Sunday, 6 August 2017

Yet more parkrun days. Tweet me @scott_leach

A north east parkrun tourism day 5/8/17

07:30 Wake in premier inn that overlooks the whitewater centre at the Tees Barrage. Tourist parkrun, baby!!
07:40. Might as well have shower seeing how course is a 2 minute walk away. It'll make a change not to smell BEFORE the parkrun for once
08:00 Leisurely cup of tea
08:30 Wander down to start. No one about. Several other parkrun tourist wandering about looking confused. One asks, "Where's the start?" turns out we're all newbies
08:40 Find bloke who knows and he confirms we're in right spot. No one really knows where I can dump bag. End up letting myself in to building at finish line and leaving bag under bench in changing rooms. Managed to forcibly remove strap on garmin by sticking hand through slats on bench, cue quick repairs. Hope bag is still there when come back!
09:00 Admit to being a tourist from Leeds at the RD brief
09:01 And parkrun is go!
09:02 Up the ramp on to the first bridge. Treated to amazing view down the river!
09:03 Running just behind the front pack of 6 runners who slowly pull away, damn them!
09:10ish Up the steps to the bridge at the far end, suddenly feel knackered! Try to employ my fell racing experience down ramps. Utterly fail. At least the back half of course will have tailwind, hoping for a fast finish!
09:10-20 Struggling, not feeling it at all! Running all alone, runners in front and behind are a long way away!
09:18 Come to junction in path, not totally obvious which way to go, no marshal and no runners around, take my best guess!
09:19 Thin path surrounded by trees, no runners around to see if am going the right way...
09:20 Aaaaaaand I have gone..........the right way! Phew!
09:21. Finish with an average pace of 3:56 per k, good for a 19 and a half minute time... but wait... 20:32 on the watch and also 5.2km...and last night someone mentioned on facebook that the course start is where it is to make sure the start isn't too narrow...not suspicious at all! Good job it's a run not a race or I would demand my money back!
09:25 Backpack is still safe in the changing rooms!
09:35 Finish last k with Sophia
09:50 Stumble back to hotel for cup of tea, will find cake and or bacon later!
10:40 Text message: Scott, your time in position 7 today at Tees Barrage parkrun was 20:31. Well done on your first run here. We deliberately keep the course long to stop people becoming evil with sub 20 times. Congratulations on staying a good person this week

Prediction for this evening: Prosecco, after all, it's still a PB at Tees Barrage, right?

A parkrun-Harrogate-challenge cup semi-final-Jed's belated 40th party- day 29/7/17

07:00 Up early to travel to Harrogate for last chance for club championship. Fast course, time to try to go under 19 minutes for the first time ever. Need a 3:48 mins per k average
08:05 Leave for Harrogate full of caffeine, porridge and a head full of boyish dreams of a PB
08:10 Skoda DJ selects "July" by Ocean colour scene. Well played, SDJ, well played
08:20 SDJ selects a Shires song for Sophia. Endure 3 minutes of mind-numbingly bad music. Bad SDJ, very bad SDJ.
08:30 The Stray, Harrogate, completely deserted apart from a few marshals and the RD.
08:35 Harrogate course: 3 laps of a rectangular section of the Stray, 2 sides perfect tarmac path, 2 sides grass, completely flat. Difficult shoe choice, go for vibram five finger trek ascent
08:45 Use the *remarkably* clean park toilets. Not sarcasm!! Surprisingly few graffitied offers of sex in the toilet cubicles
08:50 Meet Jed and Fliss Dave Hickman from Fellandale and discuss Jed's lack of regulation blue Fellandale shorts. He will be punished
08:55 *POOF* 350 people appear like magic
09:05:01 Nidd valley runner goes off like a rocket, moving amazingly well for a muscular guy! Wonder if he will keep it up...
09:06 Packed mud paths turn out to be a bit slippy, run on grass at side for increased grip and so I don't "split my difference"
09:10 Must concentrate on even splits, mustn't blow up like a cheap hooker!!
09:12ish Garmin average showing 3:44 at 2k!!!! PB is on!!!
09:17 3rd k; 4 minutes, DAMNIT! Got to speed up!! Slap self in face several times for adrenaline boost
09:20ish Get back in front of young runner who had over taken me earlier. Watch showing 3:50 average, need to finish it big style!! 800 metres to go! Where's an East German coach with a syringe when you need one?
09:20summat. Finishing straight on good tarmac with wind at back. Giving it everything!! Ripon runner is in front, good going bloke!
09:20summatandabit. Look at watch and.....3:57 average!!!!!!!!


09:25 Wait a second.............time.................19:28. W.T.F?!!?!?>!?!!?! W.T.parkrunning.F??!!!

Distance...5.13km!!!! GODSDAMNIT!!!!!!!!


09:35 After 10 minutes of deep breathing and meditation, appreciate that parkrun is a run not a race and pleased to run my fastest ever average kilometre pace for a 5k. Cheer in Jed and Dave, chat to RD and thank him for an excellent event. Head off to complete last lap with Sophia.
11:41 Text message: Scott, your time in position 8 today at Harrogate parkrun was 19:29. Well done on a new PB. As per parkrun law, you must now consume several glasses of prosecco until you start to talk more gibberish than usual
12:10 Nidd valley runner turns out to be a vet 50-54 with a PB of 18:22!! DAI-YUM!
12:15 Time to set off for the mighty Hull FC in the challenge cup semi-final. It's not all about the parkrun ya know (But mostly it is)

A parkswim day 22/7/17

07:30 Wake to the sound of hammering rain
07:40 Select suitable kit for conditions: cap, rain jacket, mudclaws, canoe, bilge pump, cure for trench foot
07:45 AHHHHHHHH caffeine
07:50 Porridge. Must take run today seriously now nemesis has stopped running scared in Italy and has come back to Wetherby
08:00 Sophia dons her brand new Wetherby AC "Couch to 5k hero" vest for her "graduation run" with the other runners from the beginners' group
08:10 Set off in pounding rain. Skoda DJ selects "Wait for me" by Kings of Leon- Nice choice! Then it goes for a Travis track, but I pick a better one "Why does it always rain on me?"
08:30 Arrive in deserted car park in torrential rain. Put on serious Inov8 raceshell220 fell runner's association- approved taped-seam hooded rain jacket
08:50 Spot nemesis and offer to re-tie his shoes... He declines. Curses, my plan is foiled!
08:55 Rain nearly clears up leaving only slight drizzle. Take off serious rain jacket and walk to start with cap on to keep drizzle out of eyes
09:00 Torrential rain restarts- too late to get jacket!!!!
09:02ish Swim away from start. Rain turns biblical. Shirt and shorts immediately glued to skin. Bilge pump working over-time to bail out undercrackers
09:03 Nemesis just in front, tuck in behind
09:05 Over take nemesis and attempt to "psyche him out" "Beer and pizza diet for 2 weeks eh, Steve?"
09:10 Running in small pack with 2 other runners. Each time one slows down one others speeds up. My companions are man in 50 shirt and j15-17 lady
09:10-18 Positions swap in 3 runner pack, but make a break for it and over take both of them!
09:16 Passed by nemesis, godsdamnit!!! He opens up a 5 metre lead
09:17 10 metres
09:18 5 metres
09:18:30 Over taken by j15-17 lady (She got a PB)
09:19 20 metres. Enter final 100m. Vanquished by nemesis once again!! Even a week of beer and pizza in Italy hasn't slowed him sufficiently for me to get him! Grrrrr!
09:22 Literally wring out tshirt!
09:25 Take off shoes and go for a barefoot last lap with Sophia who breaks 40 minutes for the first time in smashing her pb by 1 minute 33 seconds! Proud boyfriend :)
09:35 Bacon butties and hot tea in sports assoc whilst drying out with the 5k beginners' group.
09:40 Rain stops!! Bloody typical
10:30 Buy 2 bottles of sparkling Italian pink wine
10:53 Text message: Scott, your time in position 6 at Wetherby parkrun today was 19:23. Thank goodness you didn't drown and we think you look amazing in a wet tshirt

