More parkrun tourism and the new Chrome extension

This year has been a bit of a weird one when it comes to running and racing.  Since starting weekend nightshifts last December I’ve had to turn all of my usual plans on their head.

It’s hard enough getting round for parkrun on a Saturday morning when you have a toddler, but when it comes on the back of a nine hour shift finishing at 7am…all I want to do is sleep!

Two weeks ago I wasn’t needed in work on the Friday night, as there were enough staff in already.  So I headed over to the fairly new parkrun in Northampton – Sixfields Upton.  The event started up just after Christmas and several of us have been holding back from going along too soon, so that the volunteer team weren’t rushed off their feet with large numbers of runners when the event was still in it’s early days.

The extra parkrun in town hasn’t seemed to affect numbers of runners at the Northampton Racecourse event though which still regularly hosts more than 500 runners on a Saturday morning.

Laura, Oscar and Me at the Sixfields Upton parkrun

Dan decided that he would also like to parkrun at Sixfields Upton as he wasn’t traveling back for a Wolves game that morning.  We took Oscar along in his buggy and walked over for the start of the event where we met Laura.  I’d worn road shoes as the parkrun website said that the event was held entirely on tracks and paths, but in actual fact it was incredibly boggy and muddy out there and I was a little upset that my super clean road shoes ended up covered in so much mud by the end of the event!  It also caused a few problems when runners refusing to go through puddles stopped dead in front of Oscar’s buggy.  It wasn’t just the occasional runner who stopped to daintily pick their way round the puddles so I had to really be on my toes.  A handful of runners even leaped back almost into us as water splashed up towards them.  I have no idea how I managed to not clip anybody with the front wheel of the buggy!!!

This was the state of my trainers and legs post run…(!)

Muddy legs after Sixfields Upton parkrun

It’s a very different event to the Northampton one, which is perfect.  Nobody wants two very similar events right next to each other!

I think I’ll probably stick to the original Northampton parkrun course on weekends when I run with Oscar though, as it was a little nerve-wracking trying not to bump into anybody on route with the buggy.

Laura, Oscar and Me at Sixfields Upton parkrunDespite starting from the back of the pack we glided past Dan with nearly a mile to go.  Oscar spotted Dan from way back and began shouting “Dadda!” in his direction.  Although this changed to baa-ing at sheep as we passed them instead.

Laura, Oscar and Me at the Sixfields Upton parkrun

Sneakily, Dan saved just enough for a sprint finish and pipped the three of us on the finishing straight.  We’ll beat him next time though!

Oscar and Me at the Sixfields Upton parkrun

Dan, Oscar and Me at Sixfields Upton parkrun

Official time: 31:34
Position: 147/238
Gender position: 44/106
Age category position: 11/17

Oscar then enjoyed a good forty minutes of kicking a football around the car park before we headed home to enjoy the rest of the day.

Oscar playing football in the car park

I had booked off this last weekend from my nightshift job.  Over the next few months I am also working as a coursework moderator for a GCSE exam board.  (Who needs one part time job when you can fit three in alongside life as a full time Mum?!)  As it will be my first year working as a moderator I was advised to attend a day-long course in Coventry before scripts for the 20 schools I’ve been assigned to start to come in for checking.

I was so excited to see that my course didn’t start until 10am on Saturday morning, and that the course location was less than 4 miles away from a parkrun I’d not run before!  I WILL tick off some more parkrun tourism this year, despite having run all parkruns within an hour radius of my house now!

It was super hot on the morning and even though I’d brought along a towel and packet of wet wipes I decided (already sweltering by 8:15am!) that I was going to just jog around the parkrun at at a 10mm pace so as not to get too sweaty for my meeting which followed.

Coventry parkrun

I ended up arriving super early (This really makes a change for me!) and so went for a lovely wander/explore of the park and off to find the toilets, which didn’t appear to be open.  I wasn’t desperate, so figured I’d be fine for another hour until I arrived at my course location.

