Parkrun: What does it mean to you?

Nicky and I volunteered at Torbay Velopark Parkrun last week. We’ve participated in a couple lately and we found we were able to help this week.

We have an occasionally challenging, always active, FULL life and quite often we need to be exercising earlier than Parkrun’s 9am start in order to shoe horn our plans into a weekend.

2018-04-28 09.27.18Some tweeks to our life combined with a planned evening run meant we could help out for a change.

Anyway, there’s been some debate lately about where Parkrun sits in society, its role in the running community, in the community in general.

Parkrun issued its annual report recently and there has been many opinions shared online. Some issues which  people have aired are with Parkrun management and its stated aims and others with individual events and maybe even individual personnel. Some people seem to have issues with the focus on participation rather than performance.

I recommend reading the report and attending a few Parkruns before forming your own opinions, but, despite a few negative vibes, the vast majority of people, in my experience, find Parkrun to be a positive in their lives. Like I say, it is certainly a passionate subject for all who treasure it for whatever reason.

Well I don’t think my role as a blogger is to be deciding who’s right or wrong. We all develop our opinions from somewhere and if someone feels passionately enough about Parkrun to have a strong opinion which they want to share, then surely that shows what a success Parkrun is.

 

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The local clubs are always well represented at our local Parkrun

I can only report what I find.

I have seen comments suggesting Parkrun should be all about effort levels and improving. For many people I’ve no doubt that the weekly timed events are purely about emptying the tank and trying to better their times. But for others, it might be simply a reason to get out of the door and be active. Maybe even, a focus to get out and socialise.

 

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“Nothing but smiles” could be these guy’s three words

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy running as fast as I can and comparing my times to previous efforts or to others in my age group.

But not always.

I’ve recently enjoyed more ‘chatty’ efforts and had just as much (if not more) fun in the process. I’ve also had the pleasure of running with my Step-Daughter and Grandson when they made their Parkrun debuts last year. My own Parkrun times range from 19 minutes to 50 minutes and I’ve enjoyed every single one of those minutes.

Personally I feel critics of the ‘easy’ efforts of others are in danger of quantifying their judgements in terms of finishing time rather than the effort levels they talk about.

Again, please don’t think I’m criticising Parkrun participants or volunteers for the way they choose to consume the weekly timed event.

Last week, I witnessed a very good friend, in her, shall we say ‘late middle age’, absolutely rinsing herself, squeezing every lost drop of effort out of her protesting limbs, as she passed my marshaling point, immediately after about 100m of deep squelchy mud.

She was trying so hard she could barely acknowledge me as she entered the last kilometre or so. I saw her after she finished and she was so spent and so emotional that she just burst into tears. “I’m trying so hard,” she sobbed, “I’m not getting any faster!”

She’s been running for about a year, hoping to compete in triathlons having developed a passion for open water swimming.

I also saw two younger chaps amongst the wonderful mass cross section of the community participating in the early morning sunshine. They were laughing and joking as they negotiated the terrain with ease and skipped passed me.

My thoughts turned to comments made about how, in some people’s opinions, Parkrun should be about trying as hard as possible and measuring improvement. If that truly were the case then these two chaps wouldn’t be classed as trying hard enough!

These speedy boys were first and second across the line on the day, both credited with a time of 18 minutes exactly. They had thoroughly enjoyed their runs and were possibly holding back a little despite their incredible speed.

Our friend finished about 30 minutes later. Spent.

A glance at the results from a purist might lead to the wrong conclusion about who was trying hardest to improve on the day.

As I say, I can only report what I see.

Marathon Talk, the podcast, is co- hosted by Tom Williams, the CEO of Parkrun and his enthusiasm for the rapidly expanding phenomenon is utterly infectious.

Parkrun is now in 17 countries and has started in prisons, South African townships, refugee communities and its self declared quest to be part of a healthier happier world is, to me, great to observe.

But, and here’s my “opinion”, YOUR Parkrun is whatever YOU get out of it. Whether you are tail walker, running 16 minutes, volunteering, writing up event reports, pushing a toddler in a buggy, it’s YOURS!

And who am I to tell you what experience you should get from Parkrun.

A new podcast, Free Weekly Timed, is asking each of its guests to describe what Parkrun means to them, in just three words.

