Posts Tagged With: Whangarei parkrun

The Spirit of Bushy parkrun. 15th Birthday Brilliance at Bushy parkrun.

Digested read:  I went to Bushy parkrun for their 15th Birthday Bonanza.  It was epic.  There is however a darkside to parkrun I discovered.  But in a good way…

LC the awards

Undigested read:

Well, yes it was ‘epic’ but I’m hardly going to leave my account at that now am I?  Have you not been concentrating on my previous parkrun posts?  Concise isn’t really my thing, but on the plus side, that’s what scroll buttons are for, and you can always just whizz through the photos if you prefer.  On the other hand, if you are up for the account then best to strap yourself in, it’s going to be a long one.  Maybe get some tissues to go with your pot of tea/bottle of neat vodka and/or other assorted victuals, it was after all quite an emotional roller coaster of a day.  A good one, but overwhelming for sure, and reliving it all, might just trigger a purely reflex reaction of general teariness.  Or it might not.  I don’t know, maybe you dear reader have a heart of stone, but keep the tissues handy anyway, just in case a friend needs them, or you are coming down with the first cold of autumn, it would be the right thing to do.

So, where to start?

Well, let’s start with a swirly scene dissolve sequence to signify traveling back in time, because, my perspective on Bushy parkrun’s 15th Birthday (which by happy and fortuitous coincidence just happens to be actual parkrun’s birthday too – what were the chances of that?) started a few weeks prior to the day. 

I got a message.

Not from some weird spirit or voices from the sky, or even from deciphering the imagery in my morning bowl of porridge, rather more prosaic.  An actual message through Facebook.  Not just any old message, but one from the epicentre of parkrun.  One from the Bushy parkrun Event director himself!  So actually, pretty awesome, and way preferable to hearing voices in my humble opinion.  It said, basically,

…  we have a little* prize giving every year on our anniversary, this year it falls on Oct 5th. One of the awards we introduced a few years ago was Spirit of parkrun and we would love to present it to Elisabeth this year … do you think we’d be able to get her across to the start area for the presentation?

For clarification, this Elisabeth. That’s my mum.  I exist in the parkrun world only as ‘Elisabeth’s Daughter’, it is my tenuous claim to fame.

Oh.  My.   Gawd.  This was amazing news.  She’d be beyond ecstatic, and I’ve been wanting to get her to see the start and finish of Bushy parkrun for herself for years.  This would be a great excuse to get her over there and ‘make it so’.  There were a few logistical challenges to work out, but I could go down from Sheffield, and there would be a veritable parkrun army of well wishers on hand to help if needed.  This was going to happen.  It couldn’t be a surprise as I needed to work out the details with mum, but it was going to happen.

I replied with what I hoped was an appropriate level of effusive enthusiasm, both on my behalf and mum’s too.   She was chuffed, delighted, totally up for it.  I could not wait.  How as I going to keep it secret when I was bursting with wanting to share.

‘I’ll have to think about outfits for us both too’ I said

‘Outfits?’

‘Fancy dress outfits, it is going to be fancy dress right?’

‘Erm…’

Not fancy dress then.  Lucky the topic came up, it was only because I made a chance remark about I found out.  It just never occurred to me that it wouldn’t be fancy dress.  I had just assumed it would be because I understood that is the default parkrun party celebratory way. It shows yet again, everyday is a learning opportunity.  Mind you, it would have been hilarious if I’d rocked up with mum and me in complementary themed fancy dress outfits.  Not gonna lie, there’s a teensy bit of me that wishes I hadn’t been disabused of my misunderstanding, it would have been a classic.  And you know what, if we had, it would have been fine.  There’s usually a few people sporting fancy dress at any given parkrun anyway, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t have been us on this particular day.   If junior parkrunners can turn up at parkrun in minion onesies just because they felt like it, why not us too – apart from the fact I don’t have a minion onesie – but otherwise my point still stands.  Still, maybe just as well, finding something to go with her traditional Happy Birthday parkrun sash  might have been a challenge.  I got on with ordering that, and asked her what colour she wanted.  ‘It has to be orange that’s the parkrun colour!’ well apricot technically, but good call.  All those months and years of watching parkrun have not been wasted, she has totally internalised the parkrun palette.  It’s not only the high fives she’s nailed since she became an honorary marshal on the Bushy parkrun course.

kudos to parkrun

The semiotics of parkrun eh?  Someone should write a book on that – or maybe do a podcast.  Perhaps a niche OU sponsored variant special edition of With Me Now – a With Me Know broadcast has a certain ring to it?

Re the keeping it a secret bit, I did try really hard, but I may have sort of accidentally told a couple of very exceptional individuals who weren’t in the Bushy parkrun circle ‘in total and absolute confidence‘ as in ‘this is a secret but not a secret, it’s only ever to be divulged on a strictly need to know basis‘.  You need to understand this was basically a necessity for health and safety purposes, I’d have imploded if I’d had to keep that to myself, and with my brain splattered around the interior of my Sheffield home, and my undiscovered imploded carcass adorning my hallway in a star shape, who’d have taken mum to the start line in Bushy park?  Precisely.  I know, unthinkable!

The excitement continued to build as the countdown continued.  Little teasers appeared on the parkrun uk Facebook page.  The 15th anniversary commemorative barcode flatband, the poster for the first ever Bushy parkrun time trial was dug out from someone or other’s attic and reposted for the digital age.  Also, some uplifting videos reminding us why we do parkrun, not that we all need reminding necessarily, but it’s still nice to hear other people’s stories. 

Whangarei parkrun excelled even themselves by having their very own darkrun by way of celebration. This was run as a freedom run, simultaneously with everyone taking off on the start line of Bushy parkrun at 9.00 a.m..  That was 9.00 p.m. in New Zealand, hence they were in the dark, but a select group darkran/parkran and celebrated with cake and probably fizz as well.  It is the parkrun way!  I really want to go to Whangarei parkrun one day, they positively ooze the parkrun ethos.  Darkruns are catching on over there thanks to them!

sept5 18A small group gathered for Whangarei darkrun and I understand a thoroughly enjoyable event resulted. Denise very kindly provided a celebratory cake. The night was made memorable by a visitor from Hamilton , Joseph Morgan, who ran the course in 16:01 which would be a course record. Of course it being a Freedom Run and an unofficial event it will not take the official title, but nonetheless it is a stunning time and we congratulate Joseph. Incidentally his brother Adam also ran and was not far behind! (Apologies, the picture is badly cropped, but you get the idea!)

sept6 19Whangarei was also the catalyst for a South Island darkrun at Pegasus which was very successful and included a live link with Market Harbororo parkrun in the UK . Quite a day down there with the celebration earlier in the day of the completion of 500 parkruns by Steve Darby, the first time that has been achieved by anyone outside the UK.

It isn’t even the first time they’ve done this, here are the original darkrun crew from 2017.

Whangarei original darkrun

That’s dedication isn’t it.  High Five to Whangarei parkrun!  And to Pegasus parkrun too!  I wonder if there is a Running Challenges badge for nabbing parkruns linked to mythical beasts?  There should be, gap in the market I’d say.  Greytown Trail parkrun had a darkrun too.  Double the parkrun fun all in one day!  Yay.  Like the New Year’s Day double here except only one counts, they are 12 hours apart and one is in the pitch dark and a freedom run, but otherwise identical.  Bound to catch on. Not.

greytown woodside trail parkrun darkrun

Mind you who expected 13 on 2nd October 2014 to become 1838 13 years later?  That’s right dear reader.  Nobody at all.  Can you tell which starting line up is which?  Go on, be brave, take a wild guess…  Maybe New Zealand freedom darkruns of the future will have similarly grown exponentially.  Only a matter of time.

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Anyway, where was I?  Stop distracting me with all these questions about darkrun, fine innovation as that is.  Oh yes, I was indulging in the anticipatory build up to the big day.  My Facebook feed was full of it, mind you it is always full of all things parkrun, no idea what the point of Facebook is otherwise to be honest.

The actual anniversary was 2nd October, though the nearest Saturday/ parkrunday was 5th october, and parkrun UK reminded us of this with some handy stats.

birthday stats

Time ticked by, and eventually, amazingly there was just one more sleep to go.  I had a nightmare drive down from Sheffield, a record 8 hour drive due to the M1 being closed in a couple of sections.  However, you have to think of those who never made it to their destination at all, and I did, so let’s keep perspective eh?  Quick visit to mum, she had her hi-vis all ready, and her birthday sashes too, looking good.  One more sleep.  Not that it was a sleep really because I was SO EXCITED!  And also, had to invest time in excited texts and messages with parkrunners and supporters various to check out who was going to be there for the big celebration.  Turns out, it was basically everyone in the whole wide parkrun world, so I could have saved myself the trouble of contacting people.  Joking apart, it was brilliant to be sharing the anticipatory excitement, and many  of the Bushy parkrun team touched base too, offering support on the day as needed.

And then it was tomorrow!  Which was, in case you haven’t been concentrated, or maybe just skipped ahead parkrun day and Bushy parkrun’s 15th birthday!  Yay!  Let’s get this party started.

Over to pick up mum, and she was pretty much in readiness, with her hair done specially and so it was just a question of gathering up everything bar the kitchen sink ‘just in case’ into the car and – after texting to say we were en route –  off we went round to the carpark near the coffee shack and the Bushy parkrun finish line.  I knew there was a couple of disabled parking bays there, but we went early because it was going to be rammed.  It was about 8.10 a.m. as we were driving along Chestnut avenue, we could see some runners whizzing about – with the benefit of hindsight, I wonder if this was some of the original golden barcode bearing parkrunners, who I gather met and ran the original route, started by Paul S-H himself after he’d given the traditional run briefing apparently.  It was on the With Me Now, special Bushy parkrun Birthday Edition broadcast – more of that later.  There were some humungous stags about, it is the rutting season, and they had to cancel Bushy junior parkrun because of them potentially charging.  The threat is real, but I think even a rutting stag might give way to 1800 plus runners.  This roaring beastie was snapped in Richmond Park.  Respect.

jules cox photo

Photo taken by https://www.instagram.com/julescoxphotography/ following the British Deer Society Code of Conduct: https://bit.ly/2Eqr0EK

You could see from a distance the car park was full, and as we cornered there was a TV van, and hundreds of people purposefully setting up for the occasion.  It was amazing, and we’d not even parked up.  I could feel myself filling up, this was going to be quite an extraordinary day.  The scale of the event takes your breath away. I’ve run at it loads of times over the years, but this day was something else.

exciting!

Mercifully, the disabled space was free, and we pulled up.  Mum was soon safely out of the car and into her wheelchair, sash straightened, hi-vis on,  and into the collective embrace of parkrun.  Honestly, it took seconds for her ‘regulars’ to spot her and come rushing over.  Although mum has got to know people at her corner, obviously there are limits to how long they can talk for as inconveniently they are mid-parkrun and have to press on.  It was just brilliant that many came across for ‘proper’ hellos and yep, the photos started.  I wonder if this is what it is like being in the entourage of a famous celebrity, you are just stunned by the attention, the paparazzi, the fan base.  It’s overwhelming.  Actually scratch that.  What am I saying ‘I wonder if this is what it is like being in the entourage of a famous celebrity’.  No need to wonder dear reader, that is exactly what I was.   And it was great.

I left mum surrounded by well-wishers taking selfies.  I was filling up already and we’d not even left the car park.

and rang the RD who was organising the awards ceremony.  They had two RDs today, one doing run stuff and one doing awards stuff.  The team at Bushy parkrun is amazing.  It’s huge, but still friendly, and the whole event runs like a well-oiled machine.  A well oiled machine fuelled by cake and prosecco and the positive endorphins that fly around the park I think.

I headed to the big birthday balloons, which are mandatory for Bushy parkrun’s birthday as it is a parkrun rule that Paul S-H has to be photographed alongside them. In years to come this may no longer be environmentally acceptable what with the plastic and helium and all, but this impulse was nevertheless indulged today, and, I’ll let you into a secret, quite a few other people embraced the photo opportunity they presented too.  The pictures tell their own story.  Here’s the starter though:

Paul and balloons

Despite getting my contact on the phone, I had a little trouble spotting him because firstly, I was looking in completely the wrong direction, and secondly, he was in disguise not yet wearing a high vis.  However, we made contact, and I got a lovely welcome, and directed to where the awards were to be presented.  It wasn’t too far, and mercifully the rain of the last few seemingly months had stopped.  The compact path was pretty good, I’d been in a panic about whether the wheelchair would be robust enough for it, but all was well.  What I hadn’t factored in was how slow progress would be as it was like doing a royal walkabout wheelabout.  So many well-wishers.

By the time I got back to mum, she had been located by the Bushy parkrun team who were in on the awards and around to help.  Happy reunions, they were awesome, not only because all parkrunners are awesome anyway, and they were great company, but also because they helped make the magic happen by clearing routes, sourcing balloons and selfie-frames and carrying out all those individually small but cumulatively huge and magnificent gestures that made the morning get better and better!  I now realise, my whole life would just run so much more smoothly if I had a couple of attentive and proactive personal assistants to accompany me about my daily business.  It was fantastic!  Thanks team Bushy!

We passed the film crew – it was going live on the BBC apparently, later I had a moment of disappointment at having missed it, but then again, that’s ridiculous as WE WERE THERE ACTUALLY EXPERIENCING IT ALL FIRST HAND which is way better.  Anyway, I was still sulking after the One Show coverage, so annoyed about how negative the guests present were about it afterwards, totally missing the point.  Oh well, let it go, their loss after all.  Poor people not yet inducted into the way of parkrun, their lives must seem strangely pointless without it…  They deserve our pity not our hate.  It must be awful for them.  I’ve moved on already.

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Next challenge, was to make it down the long path, but there were lots of micro-adventures and distractions along the way.  Photo ops and greetings too.  Our Bushy parkrun snatch squad managed to requisition the balloons so we could take pictures in all possible combinations of groupings.  It was hilarious.  You’d be amazed how much fun potential is contained within a couple of balloons.  Awesome.  That was going to be hard to top…. 

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Hard, but not impossible it turns out.  It turns out, that this yellow brick road was studded with ever escalating awesomeness along the way.  I say this, because ‘suddenly’ out of the autumnal mist (I might have made up the bit about the autumn mist, but I like to think it adds atmosphere) not one, not two, but THREE Pauls emerged.  This was amazing, the holy trinity of Pauls.  All of these Pauls are important in different ways.  One founded parkrun, which you might have heard of, one was responsible for posting a picture of when he delivered a Christmas card for mum and she shared with him what parkrun means to her which set in motion many more Christmas cards, and one is another Bushy parkrun stalwart, Bushy junior parkrun instigator who has proactively offered support to mum in practical ways.  The problem is, that up until now, they have never been gathered together in one place.  I don’t know if that’s because like the royals who travel on different planes, they daren’t risk all being taken out simultaneously by a rutting stag or falling tree; or if it is because time and space will invert and collapse if they are all seen at once; or – and I’ve thought about this a lot – if it’s because like Superman and Clark Kent, they are actually all the same person.

superman and alter ego

Well, you do start to wonder.  I’ve invested quite a lot of time and effort trying to explain to my mum who is who (or should that be who is whom?  My grammar fails me), but they’ve all sort of merged into one multi-talented, multi-faceted, interchangeable Paul, and it’s hard to differentiate one from the other.  I mean she knows each individual identity, but as soon as we have any conversation in which I refer to a parkrun Paul, it becomes immediately confusing trying to explain which one I mean.  Similarly when looking at pictures, all Pauls can seem pretty much the same if you only see them one at a time apparently.  In my defence, I mentioned this to the partner of one of the Pauls and they agreed that this was a valid point and they felt the same on occasion, that they seemed interchangeable at times and it does get confusing,  so it isn’t just my mum.  Anyway, today was the day that kept on giving, because they all came, and they all posed, and it was THE BEST THING EVER ALL DAY (until the next best thing ever all day, because like I said before, it just kept getting better).

Here they are a-gathering 

And they did attract a lot of attention:

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and it was so exciting there might have been so over excited and opportunistic photo bombing going on.  I was trying to play it super cool alongside parkrun royalty myself, but not sure I totally nailed it on this occasion:

Despite the mass of people, there was time for some proper conversation too.  This photo is another BEST THING EVER that happened on Bushy parkrun’s birthday.  Thanks Wendy Stokes for the pic.  It is taken from her awesome run report for the Bushy parkrun 15th Birthday event which is a must read too.  Here are two icons of Bushy parkrun sharing words of wisdom.

sharing words of wisdom

It was basically like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Bushy parkrun.  Like I said before EVERYONE was there.  Oh, and then we found the selfie frame. This was just the beginning, gets even more genius later on…  I’m not sure I’d properly inducted mum into the joys of selfie frames at this point, but even though it looks marginally like elder abuse to the ill-informed, all these photo based activities were in fact consensual.

and we continued our slow progress to the area near the start where a table was set up in readiness for the awards.  But more friends emerged from the throng.  This one is my namesake, and, although it’s a bit tricky to pinpoint exactly at what point Elisabeth was first noticed by the Bushy parkrun community, her formal recognition was as a result of this member of the core team, saying very sensibly, well, if she’s there every week anyway it’s high time she had her own hi-vis.  And someone, not sure who, maybe a team, maybe Lucy herself, duly walked down to present her with her very own marshaling tabard many moons ago.  From thereon in she was an honorary marshal for Bushy parkrun.  I remember that day, because when I spoke to mum in the evening afterwards she was so thrilled to have been recognised and welcomed into the parkrun community. It was both a small thing and an enormous thing at the same time.  I might have got something in my eye that evening too.  Honestly, I do like Bushy parkrun, but the allergens there are so powerful they could bring tears to my eyes even over a phone line to Sheffield.  I know, almost unbelievable.  I do have a tendency to be allergic to things, but it’s still quite bad. I think it may be that sadly I’m allergic to unicorn hair or something, there are loads of unicorns in Bushy park, so perhaps it’s that.  Anyway, high time we got a picture of these two together.  The start of the chain reaction that culminated in today. 