Coventry parkrun is fairly similar in size to my local event, Northampton, although set in a much larger park.  Volunteers helpfully set out signs along the start lineup indicating where to stand in relation to the time you expected to finish in.  As the briefing had overrun slightly, we ended up heading down to the start a little late and so I decided to run at 9mm pace instead, figuring that I was going to get sweaty no matter what…better to be on time to my training course if I could be!  I ended up standing just behind the 28 minute board, although frustratingly heard two separate groups of runners declare that they would never run a 28 minute parkrun that day but at least they wouldn’t spend so much time weaving near the start if they started from that position.  In actual fact, I spent the first mile overtaking other runners, despite running at the correct pace for a 28 minute time.

Coventry parkrun start line

Interestingly I read somewhere that this year runners declared their goal time for Brighton Marathon during the expo, rather than when they initially signed up for the race, which was potentially a year earlier.  This a great idea as it reduces the number of people overoptimistic (or underoptimistic) about their finishing times, already knowing how their training has gone for the race before finalising their goal.

The Coventry course is a really flat one with a tiny hill at the far end of the park, and a long, very gradual downhill which follows.  It’s easy to get into a rhythm and the course never felt too busy, despite the overtaking at the start.

By the last mile I really needed a wee, and on scanning my barcode had to race off to the now-open toilets before rushing back to my car.

Official time: 28:40
Position: 331/675
Gender position: 62/273
Age category position: 30/83

Typically I then took a wrong turn when driving to the training course and then as I burst through the doors with two minutes to spare I was met by a rather unhelpful receptionist who not only couldn’t find me on the list because I’d stated ‘Computing’ instead of ‘ICT’, but proceeded to send me to the wrong room after I’d changed out of my running gear and having hurriedly wet wiped the sweat from my face!  The course lecturer found me wandering the corridors ten minutes later looking for the correct room, blaming the receptionist for telling me the wrong location!
I had a very enjoyable day learning about how the coursework moderation system works.  I do love learning and miss being in a classroom environment so often since finishing my last teaching position.

I’m working again this weekend and Dan is away on the Saturday but I’m already eyeing up my next spot of parkrun tourism for the following week.  The parkrun Chrome Extension isn’t helping my addiction…!

I plan on writing about the Chrome extension in more detail at some point (I’m on the computer at my Dad’s house tonight) but it is just so addictive!

How many different parkrun events have you run?
Do you ever run before work/meetings?

A dizzy spell at parkrun

Last Saturday was my friend Laura’s 100th parkrun.  I had been given the Friday and Saturday night off from work that week in order to not be overtired for the Oakley 20 race that I had booked in on Sunday, so decided that I would volunteer at parkrun instead to support my friend.

Since working night shifts I’ve found it difficult to fit in a parkrun on a Saturday morning.  It involves changing in the back of my car, hanging around from 7am until 9am (or getting a few extra miles in before parkrun first), then rushing home to collect Oscar from Dan so that he can travel to Wolverhampton for the football at lunchtime.  The sensible head that rarely surfaces in me knows that it makes much more sense to head straight home following my night shift so that I can get a couple of hours sleep before Dan leaves and I am left in charge of an energetic toddler on my own for the day(!) so this is what I’ve been doing lately.  (Although I can’t wait until I can finish working nights and get back to parkrunning every week again!)

One of the volunteer roles I have always wanted to have a go at is barcode scanning.  It’s something a bit different to marshaling, which I have done so much of in the past.  I want to try out several different volunteer roles this year, and so when I spotted that there was still space for a barcode scanner last week, I put my name forward.  Last year, with a new baby I ended up not volunteering at all for parkrun.  I know when I first signed up to the event several years ago it was suggested that every parkrunner volunteered three times per year in order that the events could go ahead, so I felt a little bad that I was unable to help out as much as I would like.  This year I’m hoping to top up my list of volunteering roles and give something back again for all the support I received in being able to get out each week when I had a young baby.

To date I have volunteered in the following roles; marshal (twice), tail walker, pacer, photographer (twice) and now also barcode scanner.

