Eglinton New Year Parkrun

We had a wonderful night on New Year’s Eve at the Carlton Hotel in Prestwick.

There was much eating, drinking and dancing and it all culminated in a jolly late night. This was all well and good at the time but I was firmly committed to run the Eglinton parkrun in the morning. Carrie had also promised to come along to watch and so we both staggered out into a freezing cold morning to join the running fun.Prerun briefing

We arrived just in time to hear the pre run briefing. Unfortunately the accent was a little too broad for my untrained English ears (or I hadn’t yet managed to get the ears to wake up) and I couldn’t make out a single word he was saying. I figured though that if I followed everyone else then I wouldn’t go far wrong.

Eglinton is a truly beautiful course. It seems to do a lot of winding around and about but it is all among the trees, over wooden bridges and around a very picturesque tower thing. There are marshalls everywhere, keeping a careful eye on the runners (very much needed today on an extremely icy course) and advising us to be careful over the many and varied obstacles. It was a pretty tough course with a fine combination of mud, tree roots and slippery paths. This made it a great test and I very much enjoyed the challenge.

The route has been cunningly arranged so that it is unlikely that the fast runners and the slower ones will become entangled with each other. However it is possible to see the leaders on their last section as you’re still doing the larger loop. It looked quite an exciting battle and looking at the results later I see the first two, Scott Martin and Paul Lafferty finished within a second of each other.Barcode scanning folks at parkrun finish

Last time I was at Eglinton was a year ago when I ran the Christmas parkrun in a rhino suit. I finished quicker this time around but not by a great deal. I reckon I was a good deal fitter last year as I was training for the London Marathon. That was before all my various injuries began to gang up on me.

I had a good time and it worked wonderfully well as a cure for New Year’s Day hangover blues. Many thanks to all the Eglinton volunteers  and the 98 other runners for making it happen.Eglinton country park

Dewsbury Parkrun

Well, it’s Christmas again and we are doing the tour of mothers.

First mum stop this year is my mum, in Leeds for Christmas and, of course I am looking to do a bit of parkrun tourism while I’m here. This is one that I haven’t done before. It’s in a place called Dewsbury which is in between Leeds and Huddersfield. It is in a park and, as with everything else in this area, it is on a hill.

The wind has been making a nuisance of itself and has blown debris all over the paths on which we intended to run. One of the pieces of debris is a tree and the decision is taken that it is probably a bit too big to just brush off to the side of the path. The parkrun volunteers take the decision to use emergency course which involves going around the small loop section a mighty six times. Our race director tries to explain this and gets into a frightful tangle when she adds extra detail to try and make it easier to understand. You will pass this monument 6 times she says. Ahem say the assembled masses. Seeing as the finish line is just back there won’t it be 5 times. Oh yes, well erm, yes ignore everything I’ve just said.start Dewsbury parkrun

Unfortunately my wife has taken the six times bit of data and possibly hasn’t heard the correction (you are cheating here Jim – you are speaking from the future so you know that is what happened – well yes – and so you shouldn’t go around sounding all superior saying this or that probably happened when you’ve already been to the future and so know full well what happened – harumph, my blog, my rules, if I want to pretend omniscience then I shall).waiting to start Dewsbury Parkrun

Off we go around the monument and down the hill. I’m feeling great and really enjoying it.
The fast folk have already vanished around the bend at the bottom of the hill. I am skipping along happily until I reach the bottom of the hill and have to climb upwards again. It is a long slow hill but I see the finish line for the first time and this gives me cheer until I remember that it I must pass here another 5 times, or is it 6 or 4 or…

I pass Carrie at the top of the hill near the monument. She is wearing antlers and so fairly easy to spot. She hold up one finger doing her Sesame Street impression of the Count saying “one lap, ah ah ah”
Next time around the leaders have already caught me up. Gosh that’s a bit demoralising thinks I. Carrie is waiting for me again, “two laps, ah ah ah”. Around and around we go. I must have slowed down as people are passing me. There are a wide variety of costumes. Santas, reindeer and all kinds of Christmassy things.

“Three laps ah ah ah”.

“Four laps ah ah ah”

The leaders are passing me again on their way to the finish line. One goes speeding by and I hear a voice shout, “get yourself moving, we’re catching you.” The leader grins and steps up a gear.

“Five laps ah ah ah.”

I shout back to Carrie to say that I will see her at the finish line next time around. I look back as I run down the hill and she hasn’t moved at all. I wonder whether she didn’t hear me or didn’t believe me.