The all time fastest ever Parkrunner and thoroughly lovely bloke, Andy Baddely, answered with “BLOODY GOOD FUN”!

Which is surely just perfect for something we do in our precious leisure time.

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3am Eternal

Ahhh, the longest days of the year. Heatwaves. Festivals. It’s summer now alright.

HOTA few tetchy people around, obviously not including yours truly, as most of us are struggling to acclimatise to sleeping in the warm nights ……. Me? I lurrve the heat…

Obviously I’d choose a chilled afternoon at Seacombe Sands with my beautiful wife over screeding floors in a sweatbox with my workmate Jamie. Nothing against Jamie of course!

It’s Giant’s Head Marathon this coming weekend, a fabulous, award

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Now THAT is a giant, er, medal!

winning, brutally hilly, trail marathon in Dorset. Upon completion participants are rewarded with monstrous ice creams and a monstrous medal featuring the Giant’s, er, spinning willy…

Nicky and I have done the Giant’s Head Marathon two years running so we’ve opted for a change of scenery (more of which later) this year as we build up to the Snowdonia Trail Marathon in July. It was warm last year, but in 2015 it was HOT! Fabulous event though, I mean FABULOUS. So good luck to everyone in Dorset this weekend, hope it cools off a tad.

It’s also the Glastonbury Festival this weekend. Back in the day I did a few of these too, struggling to sleep then too….. I wasn’t quite as fit back then…. Another fabulous event which, unlike the Giant’s Head Marathon,

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Faith leading Nicky in the sprint for the line!

doesn’t feature high in my list of experiences to repeat. Too old for camping, noise, crowds, late nights, debauchery…..

 

Old Hippy
I wasn’t quite so healthy back then!

So, a relay this weekend. But before that, we are off to Bantham on Saturday as Nicky is participating in The Swoosh, a 6km swim from Aveton Gifford to Bantham. It’s a dawn start and we’re aiming to arrive for sunrise before Nicky is bussed to the start. Our regular accomplice at events, Martin, is also involved. Obviously it hasn’t been suggested that his breathing whilst swimming is hindered by incessant chatting….

I’m chief supporter and intend running the trails to watch the start before returning to see the finish. More and more and more, events are just that, EVENTS. The whole experience, the adventure of getting up at silly o’clock, meeting Martin, the drive on empty roads, the sunrise, the bubbling nervous excitement and sharing all of this with the most amazing person I’ve ever known. (That’s Nicky, not Martin, although, in that wetsuit mate………)

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I get to run here with my beautiful soul mate…. AIN’T LIFE GRAND

Soul mates? The two words never went together in my life, until I met Nicky and we set out on this life of outdoor pursuit and sharing everything. Everything? Well, apart from the time Nicky ran over to another path whilst we were walking one day, to ensure she didn’t have to reciprocate and give me a bite of HER crème egg!

 

There have been scuffles on the sofa over the last liquorice allsort on occasions….

So, to recover from Saturdays exploits, on Sunday, we’re doing a relay. A relay, I kid you not. Nicky is going to bravely swim a  kilometre off South Milton Sands before handing over the, er, dibber to me as I head off for a 15km coastal and trail run. It sounds fantastic and the weather is looking good but not crazily hot luckily.

 

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Nicky, taking to the sea with Martin whilst I run the coast path (apparently she can’t him him whilst they’re swimming!)

We were just chatting about how it really is the event we’re looking forward too, it takes as long as it takes. The process, the journey, the moments and memories rather than any measured ‘outcome’. Saying that, I wonder if there’s a Vet 50 Married Couple trophy!!

 

Nicky is having a great year of open water swimming, getting in the sea wherever possible and feeling stronger and invigorated for the experience. We are shoe horning our Snowdonia training into the available time and had a VERY hot 14 mile trail run on Tuesday evening, straight from work,  which was hard but a beautiful route.

 

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The South West Coast Path near Kingswear

We also ran a very challenging few hours out of Kingswear together on Sunday. This too, was a stunning route.

It’s about the journey, and WOW what a journey it is.

 

I’m trying to mix my runs up a bit but keep mileage high, it’s ten weeks until the East Farm Frolic, where I shall endeavour to keep moving for the full 12 hours, so I need to know I’ve built an endurance base to support this. I do think that my work helps with this, some days it can be relentless. Up and down ladders or like this week mixing and carrying, it’s great work but can be very tiring, sometimes after a 10 mile run in the morning.