A small p for parkrun, a giant P for mankind 15/7/17

07:30 Ignore alarm and hit snooze
07:35 Fall out of bed sideways, but manage to avoid killing cat
07:40 Watch drizzle slowly erm, drizzle down outside whilst filling coffee machine with Kenyan roast
07:45 Back up the dump truck at the household waste recycling centre
07:50 Don 3 Peaks race tshirt to remind myself I was quite hard once upon a time
08:10 Skoda DJ has developed sick sense of humour first playing "Waterfront" by Simple minds (Come in, come out of the rain) Then "Man don't cry" by the Christians
08:20 Arrive at Wetherby to streaming rain in a deserted park. Good job have brought mudclaws! (Didn't need them, wore vibram 5 fingers instead)
08:45 Rain stops and all sorts of very fit looking pro-runner types appear- York parkrun is cancelled this week!
08:50 Nemesis is not here this week having chosen to hide out in Italy all week to avoid the competition. He has been mainly posting gorgeous photos to social media
09:05 GO!
09:05:01 Bloke dressed in "gym gear" (bright luminous sleeveless top, leggings that end below the knee) sets off like a rocket and is leading at 50m. Instantly becomes this week's nemesis
09:06 Running in small group of people, unusual for Wetherby!
09:07 Nemesis fades in to distance. VICTORY IS MINE!! BWAAA HA HAAA!!!
09:08-10 Pack thins as runners begin to fade.
09:10 Determined to run even splits for once instead of dying away mid-run like flan in a cupboard
09:15 Chase down runner in front, settle in to 5th place.
09:15 to 09:25summat. PAIN!
09:25 Lay on floor in pool of sweat. I am dying, actually dying. Call an ambulance. No, I'm serious, I can see angels and a golden gate. No St Peter, I'M NOT READY!
09:30. Realise have run under 20 again, can feel the evil beginning to grow.
09:32 Make rude gesture at passing sea gull
11:41 Text message: Scott, your time in position 5 today at Wetherby parkrun was 19:27. You are now fully evil again, feel free to never return those library books you borrowed

It's a parkrun world 24/6/17

07:30 Alarm after actual full night's sleep!!
07:45 Drink coffee while contemplating today's run. Last chance for club championship points at Oakwell Hall. Beamsley Beacon fell race on Thursday and lots of tough training this week may not have been best idea. Ah well, time to enjoy the view instead!
08:15 Skoda DJ selects Africa by Toto for no apparent reason. Never mind, it's a great track
08:55 Thoroughly enjoy today's RD briefing as lots of tourists, a 50 run, a 150 run and a Ruby wedding anniversary! PARTY!
09:01 IT'S PAAAAAAAAAAAAAARKRUN (Shout in Noddy Holder from Slade's voice)
09:01:10 Spot fellow race photog, Philip Bland and do silly jump for photo. I may regret that
09:05 If you want to be the best, if you wanna beat the rest, oh, oh, undulation's what you need!
09:10 Resist urge to shout out "FREE SPEED!!" (TM Scott Jurek) on all the downhills when over taking people
09:15 Overtaken by very small child (JM 11-14)
09:18 Over take very small child on downhill
09:20 Over taken by very small child again
09:22 Beaten by very small child
09:23 Highly amuse young token scanners with my expert "snot rocket" (No one was injured in the execution of said rocket)
09:25 Grab camera and collapse on to floor whilst snapping away
09:50 Persuade volunteers to give up slice of anniversary cake. Nom, as you say, nom, as you correctly point out, nom
10:00 Watch incredibly cute dog playing football with boys in courtyard
10:05 Highly amused when ball bounces in to ladies toilets followed swiftly by cute dog. Boys are able to retrieve neither ball nor dog
10:10 Fight off "vicious" puppy attack from the gorgeous Poppy
10:43 Scott, your time in position 11 today at Oakwell Hall parkrun was 21:18. Well done. You're looking great today, have you been working out?

A ParkTrump (TM) day 17/6/17

07:00 Wake and do 1000 press-ups. I am the fittest man. No one is fitter than me, trust me
07:10-07-30 Sign executive orders making it illegal not to run Parkrun on a Saturday, to funnel-duck or to spell Parkrun with a small P
07:45 Put extra strong glue on head
08:00 Eat the best breakfast, really, just a tremendous breakfast
08:30 Check on building of wall around local Parkrun. Needs to be higher. More bigly even
08:45 Tweet that I will be winning Parkrun today
08:50 100,000 people turn up to run at Parkrun to support me
08:55 Have security throw out anyone who looks a bit foreign
09:00 Give short presentation on new Trump Trainers (TM) . These are really tremendous trainers, just the best, trust me. You should buy some today then you can Parkrun like me.
09:45 End of presentation. Can now start Parkrun
09:50 Stop to tweet about how I am the best parkrunner, really, believe me
09:56 Set new 5k world record of 11:59. Insist on being given time despite not having a barcode.
10:00 Tweet: My Parkrun was covfefe, truly, covfefe
10:30 Eat nearly all the cake, leave half a slice for everyone else.
11:00 News media reporting that I didn't win Parkrun. FAKE NEWS!!! #sad
18:00 Fox news special on my athletic ability, including all the olympic medals I could have won if I didn't decide to be the best TV celebrity ever

A parkrun crisis day 10/6/17

07:30 Awake to alarm, refreshed and feeling great and ready to run.
07:31 Just kidding, feel knackered as usual and hair looks like a hungover hedgehog that's been in a fight in a Wetherspoons at 3am
07:32 Look outside at curtain of rain falling from grey sky.
07:40 Sainsbury's own brand ground coffee in the machine. God, I feel so middle class
07:45 Select Oslo marathon tshirt for rare outing- have to limit its appearances as writing is starting to come off. Put rain jacket in bag
08:00 Start cajoling Sophia to ensure we leave on time
08:15 Skoda DJ, being an expert in irony chooses "Run to the Sun" by Erasure to help me drive through rain
08:35 Arrive at parkrun to find half the course covered by a surprise diveyball tournament
08:40 Crisis talks held between volunteers and I am dispatched off around the field to measure a lap.
08:50 Arrive back at start and report an 850ish metre lap. Cue frenzied counting on toes and fingers; hopefully 6 laps with the finishing funnel to be moved to try to get the right distance!
08:52 Try to find any runner that is faster than me to ensure first runner can let volunteers know where finishing funnel should be!
Spot nemesis who claims to be on for a slow time today due to having run 2 races during the week. I know him and I don't buy it ;)
08:55 Decided not to use waterproof jacket as I am wearing my special waterproof skin today and only recently had all the leaks in it blocked up
09:05 After an extended run brief, PARKRUNNNNNNNN
09:05:01 Nemesis blisters away from the start and quickly disappears in a blur of speed. I knew he was full of it ;)
09:15 After a week of being ill, lungs put up the little white flag pretty early
09:20-summat. Finish in "new PB" time. Definitely not due to a slightly short course. Oh no. definitely not. #alternativefacts
09:21 Take off shoes and go lovely and barefoot on the wet grass whilst I run with Sophia on her last 3 laps
09:40-summat. Sophia manages to keep in front of Adrian Kennedy who is pushing Iris in a buggy and encouraging Finn to run in between short trips on the front of the buggy
09:45 Castigate Adrian for having not tripped nemesis as requested. he had ONE job
10:00 Bacon and Yorkshire tea, paid for by Adrian. Suppose I will forgive him
10:28 Scott, your time in position 4 at Wetherby parkrun today was 19:16. Well done on a new PB. Thanks also for volunteering. Whilst we're at it, has anyone told you just how nice your bum looks in those shorts?
10:45 Reflect on fact that first 7 runners home got new PBs. Not suspicious at all, oh no, not suspicious at all. #morealtfacts
18:00ish. Prosecco to celebrate sophia's pb

A parkrun tourist day 13/5/17

07:00 Alarm
07:01 Very much consider staying in bed as not been able to train properly in a while
07:05 Survey injuries from major faceplant week last Tuesday: Graze and bruise to left shoulder nearly healed, shoulder still a little sore. Big toe a little tender and a little swollen. Ah well, I'll run anyway, what could possibly go wrong?
07:10 COFFEE!
07:20 Enter bathroom *CENSORED FOR PUBLIC DECENCY*
07:50 Miraculously leave house early, I say miraculously, because have Sophia with me!
07:50-08:35 Skoda DJ plays variety of entirely inappropriate songs for a parkrun day. Silly Skoda DJ. Eventually plays "What a feeling" from Flash dance as we enter Ripon. Have to do I suppose! I feel demotivated, Sophia just the opposite
08:45 Arrive at world heritage site: Fountain's Abbey and wander through stunning scenery down to start.
08:50 Warm up to check on toe. Quite sore. Might end up run/walking with Sophia.
09:00 Stand on very narrow and congested path at start. Wonder if very small child standing in front of me is fast enough to be there or really should be elsewhere to avoid being trampled.
09:03 PARKRUN.
09:04 parkshuffle as immediately blocked by slower runners and man pushing buggy, narrowly avoid tripping over. Hear large thump behind me as someone takes heavy tumble
09:06 Small child from start line still with front pack and running very well. Club team mate Patrick Wardle is up ahead and I can see him leading parkrun!!
09:06 Discover going downhill is "interesting" on toe
09:07 Feeling pretty good, go through first k in 3:40 well under 19 minute pace!
09:08 Lungs suddenly put up white flag and attempt to go sit in bunker. Persuade them to keep working which they do, just about, whilst in large sulk
09:10 Running along side man with very cute doggy
09:11 Cute doggy gets distracted by passer-by and wanders the wrong side of stake markers, owner realises at last minute and pulls dog towards him, dog slams in to stake. Man stops to check on dog which seems to be ok
09:18 Caught again by man with cute doggy, then passed by man with larger dog. Cute doggy tries to say hello to larger dog, bolts across path and disaster only avoided by man with larger dog executing very quick hurdle. Amazing reactions!
09:20 and change. Finish in a shower of sweat and gravel. Discover it's a bus ride to have your finish token scanned
09:30-45 Find Sophia and cajole/encourage her through to end for her second parkrun finish making sure to wave at volunteers not to stop watch again for me
10:00 Sit in cafe with Patrick, Laura and Sophia dissecting runs. Patrick finished 5th, Laura 99th.
11:24: Text message:Scott, your time in position 24 today at Fountains Abbey parkrun was 20:16. Better luck next week, you're still damnably sexy though
13:30 Sophia harasses the buggery-feck out of me asking questions about garmin connect and strava...beginning to regret encouraging her...
14:00 Damage report: Big toe quite tender and throbbing a little, wonder if I'll pay for this in the morning?

