms aloft in triumph – she’s kept that up for over 15 km by this point I’d say – bearing in mind she was doing it throughout the recovery stages as well as the timed sections, that’s real dedication for you.  I’d expect nothing less.

Oh and she did a mean selfie shot too, which ought really to be mandatory whenever two or more smilies meet.  Evidence suggests it pretty much is already to be fair, if previous evidence is anything to go by:

Incidentally, it occurs to me, albeit rather belatedly, there is a really good breakdown of each section of the Round Sheffield Run course with nice concise descriptors and thumb nail maps on the event website so you could save yourself some time looking at that.   They also did something clever with Strava, marking the recovery sections in blue, but I can’t work out have to steal that as it’s a webpage, so you’ll have to make do with my Strava map, which looks like this:

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Makes more sense now I expect.  That’s good.  No of course I’m not uploading the version with my times on it!  What kind of a fool do you take me for?  (Rhetorical question, no need for answers on a postcard on this occasion).

Now I’ve found the section summary, I’ll refer to that for help with describing the Graves Park bit, er hem, the blah de blah says:

Stage 7   :  1.4km Graves Park

A gradual ascent through the mature woods of Graves park, this is another stage to take at a steady pace, up and over right across the park popping out at the main car entrance.

It only just occurs to me that the somewhat oblique reference to ‘another stage to take at a steady pace’ acknowledges that this is another bit with a long hard uphill trudge.  I don’t really like this section of the park.  Graves park is lovely, but this route misses out the nice bits like the Highland coos and Rose Garden cafe and sort of sneaks around a rather uncharacteristically dingy section.  Nearly said dinghy section, but I’m thinking of the boating pool at Millhouses.  Early runners in the elite wave, could in principle have seen junior parkrunners if not actually on their run, at the very least enjoying the post run partying.  One RD I met walking back home at the end of the event, said he was just sprinting past the back of the cafe for 10ish and could easily have joined the team in the cafe to help process the results if he’d but thought to do so on the way round.  I was probably still trying to cross Rustlings Road at that point.  Honestly, the elite runners inhabit a parallel universe.  I can’t imagine being that fast, even when I’ve taken advantage of deserted early morning airports to run full speed along travelators (doesn’t everyone), and even that makes me feel super human – these elite runners though, must be emitting sonic booms as they pass.  Well, I presume those booms are from breaking the sound barrier not for the food choices made on breaking their overnight fasts.

Graves park then, bit of a ho hum section for me.  A few people passing me asked if I was alright.  I appreciate their concern, but do wonder what this says about my natural gait, as I was absolutely fine, just choosing to strategically power walk, but I must look perpetually broken.  It reflects well on my fellow participants and the ethos of the event that people checked on me, but perhaps doesn’t reflect so well on my running style.  Not quite moving with the grace of a gazelle traversing the open grasslands of the savanna…. or wherever it is they live.  I’ve had worse.  The day after the London marathon, a next door neighbour rushed across the road to ask if I was alright as she thought I must have been in a car accident or something I was moving so stiffly.  Note to self, maybe other runners use rollers and recovery runs for a reason.

One good thing though, was as you come towards the end of the section, there was a couple of women doing excellent cheer leading.  Dear reader these two were ON FIRE.  Probably used more energy jumping up and down to motivate the participants to ‘just keep on running, it’s only 100 metres, don’t stop now’ then the actual runners did racing round.  No honestly, even the elite wave runners would have burnt up a fraction of the calories.  High five to you my favourite supporters of the day!  Liz is very lucky to have you 🙂 hope you hadn’t exhausted your mine of enthusiasm by the time she came into view.  Thank you for practising your cheering skills on the rest of us, you were awesome!

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As you come out of the park, you can espy an ice cream van parked up on the right hand side, quite hard to resist as you are clocking out ahead of the 15 minute recovery stage.

The temptation was in fact impossible to resist for some, who very sensibly, took time out to swap change for lolly – these two also knew how to roll!  Respect.  I wonder if they had 99s.  Not had one of those in ages.  I boycotted them for a bit once I discovered that they aerate them with air outside vehicle i.e. exhaust fumes (probably an urban myth) and that Margaret Thatcher, in her former life as a chemist, was partially responsible for developing the technique which led to Mr Whippy as we know it .  Probably also spurious, I might be able to eat them now…

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The next bit is

Liason between 7-8

Following the main road on the tarmac path up around 500m to the New Inn Pub, turn left onto road here, following to the start of the next trail.

The walk itself is unremarkable, though when you recce the route, I always think it feels a lot longer than it actually is.  The signage for the Round Sheffield Walk route is easy to miss here, though it was well signed for the RSR.  It’s a social section, I chatted to a few runners, some regulars at the RSR, some first timers, the lolly ladybird and lolly bee pair, and a guy who’d hoped to run as a pair with his wife but she’d had to pull out with dodgy knee or something, so he was going solo. Real shame when that happens, but it’s good that pairs who lose a partner can transfer to singleton status in such circumstances.

Eventually, you turn the corner, and then ahead is the sight of the next feed station. Wow, this was busy.  Excitingly, among the banana worriers was a familiar face from Graves junior parkrun.  Hurrah.  Oh, sorry, they were banana warriors, easy mistake.   Whatever, some nifty knife action, those bananas didn’t stand a chance.  Lots of people congregate here.  I’m sure this run was busier than last year, as I’m a slow runner, so usually by the time I come to feed stations things have calmed down a bit as the majority of participants have been and gone, but this was absolutely heaving.  Huge bags were to gather plastic bottles, though some had bizarrely chucked banana skins in amongst them which was hardly pro-social. It’s good that an attempt was being made to keep everything ripe for recycling, but it was a shock seeing such a mountain of single use plastic.  It’s good we are all more aware of it.  I can’t see that being allowed to happen again next year.  I needed to supplement my supply though, so was as guilty as any in taking a bottle.

I lingered only briefly, then it’s back down the hill.  This isn’t the most picturesque part of the route, but litter wise it was much better than last time I went down.  It was so bad once with litter outside the school gates I actually wrote to the school about it in one of my more pompous moments.  Never heard back.  It’s a bit of break neck section, if you take it fast you gather momentum going down, and it’s hard to stop.  I think it was no coincidence the bike paramedic was stationed in the undergrowth here, it was indeed a likely spot for rich pickings, though there were no discarded blood stained gauzes surrounding him when I passed, then again, he’d have put them in a proper biohazard waste bag probably, it’s not the done thing to leave blooded bandages lying around I imagine.

Oh hang on, the official description doesn’t mention the litter or the risk of injury or death if you take it too fast.

Stage 8   :  1.3km Lees Hall Golf Course

This is an exciting fast, flowing trail down between Lees Hall Golf course, down past the academy playing fields, opening up to some great urban views and then diving round to the left and back up towards Meersbrook

so where I experience fear, others experience ‘exciting’ I can see that actually.   I’m not sure about the views on this route, they really kick in in Meersbrook park.

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so the liaison stage here  is along the road in a straight line for about 500m, (more up hilliness) past the row of shops (a co-op you could nip into if you felt the urge.  I seriously contemplated picking up the bottle of wine I’d need for visitors later before my senses recovered sufficiently for me to realise that was a crazy idea, even if it would mean I wouldn’t have to go back out to the shops later.  Then you join the main road and up to Meersbrook park entrance.  Espying the amazing Bishop’s House as you approach.