One day, I’m going to use my hallway wall to create an incident room time line of the sequence of events that led to the naming of Elisabeth’s corner and the celebrations of today.  Like on Vera, or maybe Sherlock Holmes, the new version with Benolin Cumbersnatch, I like the idea of those hi-tech interactive glass boards to work with.  It’s higher up the food chain than post it notes, though I do like Vera, maybe she could be my consultant…  Also, on reflection, I get quite excited by colourful stationery, and this would be a great pretext for getting a stash of new highlighter pens and novelty post it notes so potentially something like this:

investigation wall

but with more hi-vis, milestone tees, fancy dress, christmas cards, and TpoT orange beanie hats.  A project for another time, you must be on your second pot of tea/ bottle of vodka by now, and we’ve not even made it to the start line yet…

More and more friends emerged, some pre-arranged, some by happy chance.  Many were delighted to see mum at the start, if a bit perplexed as to what the implications for this might be when they got to Elisabeth’s Corner and found her absent.  I was kicking myself for not having thought to put some sort of hi-vis substitute in place for the duration, that could have been hilarious.  What about her parkrun public who count on seeing her at the half-way mark to give them the necessary energy boost to make it round to the end?  Oh well too late now.  Hello best ever photographer for taking fab photos of mum over the years (sorry I don’t have the skills to quite return the favour), hello pioneer parkrunner – congratulations on your 250th milestone and well done for having a balloon – nice to see a fellow Smiley here,  hello everyone! 

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While we were having our micro-adventures trying to get to the start area and the presentations table, others were similarly migrating across the park.  Not least, David Moorcroft, who was to be presenting the awards.  One of my favourite posts from today (of which there are a great many to be fair, often the one I’ve most recently looked at) is this one, of a cheery parkrunner welcoming a newbie to her home parkrun.  ‘Do you run much/ at all?‘  Oops.  Only not oops at all, because she was appropriately welcoming and that makes her a winner to me.  Yay!

do you run much.png

It is amazing, everyone of the 1838 runners plus volunteers and parkrun entourage had their own physical, mental and emotional journey to get to the start.  It can be both the simplest and hardest thing to rock up.  If you listen to the With Me Now parkrun special edition podcast, you might like me, be surprised to hear from others how it took a bit of courage to turn up the first time, and sometimes still does.  But it’s always worth it.  You just start by reaching out and saying hello, or not even that, just turn up and observe from the sidelines if you want, you are still significant and a part of parkrun for doing so.

Anyway, on the subject of ‘oops’ as we went towards the start, mum struck up conversation with David Moorcroft.  She had no idea who he was at this point.  Sorry.  Thought he was very nice and friendly though, which is actually more important and more of a compliment isn’t it.  She was querying why his N was the wrong way round on his tee shirt.  I’ve clearly not kept her up to speed with the merits of the COИTRA brand.  Oops.   A few people were sporting the raspberry tees today by the way, they were really nice.  I’m tempted, but then I’ve just splashed out on my apricot tee…

contra.png

En route I spotted another familiar face – a splendid individual to whom I am still grateful for securing us extra Smiletastic points during a running challenge on account of her dragonfly necklace.  Long story.  Smiletastic can be quite hard to explain… We first met when I was on a running weekend including a track session, Bushy parkrun (obvs) and a recovery run round Richmond park too.  Also, and this is crucial, a meal out, during which she wore said dragonfly necklace, and through some shameless meddling with the points allocation system, nabbed our Smiletastic Dragonfly team some extra points.  Yay.  We even requisitioned it for a photo op, and one of the Pauls took the picture too, proving they can be handy accessories to have around in all sorts of unexpected contexts.  Also, I think it must have been quite a novel experience for him standing the other side of a camera lens, so everyone’s a winner!  I’m actually quite surprised he knew how to operate it at all.  We probably had to direct him… 

We were pointing at the dragonfly brooch.  Don’t be childish.

Anyway, as well as her being intrinsically awesome, and getting us smiletastic points, on this occasion she introduced me to the RD for Colwick parkrun, another of my favourites, who was touristing at Bushy parkrun today.   I went to Colwick parkrun earlier in the year, but this RD was away then for some reason, so it was nice to say hello.  It’s a great run, if you go, you have to wear a Hawaiian shirt, I mean the RD was trying to convince me that’s not strictly true, but trust me on this one.   Love the parkrun network, it reaches everywhere.  Finally, we found ourselves at the front of the presentation audience, my lovely Bushy parkrun assistants having cleared a way through the throngs to secure us prime position.  Having contacts does help.

And then the awards commenced.  The RD did a lovely intro – encouraging us to look at our watches around the 13 minute mark and note where we were and that back in the day David would have been zipping down the finish funnel at just that point.  David Moorcroft added some heartfelt comments too, he was a great choice.  Fortuitously, a friend took a video of the start and some of the early awards, they are also documented in the aforementioned run report, so I’ll resist the temptation to go through it all again here.  Just take it from me that it was all heartwarming, celebrating and sharing the joy of parkrun.  A very special morning indeed.  I freely admit I was quite overcome, but for the record, the photo below, which I’ve included in the interests of transparency and because it meets the comedic element criteria which overrides my default reflex of deleting unflattering photos, is the face I pull when I recognise a parkrun face in the crowd.  In this instance the amazing Waterworks parkrunner who became my best friend when we bonded pre marathon at Southwark parkrun.  She’s not only awesome in her own right, but appreciates the importance of fancy dress on any and all occasions.  Of course it was emotional seeing her, even though I’d known she was coming.  I can’t help having a slightly manic and over-excitable disposition on occasions so I may as well embrace it.  I may look pained and in shock, but it was coming from a happy place.  Just shows how hard it is to read emotions.  No wonder social interactions can be so fraught, it’s a complete minefield.  You can never really tell what someone is thinking, just have to go with your instincts and hope for the best. 

And you can click on the link to see for yourself if you want the full immersive experience.  And let’s face it, why wouldn’t you?  Hope the link works.

So the various awards were dished out to worthy winners all, and it was lovely how the parkrun family came together to celebrate diverse achievements.

But then, the for me BEST BIT OF THE MORNING EVER was coming with the final award.  The RD did an awesome build up, not naming mum but referring to her as ‘this person…. more famous that Paul Sinton-Hewitt‘.  Credit where credit is due, this RD knows how to work a crowd.  He spoke of how she’s at her corner week in week out – ‘but she’s not there today‘ a gasp of horror from the assembled company… to be replaced by a cheer of relief as he added ‘because she’s here at the start!’.  It was just the best noise in the world ever, real affection.  And then when she was presented with her award, the applause went on for ever.  Well, nearly for ever, I mean we still had to stop to have parkrun happen at some point – and then she held her award aloft and a great collective whoop went up.  Best thing in the world ever!  It is- quite a solid chunk of glass with a personalised inscription on it  and has considerable heft, anyone would be delighted.  This moment gave rise to my favourite photo of the morning EVER, until the next picture popped up in my newsfeed obvs.

mum and david moorcroft

But you know what,  you don’t have to take my word for it, you can see if for yourself in the clip below.   The volunteer of the year gets his recognition first, and then it’s the final award of the morning to my mum about one minute in.  Not a dry eye in the park I can tell you.  Those blooming unicorn allergens eh?

It all went off to perfection.  All the award winners were present, the day stayed dry, and now it was time for the run.  As people dispersed snatched a few more hellos, and a little bit of trophy admiring (more of this later).  I took the opportunity to go in with a big hug of emotional gratitude to David Moorcroft, he looked a bit startled.  It was only as I walked away it dawned on me that although I was meaning to just express appreciation for the brilliant way he gave out the awards to everyone including my mum, he would have had no idea at all who I was and what I was doing.  In the circumstances he handled it well, all the same, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise for scaring him and potentially invading his personal space.  The irony is I’m not even all that huggy generally speaking, but something about the whole parkrun/ running vibe that stimulates this impulse in me.  I think it does for others too.  We’re all on hugging terms here… but even so, note to self, maybe check first next time.

and then positioned ourselves in a good spot to watch the start.  It was the first time mum had ever seen this, and what a day to choose.  Some good parkrun citizen had the wit to take a video of the start line.  It went on for ever!  Mind you, even the stills are quite impressive:

AB start

It’s an extraordinary sight to see a whole sea of people moving like a tsunami across the grass and towards the ant hills.  Amazing.  Here is another video clip of the start from a different – more courageous angle some would say

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Wow, a lot of people pile past pretty speedily – and then they are gone, winding their parkrun way out of sight

Bushy parkrun around they go

see them run!

SG parkrun surge

Time to turn about, and make our way to the finish funnel, or more specifically a new, one time only honorary marshal point from where we could cheer the parkrunners in.  Time for a bit more trophy admiring en route though, and a proper chat with parkrun supporter friends who’d come especially to see mum’s prize giving.  That was fantastic, it is wonderful to share such moments.  Mum was really taken with the way running gear adorned the railings round the trees.  Funny the things you notice being there for the first time.  One of the hi-vis heroes sped off as she was in charge of spot prizes for the finish funnel.  I’m not quite sure what the prizes were – a lifetime of free parkruns maybe?  But what she’d done was use the letters that they give out to organise the funnel, to spell out Happy Birthday Bushy parkrun, and whoever got one of the letters appearing in the phrase would get a prize.  Presumably not necessarily in the right order, the turnout was certainly great, but they weren’t expecting that many on the day!  Genius idea.  As someone who has no chance of ever winning a prize on account of my athletic prowess at any organised run, I’m a massive fan of spot prizes!

We found a good spot, and a non-running parkrunner to share it with.  She was doing the Kingston Half Marathon the next day, so tapering ‘us too!’ I said, a bit too forcefully, I think my ploy was well and truly rumbled. 

If you want to experience the actual run, number one option is to come and take part in it.  However, an acceptable position two, is to take a bit of time to watch this brilliant youtube video which basically summarises the whole event.  To be honest, I could have saved us all a great deal of time and bother by just putting this link up in the first place, but where would be the fun in that.  My blog post might be uncomfortably long, but it is a much more effective procrastination tool, so basically you make your choice and you take your chance.  Nevertheless, I offer up Here we are running’s take on the morning.  It omits my mum, but don’t worry, I think it’s fair to say I’ve more than compensated for that oversight, so no hard feelings eh?

I sat and watched this YouTube video with my mum.  She’s never seen the course from a runner’s perspective and was completely rapt.  Recognising parts of the park she used to explore a lot.

So after not very long at all, first the lead bikes came into view.  I don’t know why they have two, I mean it’s sensible to do so, but wouldn’t it be more fun if they whizzed round on a tandem.  Or even a rickshaw – now that would be prime position to have a ride in the back of one of them.

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Right behind the bikes, the front runners, they are insanely fast, and giving it their all.

After the run I was asking mum what her main observations were from the day, there were lots, she’d had a great time, but one comment that made me chuckle was that she said she noticed the runners looked a lot more tired at the end of the run than they did at the half-way mark.    Good point, well made!

She was in fine form cheering and clapping with considerable stamina.

It was lovely to see the reactions of parkrunners.  Not all had heard the briefing so some were concerned that she hadn’t been at her usual spot of Elisabeth’s Corner.  I resisted the temptation to pretend we were still at the halfway point by calling out ‘well done, just one more lap to go!‘ as I think that joke has been done to death and isn’t always as funny as you think when you are actually running.  I have learned this from bitter personal experience.  You have to appreciate the runners who are fleet of foot and speed by, but it’s extra fun if you are cheering and people wave or high five.  My mum was ecstatic when she spotted one of her ‘regulars’ and there are loads of them.  You can’t not feel good giving out high fives and cheers at a marshal point, it’s just the best.  Especially brilliant was seeing happy parkrunners who’d obviously been worried because she’d not been at her usual spot.  Such an outpouring of affection.  People do care about each other, more than we maybe realise, but perhaps we need to give ourselves permission to express it somehow, and that’s what parkrun does.  Allows us to see the best in others and ourselves.  Giving and receiving a high five is quite an art though, some of those parkrunners could take you out with one, I should know, I’ve been almost flattened by the force of a four year old high fiving at full velocity on the course of Graves junior parkrun.  I wonder if RDs do a risk assessment for shoulder dislocations as part of the generic parkrun preparations?  Note to self, must ask.

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In the midst of all this clapping, and cheering and high fiving, we had a visitation from Danny of With Me Now, who – quite rightly – had worked out no account of a visit to Bushy parkrun would be complete without including the infamous Elisabeth.  It was quite a trick to pull off though, interviewing her when every other runner was shouting greetings, and parkrunners were in need of their long awaited high fives to get them through the sprint finish!  In the circumstances he did really well.  And mum showed off both her trophy and birthday sash.  Listening to the audio later, it was really comical and appropriate that the conversation was constantly interrupted by mutually appreciative shouts.  It was great, and another pleasing micro adventure to add to the morning’s tally.  Plus, more photo ops, some classics here, mum has totally nailed selfies now!

Front runners called out breathless greetings, but her ‘regulars’ less focused on a time, stopped for a catch up, and some finished their parkrun first and then came back for a proper talk, to admire her trophy and yes, get a photo too of course.

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And then, much excitement for me as my Waterworks parkrun buddy came into view.  She, like me, has a propensity for collecting new best friends on her parkruns, and did not disappoint today.  This was a parkrunner making the trek from Burgess parkrun I think, with a cohort of others donning Uganda tops because it is Ugandan Independence Day next Saturday.  I so wish I was near enough to Camberwell to join them for that parkrun, I bet it will be epic!***  They clearly have plans for the morning.  Anyways, once they joined us obviously that was more photo opps, and then others joined in, and so the picture party continued…  The Ugandan Runners were the subject of one of the Jessica’s parkrun heroes stories.

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This new temporary Elisabeth’s Corner turned out to be quite a prime spot, but eventually as the runners thinned we tore ourselves away. I generally do like to wait for the tail walkers to come through, but I was also mindful that I wanted mum to experience the cake and prosecco celebrations and see the finish funnel in action too, so time to relocate.  That took time too, as we had to stop to have the trophy admired and catch up with a whole new set of Bushy parkrunners, some of who were now departing.  A few select individuals got to hold the trophy – under supervision –  it has considerable heft, and it is very satisfying to feel the weight of it in your hands. 

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There is a special place in my heart though for this parkrunner:

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He normally runs, and when he does always greets Elisabeth on his way round.  However, today he couldn’t – injured I think – so had gone to her corner to keep her company for the morning.  When he found she wasn’t there, but was at the start, he’d come up to find her (and yes, probably other people too) all of which was of course really welcome.  However, when we got chatting about our parkrunning stories, he confessed he was aware of the original time trial 15 years ago, and could have gone, but it was 9.00 a.m. on a Saturday morning and he just didn’t fancy getting up and over there at that time on what might have been a cold day.  He was very matter of fact about it, but I couldn’t help thinking on his behalf ‘oh, what might have been!’  Just shows people, you never know what opportunities have been lined up for you, you just have to learn to spot them and embrace them so they don’t slip through your grasp.  Look around you RIGHT NOW, there’s probably an opportunity waving at you even in this instant!   Thank you for sharing your story nearly parkrun pioneer!

Finally, we were within reach of the cake and prosecco offer, which was extensive.  Obviously this was a particularly special occasion, but I reckon on any given Saturday there will be cake and prosecco at parkruns everywhere.  It did make for a party though, and such an abundance of offerings.  Little individually wrapped cupcakes, themed homemade cheese biscuits of 1 and 5.   A fresh bottle was duly popped and bubbles flowed, more parkrun friends old and new appeared.

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The trophy was much admired, but it was also carefully inspected by those in the know who were carrying out quality control spot checks.  Apparently, one year all the awards were engraved with ‘Busy parkrun’ instead of ‘Bushy parkrun’, in fairness, it is very busy, so you can understand the mistake, but they didn’t want a recurrence.  This is mum’s reaction to hearing of this past calamity.  Serious business, the administering and supervising of awards production.  This award passed its inspection with flying colours.  Hooray!