It was a ridiculously cold day last Saturday, with The Beast from the East V2 on it’s way to Northamptonshire later that evening.  I wore my duvet(!) (a thick Superdry coat) over the top of several layers, along with stone jeans and a pair of gloves.  My body didn’t feel too cold with all of the layers on, but my fingers did start to lose feeling after a little while.

As well as running her 100th event that morning Laura had also volunteered to give the 1st timer briefing.

Laura and I volunteering at Northampton parkrunI was rather glad that I could keep my layers on after the briefing and clapped rather vigorously once the runners set off in order to try and keep my hands nice and warm.

I collected my barcode scanner and bucket, and appreciated being mistaken for one of the several Duke of Edinburgh students who had also volunteered that week.  So glad that I can still pass as someone 18 years younger than I actually am(!)

The first runner stormed through the finish after 17 minutes but problems with a dodgy printer meant that his barcode wouldn’t scan so we had to get his number jotted down the old fashioned way with pen and paper instead.  There were four of us on barcode scanning duty and so things were a little slow for me to begin with, but soon runners began flooding my way and I really enjoyed being able to chat to each one and congratulate them on their run as I scanned their barcodes.  Laura came through in just over 30 minutes and went to collect the tub of sweets she’d brought along to celebrate her 100th event.  She passed me a mini pack of Haribo Fangtastics and I continued to scan barcodes but I was very conscious that I was losing the feeling completely in my fingers.  I have Raynaud’s syndrome, losing the feeling in the tips of my fingers on both hands during the Winter months.  This isn’t normally an issue when I run as I find my hands heat up very quickly as I gain pace, but outside of running I find it hard to get them warm again.

Raynaud's syndrome - fingers(This is a picture of my right hand an hour after finishing marshaling duties – you can see that the tip of my index finger is still bright white!)

I bunched up the fingers of my left hand inside my glove to try and keep them warm which definitely helped, but I was unable to do the same with my right hand as, being right-handed I was using this hand to operate the scanner.

I started to feel a bit light-headed.  When I was younger I was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope.  This basically means that I am prone to collapsing from triggers which are usually within my control.  If I worry myself over something or think about something I don’t like for a period of time, my body reacts by passing out.  I also pass out by if I am stood still for a long period of time as my blood will settle and not pump around the body very efficiently.  Combine the two factors and it’s a guaranteed blackout for me!  Dan and I went to see Stereophonics several years ago and things were fine until I realised that I had stood for quite a long while in the middle of a bunch of other fans with no way of getting out to sit down should I need to!

I couldn’t get how cold I was out of my head and began to worry that I had been stood still for too long, so I started to become restless and began tapping my feet.  I ripped into my packet of sweets, partly to try and distract myself from my thoughts and partly to up the sugar in my system.  I grabbed Laura and told her that I felt really nauseous and a little dizzy and said I needed to rest against the closest tree for a little while, but Laura must have seen the blood drain from my face and suggested she help me to the nearby bench instead.  As she helped guide me towards the bench I started to begin losing my sight – with tunnel vision and under-the-water echoy sounds, launching towards the side of the bench before I collapsed and cursing myself for wearing light coloured jeans on a day when it was actually muddy and there was a good chance that I might not make it to the bench!  I grasped onto the side of the bench and Laura called out for help.  Somehow a couple of other runners/marshals helped me onto the bench where I managed to lay out and slowly my vision and hearing returned to normal.

Several parkrunners stopped by to check that I was OK and see if there was anything that they could do to help.  Lovely people offered me lifts home and to help get me to my car and all along all I could think about was how much I was letting everyone down by not being able to finish the final 5 minutes of scanning and helping to clear away after the event!  The Run Director’s wife turned out to be a nurse so she came over and I tried to sit up.  I had intended on getting straight up and then heading back to my car but in actual fact it took me rather longer than I thought to adjust to just sitting up and so she told me that I wasn’t to drive home, but to call Dan to collect me instead, and then she insisted on walking me to Magee’s for a hot drink whilst I waited.  I couldn’t stop apologising.  Everybody was so lovely.

Magee Street hot chocolate

After my lie down and a hot chocolate from Magee’s I felt a fair bit better but I did take it easy the rest of the day and was very grateful that I was not due to work that evening.