I firmly believe that ‘keeping going’ will be the key to ultra running and so I’m just going to keep on running. Wherever, whenever, for however long or however far, and enjoy every single step……..

The world feels like it’s under siege at the moment and so many are suffering unimaginable and unbearable sorrow and grief. We are so fortunate that we can’t even begin to imagine how life must be right now for those suffering and those who have lost. I truly hope the apparent groundswell of love, rather than hate, as a reaction to appalling events of late is the way forward for us all as a community, as a nation, as the human race and EVERYONE echoes the mantra “I refuse to neglect you”

Check out my latest running efforts on Strava if you fancy a nose.

And feel free to join me on Facebook (which I use) or Twitter or Instagram (both of which I use sporadically)

Keep on keeping on……

 

Yeah, I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start by saying I refuse to forget you
I refuse to be silenced
I refuse to neglect you
That’s for every last soul up in Grenfell even though I’ve never even met you
That could have been my mum’s house, or that could have been my nephew
Now that could have been me up there
Waving my white plain T up there
All my friends on the ground trying a see up there
I just hope that you rest and you’re free up there
I can’t feel your pain but it’s still what it is
Went to the block just to chill with the kids
Troubled waters come running past
I’mma be right there just to build you a bridge yo

 

 

 

 

The Clock Moved Sideways

5 points for the first to name the artist who sang The Clock Moved Sideways.

Anyway, time. clock

Yes, time. I always say that a sudden lottery win could buy many material items, but the one true treasure it would release…. time.

I’ve also always been a believer in the mantra that we make choices with our time, meaning it’s never quite true that we ‘haven’t got time for that’. It is a truth that sometime feels rather stretched though……

 

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It’s ok, Charlie, I promise not to use it on the blog……

Today for, for example, I chose to run with Charlie. It is swimming lesson day for Nicky so I am on the rota for Charlie duty – so I would have spent the time walking him if I hadn’t ran with him.

 

Me and the four pawed one did about 3.5 miles, which would have only have been about 1.5 if we’d walked. Oh, and I love running, so a good choice I reckon.

Then I breakfasted, showered and went to work. I choose to go to work. It fills (including travelling) 10 hours of every week day. I choose to do this because I like having the bills paid, eating and our adventures and weekends.runner looking at watch

I get home, I choose to prepare and cook dinner, have a shower and between us, carry out any other domestic duties which we choose to complete.

So yes, we do ‘choose’ all of this use of our time because we have ‘chosen’ to live the life we live.

So, yes again, technically, we could choose avoid some of the above, but life would be very different.

Brixham Harriers

2017-05-09 19.44.18So, as I shouldn’t be saying, I simply haven’t had time to blog this week…………. one of the reasons would be that Nicky and I decided to go running with Brixham Harriers on Tuesday evening. What a great choice that turned out to be, a friendly bunch, a couple of whom we already know (regular blog readers will already be familiar with the Sugar King, Martin).

The evening run took us on trails and paths to join the coast path at Mansands, heading back enjoying the stunning views and a couple of brutal climbs with the sea on our right.

The group is encouraged to run as one but with runners going ahead and doubling back or taking pauses to regroup and drink in the stunning vistas.

Whether we end up making this a regular fixture will come down to…….. time.

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No, honestly Martin, I won’t use it on the blog

 

With one eye on my target event of the summer, The East farm Frolic, I am looking to enjoy a bit more trail running and the Harriers’ session certainly delivered that. Feel free to check out any of my runs on Strava.

So, another weekend beckons, with adventure on Sunday coming via The Imreys Trail Marathon, a sneaky night away bolted on to the back of it, so we won’t be chasing good old time on Monday… ahhh…. lovely

Before that though, Nicky will be at her open water swimming session on Saturday and I plan to get dropped off on the way home and enjoy some of the coast path to the east of here.

Keep on keeping on people, next weeks race report & blog will be late because Nicky and I have other plans for our time whilst we’re squirreled away in Cornwall…..