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Astonishingly, not enough photos had been taken of the morning yet.  There were still queues of people trying to get the perfect balloon/ parkrunners combo for their social media accounts.  This has to be the most photographed and documented parkrun of all time.

All the fun of the run wasn’t over yet though.  I was worried mum was flagging a bit, and so one of our entourage went in search of coffee.  I got distracted by – I don’t know – spotting another parkrun friend probably, and when I got back, With Me Now were trying to get the perfect shot with a WMN selfie frame.  They were doing ok.  Bit of negotiation and shuffling around secured the backdrop of The parkrun Tree.

but then I had a genius idea if I say so myself.  In my great and unmatched wisdom I proposed we go for a tunnel of selfie frames.  It took a bit of team work, but oh my, this is the best thing ever. In a way it makes it even more fun that you need at least five people to capture this effect!

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and then, someone – my Belfast Buddy in fact – in her great and unmatched (except by me) wisdom suggested that I get in shot too. And the result is this, another of my absolutely definitely favourite pictures of the day.

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Thanks to With Me Now for the picture, which, in their great and unmatched (except by me and my Belfast Buddy) wisdom, they used as the clickbait for their special edition podcast.

What’s the plural for genius?  Genii, yep, probably, we are all that.  Magical presences certainly.

Still time for more mingling.  You know what, I discovered it’s a great boon to hang out with parkrun royalty, I’ll take glory by association.  Loads of people came to say hello and introduce themselves, which was wonderful.  So many parkrun doors thrown open to me because I’m Elisabeth’s daughter!  I explained my origins at Sheffield Hallam parkrun by pointing to my newly personalised apricot tee – though in reality, it would be even better if it just said ‘Elisabeth’s Daughter’ rather than the more prosaic ‘Sheffield Hallam’.  It was noticeable how in many introductions people basically pointed to their boob area to indicate their parkrun of origin, it’s like a sign language for parkrunners.  It works well if you are indeed wearing a bespoke apricot tee, less well if you are just wearing a random running top – people have discovered this to their cost.  Also, on my last parkrun visit, a parkrun core team member who will remain anonymous, lamented how they were so proud of their new apricot tee they got a friend to take a close up of the Bushy parkrun strapline under the parkrun logo.  Let’s just say the resulting photo was not really ‘appropriate’ which might be why prodirect use a photo of a flattened t-shirt for promotional purposes, rather than an extreme close up of a female parkrunner’s assets.

apricot tee

So here are more parkrun people, sharing the Bushy parkrun party.  In possibly the weirdest ever twist of fate, we also met some people walking their dogs, one of whom I was at junior school with and haven’t seen since I left around forty-four years ago, that was bizarre.  With her was the parent of my bestest friend from that time too, see how parkrun brings people together!  I had not expected that.

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Inevitably this account is very much focused on me and my mum, or more accurately my mum and me, but for the record, she wasn’t the only celebrity present.  Here are more, including the parkrunner who has done the most parkruns of anyone on the planet – 741 and counting.  Also, I feel I should have given the deer in the park higher billing, they are amazing at any time of year, but this Saturday the stags in mid rut were particularly impressive.  The deer certainly need to be treated with respect though!  Don’t know if they remembered their barcodes.  Plus a pic of a parkrunner I’m more used to seeing in fancy dress, who was today doing her unofficial milestone 350 run.  Yay!

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At around this point, as if by magic the coffee appeared.  I wasn’t sure how mum would be able to juggle a cup of coffee and a flute of prosecco, but not to worry dear reader, she quaffed her remaining half glass of fizz in one go and freed up her hand for the caffeine fix.  A very fine cup of coffee it was too.

All good things come to an end eventually, but luckily we have not only memories on this occasion, but actual silverware.  Here it is for one last time, with the backdrop of the famous parkrun tree where it all began.

Totally the spirit of parkrun, I’m sure you’ll agree.

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And the morning was nearly over, the last few parkrunners peeling away, the course dismantled, prosecco bottles drained and cake tins emptied.  The Bushy parkrun core team were so attentive and asked if we needed any help getting back, which we didn’t.  I’d felt we were so welcomed and looked after all day, it was a blast.  As we made our way back to the car, the contrast between the scene a few hours earlier and now was extraordinary.  All was quiet and calm and clean, nothing but footprints was left behind** and nothing but photographs were taken away.  A lot of photos though,  No really, a lot.  Think of the biggest number you can imagine, ok, got that?  Is it huge?  Well, I’ve news for you, you are not even close 🙂  What’s more, every picture holds a memory.  A.Maz.Ing.

Another parkrun done and dusted, and added to the annals of parkrun history.  I wonder what the next 15 years will bring?

Even though it’s another whole week before parkrun day comes round again, the good news is you can continue to indulge your parkrun passions by checking out the awesome Bushy parkrun Big Birthday Bash run report (thanks to Wendy Stokes) for Event no 809, 5 October 2019 here

If you prefer your parkrun fix to be delivered by audio, then immerse yourself in the With Me Now podcast link which is here, or you could check it out via the With Me Now Facebook page post if you prefer.

And no doubt there will be a squillion other photos and posts out there on the interweb too, yours for the finding, plus the personal reflections of the 1838 parkrunners and multitude of volunteers, spectators and cheery melee of others who joined the occasion.  Quite something it really was…

So thank you Bushy parkrun for putting on such a show, not just on this special day, but delivering the parkrun magic week in week out.  It was just the best day ever.  Mum loved her trophy, but more than that, she loved meeting and mingling with so many fantastic parkrun friends.  All parkrunners are equally epic, what a wonderful shared adventure it is for all of us.  For me and mum today, entering Bushy park, was like being drawn into a collective supportive parkrun hug.  Best day ever!

Bloody unicorn hair.  Leaking eyes again.

And when you’ve finished reliving Bushy parkrun’s Birthday Bash, you can prolong the parkrun party for longer still by reading all my parkrun related posts here.  Or not.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.  And maybe you have a life.  There is life outside parkrun so I’m told, which might be true, but it’s also true that parkrun is a little microcosm of life as it should be, which is sometimes a great deal preferable to life as it is, though on the plus side, parkrun also perhaps shows us what might be possible, and brings together the positivity that is out there in the world if we are but open to it.

Incidentally, Mr S-H said something – I think on the podcast, about how every week he gets hundreds of emails and messages from people talking about what parkrun means to them, and the funny thing is, that almost none of them mention the actual running!  Rather it is about the community cohesion, the coffee, the coming together, the sharing of adventures, the mutual encouragement, the being outdoors.  The run is the glue that holds it all together, or the catalyst that sets the reaction in motion, but it’s all the things that spin outwards from it that makes parkrun the global phenomenon it has become.  And better yet, anyone can join in, how fabulous is that?  There’s a research report just come out about that wider impact too, volunteering is even more fun than running for some it seems.  So we have the yin and yan of parkrun, it needs the runners and it needs the hi-vis heroes and wider community too.  That’s the open secret.  Yay!

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Even people disappointed by finding out this week they did not get a ballot place in the London Marathon can find solace here.  All welcome.  Volunteers as well remember, the parkrun community has a wide reach.

youre in

#loveparkrun indeed

(No idea how to use hashtags, but that seems about right eh?  🙂 )

*The occasion wasn’t all that ‘little’ to be honest, but I suppose it depends on what you are comparing it too.  Anyway, I’ll let that go.

**actually, one poor runner lost their garmin when it broke somewhere round the start apparently, so that might have been left behind by accident.  That’s a shame, but unusual to be fair.

***Yep it was, check out this video clip courtesy of Ian Feeley who was there, and keep an eye on the Burgess parkrun Facebook page too, as surely more pictures will follow… AND they got a mention in parkrun uk newsletter assante marshal for 16 October 2019 – well worth a gander

PS to save you the effort of googling it, the ‘Jog On’; podcast referenced in with WMN podcast is Ep 36, Darren Wood – the most parkruns ever.  You’re welcome

PPS Mum, if you are trying to find the podcast it’s here.  CLICK ON THIS LINK FOR THE WITH ME NOW BUSHY PARKRUN SPECIAL EDITION.  It should just start playing by magic.  🙂  It’s like a radio programme, so the screen might go blank.  It’s about an hour long.

Are you still here?  That’s amazing!  Well done.  You get the prize for making it through to the end.  It’s a virtual prize, not an actual one, but you’ll know you did good.  A round of applause from me (I’m clapping you now) and free parkruns for life!  Congratulations.

🙂 x

As a reward here is are some early morning photos in Bushy park, taken this very week, though not by me.

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Quite a special place eh?

Categories: 5km, parkrun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Yomping York parkrun in the company of (nearly) a world record holder. All coming up roses, well one anyway. Result.

Digested read: parkrun tourism took me to York parkrun, that’s York, UK not York USA.  Made new besties and wanna be record breaker for three dimensional plant.  I know!  parkrun is indeed the phenomenon that just keeps on giving!

Undigested read:

Careful now, this could be a long one, might at least want to have a pee first, if not actually settle down with a cuppa.  That observation is advisory only though, you need to use your own skill and judgement to carry out your own health and safety risk assessment.  I’m sure you’re up to it.  Just believe in yourself, and all will be well with the world.

So, as every parkrunner knows, parkrun tourism starts with wondering where to head next.  I’m conscious the nights are drawing in, and my enthusiasm for early morning jaunts to far away parkrun destinations may wane as the season ends. Even so, late summer sunshine was forecast, and I’m vaguely working on my alphabet challenge, I mean it is actually impossible on account of there not being an x anywhere in the world – I mean cross flats and Exeter and similar are all well and good, and marvelous as creative solutions go, but they are not the same.  Then there’s the little matter of the Zeds all being in Poland or Russia or wherever which would be fab, but not going to happen any time soon.  There is a Zeds wholefood shop just down the road from me in fact, they are very nice there, but the shop is fairly cluttered, and I don’t know that they’d welcome having a parkrun within, which is a huge shame as that would be very handy, plus I could get my coconut yoghurt and decent bread afterwards. Oh well.  I’ve not got that many letters to go on this particular running challenge, but as I’ve already picked off all the low-hanging fruit so to speak, those I have still to get are increasingly elusive.  I’m holding out for an E and a J coming my way soon if the new parkrun rumour mill is anything to go by,  Queen Elizabeth is going to be an overnighter somewhere, as is the U, so that’s really leaves just the Y not accounted for.  York then, not even that far from Sheffield, I’m not sure quite why I’ve not been there before.  I’ll go there then.

First some research.

Ooh, well, I very much like their York parkrun Facebook page profile image – very classy and always a boon.

super cool york facebook image

Let’s just make sure it’s the correct York. There is a York in Pennsylvania which may or may not be quite delightful, but does not have it’s own parkrun – well not yet anyway.  These details matter, did you hear about the woman who entered the ‘wrong’ Worcester Half Marathon?  It was on the BBC website so it must be true.

Sheila Pereira booked a place at the Worcester City Half Marathon, thinking it was in her hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts.

But the event was 3,200 miles away in the English city of the same name.

Undeterred, Ms Pereira ran 13.1 miles on her own in the US on the same day as the Worcestershire event.

She has been praised by UK organisers, who are sending her a race finisher’s pack including a participation medal and T-shirt

Here she is after her run, all smiles, post run endorphins and  fresh faced, athletic loveliness:

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Why don’t I look like that after a run?  I am more inclined to rock the leaden, lumpy, purple-faced sweaty, ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’ look.  In fact I may well have cornered the market for it.  I’d settle for looking like that before a run to be fair.  Sadly, I think that aspiration is also destined to remain unfulfilled.  Sigh.  Maybe I just need to get myself a nice running visor, and it will transform me?  Probably not though.

That’s lovely – the organisers giving her a medal and all, but I don’t think it would work in quite the same way for a parkrun.  Not sure they’d add you to the results even if you had your barcode and a Strava record.  Mind you, I’ve not tried, and to be honest, if there was even a fleeting chance they might, I’d consider travelling the other side of the world to do that if it also meant I might be able to secure my outstanding parkrun bingo number at the same time. Well you’d have more control over variables would you not?  I’m on 223 runs now, and have had .20 outstanding for months and months now.  The frustration!  Mind you, I read a post somewhere that said 300 is around the norm. Seriously?  Ever wish you’d never embarked on something… although weirdly, one of the things I like about this challenge is that it’s so arbitrary, it’s just a waiting game, there is no advantage in being able to get yourself to some exotic location or other in order to bagsy it.  Level playing field and all that.  I’m not alone with my running challenges bingo despair though it seems.  Just seen a thread somewhere on the same theme.  Mighty parkrunners have been driven mad by less!  This is bad though – no idea where the original post comes from, but I’m sure it’s true:

bingo not

Anyway, you are distracting me with all these questions about running challenges, back to the decision in hand.   I would go to York parkrun in England, I would bagsy my ‘Y’ and probably not my solitary last outstanding bingo number (which is 20 by the way).  It would be fine.

Let’s check out the course info from their official website, erm, the York parkrun website blah de blah describes the course thus:

Course Description

1.5 laps (approximately) of the tarmac service road around the inside of the racecourse. Very flat, with few turns, making it a very fast course. On course map, start at green pin and head anti-clockwise round service road. Complete 1 full lap, then continue on round approximately another 1/2 lap to red Finish pin

and it looks like this: 

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Cool.  What else.  Whoooooooooooooa!  Wait, what cruel trick is this.  ALERT DEAR READER, ALERT!

Facilities
Please note that there are no toilets or changing facilities at York parkrun.

What!?  What about my compulsory pre parkrun precautionary pee?  How is this going to work, particularly after a long drive.  Uh oh?  This critical detail I remembered, is why I haven’t made it to York parkrun before.

I decided there must be something, there is a holiday inn near the start and I’d pass a garage en route.  As the only other alternative is Yeovil in Somerset, which is so far away it might as well be on the moon, I’d have to improvise if necessary.  You are supposed to do something that scares you every day anyway aren’t you?  The thought of no loos pre parkrun does terrify me, but hey ho, I’ll embrace the challenge.  Helps us to grow if we move out of our comfort zone.  Where there’s a will there’s a way as the saying goes.

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I’d do this dear reader, even if I had to wet my knickers to claim my Y!  It’d be OK, but just in case ‘having a will’ wasn’t enough to find a way, then plan b ensured that as I wasn’t using public transport and I’d have a plastic bag to sit on in my car for the journey home if required, I’d got this covered!  I may not have quite the ferocious tenacity of Lisa Nowak, but working towards it eh? 

So that was decision made.  Time to get excited about the prospect of a new destination.  To add to my frenzy of anticipatory excitement, I also was the recipient of a much coveted apricot tee.  It arrived on the Friday afternoon, all personalised with my home run and everything.  I’ve wanted one for ages, but am on a budget so couldn’t really justify it, but then I decided I wanted something special to wear to grace the 15th birthday celebrations at Bushy parkrun in a couple of weeks time.  What could be more perfect.  It feels lovely to wear, though the fabric is erm, flimsy and a bit, shall we say ‘unforgiving’ any  seam of clothing, any wobbly or undulating flesh, any erect – or even positively subdued – nipple will be highlighted once this garment is donned.  Oh well.  It’s a cheery hue, and makes me feel part of the club.  So yay!  When I finally rediscover my running mojo and sculpt my body into newly muscled contours I’ll be glad of the fabric I’m sure.  Shame that by that time the world will be awash with water due to the ice caps melting and so a) no one will care about what I look like in my official parkrun tee, and b) that extra body fat would have been a real boon to enable me to stay afloat.  It just goes to show one should always be most careful about what one wishes for.

That was Friday then, yesterday in fact, and then today’s the day!  A quick check of the York parkrun Facebook page to make sure that no unexploded ordnance would stop play as at Hogmoor Inclosure parkrun for example.  Not only is that a very dramatic cause for cancellation, it does sound like a made up place too, Hogmoor Inclosure parkrun, hmmm.  Now it’s accelerating to the top of my parkrun to do list.  Hippest parkrun in the UK I imagine (work it out).  No ordnance, all good, off I go.

There was bright late summer sun trying to break through as I headed off through the streets of Sheffield.

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Truly a gift of a day, one that rewards you for early rising, I was quite perky as I set off, then as I went through Sheffield centre, I remembered it was also arrival day for students, hmm, coming back would be interesting.  Oh well, I’d worry about that later.  It was a surprisingly straightforward drive to York, though the morning mist took on fog like density at times, I had my fog lights on as well as my headlights.  I stopped off for petrol and pee (I didn’t ingest the petrol, it was for the car) at a service station just on the outskirts of York, and followed the postcode that took me past the Holiday Inn York racecourse, and to Cherry Lane (YO24 1QF) where there is mention of a small carpark near to the start.  It was a battle of nerves the last bit, you go into seemingly a residential area, and I wasn’t following signs to the racecourse either – perhaps if you do, you end up parking on the Knavesmire Road where I think there is more space, and potentially – by negotiation – loos too.