It’s rubbish feeling rubbish!

What is your favourite parkrun volunteering role?
Do you suffer with Raynaud’s?
  It seems to be more and more common now.
Have you ever passed out before?

Pacing at the 300th Northampton parkrun

Last Saturday was the 300th parkrun held at the Northampton Racecourse.  I’ve run 45 of my parkruns at the Northampton event and it’s the place I would still consider my ‘home’ course.

Training hadn’t gone to plan during the week and I’d ended up missing a few of my planned runs.  I was back in Norfolk for the Tuesday-Thursday as I had another family funeral to attend on the Thursday.  The first night I was back I managed 15 lengths of the road my Dad lives on before my Garmin beeped to show 6 miles.  A very boring, dark and windy run.  But miles done, nonetheless.

The next two days I was quite poorly, and even had to return to bed for several hours on Wednesday afternoon as I really just did not feel well at all.

My Dad did make me and Oscar a lovely salad to share on the Wednesday to try and make me feel better.  I do love a big salad with lots of different elements to it!

Friday – back in Northamptonshire once more and I was all geared up for my long run.  Oscar attends a full day at nursery on a Friday and it has become my getting-things-done day.  I usually spend a fair bit of time catching up on life admin – essentially computer life and typed work – as getting onto the computer whilst watching a toddler is becoming rather an impossible task!

Because I’d been away for three days though, and Dan had been working away in Basingstoke from Monday to Wednesday so had also been away, I spent the first three hours of the day desperately trying to get our house back in check.  Washing done, post sorted, bins out, all the usual stuff that gets forgotten about when you factor in time spent away from home.  I had just changed into my running clothes with the intention of heading out for a long run, catching up on a few blogs over lunch and then getting tea in the slow cooker before sorting the life admin out when nursery called to ask me if I would collect Oscar and book a doctor’s appointment for him as he had very gunky eyes and they felt he needed to have drops prescribed.  I still had so much I needed to get done that day, and having been poorly myself that week, and attending another funeral the day before I ended up bursting into tears.  I just wanted to feel as though I’d caught up a little!  Is that even possible?  I don’t think I ever sit down and relax, and am so jealous of those who can.

I had already rung the doctors that morning to try and get a set of my test results back, but been ‘in the queue’ to speak to a receptionist for 45 minutes before giving up.  Thank goodness for the speakerphone option on a phone because I would not have sat still with the phone to my ear for that length of time!  As the doctor surgery is on the way to nursery I stopped by to book an appointment on the way to collect Oscar.  After his (less than three minute long) appointment that afternoon we then had an hour’s wait for the prescription and so spent some time at the nearby park, which Oscar loved and really did not want to leave!

As Wednesday-Friday had all ended up as non-running days for me that week I decided to turn Saturday into my long run day for a change.  I had already volunteered as 30 minute pacer at Northampton parkrun that morning, and I would be finishing my nightshift at 7am just a few miles up the road.  Therefore it made sense for me to get some extra miles in before the parkrun rather than just hang around in the car for that extra time.  There was no football match on Saturday afternoon so Dan would be around to have Oscar so that I could catch up on a little sleep on my return before I had another shift that evening.

In the end, Laura mentioned that she was planning on running from her home to the parkrun that morning as she was also volunteering that day and so I invited myself along.  We ended up running four miles before our volunteer brief, then 5k at parkrun, followed by a further two miles back again, totalling just over 9 miles for the morning which I was happy with.

A little after we arrived at the briefing location, Rachael, one of the other Milton Keynes Marathon ambassadors, turned up with her boyfriend.  He was down to volunteer as photographer that day.  We had a chat as we’d not met before and as it had been a little while since Rachael had run the course Laura and I filled her in on the course changes.

Tim managed to capture my face perfectly when I was told that I would have to climb up a step ladder to wave at the 700+ parkrunners whilst it was announced I was the pacemaker for 30 minutes!

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

The thought of climbing up those steps was probably more nerve-wracking than having other runners rely on me to pace a time!