This next section, section 9, is the best.  Well, maybe second best, Limb Valley (stage 3) is more picturesque and for me more forgiving terrain, but I love this stage too.  The views are extraordinary.  It’s quite moving seeing the city unfold in front of you – it helped that the skies were clear today, but on any day the horizon is amazing.  This park has a real community feel to it too, so it’s a well supported section, you’ll see friends probably, but failing that people generally out enjoying the day and offering cheers of encouragement too.  It’s down hill – always a boon, and has fond memories of small park BIG RUN too.   It’s just such a cool park, with a chilled vibe, I think it helps that, for me at least, psychologically I feel I’m nearly home now, that’s the bling in the bag near as dammit!

EVEN BETTER today at the entrance to the park were indeed buddies from small park BIG RUN, they were quite possibly still doing 1km loops of the park two weeks later – that’s dedication for you.  Also, pirate flag man.  So exciting.  I could see him waving his flag from the top of the hill, but he started to go round the corner out of sight, I genuinely put on an extra sprint for fear the flag would be all furled up again and out of sight by the time I got to the bottom of the hill. That would be unimaginable, missing the flag, when it was actually in sight, so near and yet so far.  Crisis averted dear reader.  The photos record I made it!  I also got whoops and hugs from my Smiley buddies, and the chance to see other smilies sprint on by as they had embraced more fully than me that this was actually within the timed section, so you shouldn’t really be stopping for a chat within it, though personally I don’t see the harm.  Also, I took some photos, quite pleased with the one with the Valley Hill Runners and the view, it’s just like that, it really is.

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Makes me so grateful that life has brought me to Sheffield, it really is the most extraordinary city to live in.  I felt weirdly emotional looking at that view of the city skyline.  It’s hard to say why, it’s not like I’m personally responsible for it or anything, and strictly speaking, I’m not even a ‘real’ Sheffielder, but I love this city I really do.  Admittedly mainly because it’s so easy to get out of and into the peaks, but I’m sure you know what I mean.  Bloody brilliant place

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Out the park, a very vocal marshal was encouraging every runner by name, which was impressive, if only for his speed reading skills!

You emerge, and it’s a bit of zig zag up towards Nether Edge for the next section.

Liason between 9-10 Out the park across the A61 following the permanent signs, across to Abbeydale rd and Edinburgh Cycles, turn left onto Abbeydale Rd, and then turn right by the mirror shop for the start of the next stage. Marshalls will be in key positions for this slightly tricky liaison.

Apart from the novelty value of seeing your reflection in a mirror, this isn’t the best part of Sheffield, but you know what, it’s grown on me.  Let’s celebrate B&M bargains and LiDL.  Why not appreciate the mural and that community wildflower garden is now blooming, literally as well as figuratively.  More chit chat if you fancy it

The best bit though, for me at least, was seeing my  magical Hallam parkrun buddy in situ.  Again, when I’d visualised myself doing this event, I knew once I got to this fabulous smile and slightly sweaty hug, I was nearly home.  Best hug of the day.  Also a selfie op!

Then the mirror moment: 

and then the bit I always forget, because it feels to me like it should be a recovery stage, down those narrow Nether Edge streets to Brincliffe woods. I find it a killer, more hills, and the heat rising by now.  I always end up walking it, with a slight garumphiness, because it’s hard, and I feel self-conscious and inadequate because I ought to be running but can’t or more accurately won’t.

Stage 10 :  2.2km Brincliffe Edge –  The end is getting close, this urban stage takes you up the road on a gradual climb to Brincliffe edge, keep going up the road and the duck into the woods onto the trail, contouring round, then up and down into Chelsea park, popping out in quiet surburbia on the otherside. A few quiet wide streets to negotiate on the pavement before finishing just before Psalter lane

Fortuitously, I came across a former Smiley and distance walking aficionado, who was also doing some strategic walking at the point, so we marched on together.  It was good to catch up, also I was able to pick her brains about using poles for walking/running, as she’s a fab advert for doing just that, although wasn’t using them today. She had them at the Hathersage Hurtle last year (2018), and was fair speeding round.

We stayed together until we emerged from Brincliffe Edge woods, then I waved her off as she skipped off through Chelsea park, the end in her sights.  Brincliffe Edge is a weird short sharp bit.  It’s nice and flat across the – you think – top of the ridge, and then just as you are settling in to that there’s a sharp right and more steep steps reveal themselves to take you up to Chelsea Park.  I didn’t witness this myself, but saw on Facebook that someone was alongside a non-local at this point – ‘and RSR virgin’ was the phrase used, and that poor soul caught sight of yet another set of steep steps unfolding before them they  just exclaimed ‘oh f$ck off!’ A sentiment other participants may well have shared!

Into the park, down the hill.  This is really near my home patch, although I don’t tend to go into the park that often, because frankly there are more open spaces within reach, but it was nice to jog through, and pleasingly I met one of my neighbours out walking her dog. She was a little bemused as to what exactly I was doing, but then again, so was I.  It possibly didn’t help that I was saying I was doing a trail run, but wasn’t noticeably doing a great deal of running.  I let that go…

You come out of the park, and again it’s still the timed section.  I feel it shouldn’t be, but anyway, that’s just voices in my head I expect.  Talking of which, I suddenly thought I could hear my name being called from the far distance, but I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it, and didn’t want to do that awkward thing of turning round and waving only to realise it was a shout out for someone else entirely.  It carried on.  I stopped.  I gazed about, and then look who sprinted into view:

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Another Hallam parkrun buddy.  Honestly, Sheffield parkrunners were like cockroaches on this run, they just popped up everywhere – only in a good way, obvs.  It was really nice to see a friendly face, and we jogged along and chatted and ended up staying together til the finish.

Past the last of the out of park marshals:

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Through the bright lights of Hunters Bar – trying not to notice the flood of runners who’d already finished and were strolling home adorned with the obligatory post-event metal wear!

And then back into the park for the final stage.  Can we have a moment please to appreciate the marshals at this stage who were particularly hilarious with their motivational banter.  Screaming at us to ‘run!  It’s not far, it’s a sprint finish, go go go!’  All the marshals throughout were epic, each had their own unique style to bring to the event and all are heroes, but this was a fun note to finish on for sure.  No-one was going to get away with nonchalantly strolling by this dibber point, it was do or die, and give it your all!

I therefore did dutifully run past, until I was safely out of view the other side of Queen Vic.  Then I did a bit of a walk to behind the hedge, before bursting out with a sprint finish.  Wasn’t going so fast that I missed waving at my Swiss Smiley friend – well met dear traveller, well met!

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I thought we did a reasonable job with our sprint finish – and thanks to Smiley Selfie Queen for capturing the moment even if it is a bit of a shame you aren’t captured looking into the camera in the front bottom corner of the frame as is usual for a selfie shot.  However, some really know how to tackle that finish or work the crowd.  The event ‘instructions’ state:

Stage 11 :  0.4km Endcliffe Park Finish – A final flourish, starting at the park entrance up onto the park itself where you will join the marked course for the dash for the finish outside Endcliffe park cafe. You will be greeted by fellow competitors, adulation from the crowd and if you wish a cold beer!

and it’s at least partly true.  You can indeed get adulation from the crowd, but it is best if you work it!  Look and learn:

just the little formality of the medal – ooh, and another Graves junior buddy, one big love in, how nice, it was like a personalised medal award ceremony!

Final dib to get results, queue for crisps and banana and water

Thanks to Swiss Smiley for coming to say hello, sorry I was a bit post-run perplexed, was grand to see you!  And that was that.  RSR all done for another year.

Well, all done apart from the partying of course.