For your information, hold your nerve.  I thought I’d gone wrong when I saw the drive down to Cherry Lane  car park, it was so narrow, it looked like it might just be pedestrian access and lead to a dead end.  I threw caution to the wind and hesitatingly crawled down there – not literally, but figuratively, I mean I drove down extra slowly.  You emerge from the dense tree lined path to the open expanse of York racecourse bathed in bright early morning sunshine. It looked spectacular, and vast.  There was parking, not much but I was early as always, so parked fine.  I was also sufficiently early I went to retrace my steps to take a pic of the entrance to Cherry Lane so you won’t be scared away, and also inspected the Holiday Inn.  It has to be the nearest accommodation to a parkrun start line ever!  I’m surprised it wasn’t heaving with parkrun tourists, maybe it was.  They had loos on the ground floor, but obviously it would not be appropriate for me to encourage anyone to use them without making a purchase.  Yeah, obviously not.

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So there I was.  Parked up and all ready to go.  The sun was coming out, and burning away the mist.  People seemed to be mustering just a few metres away from where I’d parked.  Back lit by the sunshine.

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I couldn’t see any obvious parkrun hi-vis heroes, but there were obvious parkrunners, and a mighty pilgrimage of people moving in a stream from the grandstand area of the race course.  This was going to be a busy one. They really did look like wildebeest on migration, resolutely moving in a seemingly unbroken ribbon across the landscape, only with fewer being picked off by hungry crocodiles en route – well, as far as I could tell anyway.

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Perhaps a few were lost, but not so many as would make all that much difference to the numbers.  parkrun would go on without them, it’s what they would have wanted I’m sure.  I’d want parkrun to continue without me if I fell en route.  There is at least one parkrun where it went ahead despite one of the volunteers being locked in the loo throughout.  I know this, I referenced it in one of my blog posts, can I find it now though?  Rhetorical question, no I can’t.  Let me know if you unearth it somehow.  Did happen though.  These things do, no point in ruining everyone’s parkrunday.    Maybe not being eaten by crocodiles en route, but sort of similar-ish barriers to participation can crop up unbidden.  I think Cairns parkrun routinely warns runners about crocodiles, but that could be a wind up for tourists – you aren’t going to risk ignoring it though are you?  They also have a Holiday Inn on their course route, so York and Cairns parkrun courses are therefore pretty much indistinguishable.  Did you know two Londoner’s a day call 999 because they are locked in a loo.  Strange but (possibly) true.

*EDIT*  good news dear reader, I’ve remembered.  It was Maureen, she got locked in the loo (by accident) at Whangarei parkrun, but was liberated by an international rescue team afterwards, so all’s well that end’s well eh!  Here they are trying to rescue her, takes a lot of parkrunners apparently…

international rescue whangerei parkrun

One run had a lion on their course.  A stuffed one admittedly (poor thing, but at least it’s usually used for educational pointers not stuck on some trophy hunter’s wall), but no-one told the runners that.  Hilarious!  Good on you iMfolzi Trail Run race organisers, what larks eh, what larks?  Not a parkrun though, sadly… bet there were a load of pbs anyway though!

There were a fair few tourists, you could tell, by the large number of us posing next to suitable landmarks for photos.  This was good though, as it meant I quickly identified my new BFFs for the morning, it’s grand to identify parkrun besties early on.  This was a fabulous fivesome from the brilliantly named Sole Mates (see what they’ve done there), they vacated a placard for me to photograph, after first querying if I’d like a shot of them there too.  Which set up a companionable photo fest for the run round later when we found we were at a similar pace.  They were a hoot actually (cheery wave if you are reading) and I always love seeing proper running club buddies enjoying each others company as much as the run out.  They also took a pic of me, looking pleased in my apricot tee and directionally pointing at the sign so you can tell where I am.    You can see others doing the same from the opposite side.  It’s a well photographed landmark it seems.  You know you’ll do the same if you make it there, has to be done… Some things we do at parkrun are almost reflex actions, instinctive.

More milling and chilling…

and then after a bit, someone in a hi-vis appeared and identified themselves as the first timer briefing person.  A little gaggle of us gathered around her for the briefing.

Key points was that there are some loos, but you have to ask to access them and they are over the grandstand side.  The course is one and a half laps basically, and can get congested at the start so stand clear unless you are going for a time.  Also, and I’ve not seen this before at a parkrun, they had some pacers who were specifically run/walk, one three minute run, one minute walk and one alternating walk one minute, run one minute, plus the compulsory tail walker too.  It seemed to be very genuinely welcoming of couch to 5k people, run/walkers everyone really.  The first timers’ briefing was still finishing off when the official RD briefing started, so we jogged down to join in that.  I noticed some high vis wearers had those flexi/ trug buckets  you use for gardening and mucking out stables, that kind of things – well I do anyway.  I think it was to gather together runners’ belongings so they could be carted from the start to the finish area by a willing volunteer, as they are at opposite sides of the racecourse.  I was actually warm enough to leave my fleece in the car, which is pretty much unprecedented, but it was heating up nicely.  Good to know for future reference.

Missed most of the RD briefing, but it seemed brief and to the point.

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and then it was awf!  Quite a fierce start, I just waited and watched until enough runners had piled past I felt safe to enter the back of the throng.  The path is wide, but there were a lot of participants, so it was congested at the front, the advice to hang back unless you were serious about going for a fast time was spot on.

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Quite a stampede!  It was a lovely sight ahead though, the ribbon of colour stretching round the rails of the racecourse and into the sun.

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It is a picturesque course, but as it’s all sort of laid out in front of you from the outset, there isn’t all that much to say about it.  There are landmarks along the way, the grandstand, the starters pens, poor gee gees, and an inordinate amount of seagulls, which was a bit surreal but made complete sense of the York parkrun Facebook profile pic, it really does say everything you need to know about the parkrun.  In fact, you could save yourself the bother of reading on and just have a good old stare at that pic instead, captures it all perfectly.  Then again, you’ve sort of committed now if you’ve got to this point, the running equivalent of being in blood stepped so far – maybe in bog stepped so deep on a trail run would be the nearest equivalent.  You’re here now, shame to bail now when you’ve already invested so much.

I just joined the throng and loped on round.  It’s a tarmac track, with grass to the side, but sufficiently busy that I found myself running on the grass for a fair old way before it thinned out enough for me to slot into the runners on the path again.  After a bit you turn round and are running towards the grandstand. It was quite exciting being at a racecourse, even though I’m not a fan of racing per se, it was just such an unusual and striking venue.  If you had a decent camera you’d get some amazing pics.

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There was a cute dog jogging along

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As I was running round, I suddenly spotted something weird ahead of me on the track.  No not a lion, but was that maybe a leek?  A fancy dress vegetable of some description away on the horizon for sure.   I wanted to put on enough of a sprint to catch that up and check that out.   And oh look, seagulls!  When not flapping about overhead, they line up and watch.  Loads of them, no idea why quite so many or why they are hanging out here, but it’s clearly a desirable location.

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Plus there were my new best friends coming into view.  Well, I was seeking to take some pictures anyway, might as well have my new besties in the frame – if you look carefully, you will see they are even acknowledging me in public with a cheery wave so clearly our friendship is reciprocated!  Good to know.  Is that a leek though?  Hmmm.

After you pass the grandstand area and the starting pens and the York racecourse posh stand entrance you turn the corner past a temporary tented encampment and there is the finish all set up with an abundance of hi-vis heroes in situ to channel everyone in.

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Belatedly, I noticed there seemed to be some permanent km markers on the route.  They appeared to align to parkrun, though as I didn’t spot all of them I can’t be 100% sure, but I can’t imagine what else they’d be… except that somewhat cryptically, I noticed on the York parkrun Facebook page that there seem to be a number of variant courses – as many as four I think, so it does vary, I don’t know on what basis, you’ll have to rock up yourself and find out.

Round again, back to where you started from.  It had thinned out quite a bit by now.  This parkrun is either ‘relaxed’ or anarchic depending on how you feel about parkrun rules.  I was very much at the back of the pack and the route isn’t really marshalled other than at the finish funnel, otherwise there are pacers and cones to stop you deviating from the fairly obvious route round.  However, I noticed leads came off dogs, and short leads were lengthened on others and at least one child on a bicycle.  It wasn’t so much that this caused any issues for me or other participants, but I did inwardly raise an eyebrow.  Particularly as just when we got back to the start area an older gentleman walking his dog was knocked to the ground by a parkrunners dog.  It was quite a tumble and I saw the aftermath rather than what happened.  The runner concerned stopped and was massively apologetic, though the man that had fallen insisted he was OK and it was his dog coming over that had caused the boisterous doggy greetings that had sent him flying.  It seems basically one or other jumped up and he got knocked over as a result.   I stopped too to see if help was needed, but he said he was OK and didn’t need any. It made me feel very uncomfortable running on.  I mean it was indeed just an accident, but falling over as an adult is no fun at all, and he wasn’t exactly  in his first flush of youth,  he’ll be stiff as anything tomorrow if not worse. It made me a bit nervous about other dogs not on leads and the lack of any marshals in sight.  I admit I’m getting increasingly wary of dogs these days, I don’t care if ‘they are just being friendly’ they do damage if they knock you down.  Still, it seemed a good natured mutually apologetic resolution, thankfully.  Could have been very much worse.  But it wasn’t, so back to happy thoughts and flowers and sunny days and sharing the parkrun love. I’d lost sight of the leek though, that was a shame.

All round again…

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and then finally, back to the finish, and the virtual embrace of the timers and the scanners and all that finish funnel jazz.  Thank you marshals.

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I stopped my watch and it looked like I’d finished with a .21 bingo time, a tantalising one second off my single outstanding bingo number.  I’d have to wait for the results, but it was within touching distance.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, I then saw my leek man up ahead, striding off into the distance clutching his veg (not a euphemism).  Aaargh, I sprinted harder than I had all morning to go find them.  I wanted to see what that was all about and thought they might want my few pics forwarding onto them too.  After all, we all love a running photo, however poorly framed…

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Caught them!

Turns out, it isn’t a leek, it’s quite obviously a white rose.   Silly me, a leek looks like this, entirely different.  I can’t help wondering if it was disadvantaged by being a leek in an onion class, therefore robbed of first place.

jacob leeks mogg

They filled me in on their project which is fund raising for York against cancer as fastest marathon as a three dimensional plant.  And why not?  What could possibly go wrong?  Exactly.  You can chip in here to Steve Gaughan’s just giving page if you are a white rose fan, and get excited about Guiness World Records, and why wouldn’t you.

Of course I took some more pictures:

Totally epic.  You’d have thought things couldn’t get any better, but dear reader they did!  Because along came my new besties and there followed lots of group shot taking in all possible configurations of leek white rose and new best friends and me and anyone else in the vicinity. You can have a lot of fun doing this apparently.  Running in this costume requires a guide and an ability to withstand significant dehydration, it had to be super hot in there, and probably quite stinky over time too, like the wombles costumes, they got ever ranker over the years so the story goes, not sure any of them ever ran a marathon though.  Jimmy Saville used to hide in them to ogle young girls apparently, and he ran marathons, I don’t know if that counts but it creeps me out and puts me off the wombles quite a bit which is sad in a way… Is nothing sacred?

Never mind, back to kittens and flowers, or parkrunners and a collective appreciation of a perfect white rose at least.  It involved a fair few of us, documenting this auspicious occasion.

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Just think, that means I may have been in the presence of a nearly world record holder.  Proud moment, proud day!  Sigh, I’m quite giddy at the very thought.  Meeting them AND a quintet of new besties all at the same parkrun, that’s quite a morning’s haul.  Go me!  Slow and steady naturally, but going all the same!

I know his official photo in the york press article is marginally better than mine by the way, but you have to concede mine has more atmosphere do you not?  (Rhetorical question).  I think capturing my silhouette pirouetting in the foreground was a stroke of compositional genius, and I don’t care who says that proves only that I’m guilty of either delusional thinking or cognitive dissonance.

So we tore apart from one another and waved each other on our respective ways.  Bye bye lovely parkrun people, I hope our paths cross again on the parkrun tourist circuit, I’m sure they will.

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I really hope he walked all the way home in that…

There is supposed to be a coffee van somewhere, but I presume it must have been the opposite side to where I was parked and honestly I couldn’t be bothered to go and look, although a cup of coffee would have been great.  Instead I wandered back to say goodbye and thanks to the volunteers and soak up the venue one last time.

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I did seek out the RD to mention about the dog incident.  I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do or if I was just interfering, but then I figured if I was RD I’d want to know, and it was a bad fall.  Older people do break things and accidental or otherwise best that such incidents are recorded surely.

I left the volunteers packing up in the autumn sunshine. Thank you hi-vis heroes!

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That was that, parkrun done and dusted for another week. Oh, apart from junior parkrun tomorrow of course, but you know what I mean.  Bye bye parkrun, bye bye York racecourse.

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Oh, and my time came in.  Ending in an .18 seconds.  I was pleased in a way it was two seconds out, just one second would have finished me off.  Also, it just shows how you have to surrender to fate with this one, the chances of getting your watch exactly synched with the time keepers and avoiding the hiccups of funnel duckers or whatever are pretty minuscule.  Maybe I should start to change my mindset, and see if I can be the slowest ever to attain that elusive running bingo challenge!  Now there’s a thought.

For now that’s all though, thank you lovely York parkrun people for putting a fab show on the road, and especially thanks for being my new best friends Sole Mates of Matlock, you are epic. Fine parkrun York, coming up roses indeed, or at the very least one fine white Yorkshire rose, I do hope that’s to be a permanent fixture… speaking of which, good luck Yorkshire Rose, I’ll be on tenterhooks awaiting the outcome of your record attempt.  Exciting times!  I say I’ll be on tenterhooks, but actually I believe in you, it will happen, you’ve got this!

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If you want to prolong your parkrun fix, you can read all my parkrun related posts here.  Or not.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.

Same time next week then?  A venue of your choice for parkrunday.

Good oh.

🙂

Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

♫ (Go West) where the skies are blue? ♫ Beverley or bust. Beverley Westwood parkrun where there be coos!

Digested read: parkrun tourism took me to Beverley Westwood parkrun.  It rained.  A lot.

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Undigested read:

When the world is your lobster oyster, it’s hard to know where to travel next parkrun wise.  I was going to head to Isabel Trail parkrun, it’s on my ‘to do’ list, like trail, and an ‘i’ for my alphabet challenge would be a boon.  Ouch, it is a long way from Sheffield though.  Aargh.  Yep, a long way, but nearer than any other ‘i’ s, they are few and far between.  I’ll go there then.  … only then I remembered some fellow parkrunner that are seriously dedicated tourists, they have an itinerary, always worth a gander.  Where are they going I wonder?

Oooh, Beverley Westwood parkrun.  Never heard of it.  Google.  Google (which never lies) takes me to their official Beverley Westwood parkrun page seems this parkrun is but freshly emerged.  Now, I concede some might say that this is still a ridiculously long way away from Sheffield for a couple of hours excursion, but that would be in the eyes of non parkrunner tourists.  It’s doable.  It would be a chance to catch up with some fellow parkrun pilgrims, as a bonus, it might give me a ‘west’ for the compass challenge (not entirely sure of the basis of inclusion for that, but I think as long as a compass point is included anywhere in the title, it’s OK), and a 3 for my Wilson, which I’m only very halfheartedly aware of but I wouldn’t shun even if I can’t be bothered to actively seek any numbers out.

compass club

wilson index

Incidentally, be aware that attending inaugural events is generally discouraged to avoid scaring off new volunteer teams.  I think the consensus is now that if a new event is your new local, and/or the new event team are actively promoting it then it’s fine to attend, but otherwise, let them settle in.  Fair do’s.  It didn’t used to be an issue but now parkrun is soooooooooooooo much bigger – 6 million registrations now, that’s eye popping, and excellent, but also a tad scary if you are a new kid on the block!

You know about the running challenges thingamajig yes?    I’m never going to really get very far up the Wilson index, but I reckon I’ll succeed with the compass challenge one day, plenty parkrun options available for that!  Yes, I know it’s childish, but in bleak times, anything to cheer the spirits surely?  We are all going to hell in a handcart, granted, but at least we have parkrun.

Loon landing private eye

Quick change the record before it all gets too depressing!  Speaking of which, (yes we were) I know the perfect record, feel free to join in!  This calls for a rousing chorus of ‘Go West!’ – only you know if you want the Village People original or are a Pet Shop Boys kinda person, but either way it’s most jolly and uplifting and the chorus couldn’t be more apt!

Go West!

life is peaceful there
(Go west) in the open air
(Go west) where the skies are blue
(Go west) this is what we’re gonna do
(Go west, this is what we’re gonna do, go west

So what can I find out in advance about this parkrun?  We know already it will be in the open air and the skies will be blue, because the singers tell us so.  You should so watch the video* if for some inexplicable reason you haven’t done so in a while.  Absolute classic!   Yeah, jfdi, and you know what, you should totally join in, that’s what kitchen floors were made for!  I’m not endorsing the casual cultural appropriation aspects, clearly, but can’t help but be taken back when that comes on!

*The village people, version, obvs!

Right, enough of the distractions, back to the important preparatory research.