A chap looks behind and sees me approaching. “Go one he says, lap me now while you’ve got the chance.” I do as he says and do manage to pick up my pace a little toward the end. My time is still much slower than I expected but I reached the end injury free so am happy with that. I am handed a tag as I finish and then there is a long long windey funnel. This seems most peculiar until I realise that they are doing scanning at the end of the funnel. This makes absolute sense now as it means that there is plenty of room for the people to come through the finish line and then queue for scanning.

I am pounced on after the scanning and offered chocolates. I think if anyone is going to pounce on me then it is favourable if the aim of this manoeuvre is to offer me chocolates.

Carrie catches up with me and admits that there was a bit of confusion as regards 5 or 6 times around the monument.

It was a fun parkrun. It was fairly small (in terms of numbers, there were 119 people there on 25th December) and a very strange course going around and around so many times. I would like to try it again when they do the regular route.

Well done to Joe Sagar who finished more than a minute in front of anyone else and also many thanks to all the volunteers for putting on this extra Christmas Day parkrun.
jim mowatt at finish of Dewsbury parkrun

Bury St Edmunds Parkrun

I love doing a bit of parkrun tourism. It is fascinating going to different places to see how they do their parkruns and to experience so many of the beautiful places in which these runs take place.

My home parkrun in Cambridge was taking a short break for a couple of weeks so that Milton Country Park could do some work on the paths. Richard and I discussed the alternatives and decided to go slightly further afield to try out one that we’d never been to before.Richard twice

The Bury St Edmunds parkrun is held in a beautiful park full of fine mature trees and splendidly springy grass to run upon.

pre race at bury parkrunThe run has a wide start so that no one is far from the start line even with the 259 runners there were today.  We set off like a charging barbarian horde going uphill across the grass. There is much shuffling for position but as we turn the corner to run back downhill, everyone is beginning to spread out a little.

We curved around to the right keeping the trees on our right hand side and then back down another slope eventually arriving at a large clump of trees and a narrow path through the middle. This is very welcome for the shade the leaf cover gives us from the sun but it is a bit of a bottleneck and we must tread carefully to avoid the many tree roots strewn across our path. Having survived the deadly obstacles we emerged back into the sun to skirt around the enclosed football courts and then up the hill back to the start so that we can begin our second lap.

I’m hurting quite a bit now from the ankle injury and reckon that I’m beginning to slow a little. I huff and puff a little up the hill. Richard is running at the side of me and I reckon he’s a little bit alarmed by the noises I’m making.  He suggests that maybe I could slow down if I wish. We turn to go down the hill and my breathing eases a little but as we turn right I’m hurting again and I can tell that my speed has dropped,, as people are beginning to go past. I’m trying to ignore the pain from my ankle and just keep my legs turning over. It’s damn hot and sweat is running into my eyes causing them to sting. The trees are a welcome relief but as we run through this section Richard trips on a tree root and goes down onto the floor. Fortunately he manages to put his hands out and roll so doesn’t get hurt too badly. He gets up and we carry on.

We burst out from the trees again and curve around the fenced football pitches. I put on an extra bit of speed up the hill and am incredibly relieved to see the finish funnel this time and take my token.

end of bury parkrunThis was a lovely course and it must be delightful to see how it changes with the seasons.  I should imagine parts of it become fantastically muddy during the winter months. Of course that kind of weather was a long way away today and both Richard and I suffered from the heat and the humidity of that glorious summer Saturday morning. We grabbed a couple of cold  drinks from the shop and made our way back to the car. We both really enjoyed our visit to Bury St Edmunds parkun and thank all the volunteers for making it happen and helping to give us such a fine running experience.

I got a time of 27:03 which wasn’t amazing but I was reasonably happy with it.

 

New Year’s Day on Woodhouse Moor

I’m visiting my mum in Leeds and there are parkruns on New Year’s Day. Of course I have to go. What’s more I want to do two parkruns in one morning. Also I want to do them in rhino costume. All sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Carrie sighed and agreed to come along. I can see so little out of the front of the rhino suit that I need as much assistance as I can possibly get just to make sure I arrive on the start line. Therefore I’m really grateful that she can come along to help.

pic of Rhino runner at start of parkrun

There’s a fine gathering on the moor. As with last year there seems to be a tradition of gathering near the finish funnel and then moving back to the start for the prerun briefing. Sam, the run director does the briefing. He mentions someone who got what sounded like about 84 per cent in age grading and also someone doing their 250th parkrun. Unfortunately I couldn’t hear much from inside the rhino but many congratulations to them. Sam also does a wonderful shout out for me and talks a little about the sorry plight of the rhino.

pic of start of parkrun

The run director counts us down and then sends us on our way around the course. It’s a nice flat course although there are occasional patches of ice. We do a fair amount of looping around and pass some places three times during the run. It’s not the most scenic parkrun I’ve ever done but it’s an excellent example of being able to put on a fine run even in quite a limited space. They’ve really used what they have in an interesting way alternating the loops slightly each time around.  I follow someone in an orange shirt for a while and eventually manage to pass by. Then I followed someone in a 250 shirt but I didn’t have enough energy to pass her and she left me staggering along behind. It looks a really nice shirt. Hope they’re still doing them when I get to 250 parkruns.