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

A quick briefing for parkrun volunteers acting in new roles for the day and then to our places ready for the start!

Northampton parkrun volunteersPicture credit: Tim Bullard

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

I knew that to run a 30 minute 5k, I needed to be running at 9:39mm pace – a pace I can run at fairly comfortably.  I aimed to run at around 9:30s to allow for weaving or over-distance.

After giving the New Runner Briefing, Laura had offered to run with me with the intention that between us we should hopefully be able to keep on target to run the time required.

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

The first mile is always a little slow at Northampton – it’s such a mad rush from a wide start onto narrow paths.  We still managed to run the mile in 9:39 though.  Worried that I perhaps needed to pick up the pace by a few seconds to allow for the weaving I inevitably had to do I pulled forward a little and ran the second mile in 9:20.  As I had printed out and worn ’30 mins’ on my back, we had several comments as we passed other runners.  Some I could hear were using me as an incentive to pick up the pace and stay at that speed and others just using it as a guide to what time they would achieve.  One guy had a chat to me about how I managed to stay so consistent throughout and I told him it was due to the constant checking of my watch!

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

As we began the final mile I could feel Laura picking up the pace a little and so called out that I needed to stay steady to not beat the 30 minute mark by a huge amount.  A man running past told me that we were running way too fast and that he was on for 29 minutes, which I found rather frustrating, as he definitely didn’t finish in 29 minutes that day and I knew we would be fairly close to the 30 minutes I had set out to run.  Final mile: 9:37.

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Northampton parkrun Facebook

We could see the funnel in the distance wasn’t holding everybody and runners had begun to spill out back onto the track – queuing to get through the finish line.  When I reached the final stretch I had planned on shouting out to those nearby to stick with me if they were aiming for a sub 30 minute parkrun, but I lost my confidence a little when I could see the finish line was backlogged, unsure of what time I would officially record so remained quiet and instead just hoped that those who had wanted a 30 minute time had been following me as they saw the sign I was wearing go by.

My last little nubbin was run at 9:38 pace, although it was then several seconds before the volunteer with the clicker walked back along the line to click us through as finishers.  It took me a few seconds to remember to stop my watch afterwards as well so I wasn’t sure what my official time would be when the results came out.  I was really happy to see how close I got to 30 minutes in the end though!

Official time: 29:58
Position: 410/703
Gender position: 99/292
Age category position: 18/49

There was plenty of cake laid out on a nearby table as Northampton parkrun were celebrating their 300th run that day.  It was my 45 run on the course, which sounds like so many when I think back to last year and how I was really looking forward to achieving my 50th parkrun goal.

After refuelling with a slice of cake each, we were starting to get chilly and I was starting to feel very tired.  Laura and I set off for a final two miles back to hers where I jumped in the car to head home for a post-work/parkrun nap.  I was so ready for that nap!

Have you paced an event before?
Or used a pacer yourself?

The good, the bad and marshaling fun

*Touch wood* but the start of my marathon/ultra training has been going really well.

I was never a big fan of speed sessions when I used to run them with my running club.  That’s no criticism.  I know it must be difficult to try and arrange a session each week to suit 10 or more runners, all training for different events.  But, I am finding it so, so satisfying ticking off speedwork sessions on my own.  I find that I can really focus on each mile whilst I am running it and am buzzing by the time I arrive back home, eager to share my consistent split times with Dan.  (Who couldn’t care less!)

Last week I had a set of 400s on my marathon race plan.  A one mile warm up followed by 400 metres at 8:20-8:40mm pace, with a 400m recovery as part of each set (repeat 12 times) and then a one mile cool down.  I was chuffed with my splits, and the session felt very manageable. (Strava workout link)

400s speedwork pace chart

My splits read as 8:30, 8:34, 8:28, 8:30, 8:22, 8:37, 8:29, 8:28, 8:35, 8:35, 8:32, 8:30.  All within the range they should have been, and leaving me feeling me so excited about my training – I struggled to get to sleep that night.

Wednesday night was the club trail run and I ran out on a slightly soggy but enjoyable 10k run with friends.

