Dashing Santas

I know I’ve been fairly crap at posting anything recently (or at least anything of interest) so here is my attempt to rectify that.
Yesterday I was a marshal at the Santa Dash in Harrogate (being held by Henshaws and St Michael’s Hospice). Unfortunately the weather didn’t quite match the Festive premise and instead of a winter wonderland, the Valley Gardens were saturated into submission by pouring rain. Admirably however there was an incredibly good turnout of participants, each dressed in the regulation Santa suit (there was even a dog dressed up, which was brilliant). The weather, if anything, got worse while they were ‘dashing’ and every single one of them finished the race absolutely soaked. Despite this there wasn’t a grumpy word to be heard and everyone seemed to have a brilliant time raising money for two very worthy causes.
Added to that the spectacle of several hundred Santas running through the rain was unbeatable.

and the blustery day

I think winter is more-or-less here now, as I was almost lifted off my feet by the wind on the way into work this morning I had the huge desire to get onto the SWCP and get battered by the wind. It’d be ace.
I’m not sure quite what i find so comforting about standing on a deserted beach in fairly crap weather when all the other sensible people are inside, or at the pub, but it is one of my favourite things to do in the world.

Thinking South West

Walking into work this morning, I chickened out of cycling due to rain and darkness – valid reasons in my book, I had a proper think about the SWCPW for the first time in a while. The whole idea still really excites me. It’s now fairly unlikely that it’ll be possible to fit it in next year, I am going to have to take at least 4 weeks to do it and I am already taking 5 weeks off July-August to support a charity bike ride. So I have provisionally pencilled it in (in my head) for May 2011, I’m going to aim to complete it in 28 days, although the travelling down could be a bit of an issue as it seems that the nearest train station to Minehead is at Taunton, which is 28 miles away (which seems slightly ridiculous) – ALTHOUGH i have just found out that there is a steam train that runs from Taunton to Minehead, the timetable is slightly restrictive but it’s a bloody steam train! awesome!

Week off

Have had a week off during which i experienced a remarkable lack of exercise, other than a bike ride on Monday where i got a bit lost, cycled with a nice old man and ended up in Wetherby.
The chap that I ended up cycling with was a retired anesthetist and a ridiculously keen cyclist (he had something like 8 bikes…not with him at the time), he said he cycled most days and paced himself according to the heart monitor he was hooked up to – he wasn’t supposed to exceed a certain pulserate – but throughout the ride he completely annihilated me, he was super fit (or i wasn’t…probably the latter).
it wasn’t too uppity-downity but i think the toils with the old man took it out of my legs and the last 5 miles round the ringroad were no fun at all

Currently listening to Kyte’s cover of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Solsbury Hill’ http://hypem.com/track/798511/Kyte+-+Solsbury+Hill+Peter+Gabriel+Cover+ which is quite lovely. we tried to get them to do a session for tapes but they proved impossible to get hold of.

Oh deer

So we traveled down to London last Sunday to do the Richmond Old Deer Park 10k, which was hilariously badly organised. The original plan had been to travel down, see my parents, see Becca’s friends in Chiswick and do the run. As it was Becca’s lot were in Sheffield at a documentary festival so that was the first ‘issue’.

We arrived ridiculously early on the Sunday, my dad had kindly given us a lift down but unfortunately the Mann family trait of always arriving unnecessarily early kicked in and we were there by about 7.20am with the race not due to start until 9.15am. Oh well we thought, we’ll register and then sit in the car eating our bananas and staying nice and warm. Unfortunately the race seemed to be slightly understaffed – we managed to register fine but about half an hour later (bear in mind this was still at about 8.00 in the morning!) an absolutely mega queue had started to form for everything that you could possibly queue for – registration, bag drop, toilets, you name it, there was a massive queue.

At about 8.30 we decided to brave the freezing conditions and head over to the start, nip to the loo and get ready to go. The only slight problem with this plan was that all of the queues had now reached biblical proportions, including the one for the toilets – of which there were only 10…for 2000 people. Perhaps unsurprisingly all of the queues meant that the start was delayed – or at least we assumed that was what happened as at the ‘planned’ start time of 9.15 there was a spectacular lack of race-starting, probably just as well as at this point we were still very much in the toilet queue. At 9.30, toilets done, we hung around waiting for the race to start, it was so cold that we had taken advice straight out of the SAS survival guide and decided to huddle together for warmth (note to self, running vests aren’t terribly good at keeping you warm on a november morning), 10 minutes later we took the brave step of heading back to sit in the car until we could see some kind of sign the race might start. After sitting in the car for a bit that sign came – with the race starting and hundreds of runners haring off down the footpath. Bollocks. We had to run from the car, across a busy dual carriageway (not recommended) and round through the start – by the time we actually crossed the start line the clock read 3 minutes and we were definitely right at the back, which really annoyed Becca and we started a concerted charge through the ranks of a lot of people wearing all the right gear (lots of men wearing compression tights and headbands) but moving at what amounted to walking pace (all the gear but no bloody idea!).

Unfortunately the route wasn’t really suited to concerted charges being a footpath and all, and an open footpath at that, we dodged mums with pushchairs, pensioners with dogs and parents dropping their kids off at rugby all within the first 1km. This other footpath traffic forced us, and a good deal of the other runners, into the cycle lane of the road that the footpath bordered – i even saw one brave and/or determined bloke running in the road, weaving through a traffic jam as he made a push for the head of the race. The route wasn’t really up to having 1000s of people charging over it, the water station was another highlight – one poor lass trying to fill up cups one at a time as runners grabbed them out of her hands. The final noteworthy point of the route was at about 9km, and consisted of a single-person-width footbridge which, as we approached it, was being crossed by a grumpy old man who, on seeing runners approaching, effectively stopped moving and caused Bex to do an impressive skid/slide across the bridge and almost into the back of him.

We finally crossed the finish line in more or less one piece in about 48 minutes, unfortunately the queue to hand back chips/get tshirts etc was so long that it stretched back over the finish line so people finishing behind us may not have actually crossed the line…

Needless to say it wasn’t quite worth the 200 mile trip down from Leeds!