If Carlsberg did parkruns

10:00 Awoken gently by choir of angels softly singing
10:01 Time machine engaged, clock returns to 07:30
07:35 Arrive down in kitchen to find fresh ground coffee and bacon sandwiches on a silver platter
07:40 Breakfast on sun-bathed balcony over-looking nudist beach full of models
08:10 Long hot shower in a shower that doesn't constantly run boiling hot and freezing cold and completely fails to respond to movements of the heat controller
08:20 Put on lightest running kit ever that instantly makes me look both slim and muscular and it definitely doesn't smell of that ingrained sweat smell that's nigh-on impossible to remove
08:25 Picked up by chauffeur driving Stretch Skoda.
08:27 Skoda DJ plays brand-new never-before-heard Kings of Leon track entitled "You're the best parkrunner ever, Scott"
08:35 Arrive to find course has been changed to a 5k loop of perfectly flat, hand-manicured grass that is just slightly damp, yet warm with no turns, perfect for running barefoot
08:40 Steve Cram, Steve Ovett and Seb Coe all turn up and have a bit of a chat before lining up for the run near me
08:50 Stroke an endless supply of incredibly cute dogs
09:00 PARKRUN!
09:00 Feel amazing. Run easily with no aches, pains and definitely no tightening calves. Sprint in to lead. Nemesis fading behind me
09:12:30 Complete parkrun in new world record time
09:15 Take pictures of all 200 other runners with brand new Nikon D5
09:30 Carried aloft around course by other runners
09:50 Celebrate everyone in race beating their own PBs with sausage and egg sandwiches all round
11:00 Arrive home to find all photos have magically processed themselves and jumped on to the internet of their own accord. None are blurred or out of focus
11:10 Write funniest run report in history of run reporting
17:00 Steak dinner and..........prosecco!

I LOVE parkrun

I love that everyone is welcome. I love that at my first parkrun there was a 30+ stone man working *really* hard to improve his health. I love that Jonathan Brownlee holds the course record at York. I love that there are kids with their parents and dogs with their humans. I love that I can use it for rehab after an injury. I love that there is often cake. I love that I have an exclusive card that gives me access to hundreds of events the world over. I love that anyone who wants it can have that same access. I love that people happily volunteer to be VI guides. I love that I paced my friend to her first ever sub 30 time. I love having a profile with all my stats. I love that I can run a course of any kind: grass, tarmac, mud, hills and every combination of the above. I love that I can run them around lakes, coastlines, castles, stately homes, housing estates, sports fields, a ninja turtle shaped-park and other countries. I love the shirts that I am working to earn. I love staying with my camera until the final finisher to make sure everyone gets a photo. I love that there are people that only volunteer and don't run because they know how special it is. I love that there are so many people so dedicated to their parkruns and I love that there are people that only go tourist. I love that it's free. I love being able to race and get a time. I love that there are people as happy to break 50 minutes as 20 minutes. I love the diversity. I love that we all get to share it together. I love Saint Sinton-Hewitt for having set this all in motion and keeping it on the right path. I love that toddlers mix with teens that mix with the middle-aged that mix with the elderly, and I love that everyone of them is a parkrunner. I love that people walk and wheel and limp and sprint and smile at parkrun. I love that former olympic athletes take part. I love buying a bacon sarnie and mug of tea in the sports association after the run and chatting to everyone and I love that the money goes towards the sports association. I love the marshals that cheer me on. I love a PB. I love a milestone.
I love the parks
I love the running

I LOVE parkrun!

A non-tourist tourist parkrun day 25/3/17

07:45 Alarm goes on special day. Time to head to Bramley (Actually the closest run to my own home) because it's the last chance to do this parkrun in my running club's (Horsforth Fellandale) parkrun championship
07:47 Feel heavily hung-over. Odd, as I don't get hang overs and I didn't actually have a drink at Fellandale's awards dinner last night!
08:00 CAFFEINE!!
08:34 Admire new "parkrunner" sticker in back window of my car
08:35 Give skoda DJ at least 47 chances to choose motivational song, arrive at parkrun with skoda DJ having failed in task
08:45 Realise parkrun barcode card will not fit in regulation Fellandale blue shorts. Revert to plan B and grab laminated card and fold up to fit in tiny shorts pocket
08:50 Violate toilet in Bramley's park hut
08:55 Chat to other Fellandalers before the off, enjoying the glorious sunshine. (and no that's NOT a joke!! it was sunny!)
09:02 PARKRUN!!
09:02:05 LEAD PARKRUN!!!!!
09:02:10 Overtaken by small child
09:03 At top of "Upward flat section" small child tires badly. Resist urge to blow raspberry at child as I pass
09:04 Begin to be over taken by more bigger runners
09:03-09:21Summat- Pant, pant, PANT. GRUNT. WHEEZE. PAIN
09:12 Begin to weave in and out of back-markers. Much slower runners blocking entire path on down hill section. 10 seconds to make decision....left? right? grass?
09:12:10 Gap miraculously opens in road block accompanied by sounds of choir of small children and blinding light from heaven. Cruise through centre of runners
09:17ish Go up "upward flat section" for 4th and final time. ARRGGHH!
09:21 Try to stop self from vomiting in finish funnel. Only just manage it
09:22 Cheer in amazing small child whom I wrongly thought had tired badly and must have been miles behind me!
09:22:30 Cheer in rest of Fellandalers and thank amazing volunteers who are brilliant at shouting out encouragement!
09:30 Offer to write run report for Bramley parkrun page which is gratefully accepted
10:00 HUGE full English to celebrate another post-stress fracture PB and post PPPP to facebook

Saturday, 22 April 2017

parkrun stories

22/4/17 Wetherby parkrun 93

Thy parkrun cometh and that right soon

07:30 Alarm
07:31 Check to see if legs have reattached after snapping them off with too hard training during week. Feel ok after loosener run last night and legs seem to be hanging from my bottom well enough
07:35 Put the coffee in the coffee pot and drink it all up
07:40 Don club vest. Last chance to beat 73% WAVA as cannot do another Wetherby parkrun this month.
07:41 Realise have forgotten tracksuit bottoms. Hope it's warm!
07:45 Given order from Sophia to pick up worming tablets from vets after parkrun. Unsure if worming tablets are for Bella the cat or me
08:00 Wiggle it, just a little bit, come on and wiggle it, just a little bit. Glutes: READY!
08:30 Skoda DJ selects "You're the voice" by John Farnham for motivation. Not bad, Skoda DJ, not bad
08:35 Hit *every* high note in song and definitely sound like international pop star rather than 60-year smoker with vocal polyps who is tone-deaf
08:45 Meet Martin​ from Horsforth Fellandale​ in car park and walk to sports assoc together. Leave Tom​ setting up pushchair for Thor
08:50 Detonate small nuclear device in toilets of sports association. Sorry, footballers, but you need to toughen up anyway. *Football?!* sheesh
09:00 PARKRUN!!
09:00:01 2 runners blister away from start
09:00:30 2 runners who blistered away
now appear to be running backwards. Settle in to 2nd behind Steve Boynton​ herein known as "The Nemesis" with a PB about 40 seconds better than mine
09:07 Hear The Nemesis catching me. Trying to hold on!
09:07:30 Offer marshals bribes of money, cakes or my body to trip up The Nemesis or send him wrong way. None go for it. Especially not the body offer
09:08 Passed by Nemesis, ah well, it was good whilst it lasted! Try to tuck in behind Nemesis, but soon starts pulling away from me
09:10 Watch Nemesis slowly extend lead. Now have to concentrate on keeping pace up
09:18summat. See finish, must sprint hard, prosecco is at stake!!
09:19summat. Probably a PB but no sub 19 and no significant WAVA improvement.
09:22ish Photographising
09:30 Debrief with fellow Fellandalers
09:40 BACON!
10:05 Text message: Scott, your time in position 2 at Wetherby parkrun was 19:18. Well done on a new PB. Hot damn! You are good. Would you please be our poster-boy for parkrun?!
11:30 Ensure prosecco is in fridge because it's parkrun law
11:35 Calves deliver very long, loud, ranty lecture to me detailing my abuse of them over many years. Ignore calves because........NEW PB!!!!
parkrun. All one word, all lower case #aowalc
I LOVE parkrun