I hauled myself across the finish line and run director Sam came across for a chat. I thanked him for the shout out at the start and we had a photo taken together. Sam then grabbed my finish token and barcode and scanned them in for me. He then shooed me away to my next parkrun at Temple Newsam asking me to remember him to Ronnie who would be run directing there.

I’ve just received my Woodhouse Moor parkrun time and it’s a new rhino pb:

Woodhouse Moor parkrun results for event #435. Your time was 00:32:49.

If anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.

A Temple Newsam Parkrun Rhino

Wow!

So many people here at Temple Newsam.

The run director is doing the prerun briefing but I can’t hear any of the words. I’m not sure the people around me can either. My guess is that there may be rather more people here today than they are accustomed to. However it all seems really well organised so they handled the large turnout really well.

Jill popped over to say hello. She’s been answering my email enquiries about the parkrun. Hiya Jill, good to see you.

Dogs are barking at me and I’m meeting folk I saw at Woodhouse Moor. I’m also seeing a lot more children at this parkrun and they are all intensely curious. That gives us a great opportunity to offer them Save The Rhino stickers and talk to them and their parents a little about the endangered rhinos. I see a family running with a buggy and a small dog. They have a GoPro Hero strapped to one of the buggy arms and assure me thay have footage of the rhino from Woodhouse Moor. I wish I’d swapped email addresses with them to ask for some of that footage. Quite apart from gathering more rhino video I would like to see how the Hero performs. I quite fancy getting one for myself.

We set off past the glorious Elizabethan mansion and out through the formal gardens. Down the long hill, left at the motorway and curl back along the edge of the woods until we are once again struggling up the hill toward the house. Twice around we go and the second time we are curved around the hill a little until we burst out into the finish funnel. I queue to be scanned behind the girl in the orange tee shirt. I’d finished before her at Woodhouse Moor but she was really pleased to finish in front of me here at Temple Newsam. “I couldn’t be beaten by a rhino twice in one day” she said.

pic of Jim as rhino at Temple Newsam parkrun

I was going to get a coffee afterwards but there was a very long queue indeed and I had more family duties to attend to at home. We made our way back up by the house and stopped for a moment outside the glorious front doors for just one more picture. We were immediately pounced on by large numbers of people asking if we’d let them take a picture of their child standing by the rhino. It was really sweet and I posed for many photos beside children who were either delighted or terrified to take part in a rhino photo.

pic of rhino at Temple Newsam

I never got to pass on your regards Sam, to Ronnie the run director. He seemed awfully busy. I’m saying hello to Ronnie here from Sam and the Rhino.

If anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.

Running Rhino at Ayr parkrun

It’s Christmas Day in Ayr and Carrie and I are celebrating this festival of wine, beer, pigs in blankets and Christmas pud. by popping down to Rozelle Park to run the 5k parkrun. Just to make it that bit more interesting I’ll be wearing a rhino costume.

I got a great reception when I arrived, with a mighty cheer from all the lovely folks assembled near the start. There were several santas, some dogs and a couple of running buggys amongst the crowd. The run director tried to give her pre run briefing but stumbled a little. “Sorry folks,” she said, “I was distracted by the rhino.”

We trotted off through the trees and away toward the lakes. There’s a hill first. “Waaaah!” says I as I find myself bowling down the hill desperately trying to stay on my feet. “WAAAAY!” say the spectators in response perhaps mistaking my yell of terror for exuberant celebration.

Around the lakes and back again, passing the start. We weave through the trees and start the second lap. I’m starting to overheat again now. There are no distance markers ( none that I saw) on this parkrun but I reckon we must be about half way. It is distinctly unglamorous inside this suit at the moment. The change from very cold to very hot has made my nose run and I am producing huge amounts of sweat. It’s as well folk can’t see into here too well. It’s not a pretty sight.

It seems a long way but eventually I reach that blessed turn out of the trees onto the open field. At this point I can see the finish line and I suddenly feel a new surge of energy. Hmmmm, thinks I. This extra energy would have been much more useful earlier on when I was struggling up that hill.

