28 January 2014


By running races I explored Torrington, Cockington, Dawlish, Castle Drogo, and several other places. In the southwest you can run a nice race within an hour's drive from Plymouth most weekends. So I did a few number! And I enjoy that. Once you've kicked yourself into some basic shape running is fun, and it's extra fun when it's off-road, in new and beautiful places, with nice fellow runners and enthusiastic marshals. When I moved north I sought something similar, but found little; there aren't many races within an hour of York. I did find one in Leeds, and it was fun, but that was sort of it. But I did seek out people with York shirts; they may know things I don't know! And one mentioned the Parkrun. I had heard of that; it's a weekly 5k, and several places in the UK have them. I was aware of Plymouth and London. It turns out that there are Parkruns all over the place! The one in York is on the racecourse. I have never done a 5k, as my training runs are more than that, and it seems a bit daft to do a race that takes you less than half an hour. But well, it's worth a try. So one Saturday I got up, got into my running kit, biked to the racecourse, and parked up.

 All the UK Parkruns - and a few Irish and Danish ones

Behind me, a whole extended family came tumbling out of a car. It turned out to be a Bristolian parkrunner with his York hosts. He didn't quite know how this race would work either, but it's nicer to be confused together. Runners tend to be nice people. But we soon found out, and not much later the horn sounded.

I was queuing quite far at the back. That was a mistake! That's where the slow people are, and there were some 300 people in total. Quite a big field! I slalommed my way forward. But people soon spread out, and after a kilometer or so you can run at the speed of your preference without too much impediment. I had hit quite a nice rhythm.

 The empty racecourse

Didn't manage to keep a steady hand...

Slowly I crept forward. After some 3 or 4 km I approached a guy in a shirt of the same colour as mine. I seemed to go a little faster, so I set out to overtake. But he wasn't having it! He accelerated a bit, and we ran on together. That seemed to work out fine for both of us. He had a nice pace! And how quickly does the world become "us" and "them"; after a while he said "do you see these girls there in front of us? We can take them on!" And I agreed. We thundered past said girls, and the finish came in sight. He urged me on, and I legged it. I thought I had probably done rather well! I chatted a bit with my pacemaker (after I had my breath back). And then I saw a caver! I knew he ran, but it hadn't clicked he might be here. He runs so much he hardly gets underground. And then I saw another caver, the first one's girlfriend, behind me. Nice to see friends! Even though it later sank in the caver girl had been one of those I had purposefully overtaken at the last stretch. And I had not seen it was her! Oh dear.

When the results were published later that day I saw I had indeed done well. I was 129th of 304 total runners, and 15th of the 114 female runners. Not bad! So let's see if next week I can beat my time of 24:30. If I find such a good pacemaker again I might!

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