Well, according to the course blah de blah on the Beverley Westwood parkrun page:

Course Description
The start/finish is situated on an open area of Beverley Westwood adjacent to where Westwood Road meets Walkington Road.
The course is 2 anti-clockwise laps on the historic, scenic and undulating pasture and follows an ancient drove way, goes down then up Hill 60, crosses the Tan Gallop and circles Black Mill – entirely on grass so trail shoes are advisable in wet weather. Cows roam freely on the pasture from April to December and have right of way at all times. Follow the marked route to ensure you remain in the safe area away from the golf course. There is plenty of room near the start to park bikes and to warm up on the grass. Unfortunately the course is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.

Ok, so two things immediately strike me.  ‘Entirely on grass’ and the ‘presence of cows’.  I way prefer off – road, but I am a bit dubious about grass courses, horribly reminiscent of the humiliation of school sports days and my brief but misguided foray into XC running.  The very thought makes me nervous, though it sounds interesting and picturesque, so hopefully not too like a school sports field when you are actually there.

Apropos of the cows, I’m going to have to trust the event team.  I used to be fine with cows until I moved to Sheffield, where it seems bovines have been cross bred with aggressive carnivorous predators and there have been an alarmingly frequent number of incidents of runners being carted off in helicopters by mountain rescue after coming off the worse in bovine/runner encounters.  Still, at Beverley Westwood parkun they give the cows names according to their inaugural event report.

there are not many parkruns with a Cow Risk Assessment, however the cows were great and our marshals even named a few – Pat, Parsley and Pie behaved beautifully. So anyone afraid of cows should consider this. The only stampede was the one to the pub afterwards!

It’s hard to be scared of something when you’ve named it.  That’s why I called a resident house spider Christopher one winter.  The ones you see are most commonly male apparently, lost and lonely and looking for a mate.  We came to an understanding.  He could stay, as long as he never crossed the threshold into my bedroom.  I actually felt sufficiently protective of him, that before I moved out at the end of my tenancy, I relocated him to an attic where he’d be safe from over enthusiastic vacuuming by any new occupants.  Anyway, point is, they have cow marshals.  It’ll be fine!

Besides, indisputably, some runners benefit from external motivation to help them achieve their full potential.  For those in search of an elusive pb, maybe the cows will help?  A bear did this for the cohort pictured below, a whole herd of cows could do way more I reckon.  Also, illustrates rather brilliantly the accepted wisdom that when under threat, you don’t necessarily need to run super fast, just faster than at least one of your companions.  Harsh, but true.  Don’t worry fellow parkrunners, there’s always a tail walker, you can’t be last!  I’m not saying tail walkers are expendable, they are not, but it is one of the easier volunteering roles to fill, so it’ll be fine… probably.  I’ve been a tailwalker and I’d happily have martyred myself for the greater parkrunning good if required to do so.  I’m sure other community minded hi-vis heroes are willing to do likewise.

photographers fleeing

Where was I?  Oh yes, the course.  It looks like this:

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and as far as you can tell from the Beverley Westwood parkrun Facebook page, the locals are friendly.  They are setting up monthly gatherings, what a brilliant idea.  Spreading the parkrun love indeed.  I like the idea of a parkrun that starts  and finishes at a pub!  This parkrun would seem destined to be sustainable!  Hope they do veggie breakfasts…

Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in The Woolpack Inn on Westwood Road – please come and join us!

Woolpack pub

Yeah, definitely worth the early start.  What could possibly go wrong?  🙂  Yeah, bring it on!  Might be more than a couple of hours worth of Saturday morning fun at this one!

Bring.  It. On!

Bit worried about the heat though.  It’s soooooooooooooo hot.  At least I’m not a dog.  It’s worse for them poor things.  The RSPCA advice is to leave them at home when it’s like this.  Apparently (read it somewhere on Facebook so it must be true) Canicrossers use this rule: Temp (c) x humidity (%) and anything below 1000 is good to go, for instance 14 degrees and 45% humidity would be 630. If in doubt … do not run!  You know, I might start applying that rule to myself.  I just can’t function in heat.  I feel like a super-villain has caught me in an energy-draining spotlight and I will expire within seconds if I can’t move to a place of cool shade imminently. It’s so hard being me. A cap and shades and electrolytes will only get you so far.  Heatstroke can kill.  In fact, there is a whole blogsite ‘Hot Dogs –  heatstroke heatstroke education for dog owners. ‘ all about heatstroke prevention.  Quite scary stuff. They did a post about parkrunning with dogs in the heat, food for thought, and I haven’t even got a dog. Though I do have massive empathy for them as the temperature rises.  I am not a sun worshipper at all.  I’m sure I’m part vampire heritage, no other explanation.

Directions wise, well I would be heading to their suggested car park near to the start.

Getting there by road
Whichever route you take into Beverley, you need to drive into the town centre to access car parks. To get to the start from the town centre, head for Lairgate then follow ‘Getting there on foot’ below.

Grayburn Lane pay and display car park (HU17 8JR) is only 600m from the start and Tesco (HU17 9DB) which offers 3 hours’ free parking is a 15 minute walk away from the start. There are also several other car parks near the town centre.

To help us maintain good relationships with the Pasture Masters, local residents (people and cows) and the golf club, please do not park on the pasture verges, on Westwood Road or at the golf club.

Hmm, could be up to a couple of hours drive, allowing for paranoia, getting lost, pre parkrun angstiness etc.  Lucky I’m an insomniac, an early start makes no odds to me!  Also, in order to ‘Go West’ I actually have to head north-eastish from my starting point.  That spoils the theme somewhat, but hey ho, worse things happen at the seaside.  And I should know, I broke my kneecap at one (Hastings since you ask, that was a bad day).

Yep, very up for this, what could possibly go wrong?

So the day dawns.  Morning!

Morning

aaah, maybe that.  Gulp.

Thunderbolts and lightening?  Very, very frightening!

What happened to ‘Go West – where the skies are blue‘?  Asking for a friend.  On the plus side, at least I won’t be fretting about sunstroke and over-heating…

Up at stupid o’clock.  To some extent, I was lulled into a bit of a false sense of security as I peered out my attic window to assess what the weather gods were offering up.  It was raining, but not too hard as I left Sheffield.  Almost refreshing after the recent heatwave I thought to myself, (be careful what you wish for) naively.

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However, dear reader, I can report that once I hit the motorways, it was like entering a parallel universe of apocalyptic weather.  The sky was obscured by an other-worldly gloom, not so much from mist, but from the absolute density of rain reducing visibility to scarily short distances.  Oh well, I probably shouldn’t hold my hand in front of my face when driving anyway, it’ll be fine…  Once I’d talked myself down from a full on panic attack re visibility, there was the little matter of standing water and the awful suspicion that however slowly I was driving, I’d be aquaplaning at any moment!  This would have been ok if I had the sort of car that converted into a hydrofoil at the push of a button, or indeed had thought to source Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the day, but neither was the case.  Incidentally, whilst we are on the subject of children’s films and childhood humiliations, was I the only child who sang along to the movie track loudly pronouncing ‘shitty shitty bang bang’ for more years than I should because my nearest and dearest thought it was very much more amusing not to correct me?  Oh, it really was just me then.  I suppose that explains some things  …

I was glad I’d allowed plenty of time.  The roads were clear, fortunately, though to be fair I wouldn’t have been able to make out any of the other traffic on the roads anyway.  It sure was going to be a wet one!  Just to liven things up a bit more, periodically, a flash of distant lightening would pierce my eyeballs, causing momentary blindness as I drove onwards to my unknown destiny.

Once I came off the motorway and headed to Beverley, the roads got even worse.  I don’t know if my satnav took me a particularly odd way, but the roads seemed to twist through villages, and flood water was perilous.  I crawled along clinging to the middle of the road to avoid standing lakes on either side, other vehicles 4×4 ploughed through sending up tsunami waves of water as they passed. Cheers for that (not really).  At least I wasn’t on a bike.

One village had a sign advising of the presence of ducks!  That was particularly pleasing and apt.  So much so, I stopped to take a picture of it on the way back.  Shortly after the sign, is a beautifully picturesque village pond, which indeed had ducks on it, though it wouldn’t entirely have surprised me if they’d been swimming alongside me on the roads. It was wet, wet, wet.  No honestly, imagine the wettest you’ve ever been, yep, that time, and now get someone to chuck another bucket of water on you whilst you stand over a burst water hydrant.  That’s it.  That kind of wet.  ‘Nice weather for ducks’ indeed.

DSCF2891Smart ducks those, they did a good job with the hanging basket didn’t they?  The environs of Beverley were pretty classy, they get a better quality of mallard round here too I dare say.

From what I could make out in the rain, Beverley is pretty nice.  There are some wow moments en route with the architecture – making out the cathedral in the rain and indeed Westwood Pastures on the way into the town.  The buildings as you approach are stunning.  My satnav took me straight to the car park, although it seemed weirdly residential on the final approach.  Even the car park is posh here, it’s the first one I’ve ever graced that has its own art work on display!

There’s a long stay and a medium/short stay section. I was early, so dithered about which to choose.  There was loads of parking at 8.00 a.m. and still some spaces in the long stay when I came back to the car about 10.30 ish, so that was good.  Logistically speaking though, you do really need to be in an official car park, there weren’t other options, on street parking was restricted to residents only and anyway there weren’t any spaces.

It wasn’t cold, but it was very definitely wet.  In an uncharacteristic fit of forward planning, I brought with me a print out of the route from the car park to the parkrun.  I’m glad I did, as it wasn’t obvious without, and i don’t have a smart phone.  Maybe later on other parkrunners would have gathered and it would have been a case of follow the crowd, sheep like, to get to the start.

parking to start

Speaking of sheep, the next stop was the Woolpack.  It was very much open, and people were busy frying up sausages in prep for parkrunners a-plenty later on.  I asked if it was ok to use the loo, and it was fine.  Check this out – see what they’ve done there with the signs?  I know, hilarious and genius!  Also, it was equipped with a few extras in case you need a pre- or indeed post-parkrun preening.  This was the ladies loo, or ‘ewes’ I imagine the ‘rams’ have brylcreem, old spice and chamois leathers in their basket.  That sort of thing anyway.  Ace.

Pre parkrun pee executed, I headed to the start.  It really isn’t very far, and it’s an exciting revelation when it comes into view.  At the end of a tightly packed, but exquisitely beautiful row of terraces, the vista opens up into the vision of sodden loveliness that is Westwood Pastures, enhanced by little flashes of hi-vis on the horizon.  Hurrah!  I’m here!  More importantly, so is the parkrun core team.  Takes more than a little bit of  torrential deluge of rain to deter them.

It wasn’t really cold, but it did very much feel like the sky was falling in.  Chicken Licken would have had a complete meltdown.  In fact, this would be a terrible parkrun for Chicken Licken, there are chestnut trees along the way, with conkers already starting to fill out nicely.  Only a matter of time before they start plummeting down from above too.  Honestly, the risk assessments for this parkrun must fill several volumes!

Educational point of information. I’ve just re-read Chicken Licken, because it’s always as well to fact check important points, and I see Chicken Licken is gendered as ‘he’ in the version I came across.  I’d always assumed Chicken Licken was female, is that because I’d identified with the character I wonder, or does the ladybird book assign the female gender?  Would be so much easier if everyone was just ascribed non-binary in my view.  Ah well, onward.

I wended my way towards the hi-vis hubbub, where very sensibly volunteers were gathering and sheltering.  The sheltering was a bit redundant to be fair, wasn’t sure at what point someone was going to break it to them they were going to get soaked through to their knickers within seconds of leaving the sanctuary of the tree’s branches –  and I don’t mean from crying with laughter at the parkrun participants either.  Though to be fair, that is a given at junior parkrun, if my experience of volunteering there is anything to go by…  Hilarious.  Always.

I was trying to be discrete, you know, get some non-posed photos.  Epic fail, partly because  that’s not my forte, and partly because it was so blooming dark, my flash went off.  This nearly brought about apoplexy amongst the event team, who were mid-briefing about how they would implement their storm warning protocol  in the event of thunder and lightening bursting out.  It would have been pretty exciting I reckon, not so much sharknado as bovinado, which would any Sheffield runner would tell you is way scarier!  Isn’t there a documentary about that: cownado I mean?  Yes there is!

We have scary cows in Sheffield though I tell you, really scary ones.   I really wouldn’t want to be hit by a falling cow.  At least for the most part this course was in the open, no chance of being squashed by a falling tree say…. a tree branch fell in a storm at Preston parkrun today which caused quite a commotion, no-one hurt but event team emergency protocol well and truly scrambled.  It pays to be prepared people! No team wants squished runners, it can ruin your whole morning more even than unregulated funnel ducking, and that’s saying something!  Preston parkrun had to notify the council for heaven’s sake, I mean just imagine – the incident even made the local news!

preston parkrun

Funnel ducking is still worse however.  Just so you know.

Funnel ducker , n, parkrunner who crosses the finish line and thus gets a finish time but leaves the funnel without taking a finish token, thereby creating results processing grief for the event team.

You’d be surprised at the mishaps that can befall parkrunners though.   Spare a thought for poor Maureen of Whangarei parkrun who apparently missed the whole thing after become trapped in a loo cubicle.  No really, it was in their run report it must be true.  I daresay there are some out there who might pretend to be locked in a loo to avoid running, or hide in one to avoid school ‘games’ – which so weren’t fun at all as the titular ‘games’ misleadingly implies – but she was incarcerated due to mechanical error.  Just imagine.  She may still be there for all I know.  They say they don’t want any jokes about how many parkrunners does it take to repair a broken lock, but I reckon they’re bluffing.  Feel free to respond!

international rescue

I wonder if there is a special volunteer credit available for liberating fellow parkrunners from being locked in toilets – or indeed other receptacles like, oh I don’t know, panic rooms, skips, recycling containers?  Maybe there will be now.  Hope they filled in the relevant critical incident paperwork afterwards.  This crew they deem to be ‘international rescue’ I like that.  Could catch on… and there is definitely already a badge for that too!

thunderbirds badge 1e7ead8855086987fa66334b6028cab6

Anyway, in the circumstances, you can see why my camera flashing didn’t help settle the nerves of the still relatively new Beverley Westwood parkrun team.  Ooops.  Sorry about that.  Well, sorry-ish.  It’s hard to be properly penitent given the comedic value of the moment, can’t lie, made me laugh – still,  I’m sure they’ll understand…  Also, did nothing for my undercover photographer capturing candid camera moments.  Oh well.  At least I got a picture of the volunteer rota team, and the team, albeit I was outed as a potential ‘well sometimes quantity over quality isn’t all a bad thing’ in a back up parkrun photographer role!  Not official enough to merit a volunteer credit perhaps, but showing willing, that’s the main thing!

Having nicely spooked the event team, I headed off to explore.  Marshals were marching out like explorers, hunched into the rain.  Some already in post were sporting some exceedingly fine umbrellas, now, if only I’d thought to do likewise, and could work out a way to run with one  – and they’d left a top dog supervising the start area.  All contingencies were covered.  It has to be a new team, as this was only their 3rd parkrun, but it seemed very well organised and confidently handled.  Hurrah!

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Although it was early, the cones were out, the marshals were already actively on manoeuvre, cow cowl wearing tourist(s) were commencing warm up, and the cows were congregating too.

Really.  A great many cows.  Not over keen to be fair, however, I think you can pay a lot of money to a therapist to be exposed to flooding techniques to cure you of such fears.  Here you can do it for free.  Though actually, come to think of it, I think the idea of subjecting someone to their worst nightmare in order to desensitise them to it might now have been completely discredited on account of the fact it induces trauma.  You know what, I just don’t know!  Fortunately, I’m not absolutely phobic of cattle, just deeply cautious of them, which isn’t a bad thing to be to be fair.  They can trample people when spooked or provoked.  In Sheffield cattle have alarming form in this respect.  Not their fault, but worth knowing… eek.

flooding

 Also evidence of where other cows had previously passed this way.  Be warned dear reader. The cow pats are a real hazard.   Up until today, I had thought goose poo was the skiddiest substance known to humankind, but now I think it might actually be fresh cow poo, especially when drenched with newly fallen/ing rain.  It is truly skiddy, imagine running across a slurry spill on wet grass or smooth tarmac – actually, scrap that, you don’t have to imagine it, you can experience it for yourself!  Rock up to Beverley Westwood parkrun on a really wet day, make an exaggerated point of not looking where you put your feet and hey presto!  You too can undergo a whole new level of immersive slipperiness!  Hurrah!

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More people gathered, with various degrees of saturation and cow tolerance:

Oh look, some familiar faces, and a hurried pre-run group shot.  It is compulsory on such occasions to gather together as many tourists and anyone else who fancies being included all together in a group shot.  Never has a gathering of cow cowl wearers been in a context more apt. Here it is:

Group cow shot

‘Suddenly’ as if from nowhere, loads of other parkrunners appeared.  It’s always astonishing to me, in a pleasing way, how 20 minutes before parkrun it’s often just the hi-vis heroes, me (because I’m so paranoid about being late) and tumble weed, and then 15 minutes before people appear out of the mist (or rain on this occasion) and it’s like a flash mob or pop up party or something.  From nothing, comes something.  What strange sorcery is this?  Replicated in parkruns the world over.  A.Maz.Ing.

