Having hurt my ankle attempting to run to parkrun in Leamington last week, I took the entire week leading up to Christmas off running. The sudden removal of running from my life was a bit of a shock to the system and I was keen to get back into the swing of things. This year I am spending Christmas at my parents’ house just outside of Croydon and so decided to ease back into things with a bit of parkrun tourism – and where better to pay a Christmas visit than the place where it all began: Bushy parkrun.
Lining up before the run (not a race! 😉) it was clear that this would be an experience. 1262 people (including Santas, Elves and the odd turkey) made their way through the misty park to congregate at the start line and there was a powerful dose of Christmas spirit in the air!
The sheer volume of runners definitely gave the event an added buzz; the start line must have been forty people wide and the crowds wound their way back across the park. I was not planning a fast one today but didn’t really want to get stuck right at the back so I took up a position three or four rows from the front – squashed tightly between a man in a turkey hat and a woman dressed as a Christmas Pudding!
As the starter announced “Go!”, the charge was on and chaos ensued for a couple of hundred yards as people jostled for position but things eventually spread themselves out as we hit the first bit of path and made our way across the park. I was a little worried about my ankle today and was only intending a slow jog round but the atmosphere swept me up. As the watch beeped to tell me I had actually run a fairly quick first mile I made an effort to slow things down and settled into a group. Fortunately my ankle felt ok so after a slower second mile I decided to see if I could make up a few places and started working my way up the field – I couldn’t let the guy in a full elf suit beat me!
Coming into the final section of the race I jumped out of my skin as a huge stag appeared just to the side of the path on which I was running! I then spotted the other seven or eight deer which were grazing just behind it. I couldn’t believe these huge animals were quite happily minding their own business so close to a path which had over a thousand people (many covered in jingle bells!) running along it. Amazing.
As I crossed the finish line I was surprised to see that I had managed to work my way up to fourth position. I was also pretty impressed (if somewhat confused) with the huge, twin funnel! Nevertheless, the funnel management was impeccable and it was clearly a well oiled machine! Dad also had a good run, crossing the line in a new course PB, and we made our way home for a full fry up before crashing on the sofa with a beer and Christmas TV.
A huge thanks to all at Bushy parkrun for an awesome event, dad for the lift and mum for the breakfast – is there a better way to start Christmas than parkrun?
Finally made it down to the Great Run Local event this evening after having my wrist band for about 3 years. A couple of factors swayed me this week – dinner at the mother-in-laws was cancelled and Richard Cooper was on course to meet his target of 1000km of race miles for the year. A great achievement that I’ve been following throughout the year as out paths have crossed at various runs.
If you don’t know the Great Run Local is a series of weekly events in a number of UK towns and cities. Glasgow’s event is held on a Wednesday night making it an excellent complimentary run to the more widely heard of parkrun series. Simply register online and take your wrist band down to the Broomielaw at 6-30pm. Much smaller than the parkrun events it nevertheless appears to embody much of the ethos that makes parkrun so popular – open to all, volunteer led and incredibly welcoming to me as a first timer.
Jogging over from Shawlands I mulled over race strategy and settled on a sub 20 target to see if I was in race shape. I felt strong at the recent cross country and wanted to see if I was running at a similar level to the start of the year when I clocked sub 20 on a reasonably consistent basis. I’ve not done many 5 or 10ks recently so it could all have gone terribly wrong.
Setting off I tucked in behind 3 runners as we crossed the river and rounded a few sharp turns. Should have been obvious but it was around this time it clicked that the route is pancake flat. It was reasonably quiet in terms of pedestrians and cyclists tonight and that combined with near perfect running weather meant the first mile (including 2 crossings of the Squiggly Bridge) passed in a decent 6-15. Feeling strong as I rounded the furthest point of the course I used the next few turns to push hard and keep up with the lead runner in the pack. Forgetting about my watch I stayed here until the final turn pushing for home with about 1km to go.
Having missed my regular training a lot recently due to a deadly combination of man flu and parents nights aiming for a sub 20 was perhaps a tad ambitious but the support of the pack definitely helped pulling me around making the ordeal seem a whole lot less of an effort. I was even able to pick up the pace in the last 400 metres. Crossing the finish line I was pleasantly surprised to have dipped under 19 minutes (only my second time). Even more so as I felt comfortable throughout. 19-02 on the official results but my watch had me at 18-58. With a few seconds grace waiting for your band to be scanned at the end of the race I’m definitely counting this one as a sub 19.
This was a good event; a fast course, a lot of familiar faces and the chance to run by many of Glasgow’s most iconic landmarks. I’ll definitely be back and I’d encourage others to give it a go.
Final shout out to Richard. His achievement and support for an amazing cause over such a long time is a real test of commitment, dedication and luck on the injury front. He’s averaged two races a week for a year including a few ultras along the way. If you could spare some change I’m sure he would appreciate the support via the links below.
After a gentle warm up tail running at junior parkrun this morning it was down to Ayr for the West Districts. Cross Country and me are not great friends but the Renfrewshire and West District events provide a decent platform for the mere mortals like myself without the fear I associate with the National events. Despite being lapped by many of the superstars at this event this year I was determined to put on a better showing today.
Arriving just in time to see the ladies passing on lap 2 of 3 there was just enough time to cheer them through, get stripped and screw in the cross country studs. Glad I remembered after running the event in Renfrew in my track spikes. A gentle warm up to see the hills which I had missed on the way in proved this was going to be a trickier course but the ground seemed good to firm – as ideal as it gets at cross country. Heading over to the start line though it became clear that the curse of the men’s race was to strike the course too – a route totally churned up by a packed morning and early afternoon of racing. This made for heavy work around the home straight and start area on each of the four laps.
Settling in behind an obviously more experienced cross country runner I hugged the edge of the route desperately seeking some firmer ground and remembering the best line for subsequent laps. The Boy flew out of the traps and seemed to be winning his personal battle as I saw him tear off into the distance. While the first half of the lap was boggy in parts the second half was undulating. The hills won today for me with the second half of each lap being more favourable than the first.
Around the half way mark The Boy approached on the other side of the tape telling me he had put around 600metres between us in just under two laps. This made me fearful that a potential ‘lapping’ by some of the big guns might be on the cards again. This drove me on during lap three alongside some incredible cheering (a lot of random shout outs about hash tagging from the Bella Babes) which lifted the spirits at the traditionally tricky mid race stage.
Gunning it down the home straight for the third time I was pleased to be picking off one or two runners by adopting a wide and firm race line. Feeling strong (I definitely went off way too easy again) I was even more pleased to cross the start line without being lapped this year. So much so I skipped a little jig of joy and almost fell flat on my face in the mud. Refocused and with only a lap to go I managed to take another couple of places. An enjoyable run out but one I should perhaps have pushed harder – something I definitely need to try and bring over from my road running and a pretty common theme from the cross country events I have done to date.
Great course, great weather, brilliant podium place for the junior team and everyone’s favourite sweets and cakes in the tent afterwards 🙂 As always thanks to all the officials and marshals out on the course and involved in putting on a great event.