Anyway some piccies from this week’s runs:

felini days

Never do plumbing on a Friday

Actually, it was on Saturday and remarkably not a drop (touch wood) of water. We had rattling pipe syndrome, a particularly bad case too. All fixed. Bosh. plumber

It was an old builder friend who introduced me to the Friday saying as he drilled through a water main…… on a Friday. Nice bloke, proper cockney, used the f & c words like we use punctuation, moved to France in the end.

Mind your French, as they say.

Another phrase I never thought I’d never hear, “Your lunch box is too big!” my amazing wife Nicky blurted out on our beautiful 10 mile walk this afternoon. Ok, they weren’t her exact words, and she was merely referring to the lack of space in the rucksack after I’d been left in charge of packing food, but I’ll take it. If there wasn’t so much suspicion, speculation about the legitimacy, or otherwise, of his remarkable (some say ‘unbelievable’) athletic performance, I’d compare myself to Linford Christie….linford

 

 

 

I hadn’t taken my note book with me today you see, an essential piece of equipment to carry at all times if I want to be a ‘writer’! But, with all that lunch, there wouldn’t have been room in the rucksack anyway!

No long run on a Sunday? Asked no one, other than in my head. Well, I’ll tell you. We’ve got our target marathon next week, the North Dorset Villages Marathon, and we are ‘tapering’, as in we’re not doing long runs this weekend. So we did a few miles together this morning then I did another half an hour on my own before heading home to porridge ourselves up. Check out the run.

 

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My gorgeous wife and fantastic step daughter finishing at Parke (photobombed by Grandaughter Faith!)

On Saturday we went to Parke Parkrun where the aforementioned, beautiful Nicky, ran around with my incredibly motivated Step Daughter for her second ever Parkrun.

 

She’s on such a mission this year, we are so, so proud, and she’s looking amazing, healthy, happy and has an infectious spark about her.

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Mother and Daughter at the finish

 

 

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Parkrun support crew

Grandad here, who was flying solo with the Grandchildren, might have had something in his eye as they came along the finishing straight, so much quicker than last time, despite this being on a much more challenging course.

 

 

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Howard and Hilda!

We both did 5k time trials before work on Friday, my run totalling over 8 miles and very happy to run 19m00s in my last hard effort before NDVM.

 

Had some beautiful early morning runs last week with the dog, we’ve been treated to some gorgeous sunrises this week……..

 

2017-04-23 12.53.31So, today, with more time than we’ve had on Sunday for a while we decided to go and do one of our favourite 10 mile walks, including getting out the bulging lunch box for a lovely riverside picnic (but not my note book to write about it)……… 2017-04-23 13.59.42

 

 

With 7 days to go until our ‘big’ race I’m feeling pretty good about it. Ultimately it’s a run over an arbitrary distance, aiming for an arbitrary time and has no bearing on whether or not I am the sort of human being I dearly hope I am. If I am remembered as someone who is caring and considerate and loving and gentle and worthy and humble then that would be enough for me. sure, it would be a bonus if I ran 3h14m around Dorset next Sunday but, actually, I think my commitment to TRYING to be the best I can be is far more important.

That said, I will be running as hard as my little legs will carry me…….

Sign Of The Times (Indeed It Is)

I’m not naïve, I know that I’ve fallen for it. Oh yes, I’ve been caught staring into the piercing eyes of the great consumption beast, tethered by the leash of the corporate machine. The witch doctor has cast its spell and I was unable to resist. I’m going to have to come right out and say it……. I really, really like the Harry Styles single.

Harry StylesThat’s, better, I feel cleansed to have got it out there.

It is a little known fact that I used to do a bit of writing for a music magazine back in the nineties, and readers of that rag would DEFINITELY be surprised to hear that. Although, I have to say it does have an anthemic, pomp-rock, grandiose to it which wouldn’t have been misplaced on a 70’s glam-rock anthology.

A bit side tracked there, must get back to whinging about how nobody says hello when we’re out running together….. oh hang on…… can’t even do that……

 

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Torquay in the early morning sunshine

Last weekend, the streets were paved with happiness. I ran 22 miles on my own on Saturday, bright and early, and on Sunday Nicky and I did 20 miles together. “Morning!”, “Hi there” “How you doing?” “Good running” “Hellooooo” and so it went on, runners of all speeds, genders and ages, cyclists, dog walkers, pedestrians, oh yes the luuurrrve was being shared, people were hanging out of windows yelling encouragement (I may have made the last one up!) and everybody seemed genuinely pleased to see everybody else. Bloomin’ lovely it was too.