The rough pattern my training is going to fall into over the coming weeks is as follows:

Monday – rest day (off the back of 2, possibly 3 nights of work a rest day is required!)
Tuesday – speedwork (session will vary each week).
Wednesday – buggy run during the day (To get Oscar to sleep.  O goes to an afternoon group I’d like him to stay awake for when he would normally nap, and he falls asleep during a buggy run!) and trail run in the evening.
Thursday – tempo run (hopefully at running club as often as I can manage).
Friday – long run (Oscar is in nursery all day).
Saturday – parkrun/easy run.
Sunday – mid-length run (10 miles +).

This should fit nicely into my schedule, the only times I might have to change things around being when Dan works away from home during the week, resulting in me being unable to get a speed session or tempo run in as I will have no break from Oscar.
I also intend to keep up with my core work and physio sessions during as many days of the week as I can manage/remember/make time for.

Last week my training was a little out of sync as we ended up in A&E with Oscar in the early hours of Wednesday morning.  Both Dan and Oscar had been rather poorly since the weekend and Dan and I woke to Oscar having convulsions in the middle of the night which was incredibly scary, for both us, and him.  We spoke to 111 who advised us to give Calpol, a drink and to strip O down to cool him off.  The convulsions did stop after half an hour and we were able to put him back to bed, but when they began again an hour later we made the decision to rush him into A&E for a check over.  The doctor who saw him put the seizures down to Oscar having picked up a virus and then no longer being able to regulate his temperature – severely overheating and causing his body to go into shock.  He prescribed a mix of Ibuprofen and Calpol throughout the following day to help keep his temperature low and for us to keep an eye on him over the next couple of days.
It did take a couple of days, but luckily Oscar is fully back to his usual cheeky self again now.

So last week I moved my planned buggy run from the Wednesday to the Thursday and ran Oscar down for a little play in the park to cheer him up.  He loved it and was desperate to climb up and slide down the slide over and over again.  He started to kick up a bit of a fuss when I went to put him back in the buggy for the return journey until he saw that we would be passing dogs along the way.  (Oscar is obsessed with dogs, ducks and cows at the moment!)

Running Oscar to the park

When I woke on Friday I knew that I had whatever it was that the boys had had earlier in the week.  My throat hurt and I couldn’t stop coughing.  I had a 13 mile run on the plan for the day, and with Fridays being my only child-free day I was desperate to get out and run those miles.  I should have stayed home and written off the run for the day but I didn’t.  I was too stubborn and went out anyway.

It was a horrible run.  Despite barely being able to touch my lunch, (leaving most of it plated up in the fridge for another day) I felt nauseous and needed the toilet from the end of mile one.  The route I had planned ran past a toilet at mile 3 so I continued, but I knew a fair while before I got there that I would only be running as far as the Visitor Centre at the local lakes and back that day.

Rubbish run

An awful, awful run, but I did actually feel better for getting out at least and added 6 miles to my total for the week.

I headed to bed early on Friday night, as Saturday was going to be a busy one for me.

At 6:40am on Saturday morning another runner from my club – James, arrived to pick me up for the drive down to Uxbridge where we were due to marshal at the Country to Capital ultra for Go Beyond, along with two other runners from our club who we collected along the way.

James has also signed up for the South Downs Way 100 this year, so there was lots of training talk going on during the drive down!

Cassiobury parkrun

(Picture from the Cassiobury parkrun facebook page)

A week earlier James had suggested that we set off for our checkpoint a little earlier so that we may take in a parkrun on the way down.  Both Sally and I jumped at the chance to add to our parkrun tourism total, even though Sally currently has her arm in a sling!

Sally and I at Cassiobury parkrun

The course at Cassiobury parkrun was lovely and flat.  It consisted of two and a half laps around the park.  Marshals were super vigilant about keeping runners out of the cycle lane, as the park was a busy one and there had been reports of runners/cyclists getting knocked during the event in the past.  Even so, there were several runners who insisted on staying in the cycle lane, despite being shouted at, which was a shame.