I couldn’t linger this time round, you know how it is, places to go, people to see.  However, did get lucky meeting the Monday Mobsters.  … won’t give a spoiler, but ooh, I’m soooooooooooooo excited about next weekend now.  parkrun dreams really can come true!  I’m not giving a spoiler, but I will give a clue, what’s the parkrun dream destination once you’ve already done your parkrun pilgrimage to Bushy parkrun people?  I think we know…

So I said my farewells, and started the long trudge back up the hill to Nether Edge.  Blimey.  The return voyage was made easier once I bumped into the Graves junior RD for some company with him and his pal for the walk back.  Don’t worry dear reader, I did remember to nip into the local supermarket for a bottle of wine – only I accidentally got a large bottle of gin instead, and some pasta.  Perfecto!

That’s that then, for now.  I daresay there will be some edits coming later, and I’ll probably keep finding even better photos, which is the challenge when you keep discovering new ones days or even weeks later.

Thanks once again kandoo team and everyone who took part in or supported another fab RSR experience.  Those of us who are lucky enough to live in Sheffield are even more blessed to have this great event on my doorstep.  If they’d only sort out the horticultural supplies issues for next year, it will remain perfect.

Incidentally, it would seem that for the most part, runners at this year’s RSR got lucky and got round.  It’s been a good few weeks for off road runners.  Did you know  Damian Hall just set a new fastest known time for the Paddy Buckley Round, running over 61 miles – across some of Wales’ most remote mountain tops, climbing 47 peaks and ascending over 28,000ft  in 17hrs 31mins.  And the other week Sabrina Verjee won the 268-mile Montane Spine Race – the first female athlete to win the Spine race outright.  That’s a 268-miles non-stop race along the Pennine Way which she completed in 82 hours, 19 minutes and seven seconds, leading from start to finish, about 6 hours ahead of the second finisher. Fab.  Obvs.

But can’t help noticing that poor Sabrina’s medal doesn’t double as a bottle opener and has a trashy plastic sash, and as for Damian – well!  No medal at all!  Just glory, where is the fun in that.  I think we Sheffield Runarounders had the best fun and best bling of all.

So thanks y’all who made it so, and special thanks to the energetic and engaged marshals throughout, and the photographers who shared pics from throughout the day.  You can find these photo albums froms the 2019 event all on the Round Sheffield Run Facebook page.  There are thooooooooooooooooooooooousands, ’twill take a while to scroll through those, but just think how much fun you’ll have reliving the day!

The team politely request that people consider making a donation to Weston Park Cancer Hospital in return for use of the images. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rsr19 Uploaded in high res for you to use.

and on intrepid runner, Daniel Harris put together this Round Sheffield Run 2019 Timewarp Youtube video, which allows you to complete the whole route in 5 minutes or so.  You could have saved yourself a lot of time if only I’d listed this link right at the start.   Ooops.

Cheers all who took and shared pictures, accounts and videos.  Sharing the love 🙂   MInd you, it’s a Herculean labour keeping track of them all, never mind slaying the hydra, the epic shots just keep on coming…

Same time next year then, ballot and fate permitting?

Start planning your perennial beds now in eager anticipation.  I know I will.  That plant stall idea is a shoo in.

🙂

*oh hang on, that bit isn’t true actually, but you’ll feel sunshine in your hearts on the day because it’s one big running love-in

For all my Round Sheffield Run related posts, click this link and scroll down for older entries.  Or don’t.

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

Out of the mist, came forth sun… and runners, lots and lots of runners. Loving Longshaw Trust10 in the spring sunshine.

Digested read:  back to the Longshaw Trust 10k (Trust10).  Misty start, sunny finish.  Very nice to be back.

Undigested read:

Everybody loves Longshaw.  Well they should do. Just look at it, it’s spectacular, whatever the season.

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

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

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

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

The website says succinctly:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Volunteers are epic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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there was the run briefing.

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

Birthday celebrant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

back onto the open hillside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🙂

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

£20 could get a nest for dormice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Fabulous Frolics at Frickley Country parkrun

Digested read: went to Frickley Country parkrun for some tourism.  It was only their fourth event (bless), but ran like a well oiled machine.  It was reet nice.  Thanks all.  You may be a relatively new arrival, but you appear to have emerged fully fledged.  Hurrah!

Undigested read: (it’s a long one, again, remember, read responsibly, leave time to adult, or not, where applicable and according to your needs and preferences but don’t blame me for tasks undone).

So much I want to tell you about this parkrun.  It was jam-packed with celebrities for starters (though we can take it as a given that all parkrunners are heroes). There is however, one particular completely brilliant feature that confounded all my previous parkrun expectations. Desperate to blurt it out right now, but you know what, I’m going to save it for later, because I think – hard as it is to comprehend –  it will be even more fun if you experience the delayed gratification that I too underwent on my sojourn to Frickley this morning, before getting to the big reveal.  Well, here’s hoping anyway.  I know, hope over experience, but you’ve gotta have hope, especially in times as dark, dismal and divisive as these…  In fact, I’m almost wondering if I shouldn’t tell you, in case that means you lose the element of surprise when you rock up for your inaugural Frickley Country parkrun experience.  It’s quite a dilemma, responsibility even.  I’ll have to wait and see…

I’ll tell you something straight up though (see what I’ve done there?  Pun intended) this was definitely an ‘undulating’ course, properly so.  And I speak as a veteran of many a Sheffield parkrun.  You know what, I’m going to really stick my neck out and concede there were actual hills.  You’ll get fit if Frickley Country is your home course for sure.  Even if ‘just’ hoiking yourself up to one of the higher marshalling points. And for your information, this isn’t even The Hill, and this hi viz hero still had to set off at dawn to allow enough time for him to summit before we parkrunners descended…

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But I’m getting ahead of myself here, stop distracting me with all this hill-talk all I’ll never be finished with this account, let’s get back to basics shall we – you can always skim read if you are getting bored impatient.

Confession time.  I’d never even heard of Frickley ’til  a couple of weeks ago.  No idea where it was, but it popped up as my NENDY (nearest event not done yet) and so it seemed that it’s a relatively new event (this was their fourth) that snuck under the radar, presumably wanting a quiet inaugural, which is fair enough. I’m upping my tourism lately, for various reasons I can’t be bothered to elaborate on here, and so it seemed a logical choice for a Saturday morning jaunt out from Sheffield.  So, in case you, like me, have been living in a state of ignorance about Frickley, I can tell you this, Frickley Country park

is a former colliery and now is now an attractive open space. It has over 7 miles of footpaths and cycle-ways, giving you great opportunities to walk, run, cycle and escape in this natural environment. There are also several works of art which hark back to the land’s industrial past.

and is located

to the immediate south of South Elmsall, West Yorkshire. It’s situated on the southern side of an urban settlement, bordered to the east and south by agricultural land with broadleaf woods, and to the west by a railway and spoil heaps

frickley country park

So now we all know.   Firmly in the Yorkshire and Humberside section of the parkrun events page.

I feel enlightened. One of the many fab things about parkrun tourism is that it has been most educational.  I’ve visited places that I might never have reason to stop at before and met some fab people along the way.  What’s not to like. Also, many fine mugs of coffee drunk along the way (apart from Doncaster parkrun, that was an ace visit but worst coffee ever experienced ever, not just at parkrun even).  No parkrun trip, however far ventured, is ever wasted.  FACT.