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Even the gulls were in a good mood!

 

So, it’s coming up, only 2 and a bit weeks to the North Dorset Villages Marathon. Are we ready? Er, I hope so. COME ON, Are we ready? Yes, I think so. MORE POSITIVITY, ARE WE READY? Yes, YES, we are ready.

running couple cartoon
We’re READY!

 

Nicky  & I had a really good run on Sunday, clocking 15 of the 20 miles at faster than her target pace and an average pace faster than her fastest marathon. And on Saturday I did too, plenty of marathon pace in my long run. Very pleased with ourselves, and try as we might, little to moan about!

Running has been a bit thin on the ground this week, a few jogs with the dog, but, with work being so physical and off the back of last weekend’s running, my body will be appreciating the drop in mileage.

It’s been school holidays, of course, so some of the promenade boasted the previous day’s chalk drawings, I was taken by this ELO fan’s effort….2017-04-12 06.31.13

London marathin massesSo, it’s just over a week to the London Marathon the streets of the capital will buzz with thousands and thousands of runners and massive crowds lining the streets cheering them on. Whilst it doesn’t particularly appeal, that enormous mass of people, I need to remember that it was such mass participation events and their media coverage which got me into this wonderful sport to start with, and it was only a quirk of timing that I went to Paris for my first one (which I believe has even MORE participants).

The London Marathon shows the world that… YES YOU CAN and for tens of thousands every year it means… YES YOU DID.

An upcoming blog post will feature an interview with the quite wonderful and beautiful Mrs Bonfield and we explore this very theme, how the media coverage of such events talks to those of us looking to do, or be, something different.

london marathon logo

running medalsSo to all of you doing London a week on Sunday, good on you, have a fantastic day, soak it up and enjoy every step and wear that medal all week afterwards!

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Blogs Than Biscuits

2017-04-02 14.50.34Every race day day, Nicky and I travel home, munching cadburys crème egg s, declaring ourselves ‘ON IT!!’ from tomorrow. No more sugar, no more fizzy pop, plenty of core work and strength training, rest and stretching. girl doing stretching exercise clipart

Well, THIS TIME, we mean it!

North Dorset Villages Marathon 4 weeks today, we are ON IT until then……

Just a few dark chocolate digestives to see off tonight………

So, yesterday, The Devonshire Dumpling Marathon, hosted by the Devon and Cornwall Long Distance Walkers Association. Wow, what a wonderful day.

The start was in Budleigh Salterton, a gorgeous East Devon town. We were fortunate enough to grab what appeared to be the last parking space in the car park next door to the public hall. We then discovered what would be a theme for the day, it was going to be hard to offload any cash today!

The car park is free. All the time!

We paused outside at 8am and watched the walkers head off. The event had two distances, 18 miles or 26.2 miles, the walkers set off at 8am and the runners at 9am.

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The walkers setting off.

 

We nervously entered the hall, registered with the friendly welcome chaps at the desk, and approached the well manned (and womanned) service hatch. Regular readers of this blog might have gathered we like our pre-match coffee.

 

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Hardly suprising!!

Two white coffees please. How much do I owe you? Nothing, fresh air, zero, zilch. Blimey, how lovely. The volunteers in the hall were so so friendly, helpful and chatty, we learned so much about the route and any nerves about being in a fairly different environment to our usual races soon disappeared.

 

Back to the car to shed our top layers and we were soon outside the hall in a small gathering of runners and a couple of their dogs. And away we went…..

Through Budleigh Salterton’s back streets, the leading pack, i.e. everybody else, became smaller and smaller in the distance. ‘Are we going that slowly?’ Nicky asked unnecessarily. My reply is always to say that if they are all faster runners than us we won’t see them again, whereas some may be a little enthusiastic early on and we’ll catch them later. It really doesn’t matter.

Nicky said something about disused railway lines, I smiled, not really knowing what she meant.

 

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Some serious logging!

We were soon heading across country and encountering the first splattering of a day of mud! Whoever put this course together deserves our heartfelt thanks, we agreed as the countryside became coast path for about 3 miles.