I love that everyone is welcome. I love that at my first parkrun there was a 30+ stone man working *really* hard to improve his health. I love that Jonathan Brownlee​ holds the course record at York. I love that there are kids with their parents and dogs with their humans. I love that I can use it for rehab after an injury. I love that there is often cake. I love that I have an exclusive card that gives me access to hundreds of events the world over. I love that anyone who wants it can have that same access. I love that people happily volunteer to be VI guides. I love that I paced my friend to her first ever sub 30 time. I love having a profile with all my stats. I love that I can run a course of any kind: grass, tarmac, mud, hills and every combination of the above. I love that I can run them around lakes, coastlines, castles, stately homes, housing estates, sports fields, a ninja turtle shaped-park and other countries. I love the shirts that I am working to earn. I love staying with my camera until the final finisher to make sure everyone gets a photo. I love that there are people that only volunteer and don't run because they know how special it is. I love that there are so many people so dedicated to their parkruns and I love that there are people that only go tourist. I love that it's free. I love being able to race and get a time. I love that there are people as happy to break 50 minutes as 20 minutes. I love the diversity. I love that we all get to share it together. I love Saint Sinton-Hewitt for having set this all in motion and keeping it on the right path. I love that toddlers mix with teens that mix with the middle-aged that mix with the elderly, and I love that everyone of them is a parkrunner. I love that people walk and wheel and limp and sprint and smile at parkrun. I love that former olympic athletes take part. I love buying a bacon sarnie and mug of tea in the sports association after the run and chatting to everyone and I love that the money goes towards the sports association. I love the marshals that cheer me on. I love a PB. I love a milestone.
I love the parks
I love the running

I LOVE parkrun!

Wetherby parkrun 92 15/4/17

I parkrun, therefore I am

05:30 Woken by Sophia having conversation with the cat. Cat does not respond, but like to think she's saying, "Shut up, Scott is trying to get a good rest before parkrun"
07:30 Alarm, coffee
07:35 Disaster! Realise have forgotten long sleeved top to go under club vest. Going to be a chilly one...
07:45 Give all boys in yard a flavoured milk-based beverage and throw them out before starting hip wiggling exercises
07:50 Eye up choccy egg that will be reward for today's run
08:10 Skoda DJ trying to select motivating song, but being rubbish. Eventually settle on "Don't you forget about me" by Simple minds- 80s classic, if not very motivating lyrics
08:10 HEY HEY HEY! Ooooooooooh, wooooooh!
08:40 Lots more Fellandalers turn up to run! Yay clubmates!
08:45 Recognise several very fast runners from Woodhouse Moor parkrun which has been cancelled today
08:57 Freezing mammaries off in vest and shorts! Pleased by reduction in body-weight
09:00:10 Surprised to be passed by Fellandale vest being worn by second-claimer Patrick​! My fell race times are a little quicker than his,but he soon disappears in to the distance!
09:05 Need to beat 18:55 to get WAVA of 73% and take lead in Fellandale parkrun champs
09:10 Not feeling it! Trying not to die! Patrick continues to get smaller in distance
09:18summat Final push. Glance at watch. Sub 19 is out, but PB is on. Need good sprint!
09:19:** Complete sprint and collapse through line. Garmin is inconclusive. Need to wait for text!
09:25 Photies! Cute doggy shots galore!
09:40 BACON!
10:15 Text message: Scott, your time in position 10 today at Wetherby parkrun was 19:20. Well done on a new PB.  You are the most awesomest parkrunner that ever did awesome at a parkrun. A NEW ALL-TIME PB!!!!!! BY ONE WHOLE COMPLETE...........WAIT FOR IT..........1 SECOND!
11:00 Arrive back at house and place gigantic bottle of prosecco in fridge for celebration!
11:30-13:30 Reports, editing photographs, shower etc, etc, BLAH BLAH BLAH, who cares? I GOT A PB!!!!!!!!!!!!
23:23 Mega pleased with PB as fitness still to gain and fatness still to lose!

Wetherby parkrun 91 8/4/17

My parky-warky run

05:00 Woken up for umpteenth time by Sophia sniffling/coughing/sighing. Try to summon up nurse sympathy. Unable to. Roll over and go back to sleep
07:30-40 Alarm. Set coffee machine. Put on Fellandale vest
08:00 Consciously avoid writing anything about bathroom habits to stop feeding sick addictions of parkrun discussion group regulars
08:01 And "regular" wasn't a reference to anything before you all start
08:10 Spend some time wiggling hips in suggestive fashion to appease physio gods. Go outside to find all boys in yard asking for milkshake
08:30 Arrive in Wetherby with Skoda DJ having utterly failed to select motivating song. Slap self in face to manually add adrenaline.
08:35 Fellow parkrunner: "OH! You're barefoot, no wait, they're socks, or are they? they're running shoes are they? I think?!?"
Me: "They're vibram five fingers"
Fellow parkrunner: "."
08:40 DISASTER! Have forgotten GPS watch! And if it ain't on Strava.....
08:45 Test out bare feet. Bit too bumpy and dry- feet not yet up to it. Put on vivobarefoot trainers instead
08:50 Pleased to see other Fellandale team members have turned out for the club parkrun championship. Now have to try to get highest WAVA score!
09:05 Boynton boys disappear into distance, apart from Steve Boynton​, who is just in front (He always stays there too!)
09:05-09:19ish Feeling great. Able to run much smoother and faster than I have in a long while. Baffled as thought had done too much hard training too close to parkrun to run well!
09:15 Actually have enough energy on last lap to "give it some welly" Feel like have managed to run even splits for once rather than getting progressively slower. Curse self again for forgetting watch.
09:20 Completely forget that I need to give barcode to lovely scanner volunteer who is looking at me puzzled. Manage to fish card out of back of shorts and hold well away from poor volunteer
09:20:05 Ask timer what time I did. 19:30ish she says. Hmmmm, think the timers might be wrong this week?? Clang cowbell of cloud 9 just to be safe
09:25 Start taking photos
09:40 Women working very hard to finish her run is approached by her son who is shouting "Mum, mum, I beat my Dad and brother"
Mum gasps: "That's good" as she keeps putting in huge effort to finish
"Come on Mum!"
"I AM coming!"
"Oh Mum, you're so slow"
"I know"
09:50 BACON!
10:26 Text message. Scott, your time in position 7 at Wetherby parkrun was 19:28. You are tremendous. You run parkrun so bigly. You're making parkrun great again.
11:00 Arrive back at house. Sophia: "What's it like outside?"
Me: "Just like inside, only bigger"
12:00 Shock of smashing this years PB, my post break PB, being 56 seconds faster than last week and only being 7 seconds outside my all-time PB sinks in. Pick self up off floor.