I was trying to remind myself of this when my alarm clock went off and I woke blinking and confused staring into the dark.  Felt like I hadn’t slept, but I peered out of window and established there was no ice, so it was trip on.  I always worry about getting lost so left loads of time, so it was pitch dark as I ventured out.  I hate driving in the dark, roll on long summer days when parkrun tourism can occur in daylight.  It was an easy drive from Sheffield to Frickley, though inevitably further than I thought.  The Frickley Country parkrun directions stated (correctly) that the

Sat Nav code WF9 2EQ. This postcode is accurate to within 200 metres of the entrance (do not turn into Colliers Way – dead end, unless on foot). The entrance (unmade road) is 200 metres ahead between Frickley Colliery Welfare Cricket Club and Broad Lane Business Centre. The Frickley Athletic Football Club Pavilion is located off Westfield Lane South Elmsall Pontefract. There is signage at the entrance to the Football ground.

There is ample car parking available free of charge at the Frickley Athletic Football Stadium/Pavilion. There is additional free car parking around the site (Doncaster Road car park entrance and at Curlew View car park entrance) however they are approximately a 10 minute walk to the start/finish line

It wasn’t difficult to find, but, as I was early, the entrance, though clearly marked, didn’t inspire confidence.  It takes you down a rather potholed track, and you approach it through quite dense housing, so it felt counter intuitive.

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I was quite relieved to espy the parkrun flag, and made my way through to a soft of fenced off carpark area.  There was indeed loads of parking first thing, anyway, however characteristically, I was immediately overwhelmed with the decision making involved in choosing the correct space.  I then went for a quick explore of the entrance area to the Frickley Athletic Football Club, which had some (to me at least) highly entertaining signage.  Loved the Big Fellas clothing notice and was especially taken by the evostick sponsorship as I didn’t realize adhesive was a natural bedfellow for football league support.  See, once again, parkrun was proving most educational.  There was plenty of extra parking space, though not marked out, so potentially a bit of a free for all in terms of finding a spot.  Less salubrious, was the copious amounts of dog poo everywhere around the entrance area.  Not a good impression, stick to the tarmac dear reader I’ll say no more.

Oh, and I took a ‘before’ selfie, because you have to, don’t you, it’s the rule at a new parkrun location.  I think it must also be a given that it’s deeply unflattering, well that rule works for me, please gawd I don’t actually look like this in real life – mind you, wait til you see the ‘after’ shot. After shock more like….

Emboldened by my foray around, I approached the club house.  You could see a veritable army mass of hi-vis marshals milling around through the windows.  Others were arriving too, loads of tourist buffs, and there was a sort of air of eager anticipation. Unlike other parkruns I’ve been to, because this is a relatively new event, there was a sort of collective uncertainty about where facilities and the course was, but it was exciting, like we were all about to embark on a grand new adventure.

The club house has much to recommend it. It was roasty toasty warm for one thing, which may or may not be a good thing on reflection, as it was hard to prize yourself away from it.  Coffee was available pre as well as post parkrun.  There were loos – indeed an actual changing room with showers and a treatment bench thing, if only I’d thought to bring my personal masseuse with me this morning we’d have managed just fine.   It did look a bit like an old-fashioned asylum as portrayed in an old horror film, but apart from that. Also, you get to feel important on the way in, as there is a sign up making it very clear that only VIPs are honored with using that particular entrance.

Having executed my first precautionary pee of the morning, it was time to have a little scout around the course.  The sun was rising, and I contemplated chugging up an adjacent hill to get a better shot, but instead tried for ones on lower ground.  Dog poo alert again, so much dog shite around the football pitch areas, I should have gone up the hill.  The poo problem seemed quite localised, I assume from people watching matches paying no attention to their hounds prolific ‘toileting’ – it didn’t help there were no obvious poo bins, it was a real shame, very off putting.  Basically, my top tip is treat the whole grass area around the football pitches and the rough parking areas around the entrance area as if they are mined with dog poo.  Tread on these areas at your peril.  You’ll have no recourse, I strongly suspect there is no DNA testing of dog poop in this location.  However, try not to be put off the whole parkrun experience by this first impression, granted the bar is set quite low, canine faeces proliferation wise, but honestly, things got very much better from hereon-in!  I will resist the temptation to insert here a photo of a dog mid-poo, instead going for this positive imagery of a very finely executed poop scoop by parkrunners and barkrunners doing the right thing. Good to know!

responsible dog owners

Back to cheerier themes, sunrise picture wise though, no worries, others did make this foray to higher ground and I am shamelessly using their pics alongside mine.  If you want to know which is which, basically their ones are the money shots, and mine isn’t.  Hope that helps.

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So first impressions. Well, sun rise, huge expanse of space, and yep ‘undulating’.  I was sort of lurking and overhearing other conversations.  One was pointing to a steep hill, and saying ‘of course that’s not The Hill, that’s over there‘ as she gestured wildly in some other direction.  I didn’t pay all that much attention. We have hills in Sheffield. It’d be fine.

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I wandered down to the finish area, distinguishable by a very fine pop-up finish sign, way more sophisticated than I’ve seen in any of our more local runs.  It is two-sided so one side says ‘finish’ and the other, creatively, says ‘start’.  However, although you might think this is a boon, it was actually a bit confusing, and I noticed it did get turned around a few times this morning.  So when I first went down ‘finish’ was towards me, but later it was changed to show ‘start’ so you could see where to assemble as you emerged into the park area from the clubhouse, but then you actually line up behind it so it feels like you are running through the ‘finish’ as you head out.  Don’t worry too much though, everything worked.  Here is a picture for identification purposes:

I got acquainted with another tourist from Huddersfield (wave of hello inserted here), who was telling me about a new run there, Storthes Hall parkrun, also new to the parkrun party, so that can be added to my to do list.  It’s quite exciting, all these extra parkruns popping up all over.  She was watching her tourist buddies warming up, they looked impressive sprinting down the hill.  Personally, I like to save my running around for the actual run, though with the benefit of hindsight, for this particular parkrun a warm up lope  along somewhere is probably a good move.  More of this later.

 I had to have my second precautionary pee of the morning, and did some milling around self-consciously.  Volunteers started to emerge from the club house and head out to their individually identified hot spots.

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More and more people started to descend on the area.  The anticipation built.

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After a bit, a call went out for the first timers briefing.  There was a fair few of us, the majority were tourists, but some were locals, some even first time ever parkrunners, sigh, their lives will never be the same again.  I followed the mob to the briefing.  There was a description of the course.  ‘See that hill, it’s not that one that everyone has been talking about‘.  Oh, maybe I should have concentrated a bit more on understanding what the course was like.  Clearly this mythical hill is a thing of wonder, and not to be approached too lightly.  All were welcomed, and having established no-one was intending to be faster than 20 minutes, the basic advice is to follow the person in front and listen to marshals, which always works for me.  All friendly though, and welcoming, which is the main thing. Thank you welcoming first time briefer.

Hang on, should probably do the official Frickley Country parkrun course blah de blah, here it is:

The start and finish are located at the Frickley Athletic Football Club Pavilion. The course consists of mixed trail surfaces. The course is exclusively the Frickley Country Park site. The majority of the course (4K) is one lap, with an additional (1K) loop. The course is undulating, with a challenging hill section at 1K point, however the views from the top are worth the effort of the climb.

Hmm, sounded innocuous enough.  It looks like this:

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So now we all know.

More milling and chilling.  Whilst we were waiting patiently assembled at the start, a fine dachshund caught my eye.  We were formally introduced later on, but he was clearly a parkrun pro.  He was outraged at the hanging around and trying to alert his handler to his impatience at this unexpected lull in proceedings.  Clearly he was used to a speedier start.  His handler made an abortive attempt to lead him away from the start to minimise the disruption caused by his barking, but this made things worse.  Troy (for that is of whom I am speaking) was provoked even further because his idiot handler was clearly trying to go the wrong way! Honestly, it must be so frustrating when you are a barkrun pro and the idiots around you are not following your expected parkrun protocols!