 

 

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I think we took the opposite of this…

Heading back in land we soon found the first checkpoint……. quiches, cheese & chorizo tarts, chocolate brownies, drinks, sweets etc etc etc….. We each carried a small laminated number card which the, again, incredibly engaging and encouraging, guys stamped for us to prove we’d been there.

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Yum Yum – I reckon I ate more than I burned!

 

Off again, soon making a very small navigation error (the larger one was still to come!) before getting back in the mud for the flat path towards Otterton. We’d ran here before, in the Otterton Reindeer 10k back in December, an event, we discovered later that is also supported and marshalled with the help of the Devon and Cornwall LDWA.

 

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These ladies were bemused by us!

Honestly, we chatted to more people, and stroked more dogs than we would normally in a month, giving us a little rest every mile!

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Otterton is still beautiful and is a sort of gateway to mud. The next section, no less stunning, truly was laden with the slippy stuff. We did some serious giggling throughout this as we had worn our super slick road trainers.

One of us went to ground. Twice. (pssst, ssshhh, it wasn’t me…..)

Nicky said our footing would be more sure once we got to the disused railway lines. Again, I had no idea we were using old railway lines.

 

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What do we want? OLD GATES!

 

 

 

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We weren’t lost……

 

Across Woodbury Common (Bicton Blister country) and heading towards the halfway point, Rushmoor Wood, where we took a little detour………. Our only mistake on this self-navigating course.

We were catching walkers in small groups regularly now and every single one of them was friendly and upbeat and it was a pleasure to meet them all.

Into Woodbury itself and the village hall being used as the second checkpoint. Sandwiches and rolls, quiches, pies, cakes, jelly and ice cream etc etc… cold drinks and hot drinks and another room full of fun and banter.

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Something for everyone at the checkpoints

 

We didn’t stay too long, we might still have been there eating if we’d sat down, instead heading off towards the Exe estuary. We’d caught up with a couple of runners again and noticed they were sporting White Star Running attire (including the much sought after ‘I felt the badger’ badge) so we exchanged knowing smiles and wished each other fair winds for the rest of the run.

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She’s definitely a keeper!

 

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The shared use path to Exmouth was very busy on this beautiful Sunday afternoon but we couldn’t help but enjoy the wonderful scene.

 

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There was plenty of this!

A few miles of easy (ish) flat running on firm surface took us to the final checkpoint on the approach to Exmouth was followed by an undulating run through Exmouth itself and followed another (planned) detour where the pathway was closed. Before long we were back in the countryside and heading towards the sea. Running through the massive Sandy Bay caravan park, dodging the firing range on the headland and tackling the massive climb up the coast path, knowing it was all downhill to Budleigh Salterton from the top.

 

“So where were the old railway lines?” Nicky asked on the run in. I think she might have been reading up on the wrong race!2017-04-02 13.33.31

The finish back at the hall was a welcome sight after several and a half hours out on the trails, and we were presented with our personalised certificate to prove our participation.

2017-04-02 12.40.32Here’s the thing – have a really good look at the LDWA website, they have some absolutely lovely events both social and recognised distances (we found this via the 100 Marathon Club) and we met dozens of lovely people today and wouldn’t hesitate to do any other of their events. In fact we picked up three tempting leaflets whilst we were there……

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Big smiles at the finish of a wonderful event.

 

2017-04-02 15.39.03If you want to know where Nicky and I are  starting tomorrow….. we’re ON IT!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Stevenage?

I’ve never been to Stevenage.

On our first date, whilst I was nervously supping a sparkling water, Nicky asked what races I had planned.

“The Stevenage Marathon…”

Nicky nearly choked on her scallops.

You see, prior to falling head over heels in love with Nicky, I’d always thought racing was all about finding races to go as fast as possible. “What about you?” I asked.

The Eden Project Marathon. Doh! Time to re-evaluate…eden project

Later that evening, sat listening to some Barry White in my bedsit, I used my smart phone for two things…… Firstly to compose a message thanking Nicky for a splendid evening, hoping beyond all hope that she’d want to see me again. Secondly, The Eden Project Marathon was entered and a Travelodge for one, in Stevenage, was cancelled!