Wetherby parkrun No90 1/4/17

A 2nd anniversary parkrun day

07:30 Alarm set a little earlier to ensure campness of exercises is extra camp as per biomechanical guy's instructions
07:35 Coffee machine primed with TNT coffee
07:40 Put on club vest and regulation blue shorts as Wetherby is Fellandale's designated parkrun championship course for April,
08:20 Leave nice and early for parkrun with Sophia who has volunteered today for Wetherby's 2nd anniversary run
08:22 Skoda DJ obviously knows it's April the 1st and chooses "A Town called Malice" as I head to Wetherby. Jokes on you, Skoda DJ, it's an excellent song for raising spirits despite the lyrics!
08:30 As we walk from car park Sophia asks, "Where's the cakes?" Head back to car for lemon drizzle slices I baked to celebrate the anniversary
08:35 Arrive at parkrun and try to find area out of sight to mince through exercises
08:40 Test out barefoot running to see if can run on blister caused by hill sprints earlier in week. Test failed, put on vivobarefoot trainers
08:50 Laugh at crazy black lab pelting in and out of gathered runners
09:00 ED Dawe​ rants about the fact it's an anniversary run and she is the only one in fancy dress (as Lara croft; we were all praying the guns were fake)
09:03 PARKRUN!
09:04 Settle in to 4th place
09:05-09:22ish Try to do even splits instead of recent increasingly slower splits as run goes on
09:22 ish. Finish with "sprint. Celebrate 2017/PB PB by clanging Cowbell of cloud 9 then eat own lemon drizzle slice
09:23 Runner 1 place behind me tells me how he couldn't quite catch me but had been chasing me all the way around. Then says he got a big PB. I take full credit for this. Me, all me
09:25 Camera showing error code! Forgotten memory card! No photos today :(
09:45 Bacon sanger for me, sausage and fried egg for Sophia
09:50 Joseph the whippet sneaks up behind me and sticks nose into bacon sarnie, cheeky little monkey; and after all the doggy snacks I've given him!
10:15 Text message. Scott, your time in position 4 today at Wetherby parkrun was 20:24. All the other parkrunners agreed that you were today's sexiest runner
10:20 Celebrate a PBPB of 36 seconds and a Wetherby PBPB of 46 seconds.
10:30 Inform umpteenth person that *I* made the lemon drizzle slices *not* Sophia. #everydaysexism
11:30. Discover camera does in fact have memory card in it, error code was because lens was not correctly fitted. Whoooooops
12:00 Cuppa proper Yorkshire tea aaaaaaand relax

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Not another bl**dy Scott Leach report (Title ©Martin Gebbett​) Wetherby parkrun number 87

Not another bl**dy Scott Leach report (©Martin Gebbett​)

17:00 Realise have left fell trainers at home. Consider 1.5 hour round trip to get them. Naaah, it'll be reet
05:00-07:30 Cat doing cat things
07:45 Alarm. Really alarmed. Very alarmed
07:50 Choose Ron Hill tshirt that just says runandrunrunandrunrunandrunrunandrunrunandrunrunandrunrunandrun
08:00 Caffeine!
08:10 Drop off deposit at the porcelain bank
08:25 Let Skoda shuffle DJ select motivating track. All Fall Down by One Republic. Hmmmmm, try again
08:27 After 15th try Skoda DJ selects Glittering Prize by Simple Minds
08:35 Discover Wetherby weir has a "Salmon ladder" Mind boggles with images. Perhaps it's a euphamism?
08:40 Strip then run about a bit to see if laces are ok on inov8 roclite trainers. They're not. Lace, relace, run, repeat
08:55 ED Nykie Dawe​ goes on rant asking for people to volunteer as run director. People examine trainers closely. We are all suitably chastised. Some are slightly turned on. No one volunteers
08:56 Tourists revealed to be from city of culture 2017 Kingston Upon Hull, one is wearing Hull FC shirt. ED declines rendition of "Old Faithful" due to being a Saints supporter. Everyone who isn't a rugby league fan is baffled by exchange
09:00 PARKRUN!
09:00:30 Feel excellent, run fast and smooth
09:01 Feel knackered, have gone out too fast. Start to slow down.
09:02 7 time Wetherby first finisher Stephen Boynton decides to show off his ballet skills at the 3rd corner by doing the splits and a pirouette in front of me but miraculously keeps his feet
09:03 Roclite shoes are hopeless in mud, feel like Michael Jackson doing moonwalk
09:15 Lap runners from Hull and give them a burst of "Mark Sneyd's on fire, your defence is terrified!"
09:22:27 Cross line then struggle to pull barcode out of pocket at back of shorts. Consider how this looks to poor barcode scanner. Make sure hold out barcode to be scanned rather than hand to volunteer
09:25 Take photos
10:00 Go straight up to shower as Sophia complaining about the stink very loudly
10:45 Bacon and egg!
11:00 Settle down in front of computer to write reports and process photos with coffee

Which trainer should I choose?

Tweet me @scott_leach   

As you can see from the photo above that represents a tiny fraction of my collection, I am not a stranger to trainers.

SPOILER: Most modern trainers have numerous problems: A large toe spring, a small toe box, cushioning that wrecks proprioception and stiffness. I'm going to try to explain why all of these things are terrible for your feet.
SPOILER 2: If you have an injury and are about to try to solve it with expensive new trainers, leave this blog now and start googling sports physio in your area.
SPOILER 3: Running shoes all fit in to a scale. At one end you have good trainers that allow your feet to move naturally and don't adversely affect your running gait and at the other end you have trainers that entirely stop that natural movement. Most trainers fall towards the wrong end of that scale.

One of the most consistently repeated questions I see on internet forums is "What trainers should I choose?" Unfortunately, this is generally met with a barrage of advice that is "runners' conventional wisdom". Sadly, almost all of this "conventional runner's wisdom" is wrong with absolutely no evidence or scientific back up, unless you count anecdotal evidence, which you really, really shouldn't.

I'm a nurse, so I'm pretty used to reading medical research and studied anatomy and physiology at university. I also completed a degree in mechanical engineering with my thesis being in medical engineering that looked at stress and strain on tendons and ligaments (Institute of mechanical engineers gave me a medal for that study and I received the highest score on the mechanical degree that year and the second highest in the department) So hopefully this will give you some confidence in what I have to say.

The number one piece of conventional wisdom we as runners have been fed is "You must go to a specialist sports shop and get "gait analysed" and "properly" fitted for a shoe. I cannot emphasise enough how sports shops CANNOT carry out real gait analysis. If you want that you need a specialised physio or a biomechanical specialist, probably at a university. Even if you get that, it is unlikely they will recommend a shoe to you, although they may tell you to stop wearing a terrible control trainer.

Our feet contain lots of moving parts; bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. They evolved over many millennia to be wonderfully elegant structures. They contain everything you need to run well. The problem being, is that modern lives and modern shoes wreck our feet. The muscles and structures in our feet become weak at which point most people try to compensate for that by stuffing bits of foam in to them also known as "orthotics" and "motion control trainers" Unless you have an actual medical deformity, this is usually about the worst thing you can do.
Your foot has an arch in it, it has that arch because an arch is a very strong structure. The best way to weaken an arch is to push something up in to the middle of it- exactly what motion control shoes and orthotics do. This may give you some short term relief from pain, but ultimately it means that the muscles are doing even less of the work they should be doing and will only become even weaker. A much better way to deal with problems in your feet and ankles is to see a decent sports physio or biomechanical specialist and get them to identify where your muscles are weak or turned off and where they are over-active and to give you exercises to correct this.

The perfect trainer:

I've spent the last few years reading everything I can about the way we run in an attempt to correct my own injuries (Long story; don't ask!) And here's what I believe the perfect trainer would be:

Most modern road trainers are virtually solid. If you cannot "wring" your trainer out, i.e., you are not able to twist it round, it's too stiff. Your foot is meant to move and flex when you run, a trainer with a solid sole stops the natural movement.

Foot shaped.
Most modern trainers have a pointy end. Feet are not pointy! Your toes slope down to one side meaning your toes are pulled inwards by pointy trainers. Your big toe should point forward when you run and be allowed to move, many trainers don't allow this as the shape isn't right.

No toe spring.
Most modern trainers curl upwards at the front. The "logic" in this is that it helps you spring off the floor. In fact what it does is leaves some of the tendons in your foot under constant tension. Tendons are meant to be elastic, we pull them tight then let them go gaining momentum from the elastic recoil. That's what they're meant for, you won't damage them by doing that correctly and it takes far less energy to do that than using muscles entirely for your movement.

Zero drop
There should be no difference in the height between the heel and the toes. When shoes have a huge heel drop it helps to shorten your achilles tendon. Swapping from shoes that have a big drop (let's say 12mm) to a zero or low drop shoe will be difficult for you after years of modern shoes, but it's worth it in the end.

Very little cushioning.
I know a shoe with a great wedge of foam is comfy and feels great, but chips taste great too, and you wouldn't eat them for every meal. Your foot needs to feel the floor so it can feed back to your body about how you are running and adjust accordingly. It's the number one thing you need for your body to prevent injury by itself. That feed back is called proprioception and the more cushioning there is, the more your proprioception is dulled.

To my knowledge, there is no trainer currently on the market that does all these things excepting barefoot trainers. Most people's feet are a long way from being able to run barefoot because of years of abuse in modern shoes with high heels, cushioning, arch support and inflexible soles. Trying to swap immediately from a heavily cushioned, arch-supported modern running shoes to a minimalist or barefoot shoe is very likely to result in injury. I believe there is great benefit in moving towards neutral shoes, but it's difficult to do and shouldn't be undertaken lightly. If your feet are strong and your gait is good, you can get away with some cushioning. If you've exercised since being a child and never really had a break, you're likely to be fine, but if you returned to running/exercise after many years of inactivity you'll need to be cautious. That doesn't mean not changing, it just means changing in small increments

Many people are going to disagree with what I have said, they will quote things such as "I bought a new trainer and all my problems went away" Whilst it may be true that your new trainer might have masked your issues, it's unlikely (but not impossible) that your problems went away, it does of course depend on what was causing your problems. If you were wearing a trainer that was very bad for your feet a new trainer might actually solve it, but that's not the case most times. There are more likely; reasons such as you rested because you were injured or you did exercises that a physio gave you. Either way, relying on a new trainer to solve your injury issues is a very bad way top go about things and is a real gamble.