After a bit, there was a further call for attention, and this time it was the Run Director’s briefing.  She didn’t appear to be wearing the traditional (I thought) blue hi-vis.  Whether that was because they don’t yet have one, she preferred to go undercover for surveillance purposes or it was just forgotten I cannot say.  However, in a much more dramatic break from tradition, I can report dear reader that there was proper, respectful silence for the Run Director during the briefing.  Hallelujah!  That made a refreshing change.  I suppose it does rather suggest it was because this was a new event so people were paying attention.  The depressing truth that goes alongside this is all the people yakking through other run briefings at parkruns nationwide are regulars.  Oh well, not so here, we can celebrate that.  We were reminded that there is a loopy bit you do twice, so keep to the left on that unless overtaking.  This all makes sense once you’ve done it, but not really in advance.  You could get away with just doing it once, but really, you’d only be fooling yourself and you’d never get another pb so where would be the fun in that?  Not only do run directors in general rock, obvs, but this particular RD has her own rock on which to stand to deliver said RD briefing.  Another fine innovation from a new parkrun.  There was also a warning that there is a rogue Frickley Parkrun Facebook page out there, but it has a capital pee, so would fool no true parkrunner surely! 😉 Seriously though, how has that happened, bit weird for someone to choose to do that…

‘Twas a brief briefing.  3 2 1 Go!  And we were awf.  Troy was mightily relieved, and it did start punctually, the milling around was because we were all keenies in situ nice and early.  Of we went, up the path and then first left and  even more up as we tackle the  a hill.  Over two hundred runners.  It was a fair old heave ho.  Hence my earlier comment maybe a warm up would have been a good idea.  I found this parkrun hard from the off.

There were a few buggy runners.  Respect to them!  Although the paths were firm underneath, there was a fair bit of mud on top, and with that, and the hills from the outset, it was nigh on heroic to get a buggy round, but plenty did, and overtook me to boot (though that’s not quite such an impressive achievement as I might wish to believe).

Up, up the hill, thanking our cheery hi-vis heroes as we passed.

I was towards the back, I always do start further back these days, and it was quite something to see the colourful snake of runners snaking up ahead and over the brow of the hill, which somewhat made up for my growing sense of panic that I’d be left behind completely!  Maybe if I spent less time taking blurry photos and more time actually running that would be less of a real peril!

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Coming over the top of the hill you are rewarded by great views, the relief of a bit of flat, and then some down hill -which was fine but a bit steeper and rougher than the generally compact trails might suggest.  I was glad of my trail shoes – then again, I am a bit of a scaredy cat, so always favour a bit of extra grip on unfamiliar courses.

I found it quite interesting running through this reclaimed colliery site, though I guess inevitably its history will be complicated.  It reminded me – unsurprisingly of Gedling, another reclaimed colliery.  A lot of effort has gone into creating these spaces, and they are impressive, and over time, as trees mature, will become even more so.  Still, no time to think about that.  Getting to the 1 km mark, I saw it.  The Hill.  Yep, that’s a hill.  Sufficiently steep that the path zig zags up to it rather than going straight up.  Fab marshaling position at the bottom of the hill gave great views of the thread of runners hoiking themselves up, some with more grace and elegance than others!  There were some trodden linking sections where other walkers had taken ‘short cuts’ straight up, but I’m not sure you’d gain anything at a parkrun by so doing, they were pretty steep, you’d end up sliding right back down again if you gave into misguided temptation to cut a corner anywhere.  Looked great though. Again, I’ve borrowed some photos of others to create some mood shots for you.  Hoping those who put their photos on Facebook will be magnanimous about sharing them here.

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Not gonna lie.  That hill was tough going.  If this was your local parkrun you’d get seriously fit running up that hill even just once a week.  Weirdly, when I checked out the elevation for this route afterwards, it was ‘only’ 257 ft, compared to say Graves parkrun (new route) which is, according to my Strava more at 340 ft. Graves doesn’t feel so hard to me, but then again it is familiar.  Not loving the uphill finish at Graves though, oh the shame if you can’t keep you puff and running up for a final flourish!`

Mind you, don’t know what I’m moaning about, have you seen what some women are capable of?  Can we have a moment to celebrate these amazing women have done.  A group of five Aymara indigenous women from Bolivia – known as the cholita* climbers – have summited Aconcagua (6961m) in the Argentinian Andes near the border with Chile.  6961 metres is 22837.93 ft, apparently, let’s call it 22838 ft shall we? Which is like doing the ascent at Frickley Country parkrun 88.8638132296 times.  Let’s call that 89 times shall we?  Impressive.  They look very jolly, I think they’d make fine parkrunners, shame parkrun has yet to make it to Bolivia.

cholita climbers

I barely made it up the hill once.  To add to the stress of it all, there was a photographer lurking at the highest point!  Great sense of humour the Frickley folk were sporting there. They must have captured some corkers!

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Update: yes they did get some corker photos, and shared them too, here are some, thank you Frickley Country parkrun volunteer, much appreciated.  Told you those buggy pushers were hardcore, and that dachshunds are feisty.  Confusingly, I’m sure at least a couple of the photos were from a different spot at the bottom of a hill, but you get the gist, I’m sure.  Disappointingly, I don’t think the gradient is fully obvious from these shots, but maybe the grimaces on the photos tell their own story.  Come and run it for yourself and then decide…

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You are rewarded for this second ascent with more flat, which you can enjoy as long as your lungs aren’t too full of blood from the earlier exertion.  You can really see for miles, the landscape is in no way ‘natural’ but it is full of interest. There were lots of features to appreciate, strategically placed benches (NOT intended to be used as resting points mid parkrun but I suppose if you really had to), with lovely side silhouettes of people staring out to the view, and little design references to the history of the site.

Nice.

Again, the views stretch out in front of you, and you can follow the brightly coloured snaking line of running tees like a trail of bread crumbs to see your way ahead.

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Another smiling marshal stops you getting lost en route:

This is where it turned out there was a strategically placed video camera, recording everyone as they passed.  There was also an overhead buzz, which turned out to be a drone, seemingly following us along, but I don’t know if that was there by chance or a Frickley Country parkrun surveillance initiative, I think probably the former. Though the psychology of being watched is fascinating.  I definitely didn’t want to stop running for as long as I thought I could be seen. Childish, but true….

Oh, and the Frickley Country parkrun video for event #4 is here, I didn’t realise I looked quite so comical when I run, oh well, at least it got me scampering in an ‘I’m trying to run a bit’ rather than blowing my nose or gazing about or giving up and ‘power walking to save myself for a sprint finish’ all of  which were plausible options on this course.  I did manage to screen shot a still from it though, and it is actually quite fun and quite therapeutic to watch the whole field pass by if you have time to watch the whole sequence.  Quite a continuum of approaches on display there. Thanks Frickley Country parkrun for the video innovation.  It seems to have been a regular feature for the last couple of weeks, though I wouldn’t bank on it being there in perpetuity… however you never know do you.  So be prepared parkrunners, be prepared!  At least they had the generosity of spirit to capture us on a downhill section on this occasion – it may not always be just so!

video still

Shortly after being recorded for posterity, you encounter the looping the loop bit.  It sounds confusing but it just isn’t.  Marshals point the way, and signs back it up, plus, it is depressingly obvious you are going to have to run round twice, as you can see the faster runners on a downward descent for round two as you approach.  Don’t worry, if you are a faster runner, they have sentries marshals on hand to direct you back round so you don’t miss out on the two lap fun factory provided for your delight.