So why do we chose to do events at all, and when we do, how do we decide which ones? A quick search on Fetch offered a choice of 245 different events listed for tomorrow (2nd April 2017). We had long since settled on the Devonshire Dumpling, I wonder what the other 244 couldn’t offer us?

DOES IT COUNT?

100 MC Vest
We’re on a quest for the vest!

Well, we were looking for a marathon around this weekend, so other distances were eliminated. Also, we have our goal of joining the 100 Marathon Club so we check to see if it is listed on their website.

DOES IT COST?

We try to keep the cost down of our days out, trying to preserve funds for our ‘big’ trips, so the Devonshire Dumpling being only 40 or so miles from home it was an immediate contender.

IS IT BEAUTIFUL?

The route, terrain and, I’m sure, the panoramic views will make it a wonderful day out, enjoying the East Devon coast and countryside.

budleigh_salterton_beach
Setting for the Devonshire Dumpling

WILL IT BE PACKED?

Organised by the Long Distance Walkers Association, featuring walks and runs of 18 or 26.2 miles, with staggered starts, we’re pretty confident the queues for the stiles won’t be too bad.

WILL WE FEEL ADEQUATE?

I know the Elitism In Running blog provoked plenty of debate, but, trust me on this, it is there. We’ve had so many people say “me too!” in response to how demoralising some race situations can be for those further down the field. So, we tend to lean towards events which look a bit more quirky and which might not offer sufficient kudos for the more self-confident runners to attend, or where we know the race organisers actively encourage participation as a priority, over pace.

Such companies, White Star Running and Mudcrew particularly spring to mind, seem to manage to pull of the trick of having some seriously quick guys and girls at the sharp end, whilst being all embracing for the rest of us mortals. There are plenty more, but these two are South West based and host some of my favourite ever events.

Morrisons Great North Run 2015
Crowds – great for some, not really our thing

We do take all sorts of other factors in to consideration, whether we are taking other people, maybe the dog to be walked by one of our friends, so is the venue dog friendly. Sometimes we end up just fancying a race and we don’t know why.

A running friend started a debate on social media recently around whether events are over priced, and whether, particularly if you’re lucky enough to live in a beautiful running area, we need to do events at all. For Nicky and myself, the event is our adventure. We don’t drink or smoke or snort white powder, we don’t particularly go out to pubs and very rarely have meals out, so our time and money ‘budget’ is put aside for these days. So, as for price, we don’t really notice, if we’ve decided it fits our budget for the weekend then it’s the right price for us.

Just occasionally we’ll come home and say NEVER AGAIN, if we’ve felt the price didn’t reflect the quality of the event, or the venue was dull, or repetitive, or the company was dull, or repetitive, and then we’ll cross that one off our list. AND if they run out of cake!!!!

cake-crumbs
Don’t you DARE run out of cake!

BUT, that’s just our opinion, those 245 events taking place tomorrow will ALL be attended and enjoyed, so there is definitely something out there for everyone.

Even in Stevenage, I’m sure! (although I couldn’t find a link to a 2017 marathon to share – maybe a reader could correct this?)

2014-10-19 15.24.03
The first marathon we went to together…. Ain’t life grand

SO I never did get to Stevenage for my attempt at running ‘Good For Age’, I joined Nicky and her merry gang in a trip to The Eden Project and I ran what I still believe was my finest race to date.

2014-10-20 21.26.32
Finishing The Eden Project Marathon 2014

On a hilly course, yes in beautiful surroundings, I ran 3h18m50s (Good For Age would have been 3h15) for 5th place and had a monster pasty straight afterwards. Another enticer for us – post race grub! We did the marathon again in 2015 and the half in 2016. Great event.

I went on to run my Good For Age time twice the following year without resorting to a train to Stevenage.

2016-05-01 16.22.13
Nicky’s 2nd fastest marathon NDVM last year

As for this year’s marathons, next up is the North Dorset Villages where I’m hoping to chase another Good For Age. I’m older now so they give me another 5 minutes, 3h20m is the target this time. Nicky, too is chasing a time at this one. And no, I’m not telling you what it is, I do like my marriage…….

After that we’re having a week in the Lake District, incorporating the Coniston Marathon into the holiday – I reckon we’ll be ‘Good For Age’ whatever time we run!

Anyway, much eating and resting to do ahead of tomorrow’s sojourn up the coast there…