Next stop, first timer’s briefing.  This had a few unique (I think so anyway) elements.  We were instructed how to deal with cows.  Confidence and clapping, but there was a practical demo coming up later anyway.  Also warned of the cow pat frequency along the route.  They are like little land mines essentially, peppering the route.  I think it adds a certain frisson of excitement to proceedings myself. It also definitely elevates the course from sports field to proper off road pasture.  Result.  This is a course where not only the marshals may be required to clap!

There was more pointless sheltering from the rain, and I dumped my bag at the informal bag drop.  By which I mean in the general area under the designated tree hq.  Unfortunately, my aim meant my rucksuck was basically chucked into a puddle, which during the duration of the event turned into pretty much a pond of slurry by the end of the parkrun, dripping a giddy cocktail of rainwater and cow poo from it’s straps as I picked it up later.  Oh well, just another thing to up the memorability quotient of the event, and I didn’t realise I’d done this at this point, so all good.  It was a surprise for later!  What I did realise, as I stuffed my fleece into my backpack and donned my waterproof instead, is that my ‘lost’ cap had been in my backpack all the time, and on being liberated from it along with my running coat, landed splat in the nearest available cow pat.  Oh dear.  I’m pretty cool with animal waste from vegetarian animals, but decided against smearing it onto my hair through wearing said cap.  This would have to be a capless run.  Oh pooh indeed.

Excitingly, in amongst the tourists, and people who’d rocked up before, were some honest to goodness absolute first timers.  How exciting!  I was very impressed they’d braved the elements.  They had decided, quite rightly, that if they were going to do this parkrun malarkey, they best commit to it and not cry off at the first spot of rain.  Quite right too, though I’d have given them a pass myself as unless ‘spot’ and ‘raging torrent’ have become synonymous of late, this was inclement weather at it’s most extreme – though also most comedic, so that’s ok.

Here are the first timers, with their parkrunning buddies.  You’ll have to guess which is which or who is whom.  Everyone is smiling in the before shot anyway, and that’s the main thing.  They too may become some of Jessica’s parkrun heroes.  Have you seen those films yet?  You really should you know, mind you, all parkrunners are heroes, however they/we choose to be involved in it.  #loveparkrun

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There was much excitement.  The cows were especially excited!  I suppose you have to release the mounting tension of anticipation somehow, and so far, cows haven’t been specifically welcomed as participants at parkrun in the way canines have been, so they can’t relieve the stress by joining in the 5k run. I think that might constitute an assisted run by the way, also not one to try at home, obvs. Though probably better tried at home than in the rather public start funnel line up in case that wasn’t for you a self-evident truth.

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A bit more milling, some last minute pep talks by the run director, late arrivals and some final stretches.  Wish I’d thought to run in a cycle cape – even if the wearer said it was to be discarded during the parkrun.  Too much wind resistance apparently.  I’m sure that’s true, though it made me wonder if that was the voice of experience or creative imagination dispensing such wisdom.

Then everyone assembled for the RD briefing.  Facilitated by step ladder elevation.  Kicked off with thanks to the volunteers.  A warning that in the event of a storm, the team reserved the right to cancel even if the parkrun was underway.   Shout outs for visitors and milestoners – one of which is pictured, usual notices.  A gentle reminder that this is a tough parkrun, it’s ok to walk or even grind to a halt if you need to.  Plus some cow corraling hints and tips.  Most educational parkrun, particularly if you do a bit of touristing.  Did you know Beverley’s founding saint was John of Beverley?  I don’t suppose you did, I didn’t learn this until a good half way through the second lap myself!

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A reminder it isn’t a fast course and of cow moving techniques.  Though there are cow marshals out on the course to assist.  Like this:

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Not really, they are like this!

🙂

We were asked not to have any accidents if possible as some of team are still being trained up.  Sounds reasonable.

Briefing concluded, timers ready?  Gladiators ready? parkrunners ready?  Ready, steady GO!!!!

And off parkrunners ran, walked and jogged, cheered on by directionally pointing marshals and with a bovine guard of honour to keep us all on track as like a string of bunting, parkrunners flew over the brow of the hill!

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and you know what, I think it may have eased off with the rain a bit too.  The weather is always fabulous at parkrun or you get, to run for free – every time!

So you head off, and it is indeed a big loop round the pastures.  It is ‘all grass’ but it was nice grass, by which I mean not horrid, exposed sports field traumatic grass, but lovely hillocky, romping through country estate sort of tussocky grass.  The course was well marked and marshalled.  The terrain is pretty open, so you get to see faster runners looping ahead of you.  Cones and flags are used to assist with cornering, and enthusiastic marshals prevent corner cutting and shoo off cattle in between calling out encouraging cheers.  Serious multi-taskers had been recruited to take on these marshalling roles.  It looked quite energetic at times.

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There really are a great many cows.  They didn’t seem unduly bothered by the parkrun, and moved on when requested to do so by politely persistent marshals.  I tried to get some beautifully framed cows with parkrunner shots.  I meant well, you have to respect my intentions were good.  Plus remember dear reader, comedic value trumps quality on occasion, that’s the rule!  That cavorting cow – the pale one, it’s in post-shoo frolics.  They are quite surprisingly light on their feet it seems.  My favourite was the one with the panda black eyes and black nose.  Awww.  Did I tell you the story about the 4 year old or so at Graves junior parkrun, who seeing similarly marked sheep in the animal park they pass through en route, insisted they were baby pandas!  How wonderful, to exist in a world where you get to see baby pandas at parkrun, but having said that, getting this close to cavorting cows is pretty fabulous too!  And when you are four, or thereabouts, I suppose seeing a panda en route is no more remarkable than seeing an alpaca or a chicken or even a donkey, and they are all there for the gawping too.  Poor things.

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So you speed round the corner, or if you are me, drag your weary carcass.  I got distracted by taking lots of photos, and doubling back to try and get some new angles, and slowly but surely, found myself filtering further and further back, til I was in sight of the tail walkers, and then I wanted to get some shots of them, so I waited, and then I ran on a bit, it was all stop start.  Then I realised after a bit it wasn’t actually raining any more, but I was drenched from within by the extreme inner clamminess of my jacket.  I was way too hot, it was nigh on tropical in there, not good.  I really don’t know why I put it on in the first place, it was never going to end well as I was soaked long before the start.

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Still, the landscape was lovely, there’s a bit of an uphill, as you swerve away from the fast food van parked on the road straight ahead of you – and then you are rewarded with the site of a great tower, which was once a windmill.  It’s quite a landmark, so that required a lot of photographing too.

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Busy, busy, busy.

So you loop the loop round the old windmill, and then it’s a homeward straight, under an avenue of trees, alongside the road through the pastures, trying not to be too distracted by the vista to your right, that’s some cathedral they’ve got going there! Actually, correction, it’s not a cathedral, although it is a minster.  Beverley Minster accordingtowikipediasoitmustbetrue is apparently:

one of the largest parish churches in the UK, larger than one-third of all English cathedrals and regarded as a gothic masterpiece by many.

Whatever, I thought it was quite splendid anyhow.  Also, given how overcast it had been earlier, the views were extraordinarily clear.  Faster runners started lapping me, so I paused to watch a few of them pass by.

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I was rewarded for my tardiness by seeing a particularly fine demonstration of cow shooing in action.  A veritable five star class.  Loving your work hi-vis cow marshal.  If that doesn’t merit it’s own running challenge badge I don’t know what does?  The ‘other’ icon surely, as an absolute minimum?

Well, I say she was cow-shooing, and that’s definitely what I thought at the time.  But the photos make it look like either she was doing some impromptu (and to be honest, not particularly well executed) thai chi moves, or alternatively striding out water divining.  If the latter, I can’t quite decide if she was doing spectacularly well or spectacularly badly.  I mean, water water everywhere after all … I’ll never really know.  A bit of mystery is good though isn’t it.  Life should be full of unknowns as well as surprises.  Unless of course she was auditioning for a zombie film, arms outstretched in front of her, staggering off across uneven terrain?  Yep, that seems the most likely on reflection.  Probably that.  Glad that’s been sorted.  Those marshals who have completed the cow-shooing training would be shoo-ins (see what I did there) for supporting artistes on Zombie apocalypse films, they’ve nailed the stumbling along techniques.  Original steady paced zombies, not the faster than light ones that are currently in vogue, though having said that, I bet some of them can really shift too, so all ends of the zombie continuum are catered for.  Excellent.

zombie

So down you go, and the finish funnel is in sight, but only for people who’ve already completed both laps.  I could still record a few finishers coming through though. It’s such a great sight, a cheery parkrun finish funnel.  I mean just look at these lovely happy, smiley, welcoming faces, and they can all be your new best friends in that moment!

BW fab finish funnel

Check out the funnel-ducker defying security fencing being employed here.  This crew means business.   Respect!

So here are the speedier than me’s coming through.  The ones with the real stamina are those marshals though, still smiling and clapping:

Here was also a photo swapping opportunity.  See what we’ve done here!  Genius.

So I went past the funnel, despite the siren call of a distant cow bell and the lure of the homeward welcome, and round the loop at the bottom and out again for round two.  Ding ding!

By now, most other runners were way ahead and out of sight, so it was a more sedate second lap.  I tried to get shots I’d missed on the first time round, and ended up in what I hope was a mutually companionable power walk with my new best friend who was a Beverly Westwood local and second time parkrunner.  It was ace, because I got to learn about the Pasture master and the common ground, and St John, and the racecourse and the windmill and all sorts.  Like I said parkrun can be most educational! Thank you impromptu tour guide, much appreciated!  🙂

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Marshals dismantled the course behind us as we came in, but not before they’d cheered us on and pointed out newly deposited cow pats that I like to think had been presented in our honour.

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And then, before you know it, the parkrun adventure is about to conclude.  We ran together through the finish.

BW my new best friend

Cheered in by a fair old crowd, which was particularly impressive given the prevailing weather.  Even if it had brightened up a bit by then, we still all basically felt like we’d been ducked or dunked or otherwise fully immersed in liquid and spun round for the last hour or so!

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I had my barcode wrist band thingy, so no sooner had  I located a scanner, I was all scanned present and correct.  Job done.  Hurrah!  Now we are all au fait with #dfyb, it’s second nature.  Hard to remember there was a time when barcodes seemed but a far fetched futuristic fantasy.  That was when tank tops were quite in vogue and loud kipper ties too as I recall, though to be fair, in an ironic time warping twist, that seems far fetched fantasy too from this distance, so who knows.

barcodes.png

The volunteers were coming in behind, laden with the detritus of a comprehensively set out course.  Cones and flags and signs a-plenty.

And that was that, parkrun wise.  All over but the shouting.  Or more accurately in this case, the course shut down, blood caffeine stabilising and results processing, which amounts to the same thing.

Many adjourned to the Woolpack pub, I did too, and it was friendly and they did coffee for £1.80 and parkrun breakfasts of basically sausage or bacon rolls – but no veggie option alas.  Though the Woolpack has only been open under new ownership for a couple of weeks, so I think that may well change.  They said they do offer vegetarian sausages at lunch time, so I suppose it’s a work in progress.  They were friendly and welcoming though. I got a coffee anyway, because I felt I should support the business really, plenty were breakfasting, some sitting outside and the results processing HQ is here too I think.

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It definitely is.  Check out these pics lifted I’ve shared from their photo posts of the results processing team in action.  Nice candle display they have going on there.  Creating anagrams can be such fun!

I took my coffee and headed off for an explore and ended up in step with one of the volunteers who by coincidence works in Sheffield part the week.  (Cheery wave coming right atya if you’re reading).  I made my way to another possible gathering spot, near the long stay carpark – The Windmill.  Other parkrunners were there but it was dark and not really enough space to join them plus also lamentably poor veggie choices, so I abandoned the breakfast idea, deciding not to linger longer.  I reckoned my surplus body fat* would probably see me through ’til I got home.  *Spoiler alert, it did. Also, the novelty of being soaked through to my knickers was definitely wearing off, and the slurry seeping from my saturated backpack into my purple tee was making its presence felt!  Time to say goodbye…

I was homeward bound.  And hail and rain beat on the windscreen for the drive back to Sheffield.  How we managed to have most of our run in relative balmy dryness I have absolutely no idea!

So thank you parkrunners all who made Beverley Westwood fun-filled and fabulous.  I can’t believe you are but three runs old!  Definitely already punching above your weight.  One of my favourite courses bizarrely, I think the cows add a certain charm, the views are stunning, the locals friendly.  Throw in some pre-run toilet facilities, and I do declare that’s all boxes ticked.  Yay!  If the weather had been kinder it would have been well worth a day trip, I bailed I’m afraid, but perhaps I’ll return, places to go people to see, new horizons to be explored.  So it seems that when you go west, the skies aren’t necessarily blue, but it was definitely delightful in the open air, and the elements just made it more memorable.  Everybody knows running in the rain just proves you to be hardcore, and as for those who marshal in the rain?  Well they are the stuff of legend!

hardcore runners

Thank you high vis heroes, you were ace.  parkrun volunteers are indeed a whizz in hi-viz! I hope you have all managed to dry out by now and are being as cossetted and kept warm as your hi-vis attire!  Beverley Westwood Laundrette had a conveyor belt of washing and drying services in operation all afternoon if the picture is anything to go by.  Above and beyond I say.  Bravo indeed!

Beverley Westwood parkrun laundry mart

Oh, and if you want to check out the accuracy of my account by being a bit more robust in your research into this fine event then I offer you this link by way of triangulation.  Their run report for Beverley Westwood parkrun #3 offers another perspective.  Go on, do it.  It’s all about the milestones!

Incidentally,  if you want to prolong your parkrun fix, you can read all my parkrun related posts here.  Or not.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.

and finally, before I go, can I just share this?

just because

Why?

Just because, sometimes there doesn’t need to be a why.

You’re welcome.

🙂

Happy parkrunning people, share the parkrun love.

By the way, I have discovered this fab website for bulk resizing photos (so they don’t use up all your memory, well not your actual memory, your digital memory) and for adding a batch watermark.  Free and glitch free. Cool eh?

 

Categories: 5km, parkrun | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Battling the Bluster round Bakewell, milestones aplenty at Bakewell parkrun

Digested read: I was a blow in at Bakewell parkrun today.  Hurrah.  It was very nice, thank you for asking. There were lots of milestones and therefore running plus cake. What’s not to like?  #loveparkrun

Undigested read:

Well Erik was irksome.

There were overnight gusts and gales forecast, but I was still quite aghast at just how many parkruns were cancelled the night before and on parkrun morning evening.  Still, not worth messing with Erik, you aren’t going to come off best.  Trees were down all over the place and wayward branches cracking and falling at will, tossed over parkrun courses everywhere, of course there were cancellations.  I don’t know why I was so surprised, since I can further report that my own weather analysis included being woken up in my attic bedroom in the small hours by what sounded like a wind-themed Armageddon going on outside.  That was dramatic.  Once I’d surrendered to the fact that any more slumber would be impossible with all that commotion going on outside and got up to go to the loo and look out the window, I bore witness to my wheelie bins tossed around the garden. Oh ok then, Storm Erik meant business.  Even so, there were really a lot of parkrun cancellations.  Sad for some, especially as snow and ice caused many to be called off last week too.

At least one parkrun was cancelled because of polar bears on the course, that’s right actual polar bears.  FACT.   It was Bradford parkrun, I like them, they have initiative.  They worked hard to keep the event on, even attempting to coral the polar bears into being marshals apparently, but it didn’t work out.  It’s important to remember being a hi-vis hero is a voluntary role, once mammals are compelled to do it, it just doesn’t happen in the same joyful way.    Good effort though, I’m going to try to visit you soon I think… might wait for the polar bears and low flying squirrels to move on by though.

bradford parkrun polar bears

I got lucky though.  Last week I was at Bushy parkrun which went ahead just fine – more than fine absolutely fabulous in fact – and this week, I had already planned to go to Bakewell parkrun, milestones a-plenty being marked there, so celebrations, Smiley comrades, Vegan friends oh yes and celebratory cake.  Would that be on?  Hmmm.  *Spoiler alert* yes it was!  I got lucky two parkruns on the trot. Hooray!

The cancellation list is sad, but also entertaining for how core teams choose to record their reasons for cancellations. Alongside the ‘usual’ gusts, flooding, trees obscuring the course, today Bradford parkrun reported, accurately I’m sure based on my own observations, as follows:

Bradford parkrun: Apocalypse in the park, low flying squirrels

It’s a shame they had to cancel, but I’m sure it will be a huge consolation to them all that I have chuckled at their cancellation entries on the parkrun cancellations listings.  Bradford parkrun communications officer, your talents are noted and appreciated, by me at least.

Some impressive cancellation photos doing the rounds though – check out Somerdale Pavilion parkrun course conditions, less parkrun more aquaplaning.  Didn’t happen though, can’t blame them.