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The photos don’t reflect it all that well, but the loop goes up hill again,  I quite liked this bit.  You keep to the left unless overtaking, but it was quite spread out by this point and seemed good natured.  There was mud and puddles a-plenty, always a boon.  You emerge at the top alongside a housing estate that abuts the country park, they must have great views.  Another straight bit … which would take you to the finish, except for the cheery and vigilant marshal to direct you back down the hill again to have the fun of running round in a bit circle all over again.  There were also some runners that who had presumably already finished, as they were coming in the opposite direction doing a cool down lap I suppose, another bright idea I have yet to implement.  I’m a running minimalist at heart, I really do need to start getting more disciplined if I’m going to get my long runs in…  At least I hope they were doing a cool down lap, otherwise some of us were definitely going the wrong way…

Hurrah!  An added bonus, was I spotted this fine obelisk like structure on the second circuit.  Marking the site of some colliery construction or other.  It looked almost mythical with the early morning sun back lighting it quite gloriously. Yep, my camera has failed to capture that as well. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

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More breathless thanking of marshals and back up the hill

and then ‘suddenly’ you are homeward bound.

Surely it can’t be?  Is that the finish in sight?  Down hill as well?

The thing is dear reader, this was the most exciting bit that I wanted to blurt out right at the beginning. This was the unexpected, to me unprecedented and yet pleasing parkrun innovation.  Spoiler alert, if you want to keep the surprise for yourself, you are going to have to skip this whole paragraph, otherwise the secret will be out of the proverbial bag. Your call.  Ready?  Well, you aren’t going to believe this, but, I kid you not, they’d moved the proverbial goal posts in our favour!  Usually, as soon as I see the finish funnel (unless it’s an uphill finish like the aforementioned Graves parkrun) I immediately put on what is for me a sprint, due to this primeval fear that if I don’t the volunteers will all start to dismantle it and move it further away as I approach. Well, you’ll never guess, but here, the complete opposite happened! I’d assumed – nay, I’d go so far as to say ‘been led to believe’ the start and finish were at the same place, because of the push-me pull-you start/finish sign previously mentioned.  Here, whilst we’d all been parkrun/ walk/ jogging about up and down hill and round in circles the volunteers had moved the finish closer to where we were running from! This genius innovation is incredibly good for morale, and also has the added advantage of you finish at the entrance for the clubhouse, very handy for coffee cravers everywhere.  Brilliant.

As you pass the time keepers you get a token the far end of the funnel, and then there was a scanner metres away, all extremely efficient.  This may be a new parkrun but their systems seem to be up and running with gusto as well as well oiled efficiency.

I lingered a while at the finish, cheering in the few who were still trailing in behind me.

I espied the first aid kit and defibrillator on hand. I was going to make some quip about didn’t know ipads could do that, but turns out there was a reminder of the life saving potential of defribs as one had to be used at Bushy parkrun this morning.  The person concerned seems to be doing well, but it I suppose as more and more people embrace parkrun, law of averages means there will be occasional incidents when these are needed. I know of a few incidents now. I wonder how many parkrun purchased kits have been used, not necessarily at parkrun, they often become an asset and resource for whatever venue hosts them.

dscf7230

I tried to get some arty shots from the steps by the pavilion.  I know, but sometimes remember it is the thought that counts, and in these early days of Frickley Country parkrun’s evolution, maybe even blurry photos will play their part in contributing to the event archive.

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I’d hit the jackpot earlier with my parking, being just outside the club house, so easy enough to retrieve my fleece and cash for coffee.  First though, the mandatory after selfie shot:

dscf7126

Yep, the running had taken it’s toll with all those hill, no wonder I was looking a little green around the gills.

Still, not to worry, fleece on and into the warm embrace of the cosy club house. You could pay £1 for cheap and cheerful coffee – there was also a hatch selling bacon baps and circus tickets (?) but I’m vegetarian and anyway, had my eye on the Proper Coffee.  I made my way to the proper coffee corner, where the vendor was diligently mopping up quantities of hot foamy spilt milk with a rather inadequate looking paper towel.   ‘There’s been a catastrophe‘ he said, or something similar.  ‘Not a catastrophe‘, I helpfully advised ‘a learning opportunity!’  I don’t really think that, it was post-run endorphins speaking probably, but also, you know what they say about spilt milk.  No point. No point at all.  I’m sure it wasn’t a world weary look I got in return.  I did however get an extremely fine latte for the bargain price of £2.  It was really good.  Only observation was that I couldn’t see anywhere you could get water from, though I didn’t ask to be fair.  Coffee was great and cafe area really warm, in every sense.    A very friendly hub bub was all around.

Fortuitously, my tourist buddy I’d met at the very beginning of the day, was the person in front of me in the coffee queue.  She invited me to join some other tourists who all meet up together at various events all over the place.  I was greatly honoured.  Who knew that there was this whole parallel universe of traveling parkrunners.  I was invited to take a seat, which was initially somewhat awkward as the most obvious place was already taken by another parkrun touring celebrity, dear reader I give you Bully, the touring mascot:

cant go wrong with a cow

Cow cowl made manifest!  I’m a bit confused about what the name Bully might infer in terms of gender identity, but then again, that’s an artificial construct isn’t it, maybe they identify as non-binary or something…

Even so, I was made very welcome, and it was great hearing about all sorts of touring adventures and meeting Troy properly and hearing about specialist parkrun groups – did you know there is a closed Facebook parkrun group for the deaf and hard of hearing no?  Me neither.  It’s great to see how parkrun is evolving.

It was good to meet a true local on her first ever parkrun too (wave).  She was telling me about running in Canada, which got to the minus twenties I think she said.  I can’t even imagine that.  Frickley Country parkrun would be great to have as your local I think, it seemed really friendly and a challenging course too.  All good.

Photos, obviously, in many and varied permutations, it wasn’t just me who was after photos this time.  Love parkrun tourists, they get it!  Smiley Selfie Queen would be among friends here:

You’d have thought the delights of hobnobbing with parkrun tourists and locals alike, couldn’t be topped. But before I left, I sought out the erm, not sure how to express this with due reverence and political correctness – let’s go with veteran marshal.  He’d been out cheering us at the top of the hill, and I reckoned it was a reasonable punt that he was probably post fifty say and particularly wanted to say hello to him because I thought my mum might be interested in hearing about another vintage volunteer.  Well dear reader.  Result!  Not only was he incredibly friendly and obliging posing for lots of snaps so I could get the perfect pose

but also, turns out he is a parkrun celebrity in his own right!  My mum may have Elisabeth’s corner at Bushy parkrun – of which she is rightly proud, but this was Ken of Ken’s corner at Pontefract parkrun!

As my regular reader knows, I never name anyone in this blog… unless, they are a celebrity and therefore already in the public domain.  Clearly Troy and Ken both fall into this category.  Respect!  I felt really honoured!

Is there anyone involved with Pontefract parkrun that is more inspirational than our very own Ken Bingley?   With 167 volunteer sessions behind him and 112 runs, it’s no surprise that we’ve named a corner after him.

It was chance that brought him to Frickley Country parkrun today, apparently Pontefract parkrun was cancelled, their loss, our gain.  Because it basically launched Ken off on his winter progresses, like Elizabeth I, I think it was her, that did progresses out and about. I’ll need to google that now…  Yep, ’twas apparently she headed off when London was hot and insalubrious  Ken was off exploring because he couldn’t miss a parkrun fix.  Quite right too.