"But I have a high/low arch"

No, you don't. Wait- stick with me. There is no reliable tool invented that can accurately measure an arch and tell you if it is "low or high" when you are told this by someone, they are basically having a guess based on their anecdotal evidence.  Besides, there is absolutely no good evidence to say that a high or low arch has any bearing whatsoever on your running. Strong muscles in your feet are the key, regardless of the height of your arch

"But I over/under pronate"

No, you don't. Once again, there is no good evidence to say this has any bearing on your running or injury rate. Our feet are meant to pronate, it's part of out natural shock absorption and there is no tool to measure this let alone tell you if it is too much or too little, once again it is personal bias based on anecdotal evidence. When you use orthotics or motion control trainers to change the pronation of your feet you are stopping the muscles working that are meant to stabilise and control the movement of your feet.

You'll notice that I have not actually recommended any trainers. That's partly because you won't be able to fulfil all the criteria but also because it's more important to just try on a lot of trainers and choose one that feels comfortable to you.

So all of that will have put the cat amongst the pigeons, but hopefully, at the very least I might have started you thinking differently about what you put on your feet, even if I haven't managed to convince you.

Some useful reading that challenges "Conventional runners' wisdom" that will hopefully get you thinking differently if you don't already:

Tweet me @Scott_Leach

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Parkrunning across the universe, only going forward 'cos we can't find reverse

Parkrunning across the universe, only going forward 'cos we can't find reverse.

Midweek: Find out there is a parkrun in Wolverhampton in a ninja turtle-shaped park! Stay amused for rest of week.
Friday: Pressure builds to write highly amusing parkrun report. Feck it, I'll just write my usual unfunny one instead

07:55 Girlfriend's alarm goes off 5 minutes before mine, presumably as a punishment for "volunteering" her for scanning duty after plea from ED for marshals.
07:57 Set coffee machine off with Sainsbury's own brand ground coffee as am now part of the middle class
08:00 Startled by MY alarm going off
08:01 Choose between Hull FC vest (2016 Challenge cup winners COYH) or "hilarious" "Education is important, but running is importanter" tshirt. Go for latter
08:02 Don more lycra than is respectable for a 42 year old man
08:05 CAFFEINE!!
08:15 Enter bathroom
08:15:30 Commit crime against humanity
08:25 Remember to perform all physio exercises and roll on mini basketball. Hum Barbara Streisand hits
08:27 Begin to cajole girlfriend to hurry up so we are not late. Girlfriend still in dressing gown
08:30 Give girlfriend 5 minute warning. Refrain from shouting "Awooga"
08:40 Leave for parkrun
08:41 Select Journey's classic "Don't stop believin'" on car stereo.
08:42 Sing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.
08:43 Girlfriend gives me "unimpressed look"
08:48 Arrive at car park and start speed walking to start
08:55 Strip and make fuss of lovely whippet
08:57 Quickly show girlfriend camera so she can get runners on first lap. Neglect to show her how to use pro lens that she hasn't used before. Whoops
09:00 PARKRUN!!
09:02 Left shoe lace unties completely
09:05 Rather surprised that young lad who sets off in the lead is wearing very large down jacket
09:10 Eventually tell young lad that he needs to go around the cones rather than cutting every single corner "But it's muddy" "Tough, it's muddy for everyone" (Cones are partly to prevent damage to pitches so important for not annoying the local footballers and sports association)
09:20 Hear what I think is young lad catching me. Am actually passed by grey haired lady who is moving at a lick! Results show she is a veteran 60-64 from York!!!! RESPECT!
09:21:31 Enter finish funnel and left shoe finally gives up holding on and I leave it behind. Marshal helpfully picks it up and starts to put it neatly away. Hop after her on one foot "Actually, I do rather need that back"
09:22 Wave barcode in front of girlfriend who is clearly miles away
09:23 Grab camera and start snapping
09:35 Cafe: Laugh at bulldog trying to get on cafe counter after he smells frying bacon/sausages
09:42 Post PPP (Post parkrun porn) picture of sausage sarnie to parkrun discussion group. I WILL make it catch on :)
09:45 Look through photos. Good lord, I'm fat!
10:10 Find parkrun card on ground on way out of sports assoc. ICE information reads: "Handle like eggs"
10:15 Text message: Scott, your time in position 6 at Wetherby parkrun was 21:31. Well done. Thanks also for volunteering. (22 seconds faster than last week, result!)
10:48 Card owner returns my call whilst I'm in Morrisons's buying ingredients for Shepherd's pie. Arrange to exchange card on Tuesday
11:30 Select music for drive home; Kaiser Chiefs classic. Change lyrics to "I predict a diet"
12:00 Start download and processing of pictures12:57 Girlfriend claims she is "tired" from scanning duties....
13:03 Publish report as photos are taking forever. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand relax

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Another parkrun day 14/1/17

Another parkrun day.....

That's not me, he's just a very happy bloke I happened to photograph

03:34 Woken by cat screaming whilst sitting in middle of bed
06:34 Wake up for the 14th billionth time and with a painful yet strangely numb arm.
08:00 Woken by alarm
08:02:53 Crawl to bathroom sobbing
08:10 Disaster! Discover boiler has gone off and cannot warm coffee pot before putting in machine meaning probably lukewarm coffee!!
08:15 Manage to reset boiler. Phew!!
08:20 Choose between 2013 Oslo marathon tshirt which has very little life left in it due to poor quality of printing or Trafford 10k tshirt. Plump for former
08:21 Caffeine hit!
08:29 Assault toilet
08:30 Reflect on the fact that I may have last night, somewhat unwisely, after a couple of glasses of wine, announced on facebook page that I plan to win today's parkrun by nobbling 10 other runners
08:35 Check through window to see if any police cars outside.
08:45 Leave for parkrun with relieving lack of flashing blue lights
08:47 Return to house for trainers
08:50 Select today's adrenaline inducing banging choon on car stereo- Hard to Beat by Hard-fi. Sing like loon
08:52 Arrive at Wetherby car park; now in serious hurry to get to start line on time
08:54 Whilst speed walking realise have forgotten to do physio exercises
08:55 Do some quick hip-hitches. Resist urge to sing "I'm coming out"
08:57 Strip and put on trainers etc- leave huge pile of clothing as have brought extra warm gear so can photograph runners later
09:00 Still lacing up trainers when ED announces we are about to start!
09:00:10 Realise have forgotten barcode card!
09:00:15 Get  back-up laminated barcode from sports bag and stuff in back pocket of shorts, because am genius
09:00:45 Put on other glove as sprinting away from start
09:01 Laugh as the 2 young lads that have blistered away from start line playfully shoulder charge each other as they disappear away from the rest of us mere mortals
09:02 Realise that have not tied up left trainer well enough
09:04 Realise that inov8 mudclaw fell trainers are not best choice on completely frozen mud
09:10 Settle in to tenth position
09:21:30 Realise runner behind is coming up fast as we approach finish line
09:21:35 Find killer instinct and sprint like a nutter for line to retain tenth position
09:23 Realise that cannot find back-up barcode in pocket because am def not genius
09:25 Grab camera and start snapping away at other runners
09:40 BACON!