Somerdale pavilion parkrun cancellation

Astonishingly, Haigh Woodland parkun went ahead despite a few hurdling/trip hazards!

haigh woodland parkrun trip hazards

Ormskirk parkrun published and shared its cancellation protocol for RDs to refer to in the event of high winds.  Most public spirited, and most enlightening too.

Ormskirk cancellation protocol

But back to Bakewell.  That was expecting to go ahead, but had to get there first though.  Oh my, they weren’t lying when they said on the news it was gusty out!  Fortunately it was mild outside my house, but whoa, hang on a minute, I could barely stand up.  I had a literal wobble in the wind, and then a metaphorical one as I wondered if it would be safe to drive.  I decided to start off and see, I’m quite high up, so if there was a problem it would be obvious and I could abandon my trip.  Off I went.  So many branches down everywhere, but the car chugged along fine as we headed out of Sheffield, once we got towards Longshaw though and the roads were more exposed it was like driving through the end of the world.  No wonder they shut the car parks at Longshaw first thing.  There was loads of debris was being tossed around and I could feel the car being buffeted about as I drove with incredible caution towards Froggart.  Fortunately, the cars behind me were being similarly careful and keeping a respectful distance, but I don’t think I’ve ever been blown around so much in a car, wouldn’t have wanted to be doing that in a high sided vehicle.

Easy run out, and I managed to park up in the free section of the Hassop station car park, coincidentally right by Smiley Selfie queen who’d rocked up for some parkrun tourism and to mark the milestones of friends various too.   I got out of the car for long enough to say hello, and establish it was blooming freezing there, and wet, with little shards of rain bearing down on me. That wasn’t expected. I’d only put my running jacket in as an afterthought.  I got back in the car for a bit, and then got out again for pre-parkrun precautionary pee and general hello saying – which took a while as a fair few familiar faces were rocking up as the start time approached.

Selfie time:

My expression on the left is because I’m cold by the way, not because that’s my intended running strategy to supplement the support offered by my current sports bra. Yep, still sporting the Juno.  I do like it more than any of my other sports bras, but I’m sure there must be one out there that is as comfortable and offers sufficient support.  My expression on the right is because it was taken within the warm confines of the roasty toasty cafe – which is open pre parkrun for comfort breaks and probably coffee too, if you don’t fancy hanging out in the wind and rain on the Monsal trail yourself of a Saturday morning (hard to imagine many would fall into that category though, with all the parkrun love being bandied around 🙂 ).

We were lucky, Bakewell was most definitely going ahead.  Hooray!  There were plenty of last-minute cancellations elsewhere, which is understandable – that happened at Graves junior parkrun once, had to cancel at about 8.50 because a branch fell down on the course just as the runners were arriving.  Not worth the risk. However, the element of surprise cancellations did seem to trigger plenty of micro-adventures around the country as parkrun plans were scratched and back up plans implemented. Some social heroics though, parkrun tourists heading to Graves this morning staying in a nearby Airbnb arrived at 8.40 to find it cancelled, but were scooped up and deposited at Castle by friendly Sheffield parkrun locals. Trust is a funny thing isn’t it, of course you’d assume an abduction by a fellow parkrunner to be benign, just a new adventure #loveparkrun!  Well done parkrun explorers.

parkrun tourist team work

Back to Bakewell.  We were assembled, parkrun was on.  Yay!

For your information Whangarei parkrun in New Zealand went ahead too, although they had ‘nice weather for ducks’ it was their 160th event, and loads of them were wearing shorts out and about on the parkrun course too, so draw your own conclusions about how they define inclement weather.  I have a soft spot for this parkrun though, because they have in the rather brilliantly, and showing initiative as well as dedication, run an extra parkrun at a time to coincide with it being run in the UK. Whangarei parkrun ran an unofficial parkrun at 9pm New Zealand time to mark international parkrun day in October 2017.  Everyone needs to be reminded of/ know about that!  So hello nice Whangarei people and high fives to your high vis heroes!  Happy Third Birthday Whangarei parkrun for next Saturday 16th Feb 2019, I’m sure you’ll party on with parkrun style!

whangarei volunteers

So Bakewell parkrun was going ahead.  That was good, obvs.  But the weather, aaaargh.  How did it get to be so cold and wet when it was all mild in Sheffield when I poked my arm out the upstairs window to do the temperature check first thing?  Me and Smiley Selfie Queen and her escort ventured to the start line.  Where we greeted by the sight of a cheery run director, wearing shorts!  What was that about?  I didn’t know whether to be impressed of horrified, in truth, I was both.  He said he is doing XC tomorrow so trying to acclimatize, fair do’s, but seemed high risk to me.  I went through a similar mental battle deciding when to leave the sanctuary of the Hassop Station cafe, head out into the cold early by way of transition, or hang on in there ’til the last moment. Tough call.

Here is the cosy interior of the Hassop Station cafe viewed from outside (thank you Denise Burden for sharing your photos, from which I’ve borrowed freely):

DB hassop cafe

and here is the cheery run director, sporting his above the knee number in the service of XC acclimatization.  I respect his position on this matter, but will not emulate.  Just to be clear.

shorts seriously shorts

The cheery run director did the first timers’ briefing.  I think we can all agree the body language in the photo from the briefees, betrays that it was most decidedly nippy out, whatever the misleadingly bright sky overhead may deceive you into believing.  Mind you, a lot of these people are sporting shorts, running briefs if you like, maybe that’s why it was called the first timers’ briefing?:

DP run briefing

I wasn’t a first timer, so went for a power walk up and down the Monsal Trail a little way to keep warm and check out the wind conditions.  To be fair, the RD did assure us that he’d sorted out the wind to guarantee it would be behind us all the way out and then helpfully reverse and be pushing us from behind all the way back too or we’d get a full refund.  It is true there was wind all around us, but not noticeably helping progress, more like whipping us up into a swirling vortex of arctic blasts.  Oh well, at least it made parkrun a micro adventure all over again, so that’s good, and the seals felt quite at home in the freezing conditions.  Smiletastic challenge people, if you don’t know, best not to ask, just enjoy speculating as to why else was this synchronised seal basking necessary post parkrun.  Has to be a Smiley Paces winter running challenge really doesn’t it?  Even if this photo isn’t really capturing the running part of the challenge, it’s getting the collective team effort bit… for better or worse!  Their likeness to actual basking seals is uncanny!  The Smiley Paces people are in the picture on the left… oh, or is it the one on the right?  One or the other though, just for clarity…

Oh hang on, you might want to know about the course.  So the Bakewell parkrun course blah de blah, describes the course as follows:

Out and back course on the Monsal Trail. Start and finish are in the same place by Hassop Station

Which is basically all you can really say about it!

It looks like this:

You really aren’t going to get lost on this course unless you set off facing the wrong way.  I just couldn’t comment as to whether or not that’s ever happened. I  have myself started a parkrun facing the wrong way before now, so it’s not inconceivable, though it may not be on record, those people could still be running now for all I know.   …. Assuming you do head off in the right direction, then cheery marshals spin you round at the turn around the point 2.5 km up the repurposed railway path.  So that’s good.  Fret not.  This parkrun has it all. Coffee and loos pre-start, easily navigable flat course, and parking.  Some free if you get there early.  What else do you need to know?  Friendly marshals and parkrun love in abundance are givens, surely?

Where was I.  Oh yes, power walk, meeting and greeting of various people as they assembled for their fiftieth runs,

not a day over 49

two hundredth run and every possible variant forward and aft of those.  At first I thought this parkrun was going to be thinly attended, but of course people were lurking in warm corners or in their cars and emerged on a just in time basis, like the most finely tuned and responsive of logistic firms, to hear the pre-run briefing

and sprint off at ‘go’!

DB start line

OK. So that picture was obviously before they set off.  Plenty of bare legs though, no wonder they are jostling to be in the front, want this pesky parkrun in the cold over and done with as soon as possible so they can get back in the warm I’m sure.  The next photos do show some parkrunners, properly underway, charging through one of the fab tunnels that adorn the Monsal trail.  I love tunnel running, but been through that already (see what I did there?  Gawd I’m hilarious sometimes, love a good pun, and so what if I laugh at my own jokes, at least someone is thereby entertained).

I started in the middle of the pack as I think it is only sporting to give other runners a target to overtake, and most did take the bait to be fair.  Oh well, lucky I don’t do parkrun to get a pb.  It isn’t the widest of paths, so it was a little crowded at the get go, but it’s all very good-natured, and you soon spread out.  It was social, I liked eavesdropping on odds and ends of conversations, and this was my favourite pooch for today, in case you are interested.

DP cute dog

it headed out at a fair old lick, despite only having erm, well let’s be honest, short legs.  Whizzed by me with abandon. Then, seconds later, stopped a la Paula Radcliffe for an emergency poo, unlike Paula, this pooch had an attendant on hand to poo pick, so that was good, and then it trotted on again, by the time it got to the turn around point it seemed to be slightly regretting the early turn of speed, and had a strategic walk for a bit before picking up the pace again.  I empathised more than I probably should, I mean, I have short legs, and have also been known to regret heading off too fast … though I didn’t need a poo stop, my toileting habits having been impeccably timed for parkrun purposes, thank you for your interest!

I’m a slow runner I know, but one advantage of doing an out and back route, is you get to enjoy the spectacle of speedy runners charging home and to high-five and cheer your mates as they pass you by in the opposite direction, so I try to see this as a good thing rather than a mind game. Depends on your mood obviously.  Today, Bakewell parkrun had a photographer to capture people on the way back, right near the finish, so here are some of those who I got to exchange greetings with as they hurried homewards.

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So the vegan runners celebrating their fiftieths (and not looking a day over 49 as they did so) were amongst those charging round with abandon. Looks like they might have fallen for that old gag about ‘it’s a two lap course’ though, as one at least of them passed me again as I was coming in and they were heading out again.  That guy on the left with his hand over his mouth – see him?  He’s definitely in on the joke, think he’s trying to suppress a chortle there for sure!

DP fell for the its two laps gag

She still finished her 10km in the time it took me to do 5km apparently. Oh well, I don’t mind, those vegans had splendid cake.  So splendid, that I had to fight hard the urge just to face plant into once it came within my reach.  And you should have seen their bat-themed napkins. Epic!  If only I’d had my camera with me I’d have taken a photo…

Anyway, I trotted along, I was so far back it was quite spread out, and running along the trail was quite meditative.  Although it was cold in the wind, the rain stopped, and shhh, don’t tell, but I actually got too hot running, I think it helps that my jacket is pretty wind proof.  I got a bit put off the Monsal Trail because I ran it endlessly for marathon training last year (no need to splutter out your tea, I didn’t say I ran it fast, only that I did it, not impossibly apparently, unlikely yes, but not actually impossible for me to do the London marathon it seems) .  It was quite nice to be back on it today, the surface is so level you can run very rhythmically, and it’s been a while since I’ve had such an even and consistent run.  Maybe I need to start bringing it back into my training, just to get the continuous running in without bailing every time there is any elevation – which is basically all the time in Sheffield.  Even so, quite nice to see the finish, and supportive friends to cheer me in.

DP end in sight

Job done, barcode scanned, thanks said.  Celebratory parkrun milestone biscuit eaten. I actually ate mine before photographing it, but here is someone else’s biscuit, who showed more restraint and had the foresight to capture a snap of it first!  And a tray made earlier. Nice!

Impressive aren’t they?

Next stop, fleece retrieval from car, and cafe.  There I got a parkrun breakfast for a fiver. This is pretty good value, a granary or white bap with sausage/ veggie sausage and optional egg plus a filter coffee or tea.  In the circumstances we can perhaps overlook that their sign proclaims Park Run breakfast offer … who is going to pluck up the courage to tell them #aowalc – All one word, all lower case?  You go right ahead, I’ll be just behind you, holding your bap.  You’re welcome.

I was a bit torn because there were just too many people to socialise with.  I played my hand strategically, joining the bicentenary celebrants first as I munched down my veggie sausage bap, and then adjourning in time for the vegan half century shenanigans.  They were so buoyed up by success they were contemplating undertaking a duathlon next, but I don’t honestly think they’ve properly understood the rules. I mean having a pacer is one thing, but I’m not sure a rickshaw would make it under the radar.  I didn’t say anything, didn’t want to take away from their celebrations:

duathlon next

Obviously I did a bit of nonchalant circling around the offerings feigning indifference to begin with until I saw my chance…

great vegan bake off

Well, I didn’t want to seem over keen, and it was only fair to let the vegang have fist dibs!  Didn’t take long for me to make my move though.  I undertook some fairly lightweight expert photography duties to capture the speedy seals as above, which you have to concede I did with considerable excellence, so maybe that was some sort of exchange.  Hospitable lot the vegan runners though… I think their generosity was unconditional.  It is true though, on reflection, it does rather look as if that small child is just carrying out a citizen’s arrest on all those seals and putting them in handcuffs.  Not sure what the implications of that are exactly… best move on.

Plus, I think they had seriously over catered!  It was basically like their very own vegan bake off.  Seriously sweet delights on offer.  Yum!  Thank you bakers, very impressive, very impressive indeed.  I had the Victoria sponge.  No, not all of it, but a hefty chunk.  An excellent choice.

So all in all, a very fine, and celebratory parkrun morning.  The fifty celebrants were rightly chuffed by their milestone, and as I said to them, assuming bicentennial woman now ceases parkrunning henceforth, in a little over three years, as long as they don’t miss a week, they’ll have caught up with her too!  Very impressive. Well done all.

It was hard to tear myself away from the bonhomie and squishy chairs, but inevitably that time came when we needed to all go our separate ways.  Quick shout out for the cafe’s outside area though, it has an undercover space with sofas and play houses and all sorts, just right for bringing your own cake and pop up party!

DP squishy chairs

Special thanks to the Bakewell parkrun hi-vis heroes who made it so.  You are awesome.  It was a blast at Bakewell, the arctic blast bit wasn’t the best but the fun blast was epic.  Thank you!

Time to go home, but it was a very jolly parkrun morning, and a bonus that we’d landed on one that went ahead.  The gusts died down, the sun came out, and I was rewarded with clear and spectacular views, and no scary being blown off the road fright moments on the drive home.  I do like happy endings.

Hope you made your parkrun too.  🙂

Happy parkrunning wherever you go, just #dfyb

dfyb

For all my parkrun related posts click here.  Or don’t.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.  Bit of a time vampire, if you do, you might be stuck on the sofa for a while, ‘just researching options’.  Hmm.

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International parkrun day – teenage kicks at Sheffield Hallam parkrun October 2017

Digested read:  7th October 2017 was parkrun’s thirteenth birthday and International parkrun day.  Yay!  I had a balloon.  I lost my balloon.  I still had fun though.  Did you know 2.5 million individuals have taken part in parkrun now. Are you one of them?  Isn’t that grand! Happy running til next parkrunday.

Hindsight is always a wonderful thing.  I mean, I’m the first to admit that retrospectively I probably should have thought to undertake a more comprehensive risk assessment before turning up at Endcliffe Park to run Sheffield Hallam parkrun whilst in possession of a balloon, but I simply failed to anticipate the garrotting potential of a helium balloon’s string amidst a stampede of runners. Guilty as charged. Hey ho, as it happens, catastrophe was averted, but let’s just say I’m not running with a balloon again any time soon. It’s way harder than you think, and also far too much responsibility for someone with an aversion for being responsible for anything at all really, well not if it can reasonably be avoided.

Last Saturday, in case you haven’t been concentrating on parkrun history, and care not if it ever comes up as a question at a future pub quiz, was International parkrun day.  The date being the occasion of the thirteenth birthday of the original parkrun (which was actually a time trial apparently, but let’s not quibble).  The reason why the thirteenth anniversary is particularly worthy of note, is because when the event started on 2 October 2004 there were just 13 runners taking part in the inaugural event.  Hence the significance. See what they’ve done there?  I know, smart people in the parkrun core team, creative and cunning too!  Genius.

 

Thus it was determined by I know not what process, that the start of parkrun’s teenage years should be especially celebrated and International parkun day was thus to be particularly well marked.  We’ve had International parkrun day for a while now I think, but this is the first time I’ve been quite so aware of it as a ‘thing’, re-launch if you will.  Hurrah!  It’s only a matter of time before it becomes an official holiday worldwide.  Surely?

Starting a new international day of celebration isn’t an entirely easy thing to do.  Individual parkruns did their own thing.  From a continuum of absolutely nothing, to full on champagne and prize giving.  That would be Bushy park parkrun – the epicentre of all things parkrun being its ground zero.  Imagine, there was a time before parkrun?  I can hardly imagine it.  There was a general push to get as many people as possible to wear apricot by way of celebration.  I did consider this, but apricot isn’t really my colour, well it’s orange really isn’t it and anyway I couldn’t get a personalised top with my event name on it in time.  I will get one eventually, as I think it’s not much to ask of runners to support parkrun by doing so.  Plus, purchasing an apricot top could likely become a way to cross-subsidise the milestone tees.  Here’s hoping.  Rather brilliantly, and showing initiative as well as dedication, a New Zealand parkrun did an extra parkrun at a time to coincide with it being run in the UK. Whangarei parkrun ran an unofficial parkrun at 9pm New Zealand time – solidarity across the world indeed.  Isn’t that grand.  Special wave and shout out to them, and let’s all go visit as soon as we can.  En masse would be grand, but quite logistically challenging, so we’ll just have to make the trek in dribs and drabs for now, and spread the international joy incrementally.   Whitby parkrun get the prize for ingenious apricot top dissemination though.  Bushy parkrun possibly (maybe inevitably) get the prize for literal numbers sporting apricot in a veritable sea of colour – or should that be more accurately a puree of apricot.  Not sure….