Now I’ve got to put Pontefract back on my list so I can get a high-five from the great man himself in his native habitat.  Can’t wait!   Anyway, he and his family were individually and collectively awesome, full of running stories and top tips for races (Grim up north series anyone?) and parkrun tales.  Result.  Also, only now I’m home and making merry with Bing (having a day off Google) have I discovered he ran his first marathon in Sheffield, back in the day when we still had one. Rumour has it you got an ashtray instead of a medal for running that at one point, I wonder if he got one too!  Another reason for hoiking myself round Pontefract, I now need to know!  Mind you there are other surreal findings in post-run doggy bags even now….

So that was that, pretty much last to leave, the hub bub of the coffee drinkers abated and the floors were being swept around us.   Call me massively intuitive and empathetic, but I took that as non verbal communication from our hosts that they were wanting to pack up and go home.  I’m sensitive like that.

Fond farewells were exchanged, along with promises to meet again, as I’m sure we will!

Job done.

Can we have a virtual cheer and hi-fives all round for the Fabulous Frickley Country parkrun event team and volunteers, it’s no mean feat to get a parkrun off the ground, and they have done brilliantly, if today was anything to go by.  Thank you all, your efforst are appreciated, you should have your own capes in recognition of your parkrun super-hero statuses.

Oh, and finally, you can read the incredibly speedily produced run report for Frickley Country parkrun #4 here.  Another tourist perspective.  There were a lot of tourists and visitors today.

and talking of parkrun reports, my mum got a mention in the Bushy parkrun Run Report 773 for today too.  Hurrah.  Really ace photo of her waving brilliantly too I think!  She’s had a lot of practice though, so not really surprising that she’s nailed it.

mum 26 jan 2019

So get yourself down there.  Don’t forget your barcode #dfyb – and for clarity, that means your parkrun barcode athlete individual identifier.  Pesenting an identikit library card for scanning instead will only lead to embarrassment!  Yes, that happened.  You’d need to be wise indeed to sort that one out after the event though. I mean, strictly speaking you didn’t bring your barcode did you, but if it got scanned, as in this case, because neither runner nor scanner could spot the difference, I’m thinking that might be genuinely exceptional circumstances. Glad I don’t have to decide.  Tough call.  Still, to be on the safe side, take your parkrun barcode along rather than your old Blockbuster video rental card or Morrisons loyalty card or whatever.  Better safe than sorry.

blockbuster store

So in conclusion, thanks lovely Frickley Country parkrun people, you were fab.  All of you, in every parkrunning manifestation from hi-vis clad to walk run joggers.  Not going to lie, my favourite bit was finding you’d moved the finish line in my favour, but that was really the cherry on the cake, because so much to recommend you.  Much parkrun parkfun to be had indeed!

So happy parkrunning ’til next time, hope to be back to see you again soon.

🙂

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

 

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

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

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

longshaw trust 10

Undigested read:

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

could have been at Graves junior

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

longshaw

I know, close call.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Longshaw 10k route

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

see no ships

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

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

Longshaw 10 start line up

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

 

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

 

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

Longshaw cafe christmas tree

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

longshaw queue

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Longshaw 10 coming round

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

See you the other side in the meantime:

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

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

*Please delete as applicable

** Erstwhile Flat Mate.  Obvs.

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

Giving Dronfield the run around. Recce of Round Dronfield Walk

Digested read: can now tick the Round Dronfield Walk route off my to-do list.  Hillier than expected, more strenuous than expected, good in parts, with a lot of stiles, some of which were less than stylishly negotiated. 14.5 miles with a surprising 1873 ft of elevation.

DSCF4931

Unabridged version:

Blimey, that was complicated.

I do feel like my life is mainly taken up with running round in pointless circles as it is, so you might think doing a circular walk/run route would be a breeze as I’ve had so much practice. Turns out, it isn’t entirely, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth the effort.

Ok, so for the wilfully ignorant out there, there is a Dronfield Round Walk, strictly speaking, it’s re-launch of the Dronfield Rotary 2000 Walk – and now known as the Dronfield Barn Rotary Walk, but I’m going to call it the Round Dronfield Walk and thereby sow confusion henceforth and potentially in perpetuity.  What we can all agree on though, is that this is a circular countryside walk round (spoiler alert) Dronfield.  A walk promoted and cared for by The Dronfield Hall Barn group. It passes through the hamlet of Summerley and the villages of Coal Aston, Mickley and Holmesfield.  It’s about 14½ miles, and includes 11+ stiles.  Apparently.  Anyways, Smiley Selfie Queen has been on about doing this route for a while, and why not?  Could be interesting.  A chance to find new routes and flex newly found navigational skills.  The problem is, it’s harder than you might think to find the walk route.

You can buy a useful (well, let’s find out) book all about the route for £3, the proceeds for this go to supporting the maintenance and upkeep of the path. You can buy the book at the Dronfield Hall Barn apparently, I don’t know, I just parasitised the one Smiley Selfie Queen brought along.  Mind you, our fates were intertwined, she may have sourced the book, but it was I who would step up to take the navigational lead (I know, desperate times) so it was in here interests to ensure I was properly equipped to do so!

Fair play, the presentation is lovely, and there are photos and descriptors, but… and I consider this a major omission, no actual maps, and no indication of how long each section is.  Also, something of a sense of a treasure map that is fixed at a singular point in time.  Helpful the day it was written, but I can a walker/runner really rely on a direction that suggests you look out for a stile in a holly bush…   It means you are potentially a hostage to fortune if landmarks shift and change as inevitably they do. Stiles may come and go, boundaries shift.  The airstrip will probably stay put, but who knows?  I wasn’t feeling overly confident in the book as sole source of finding our way.

I did find an OS map link for the Dronfield 2000 Rotary walk, and it looks OK, but couldn’t work out how to print it off and also it describes the walk as 11 miles, so that might be a jolly nice walk, to do, but possibly isn’t The Walk we were reckoning on.

os route

In the end, we went for belt and braces.  Smiley Selfie Queen would bring the book, I ordered a bespoke OS  map with Dronfield at its core (yes, you can, I had no idea either ’til a couple of weeks ago, genius gizmo, if an expensive one).  I used a Strava route acquired through Smiley Selfie Queen’s contacts or stalking behaviour, depending on your point of view.  Once we’d identified this mark who’d done the route pretty accurately, I basically tried to transcribe that path onto my OS map.  It might not be massively close to the intended route, who knows, but it did mean even if we deviated from the ‘correct’ path we’d never actually be lost.  It was really hard, and involved prescription glasses, a magnifying class and lots of swearing.

DSCF4975

Also, I realised belatedly that whilst it was ‘logical’ to put Dronfield at the centre of my customised map, this was also the worst possible design for a user-friendly map as it meant I was constantly having to fold and refold and unfold the blooming map.  It was helpful en route certainly, but a pain to use.  Why people voluntarily do orienteering challenges I can’t imagine.  Maps are such a blooming faff!  Much better to be hopelessly slow at running events and so you can just follow the lead of those in front.  I accept this strategy is flawed, as it depends on keeping the other runners in sight, which I can’t always do to be fair, due to lacking the necessary turn of speed to keep visual contact.  However,  for the most part this strategy has served me well. You basically need to follow my advice and other runners’ leads at your own risk.  If you are on the fells in the snow and the last little dot of a runner disappears over the horizon then clearly you may as well just lay down and die, because it’s game over then, if you don’t know where you are.  Just to be clear. Works OK at most parkruns though, so that’s the main thing.