09:50 Arrive home and find barcode stuck to inside of pocket with buttock sweat
10:29 Text message: Scott, thanks for volunteering today at Wetherby parkrun. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by us and all the runners. (They haven't seen the pictures yet!)
10:40 Head to shower to avoid "You stink" comments only to find girlfriend has put washing machine on.
11:00. Start processing pictures!
11:30 Delete worst blurry photos
11:40 Start download!
11:42 Aaaaaand, relax!
11:44 Text message: Scott, your time in position 10 today at Wetherby parkrun was 21:53. Well done. (33 seconds faster than last week. Result!)
18:00 Open magnum of prosecco

A parkrun day 7/1/17

A parkrun day...
Here's one someone took earlier. Think this was at Woodhouse moor parkrun about 3 years ago
07:50 Wake naturally 10 minutes before the alarm, result!
07:55 Put the coffee machine on
08:00 Startled by alarm going off
08:01 Choose between wearing "intimidating" ultra-marathon tshirt to "psyche" out the "opposition" or awesome cool Halloween Scarborough 10k tshirt. Plump for latter
08:10 Caffeine hit!
08:20 Violate the toilet
08:30 Check TUE certificate is still valid
08:31 Steroid inhaler
08:40 Leave for parkrun Wetherby
08:41 Select adrenaline-inducing tune "Reverend" by The Kings of Leon on car stereo and sing it at the top of my voice
08:50 Arrive at park and do incredibly camp hip exercises the physio has given me on steps in front of sports association- manage not to get arrested or put on any registers but earn some funny looks
08:55 Strip!
08:57 Pat cute doggies!
09:00 PARKRUN!
09:01 Wonder if I am going to finish behind man pushing large child in buggy
09:05 Pass buggy, phew!
09:26:30 Try to get brain to tell hands to hold out token and barcode. Pretty much fail
09:27 See life flash before eyes. DAMN! I eat a lot of cake!
09:28 Manage to gasp out a thank you to marshals
09:30 Laugh as large child emerges from buggy and pulls woolly hat out of eyes
09:35 Man behind cafe counter asks me "Is it raining outside?" Me: "Um no, I've just been running"
09:36 Try not to drip on cafe counter
09:40 BACON!

09:41 Post PPP bacon picture to parkrun discussion group
10:17 Text message: Scott, your time in position 13 today at Wetherby parkrun was 22:26. Well done.
10:18 Sit wondering if being 13th 2 weeks running is an odd omen especially whilst wearing 10k Halloween tshirt....
10:20 Throw trainers, tshirt and hat into courtyard after dagger looks from girlfriend
10:30 Aaaaaaaaaand relax
11:30 Eventually go for a shower because, apparently, I am "stinking out the house"

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Challenge Cup Final. Hull v Warrington 27/8/16

Nope, this blog is not about running. My other life-long passion is rugby league and this is pretty much a diary-entry to remind me of an amazing day. Rugby league players are incredible athletes, they need to be very powerful with a huge amount of fitness.

On Wembley way
As Hull FC travelled further down their challenge cup path this year, it was as if someone had opened up the book of sod's law and decided to start applying random rules to me. Just before the semi-final against Wigan, I realised that I was down to work the weekend of the final. Did I tempt fate and try to change it, or wait to see if we beat Wigan? I decided to wait. Very soon after the win at the Keepmoat that put us in to the final, I started frantically trying to change my shifts. While I was worrying away about all this, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture just above my left ankle. So now I was in a boot (visible in the picture above) and on crutches. How the hell would I get up the steps to my seat? In the event, I was only on crutches for 2 weeks so I would only have the boot to contend with at Wembley, thankfully. At least I didn't need to get my shift changed now as I would be on sick at the time of the final.

Not since 1983 have Hull been the favourites going in to a CC final, in fact, they've been big underdogs. And being the underdogs, I approached each of the finals in the same way, with no expectations of a win, I just went to enjoy the day regardless of the result. But this year it was different. We were favourites. We sit deservedly top of super league having beaten 2nd team Warrington twice this season in tight games. We had beaten Saints, Cats and Wigan to reach the final, a very tough, all super league route against top 8 sides. This year, we really could do it and for the first time, I was actually nervous before a final. Friday evening before the match was very, very long and I whiled away my time watching old videos of challenge cup memories on line.

And now some background. I started going to Hull FC games in 1983 aged 8 and the very first game I ever saw them lose was the 1983 cup final at Wembley, beaten by Featherstone Rovers who were the biggest betting underdogs of all time at the time, until Sheffield Eagles played Wigan in 1998, who also overturned the massive odds.
Since then Hull have returned to the final in 1985, 2005, 2008 and 2013 winning only once in 2005 at the millennium stadium in Cardiff. All told, Hull FC had lost 8 times at Wembley without ever winning. Speaking of which......

Now imagine, if you will, that you are a small rugby league club managing to punch a little above your weight and that across the city is a much bigger club. The bigger have won more derby games, more leagues, more cups, more challenge cup finals and have a lot more fans. If you were a fan of that little club, you might clutch at any straw you could and the straw that Hull Kingston Rover's fans have been clutching at for the past 36 years is that they won their solitary challenge cup victory at Wembley against Hull. The Rover's fans even sing their own version of Hull's anthem "Old Faithful" changing the lyrics to "You'll never win at Wembley" Now I am yet to meet a Hull FC fan who gave a crap about where Hull FC's 3 challenge cup wins happened, the only reason it became important is because of those clutched straws in the sweaty palms of the desperate Rovers fans. But in the end, the city of Hull has to face it, both teams are massive under-achievers in the grand scheme of rugby league but as bad as Hull's record is, Rover's is much worse. And if, in 140 years, your team had only won the cup once, and that was 36 years ago, you'd think that you probably wouldn't want to bring attention to that fact, but that's Rovers fans for you.
This year, the "Wembley hoodoo" talk reached a crescendo. Not mentioned all that much in previous cup finals for Hull, this year the press picked up on it much more and it was constantly mentioned. Breaking with tradition Hull's coach, Lee Radford talked about it a lot in the lead up to the final. He really wanted to shut up those Rover's fans and was using it as motivation to the squad.

And so in 2016, it had come to pass, that the 2 top teams in super league would battle it out in the cup final, the most eagerly awaited final for many years by most neutrals, never mind the fans of the 2 clubs. It was mouth-watering. Super league's 1 v 2, Yorkshire v Lancashire. Too close for most pundits to call. Two big packs promising to deliver a battering, bruising match and they delivered in spades.

Sophia and I arrived in Stanmore after a 3 hour drive and managed to park about a 5 minute limp from the station. We caught the train to Wembley park and by the time we arrived, the boot was rubbing the crap out of my shin as I limped along, but the view down Wembley way has a way of making you forget all about such things. The Hull fans were turning it into a sea of Black and White.

The lead up to kick off is full of pomp with a red carpet line-up and a rendition of "Abide with me" before the national anthem with all 76000 fans on their feet.

The first half was a brutal affair with huge collisions from both sides. I doubt many people would have predicted that it would take until the 34th minute before the first points would be on the board. Neither team had looked like scoring with defences on top until a pass from a very tired looking Frank Pritchard was intercepted by Chris Sandow who went the best part of 90 metres. Amazingly he was hauled down by Jamie Shaul who had set off after him like an Exocet missile. It only delayed the inevitable as Warrington scored with the next play. 6-0 to the Wire at half time and it was probably a fair reflection of a close, hard-fought 1st half.

I wasn't worried at all at half time, Hull have been a second half team all season coming from behind many times to win games. The most significant probably being the semi final v Wigan. In a lot of those matches, around 50 minutes in to the game, Hull had come alive, blasted out 3 or 4 quick tries and killed off the game. When we hit the 62 minute mark and it was 10-0 to Warrington, I definitely WAS worried.

Now, unfortunately a quick mention of the referee before we can get back to talking about the rugby. He was terrible. Truly awful. At my count he made 4 of the worst decisions ever seen in a cup final. "Letting the game flow" is all very well and something most fans would generally like to see in a cup final but failing to give blindingly obvious penalties is not ok. I have now watched the match again on TV to verify what I thought I had seen in the stadium, after all, I was a long way away in the stands and it is easy to see something different from so far away in the heat of the moment, but the TV footage was on my side. So here's his top "hits"

Failing to give a GIGANTIC knock on from a kick off against Wire. The player turned towards his own posts and pulled the ball towards himself. A blatant knock on, somehow, the ref seemed to think this was backwards. Even if it was backwards (it wasn't), these types of drops have been given as knock-ons for seasons now. Not that I think that that is right, but you can't suddenly change it now, in the middle of a cup final. 
No 2: Minichello gave out a pass with Hull on the attack, a Wire hand knocked it down and we regathered and set off up the field. Incredibly, the ref managed to miss this. He clearly hadn't seen what had happened but saw fit to give a non-existent knock on against Hull. The touch judge had to come on to put him right. It wouldn't have been so bad if the ref had realised he was un-sighted and requested the touch judge, but that isn't what happened. Even though the right decision was eventually made (No thanks to the ref) it had stopped Hull's momentum and gave Wire a chance to regather their defence that they didn't deserve.
Only a few seconds later, the ref made another horrendous gaff. A Wire player clearly took out a Hull player in an obvious obstruction and once again waved it off. This wasn't marginal, it wasn't a maybe, it was massive.
There were other terrible decisions he made (like giving another knock on against Minichello when he managed to regather the ball and knock it backwards without it hitting the ground or a Wire player) but those were his worst ones. 
A referee who makes such huge bad decisions in a final clearly isn't fit to officiate and needs to be kicked out of super league until he improves by a vast amount.