 

 

Anyways, I was thinking we ought to do something at Sheffield Hallam parkrun, though this appeared not to meet with universal enthusiasm.  The official line was ‘not really anything, but there might be a surprise and wear apricot if you can’.  Oh well, undeterred, I decided I might at least try to make my own entertainment.  You live and learn.  What to do though? What to do?

In the end, I decided against unilateral fancy dress, and thought I’d go for the more minimal but symbolic helium balloon purchase. Turns out, even getting a balloon is harder than you think.  I realised I had no idea where you go to get such a thing, and then when I did find somewhere, realised that apparently 13 year olds are considered too old to want a balloon with a number thirteen on it, as the numbered balloons only go up to ten.  I could potentially have gone for the two balloons in metallic individual numerals, but that was a bit top end of my budget for what was essentially a desperate whim.  Undeterred, I thought I’d go for a simple ‘happy birthday’ offering.  ‘Boy or girl?’ enquired the guy at the fancy dress shop.  Boy or girl?  Blimey, is this what parents have to go through every time they buy anything.  Is even a balloon purchase gendered?   I have no idea what gender parkrun is, but as an inclusive event, my feeling is it should be gender neutral. Well, that narrowed it down.  But I liked my balloon anyway.  Plus it came in a bag so it wouldn’t float away or require me to spoil the impact by carrying it floating above me on its string all the way home.  I also made an impulse buy of some little party hats, because who doesn’t like a party hat? A way to spread the joy of celebration surely!  (I’m so naive.)

Happy Birthday to me

So International parkrun day dawned.  To be fair, you couldn’t really tell it was International parkrun day on waking, nothing on the news which was a bit disappointing, but then again, those in the know, know, that’s the main thing. Incomprehensible as it is to some of us that there are still people out there who know not of parkrun or worse yet, do, but just don’t actually care.  I was reminded of visiting a good friend of mine in Warrington some years ago. Brilliantly, she had coached her offspring to look forward to seeing me, and when I appeared at the school gate with her to pick up one of said children, she took my hand, gazed up at me and explained with genuine confusion ‘do you know, when I told my friends at school that you were coming to visit today, not one of them knew!’  She was perplexed and horrified in equal measure.  I was naturally massively flattered and impressed.  I explained to her that due to my celebrity status, I had to keep my travel plans under wraps to avoid being mobbed  – she was very special and therefore in the know… I don’t think I’ll ever experience someone being so delighted to see me ever again, but no-one can take that moment away from me. What a marvelous and well brought up child she was! (and is, but also sadly older, wiser and less easily impressed now.)

Securing a balloon about your person as a prelude to running with it is actually quite hard. The balloon drags behind you, and where to tie the string?  In the end I secured one end of it in the back pocket of my running tights (hand free option you see) and then secured it a bit more with a safety-pin on the string attaching it to my top.  I thought that way I’d keep it under control. Epic fail.  The walk down to Endcliffe park was something of a challenge.  It’s hard to look nonchalant with a balloon attached to you just as it is hard to look nonchalent wearing deely boppers for say a Halloween themed parkrun of previous years.  I was conscious of getting a few smiles from people believing it to be my birthday, and I felt a bit fraudulent accepting their well-meant greetings, but you can hardly expect to cross the road and chase after a random pedestrian in order to explain it isn’t your birthday it’s for parkrun without them taking fright and running away it seems.  I felt for those other street walkers at this hour.  They must have felt they had stumbled on a peculiar subset of the local population as they went about their business.  I wasn’t the only unusual sighting.  I also encountered a woman walking along with a bowl of cereal and a dog.  The dog was company, the cereal was breakfast. This I find curious.  There is nothing unremarkable about taking toast, or even a mug of tea or other breakfast beverage of your choosing as you head out of a morning, but a bowl of cereal with the spoon and everything I thought quite ambitious for a morning constitutional. Fair play to her.  Wouldn’t try it myself, but then I’m more of a porridge woman. That comes out of the microwave piping hot. Dangerous…. Each to their own.

I made it to the parkrun assembly point, a little early, as I’d heard talk of flags.  A fellow parkrunner was trying to get 13 runner of 13 different nationalities to each run with their flag to communicate the international inclusivtiy of parkrun.  Couldn’t see them. Oh.  Never mind, I set about trying to offload distribute my party hats.  You have no idea how hard it was. Also, how easy I am to say ‘no’ to. Outright and unapologetic rejection followed rejection.  I think I made the rookie error of implying the offering was negotiable.  If I’d presented them as gifts, people might have felt mean-spirited to refuse.  I got a goldfish that way. Back in the day when you won them at fairs – something of which I do not approve.  A house-sharer of mine won one, but didn’t want it. He knocked on the bedroom door of our first fellow sharer and when she answered asked ‘do you want a gold fish?’ to which she responded (not unreasonably) ‘No.  Why would I want a goldfish?  *&%$ off!‘ and shut her door.  Learning from this response he then knocked on the next door which was mine ‘I’ve got you a goldfish‘ he said, handing it over.  ‘Thank you‘ I said, taking it.  Because that’s only polite, even though I was thinking in my head exactly as my first house mate had done.  Talk about a white elephant. Cost me a fortune that goldfish, I felt bad for her, so had to buy a tank, and a  filter, an aeration pump – even a companion. She lived for years. She was called Calamity, which is an excellent name for a goldfish I’m sure you’ll agree.  I don’t have a photo of her unfortunately, you’ll just have to imagine what she looked like.

 

 

I kept one party hat for myself, and disseminated the rest as best I could… I couldn’t help noticing that even some of those hat that I thought I’d succesfully ‘gifted’ were almost immediately palmed off elsewhere.  Oh well, I suppose not everyone can carry off a hat with panache and glory.  Fortunately, some can!  Party on people.  Great hat sporting going on with you – you know who you are…

 

 

 

I took brief joy in spotting another balloon wielding runner.  Yay.  Top marks for excellent balloon choice, but it seemed the balloon was for milestone celebration purposes.  Oh well, it was still most festive, and a fine colour co-ordinated choice to complement if not quite match the apricot tee too, so credit where credit was due.  Also, this particular runner has perfected the art of balloon running (yes it is a ‘thing’ and if I had my way it would be a recognised sport too, like parkour increasingly is perhaps, only marginally less dangerous – unless you inhale the helium, which you really, really shouldn’t).  If only I’d appreciated there was this level of expertise available to talk through balloon running techniques I maybe wouldn’t have got into such difficulties myself.  Oh well, too late now…  Worth noting for future reference though, one of the great joys of parkrun is the breadth of the network you build amongst fellow parkrunners.  I reckon there is expertise on just about every topic under the sun within the Sheffield Hallam parkrun field.  I’m not quite sure what my particular area of expertise is just yet, but perhaps it will emerge over time, given the right sort of nurturing and positive reinforcement.  Also, given the benefit of the doubt…

 

 

So people assembled. Some did their active wear warm ups – why don’t more people wear sweat bands these days? … others saluted the glory of the event in their own way, or offered up a little prayer of gratitude.  Lovely.

 

 

One things for certain, everyone was having heaps of fun, eager with anticipation for the great awf to come!

are we having fun yet

I love the random milling bit at parkrun.  What a fine and eclectic lot we all are.  It would be great to do a pen portrait of every participant on a particular day, I bet every one of us has a story of sorts that brought us there…

 

 

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Many had dressed up for the occasion, as well as sporting apricot, so that was excellent.  You have to appreciate it when people make an effort.  Again, good attention to detail with the colour co-ordination there.  Any colour-me-beautiful consultant would be well chuffed.  No personal make over services required here, no indeedy!

apricot effort

There was the first timers’ briefing, and then the run director led a rousing chorus of The Hokey Cokey before getting on with the main business of the day.

 

 

The run briefing did include a small element of ‘this is what you could have won’ as we learned we were to have had the co-op with us as they are a new sponsor of parkrun, but their presence was blocked by some local by-law or other, presumably one against co-operation with others?  We also learned we were going to have lots of international flags, but that wasn’t possible but, there would be a special appearance of the Belize flag later on to look out for.  It was however the thought that counts, so that idea was applauded. Then there was a shout out for someone getting married later.  Not just anyone, I expect lots of people get married on a Saturday, but a parkrunner present.  They were from Leamington.  At least I thought that was what was said.  I also rather jumped to the conclusion that the tutus were for the wedding party to save them all from having to get changed later on. Well, it would be tight getting to the registry office or church or whatever straight from parkrun. In fact, I think I might have got that all wrong, because at one point I did shout ‘go Leamington‘ at this trio of runners, and they just looked utterly perplexed.  I have  a soft spot for Leamington parkrunners, on account of the fact I used to live there.  Maybe this was just their running gear of choice in Autumn?  Autumn colours you see.  Who knows… never a colour-me-beautiful consultant when you need one!

respect the right of everyone

So volunteers thanked, parkrun rules run through (keep off the road people) and happy birthdays shared, milestones applauded and soon enough we were awf.

I am very proud of the fact that finally I have the ultimate flattering photo of me in the line up.  Identifiable only by a balloon.  I knew taking a balloon to parkrun was a genius idea!  Off we headed, the great mass of parkrunners, stampeding towards our very own intrepid photographer. He is fearless.  Or naively trusting.  I forget which. So far untrampled though, which is more than remarkable after over two hundred times of  being a volunteer photographer and so standing facing the front runners as parkrun kicks off, right in their path, fearless (or stupid) like a matador facing a bull (only less cruel and less enthusiastic about blood sports one would hope).  It is frankly a miracle he remains unscathed, physically at least – what it does to the mind to have hundreds of people running towards you with manic looks on their faces week after week I have no idea.  I don’t like to ask.  Maybe some things really are better left unsaid.

 

 

So we runners ran and yomped round, whilst the volunteer hi-vis army looked on, or directionally pointed, or clapped and cheered depending on their particular role for the day.

 

 

It started well, a bit of congestion made for a slow start.  That never bothers me, my excuse for my tardiness this time round was that I had the TenTenTen trail 10k the next day, but truthfully I don’t need much of an excuse to take things at a gentle yomping pace. Better value for money if you take it slowly on your way round.  A better excuse for my steady pace, was the own goal scored by running with a balloon. It’s a nightmare.  It doesn’t weigh anything, obviously, but it is like it is possessed by demons or something.  It is a perpetual irritation, bopping about and being wayward.  It’s probably like trying to run with a cat or something, albeit one that is airborne and tied to you with a string.

I did get some good will from my juxtaposition to the balloon. A fair few happy birthdays.  As I was also sporting my parkrun 100 top, I even got one ‘happy one-hundredth birthday’ which I like to think was a merry quip not an absolute belief. Some people thought I was doing my milestone run.  Oh well, I’ll take positive encouragement from wheresoever it comes. Just shows though, it’s hard to get across a pithy message.  Even the most seemingly obvious symbols can be ambigious. It’s what the study of semiotics is all about.  I imagine that it is anyway, not having studied it myself. (That one’s for you EWFM!)

I freely admit, it was also somewhat hazardous to other runners, so I had to keep panting out breathless apologies. At one point it near enough garrotted a fellow runner as its string seared across his neck as he tried to pass. ‘thank goodness I changed that cheese-wire strand to cheery balloon ribbon‘ I thought to myself as I once again mumbled an embarrassed ‘sorry.’  Fortunately, most were good-humoured about it, recognising my  mortifying faux pas as inadvertant rather than driven by malicious intent.  Mind you, it would be an interesting tactic for a faster runner wanting to impede/ take out any prospective over-takers.    I hung onto my balloon on a shorter string, and stuck to the sides.  It’s just as well parkrunners are all signed up to the parkrun code which contains within it the directive reminder to respect the right of all runners to participate in parkrun in their own way.  I wasn’t alone in doing so to be fair.   I think everyone pictured is enjoying parkrun in their own way, it’s just that in some photos the level of enjoyment is more obviously manifest than in others.  Whether you want to maintain your Tommy Cooper ‘Just like that’ impression for the duration, levitate the whole way round or multi-task with buggy and hound, parkrun will welcome you.

 

 

Anyways, it didn’t end well for my balloon. I made it to the end of Endcliffe park, and on to Rustlings Road. There I tucked myself in beside the railings and disaster struck.  I felt an ominous tug, and then… nothing!  My balloon had snagged on the railings and gone off on a voyage of its own. It’s not so much the loss of the balloon I mourn, it is that my ineptitude has let loose a balloon to the elements.  Discarded helium balloons are a menace for wildlife. Oh no.  Humiliation at my balloon carrying ineptitude was preferable to this new overwhelming sense of guilt and growing mortification. I’m never running with a balloon again.  Not without taking the proper precautions to avoid inadvertant release anyway.  Gutted.  Not even the possession of a silver party hat (which for the record stayed in place extremely well is very practical for running in just so you nay-sayers know you can’t use that excuse to reject one another time) could bring me cheer.

No balloon

On the plus side, it was a lot easier running without a balloon. And it is the thought that counts.

Eventually, my two circuits down, I was free to take up supervisory responsibilities cheering in the runners still coming in. This is always fun!  An important job too.

in charge

I also got my first proper flag sighting!  Dreams can come true, the flags were out in every sense.  No flagging on this course… ironically!

Class flag act

In fact there were more flags revealed in the photos post event.  Shows I should have a bit more faith.  Plenty of effort put in to the occasion, you just have to look:

 

 

 

So all too soon, that was another run done and dusted.

they who run together

It’s got a small footprint parkrun. Amazing how it goes from over 700 people assembled to nothing within an hour or so.

Parkun paraphenalia

Hope nobody went home with a barcode.  parkrunners are a forgiving lot, but there are limits…  Don’t try to find them.

parkrun barcode ruling

Many departed. But many lingered too. For me, post parkrun pleasantries continued in the EPIC Endcliffe Park Independent Cafe.  It was great to have a catch up with running buddies old and new.  I lurve running buddies, they are The. Best.  We can do anything if we cheer each other on.  I love that parkrun is so established one amongst us has her own espresso cup at the EPIC cafe.  That’s service is it not?

So that was it, done for another week. The fun hadn’t ended though, because there were still the photos to pour over after the event. Those snaps are most educational, I never knew before that you were supposed to fold children before putting them in a buggy for example. This operator has a self-folding child, which is particularly impressive.

folding to fit in buggy

So happy 13th birthday parkrun, and well done to all of you everywhere who made the effort to wear some apricot for the day.  Good effort.  I wonder what the teenage years have in store for parkrunners everywhere.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, our very own parkrun royalty Mr S-H, had a special message for us all on this auspicious day.  Hurrah!  It was quite nice getting the email, but I hope in time the technology will evolve so he can be beamed as a hologram into the sky to deliver future anniversary messages to the people like a pimped up Queen’s speech, only with fewer corgis and a less self-conscious Christmas tree.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…

As we prepare to celebrate our 13th birthday this weekend, it’s hard not to reflect on how far we have come in such a short space of time. 13 runners and a handful of volunteers at our first event has grown into a global community of more than 2.5 million participants. And while the numbers are impressive, it’s the friendships, the life-changing stories and the positivity that I have always seen as the true measure of our success.

Did you know, on the 13th birthday weekend the 1,000,000th person outside of the UK completed a parkrun! That’s quite a cult community!  Go us!

So thank you parkrun pioneers and parkrun people present and yet to be.  As our very own Belize flag bearer puts it with such beaming eloquence:

From just a few of us around the world, muchas gracias for being always, welcoming, inclusive and encouraging, no matter what time we take to complete our Saturday run! To all our wonderful parkrun family, fellow runners, run directors, marshals, volunteers and photographers, gracias! ❤️Sheffield Hallam Parkrun❤️😃xxx Again Feliz International 13th Cumpleaños parkrun!!! xxx

Gotta smile.

You gotta smile

Happy running y’all 🙂

Thanks Pontefract parkrun for awesome customised birthday greeting.  Great stuff!

pontefract logo

I really have to go now. There is an ENORMOUS house spider in my flat.  It has so far respected my boundaries and stayed on the floor, but I just glimpsed it migrating up on to the sofa.  Enough.  This ends here.  We can’t both stay in this flat tonight, so obviously I need to go pack…

For all my parkrun related posts see here – scroll down for older entries.

For all Sheffield Hallam parkrun posts see here scroll down for older entries.

And as a postscript, we are more international than some know in Sheffield:

Germany 🇩🇪 Slovenia 🇸🇮 India 🇮🇳 Belize 🇧🇿 Iceland 🇮🇸, pic from International parkrun 13th Birthday!

flags a plenty

Splendid!

Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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