Where was I?  Oh yes, planning a route recce of the Dronfield Round Walk or whatever you choose to call it.

We agreed on provisions and timings.  It is only 14.5 miles, but with faffing and getting lost etc and it being unknown terrain and elevation we could be out for hours.  Interestingly, I found a reference to a guided walk of the route online, and they describe it as ‘strenuous’ and recommended allowing 6 1/2 hours, which seems generous.  Recceing routes is always time-consuming though, so we figured we could be out for a while. We’d meet early, so as not to have to rush.

It’s humbling really.  Only last Sunday, some ultra runners took on the Sheffield Way Relay 47 + miles and also there was a Ladybower 50 (50+ miles). They didn’t only embark on this, they even accomplished these challenges without  having to lie down in a foetal position bleeding from their ears afterwards!.  I know, I would have thought such a fate inevitable.  Yet, I  myself can testify that one of them at least was to be seen cheerily tucking into a pot noodle* barely an hour after the event, when by rights she should have been at the very least lying on the floor in a star shape with a foil blanket carelessly tossed across her.  These people are clearly super-human however, whereas I am not.   Lightweight I may be (not in every sense alas) but even for this 14.5 mile sojourn I would head out prepared.  I would take a fleece and maybe even sandwiches, and a magnifying glass to go with my map, which even with a 4cm to the km scale is still too tiny to make out with my over 50 eyesight.  I’d always thought people were exaggerating when they did that thing in the supermarket of holding jars at arms length squinting, trying to make out ingredients or whatever.  Now I am that person.  It’s hard being me, it really is.

One thing we could agree on was starting point.  Car park behind Coal Aston village hall on the Eckington Road.  Postcode S18 3AX.   This is a recommended place from which to set off.  There is a map of the route there too apparently, and hopefully therefore reasonable signage to get us underway…  The walk was relaunched as the Dronfield Barn Rotary Walk in March 2018 to some aplomb, so we were hopeful.  Hope over experience hasn’t always served me well, but this time maybe.  It matters not anyway, life should be full of surprises, that is how micro-adventures are made!

So the day dawned, the forecast was fair, but it has been nippy of late and I was taking no chances, so I basically covered up as if for an arctic storm.  Lots of layers.  I drove out to our rendezvous squinting into the sun. Curses, why didn’t I think to bring my sun glasses, I should have anticipated snow blindness if not bright autumn rays.  Oh well, next time.  We planned to meet 8.15 for 8.30 departure.  We did achieve this, but the traffic getting to Coal Aston at that time in the morning was horrendous.  I’d imagined it would be a sleepy little place, but not so, it was heaving, congested even, though easy enough to find the village hall and loads of parking round the back.

So the first thing we did, was get back in a car, and nip back up/down the road to the rather grand route map of where we were heading. It’s important to document these things for posterity.  What a vacuum in the world of JPEGs would there be had we not paused to take this shot?

I know!  Might be that the known universe would have imploded, but fortunately we’ll never know, as we the recceing dream team took the shot so you won’t have to!  Also, it reminded us what the signs were we needed to look out for en route, so that’s good to know:

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Only, they didn’t all look quite like that to be honest, but near enough.

So once my recce partner had finished laughing at my kit, we headed off, trying to use the book. I’m still not wholly convinced by the book. It’s beautifully done, and lovingly put together but the instructions assume some local knowledge.  So the first direction to ‘walk downhill to the allotment site’ makes sense because of the downhill bit, but no sense in that you don’t know where the allotments are until you reach them, and even then you don’t because they weren’t visible from the path we followed, so it was all a bit confusing. Similarly ‘follow way marks through Owler Car Wood’ only make sense if you know where this wood is.  The upshot was I did a lot of squinting at the map to try to marry up the directions, and we did get round OK, but it wasn’t an entirely smooth navigational process.  With the map and the book though, we might have been a bit off piste at times, but we were always ‘lost’ in the right direction, which is a good start.

Anyways, we ended up on a broad open, flat path and set off at a fair old lick.  It is still extraordinary to me how quickly you can be in open countryside once you walk away from the main roads.  This path was really obvious (we were going clockwise by the way) and although sadly some footpath signs had tumbled into the undergrowth, the runes were good.  The marking of the route wasn’t perfect, but I was really impressed by the number of lovingly restored stiles, hard landscaping by putting in new steps and extra benches that are clearly part of the relaunch of the route earlier in the year.  Impressive, but also fragile, it was heartening how good the route was in some places, but astonishing how in others already routes were overgrown and signs broken by either accident or design.  The Dronfield Heritage Trust request that users make donations to help with the upkeep of the route. If the mood should take you, you can do that here www.dronfieldhallbarn.org

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So off we trotted.  Incidentally, one important consideration when finding a recce buddy, is not only compatibility in walk/ run/ yomping pace and distance expectations, but also shared communication objectives.  For some this might be companionable silence, and I can like that too, but on this occasion we were to be out for a while.  We both agreed that therefore in planning this recce it had been mutually important to find someone  with whom we’d be able to pass the time with idle chit chat important putting the world to rights conversation and sharing tips on running craft.  We didn’t want a walk where the last 6 hours would be just extended awkward silences as conversation faded away to nothing until we could only hear the noise of each other breathing and only the occasional passing of tumbleweed to break the tension in the air.  I can report that we have yomped out together before, and this situation has never yet arisen.  Rather more likely, is frantic Facebook messaging later of the ‘oh, I forgot to tell you’ variety. Point of information, if you are heading out on this route, choose your companion wisely, it’s potentially a long one first time out if you are stopping and starting to find the way.

Through the fields, over a stile – there were squillions of those today. If you have an i-spy sticker book of styles you are in for a rare treat on this route.  Not gonna lie, the novelty of spotting different styles of stile did fade during the day, but not at this point.  Off to the right, through a hedge and into the woods.

There was a great deal of up and over stiles, and also a lot of in and out of the woods.  Plenty of little footbridges – some of which we were directed to ignore, which seems a little harsh…

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There were lots of arrows, so that was grand, but the lack of clarity about the distance between various landmarks was perplexing.  I felt I had to refer to the map a lot, although interestingly, the book did become more usable in the later sections, whether that’s because I’d got more comfortable with how it was set out, or because it was more accurately described I’m honestly not sure.  The important thing though, is that just half an hour in, and I was way too hot. Way too hot, and also, a bit squinty.  I needed my glasses for map reading purposes but they seemed to just concentrate the suns rays in my eyes like a laser.  Not ideal.  I tried not to moan too much.  It makes me look like a rambling librarian though don’t you think?

I don’t know if that’s good or bad.  I do know, that having to wear glasses for such purposes is a new thing for me.  I used to manage fine without them apart from for working at the computer and watching TV, and I do have a really tiny telly.   I am definitely ageing now.  No wonder I’m slowing down…  The photos are a really good example of task allocation and team work by the way.  Smiley Selfie Queen is in charge of selfie shots, and I was in charge of route finding… albeit often from the rear. In my defence, you can’t walk and map read simultaneously, so I did have to keep stopping to clarify here you were and also Smiley Selfie Queen has 10 youthfulness years on me plus the unfair advantage of actually training and running regularly, so I was always going to be scampering along behind.  It worked.  Don’t knock it.

The first section seemed to take an age, we were constantly trying to get our bearings, and trying to second guess the instructions in the map.  When it says continue through so many fields, what constitutes a field boundary.  I mean, does it have to be an actual hedge line say, or might it be some memory in the earth with a raised ridge of soil.