Now we have that over with, we can get back to the action that we SHOULD be talking about instead of crap, inconsistent refs. 
With 20 minutes to go, Hull looked down and out. Both teams were out on their feet and Hull's energy levels looked as low as they come. Then came the moment of magic, the pivotal point, the game changer that will be talked about by fans for years to come....

Marc Sneyd, Hull's scrum half caught the ball on the fifth tackle with the team still pinned back in their own half. Warrington players were bearing down on him, he had a split second to get rid of the ball before he would be crunched. He took only two steps and drilled an incredible, inch-perfect kick. It bounced once, then again on the touchline before dribbling in to touch coming to a halt only a few feet later. A 40-20 kick in the nick of time. Hull had a full set of 6 deep in Wire's half. A couple of tackles later Sneyd put up an excellent kick in to the corner and I tell you, Mahe Fonua soared higher and farther than any Hull fan in a grey place dares to dream (TM The Shawshank Redemption 1994) He landed just before the line and had the presence of mind to stretch out and plant the ball down. Hull were back in the game with 18 minutes to play and when Sneyd landed the difficult touch line kick he piled on the pressure to the beleaguered Wire.

Wire were out on their feet but Hull looked like they didn't have much left either. The barrage on both team's defences carried on. Players were hitting the floor all around and the blood was flowing from many of them, not least from Kurt Gidley, Wire's iconic Australian import who was forced from the field with his injuries which was quite some blow for Warrington.

It was coming down to who wanted it most, pure grit and determination. 7 Hull born and bred players took the field for Hull FC that day, and no one wanted the win more than them.

Around 72 minutes, Hull looked to have gone in front when a fantastic grubber into the corner again by Sneyd was stopping perfectly in the in goal area with Michaels flying in. Unfortunately the ball was pushed out by Ratchford a split second before Michaels would have touched down for Hull. The video confirmed how close it was. It was beginning to look like it was too late for Hull when.............
with 5 minutes to go Hull forced their way deep in to Wire's half. Sneyd put up a poor chip kick in to the corner. It was landing close to the touch line and on the 10 metre mark in the middle of a pack of players, but once again, Fonua took to the air above everyone else and tipped the ball back to Sneyd who gave an immediate pass to the screaming Jamie Shaul who was clear through. Shaul made sure he put the ball down under the posts to make the kick all but a foregone conclusion. There was to be no "poor lad" moment as Sneyd went through his usual lengthy kicking routine, coming from around a sharp corner to chip the ball over the posts. 6 minutes for Hull to hold on to a 2 point lead. In the stands, the tension was unbearable. My heart pounded like a 90's rave track.

Warrington were desperate now. Only 10 minutes previously they had had a 10 point lead and were cruising to a win. Most of the players on both sides were visibly shattered but Westerman still had energy and his jinking runs and side-stepping were causing FC bottoms to squeak. Hull were defending out the game, 4 or 5 drives then a hoof as far down the field as possible and it felt too early, it felt like there was enough time for Wire to win it. Time and again the players forced their way forward with herculean efforts, as tired as they were the Hull forwards took in battering drives. At times, with the ball in Warrington hands it became like a 7 aside match with Wire throwing the ball around, not moving forward and Hull holding their defensive line, happy to watch Wire going no where. Then, with 2 minutes to go Wire had forced their way on to Hull's line and suddenly Currie had the ball with a seemingly clear run to the line, certain to score.  Danny Houghton came in from nowhere with a miracle tackle, his 52nd of the match. Currie crashed to the turf inches short and the impact dragged the ball out of his grasp a split second before he slid over the try line. Watching it time and again, I cannot for the life of me see how he managed to drop it. The look on his face was pure anguish. 

Wire threw the ball around like the harlem globe trotters and made mini breaks and with less than a minute to go they were breaking down the right. A bullet pass came out and it looked like Wire had a big overlap. In yet another miracle tackle, Watts launched himself from the floor at the Warrington player, forcing him to drop his intended pass short and Minichello landed on the ball. The game was over. Hull had their Wembley win.

In the stands there was a barely a dry eye. Players littered the pitch like a battle field. The relief and release washed over us supporters. Finally.

The steps to the royal box were climbed, the cup lifted, the champagne sprayed, the pictures taken, Old faithful sung, tears cried and fireworks, erm, fired.

That's the Warrington terraces were looking at, hence them being a bit empty

I hopped down the stairs at Wembley feeling amazing but with my right foot (the one that ISN'T broken) hurting more and more as I limped on to. After 24 hours of nervous energy I was now exhausted and feeling quite breathless, something the heat in the train didn't help.

4 hours later we arrived home and had a quiet drink in the local to celebrate followed by prosecco, before heading home to watch the replay.

I collapsed in to bed gone 1am knowing that in the morning, I would have to remind myself that it had really happened. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Marshaling the Hardmoors 110/160

Tweet me @scott_leach

When the industrious proprietor of the Hardmoors series of races, Jon Steele, put out a plea for marshals for his 110/160 mile events on facebook, I realised the date clashed with the 3 peaks. Then very late in the day when I knew I had to drop out of the 3 peaks, I offered Jon my services. Unsurprisingly with such a late offer of support, I was given a graveyard shift of 4am-9am Sunday morning shift at the check point at Lord Stones, a point 131 miles in to the 160 and 83 miles in to the 110. My mind boggled at the sights I may see!

I don't have a picture from Lordstones, so here's me dancing with Usain Bolt

I got out of bed at around 2:15am Sunday morning. "I'm off to a car park in the middle of nowhere!" I said to Sophia, in what my have been one of the dodgiest sentences of all time. Luckily, she knows me well. I downed a large cup of fresh-ground coffee and an hour and a half later I realised my sat nav was NOT taking me to Lord stones. Crap. Cue frenzied googling and hoping that I would get enough signal for it to direct me. 
I arrived at the check point at about 04:02 when I realised I had been stupid enough to forget my head torch.

The checkpoint was a tiny road crossing where Peter had parked his campervan and Karsten had set up a chair and a table filled with jelly babies, pork pies (which proved VERY popular) sausage rolls, flat coke and of course, water. 

Around 40 people started the 160 and about 150 started the 110. All told around 80 people reached the Lord Stones check point and it was remarkable what good spirits the majority of them were in, though almost all looked completely exhausted. As the runners made their way up the next hill, the gaits of some of the competitors was interesting to say the least, especially considering they had nigh on 30 miles to go. Some looked like they couldn't take another step, never mind cover more than a marathon, but each one shuffled off up the pretty sizeable hill with grim determination abundant. 

The most hilarious thing is that in true ultra runner style, often the runners showed concern for us, seeming to think that WE had a hard job! "So what time did you get here?" I answered 4am and the other 2, answered 2am. "Wow!" the runners said, "That's tough"
Everything is relative of course, but being a little bit cold as you stand around pouring out the odd drink and handing out the pork pie is not really hard work in anyone's book and especially not compared to people who had been in this race from 8am the previous morning in the case of the 110ers and 5pm 2 days previous for the 160ers!!!!!

Our shift was due to finish at 9am, but Jon Steele is nothing if not a vague bugger and we were still waiting for the tail runners at 10am.  We continued to chat about running between ourselves and Peter told me about many races but not least his Bob Graham round back in 1984. Karsten had done a few of the Hardmoors marathons and told me about his favourites. 

Eventually the last runner came in accompanied by the trail runners and the rain that had held off began to fall as we cleared away the detritus. 

It's impossible not to be inspired by these superheroes dressed in the guise of normal human beings, armed mostly with nothing more than pure determination to finish a truly herculean race. Yes, you think they are crazy, yes, you think they look total wrecks and yes, I wished I was them.

Driving home I was amazed to see the view that it had been too dark to see the night before. It was spectacular. The thought helped to keep me awake on the A1M motorway until I arrived back.
I still don't have a picture so here's a stormtrooper beating Usain Bolt

At home, I watched the Hardmoors facebook feed as the runners came home and a remarkable story unfolded. One guy, Frank Murphy, had arrived at a checkpoint with 15 minutes to spare before the cut off of the 160. He decided that rather than rushing himself to beat the cut off, he would have a sleep instead, knowing that it would disqualify him from the race. Not that he was dropping out, he was going to carry on, but with no check points open and no race support other than his own support team. He grimly carried on getting further and further behind the cut offs. The cut off for the entire race was 50 hours, he eventually came through in 71.5 hours! By that time he landed he had dozens of people cheering him on on facebook and a crowd had gathered to welcome him home (Think Simon Pegg in "Run fat boy run") including Jon and Shirley Steele, who, despite his official disqualification from the race, presented Frank with his finishers tshirt and medal. And that is the true Hardmoors spirit.  Do yourself a favour, and sign up for a hardmoors race today!