Cassiobury parkrun

(Picture from the Cassiobury parkrun facebook page)

I felt a fair bit better than I had done the previous afternoon but still hadn’t dared to eat anything before leaving that morning, just in case it made me a) sick b) need to rush to the loo or c) both of the above.  I decided to just jog my way around the parkrun and enjoy a new course.  In actual fact I was fine with food again by Saturday though.

Cassiobury parkrun

(Picture from the Cassiobury parkrun facebook page)

Official time: 28:26
Position: 192/421
Gender position: 38/177
Age category position: 8/17

I had decided to wear my Country to Capital top from 2016 seeing as I would be marshaling the event later on that morning and ended up running the parkrun just behind a man pushing a double buggy who was wearing a Country to Capital top from 2017!  After getting my barcode scanned, I made my way over for a chat about C2C and future races we both had planned for this year.  He told me of the ‘Last Man Standing’ race he had entered.  An event of laps where you must complete each lap within an hour, or be timed out from the race.  The laps continue until you are the ‘last man standing’, with all other entrants timed out.  It sounded good!

Cassiobury parkrun was the 20th different parkrun event I have run (Bedford, Blickling, Corby, Daventry, Huntingdon, Kettering, Kings Lynn, Linford Wood, Ludlow, March, Market Harborough, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Peterborough, Rugby, Rushmere, Sheringham, Wimpole Estate and Wolverhampton being the other 19!)  This means that I am now officially on the parkrun tourism table of fame*!  :)
* not it’s official title!!!

Once James, myself and Sally had all finished the parkrun we collected Paul from the sidelines (who had decided to sit this one out) and drove over to checkpoint three of the Country to Capital.  Country to Capital is a 45 mile race run along trails and the canal path from Wendover to Little Venice.  Checkpoint three is the ‘feeding station’ and at about mile 25 on the course.

There were six runners from our running club out on the course, and plenty of names we all recognised on the start list this year.

With delays to the crew van, we were rather concerned that it was going to be a bit hit and miss when it came to setting up our checkpoint station in time, but luckily the crew van arrived armed with the famous Go Beyond cake and lots of other goodies with just enough time for us to set up our feeding station.  We were soon joined by the partner of the guy sat in first place through checkpoint two, who then kindly kept us informed with his location using her phone tracker.  I always enjoy chatting with the crew of fast ultra runners and usually come away having learnt something.  It’s always handy to know how different runners like the stations to be presented too.

Two of our runners came through within the first fifteen runners (eventually finishing in 7th and 8th position), and I also recognised Cat Simpson – who went on to place as second female in the race.

One of our female runners, Helen, came through as fifth lady – a position she remained in until the end.

As checkpoint lead, being that I still wasn’t feeling 100%, I decided to place myself away from the food and instead by the chip timing base, jotting down runner numbers along with clock times as they came through.  I had another member of our club alongside me helpfully shouting out runner numbers as they passed, and the other three crew that I had travelled down that morning with helped runners to fill their drinks bottles, unpacked food as necessary and generally kept the place fairly clear during the event.

Checkpoint three of Country to Capital

Even though we were at a point more than halfway into the race, there never really seemed to be much of a lull and the day went by really quickly.  Four runners withdrew at our checkpoint and a handful of runners just scraped through before cut-off.
We spent thirty minutes or so desperately trying to hunt down a lost runner, but it turns out they had already headed back to the finish, having pulled from the event at the previous checkpoint.  Please runners, – if you run a race, let a marshal have your chip back and tell them you are pulling.  Preferably pull at an actual checkpoint as well, rather than between marshal points.  It makes our job much easier and we can usually provide a nice warm car, food and blankets to keep you comfy until transport arrives to ferry you to the finish.

Luckily, I hadn’t been working on the Friday night, but was due to work Saturday night, so on my return home after wolfing down the chicken tea I had instructed Dan to make over the phone I made my way to bed where I managed to grab a couple of hours sleep before heading in for the night shift.
All good practice at no sleep ready for the 100 in June!  😀

Do you chat to spectators at events?
What food do you like to see on a checkpoint?
Do you enjoy running speed sessions on your own?