Long Way South

Death defying breeze
Is just what I need…

Failed to find a local boxing day race, so went for a walk round Devils Punch Bowl where it turned out a trail race had just finished! Think I may have had a shot in the ‘drinking male’ category… noted for future visits!Boxing Day Fox Hunt 038



Saturday was the chance of another bit of parkrun tourism, this time at Rushmore parkrun, however after just one day feeling well, another virus was starting to make itself known.

It was a bracing morning to say the least and with much of the course was around open fields. Warm up didn’t quite describe the running around beforehand in the icy wind. The well wrapped up volunteers were obviously keen to get on and we lined up for the run brief early. When they got to the ‘any parkrun tourists?’, a voice piped up ‘Bushy Park’ as I glanced round even the addition of a beard didn’t disguise the face of Paul Sinton-Hewitt, founder of parkrun.

I’d run the same parkrun as him once before, the inaugural at Congleton, but had been unaware despite having him in sight ahead for most of the 5k, so as we set off I was just contemplating saying hello before I inadvertently overtook him going round the opposite side of a big puddle. Oh well I’d say hello when he no doubt overtook me later, in the meantime I just concentrated on the bone shattering wind and trying to catch the runner ahead for an ineffective shield. As we exited the field I gained a couple more spots and settled on a steady pace along the canal gradually closing on another runner.

After leaving the canal, he suddenly turned and asked if we were going the right way. I hadn’t really been paying attention so wasn’t much help but we continued and a few seconds later could see runners ahead and a bit of puddle dodging later completed the first of two laps.

The wind was no better on the second lap as I pushed on for 19:51 and the opportunity to shake PSH’s hand as he finished, 1-1! GPS

A nightmare journey back home in the afternoon with seemingly every road clogged with traffic briefly livened up in Staffordshire with a few inches of snow lying on the ground. 4.5hrs to go there, 7 hours to get back.


The next morning it was up early for a first attempt at the Ribble Valley 10k, with the Hot Toddy off this year. The car park was icy but the race was still on.

Warming up it was clear another cold virus was on the way, so decided to stick with a sub 40 pace and hopefully get round. It was a gorgeous sunny morning and I took it easy at the busy downhill start. Made slight progress up the first couple of hills and was feeling good despite the cold air so kept gaining, apart from a bit of cartoon legs on the odd patch of ice!

Around half way there was a small out and back, as we climbed up I could see it was icy on the other side and as we turned, a few in front were slowing with caution so I upped effort, with the added incentive that Oldham parkrun Dan was now not far ahead. I found a clear line down the middle of the road and made good progress, catching Dan at the next corner. After a bit of recovery I was off again, I was now on for a low 39 so decided to go for it.

The third last hill was tough as I caught Sally from Ilkley, no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get past her until the bridge. Now just a short steep hill and the finish straight to go. Plodded up the hill saving myself for the run in, as it levelled off a PB seemed assured but the run in kept sloping up and the line seemed to be getting further away.  I put everything into the last 400m but legs had gone and breathing maxed. With 200m to go thought I still had it, but just missed out by 3 seconds with a 38:54 – 19:34 / 19:20 splits – couldn’t be too disappointed with third sub 39 in as many months. GPS

Played it safe the next day and went for a 14k snowy walk instead of a run, despite the tempting conditions.

Snowy Walk 100 Snowy Walk 126 Snowy Walk 142 Snowy Walk 177 Snowy Walk 179 Snowy Walk 221






So 2014 ends a record breaking 1437km (893 miles) after it belatedly started in Feb.  Most I’ve ever managed before was 666 miles so pretty pleased. A top ten finish in the club GP plus PB’s at 5k (official), 7k, 5m, 10k, 10m and v40 first’s at Littleboro 5k and Turnslack Fell and a FIRST PLACE overall at Stairway to Heaven Trail Race, and best of all I helped start a parkrun… definitely the best year of running, so far!