I run through the funnel and then peer left and right looking for my finishing tag. I can’t see it. Then again I can’t see much out of this rhino costume. I really must take some video for you sometime so that you can see what I can see when I’m wearing this thing.

pic of rhino at finish line

I take off the rhino head to try and cool down but I’m soon having to don it again so that people can take photographs. There are mince pies available and we stand around chatting to folks. It was wonderfully friendly and I’d like to thank everyone at Ayr parkrun who made my visit such a delightful experience.

pic of rhino with christmas lightsIf anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.

Running Rhino in Huntingdon

We huffed and puffed and shoved and shoved.

The rhino suit was stashed in the back of Richard’s car and I slid myself underneath it. This costume was not designed with portability in mind. It spreads itself into every available space. I pronounce myself and rhino fully installed installed and away we go.

rhino suit in car
It just fits

I’ve only ever been to the Huntingdon parkrun once before so I thought I knew what to expect. I remembered us winding our way around Hinchingbrooke Country Park, taking in the lakes and then making our way back over the hill. I chatted to one of the park wardens and he told me that the previous route had become a contentious issue with many other park users who were more than a little unhappy about the runners churning it up and turning the park into pools of water decorated with ridges of Huntingdon’s finest sludgy mud. Parkrun, always keen to remain good neighbours had agreed to alter the course to try and stick to the harder surfaces. It isn’t as pretty but while attempting to drag myself and rhino suit around the 5k I was quite grateful for those non sludgy surfaces.

I got a lovely reception from the other parkrunners and I posed for many pictures. They even did a nice little announcement at the start telling folks what I was up to and even trying to explain why I was wandering around in a rhino suit.

We also attended the new runners and visitors talk and were reminded that slower runners and rhinos should keep to the right to allow faster runners to pass.

Carrie took some photos of me and this one I find particularly amusing.

I’m standing in the middle of a crowd of folk and they all have their backs to me. Carrie suggests that the caption should be ‘the rhino in the room’.

rhino at Huntingdon
A Rhino in the Room

We set off and I lumbered after the crowd wagging my little rhino tail behind me. At the first turn there was this crazy person (hello Henry) shouting at us. He has huge amounts of that wonderful parkrun enthusiasm packed into one person and releases it without reservation upon everyone that passes. It’s a little disconcerting (terrifying) when first encountered but delightful next time around when I knew what to expect.

start of race
Just before start

The path was really nice and we wound around in amongst the trees. I’m moving well and begin to pass folks. They wish me well as I silently glide by. OK OK, I bustle past in a flurry of noise and bizarre bouncing costume bits careering out in every direction. It must be a traumatic experience for many. I pass one person and assure her that she’ll probably pass me again later. She thinks maybe not but reckons she has an excuse for keeping it nice and steady this week. This is her first time back running after having a baby. I think she said she gave birth two weeks ago!

We see Henry again and are now prepared for his force nine enthusiasm. He puts wind in our sails and I’m now shuffling along as fast as my little rhino legs will carry me. I yomp home in a time of 33:29 which I claim as my rhino parkrun PB. Huntingdon parkrun have a wonderful tradition and if you know you’ve got a personal best then you ring the PB bell. I rang it heartily and did a rhino dance of celebration.

Jolly good fun

We put together some video clips of the run.

Hope you enjoy:

If anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.

 

Running with Rhinos in Milton Country Park

It was a frightfully windy day on the 5th of December in a small village on the periphery of Cambridge. People were converging upon Milton Country Park for the weekly 5K parkrun.

A large grey creature stepped out onto the street and wobbled a little as it tried to figure out where the footpath was. The ever helpful Carrie stepped in front and the rhino followed along. Cars stopped in the street, dogs barked and people stared as we staggered onwards.

We arrived at around 08:30 and the photographer from Cambridge News was already there. He waved and pointed and we all moved this way and that to the rhythm of the media. Various parkrun volunteers were ushered across to join in and a queue of people formed up to have their picture taken with the rhino. Having no peripheral vision and not being able to hear too much I just stood there most of the time as things happened around me.

Carrie was busy handing out cards with the web address of the fundraising site and offering people stickers with the logo for Save The Rhino. The kids, in particular seemed to like the stickers. Several people gave us their coffee money and on behalf of the rhinos we were happy to accept.

We set off at 9 o clock and I shuffled after the crowd. I was moving well but had no idea where I was putting my feet. I stumbled several times over puddles, holes and even a small pebble.

The noise inside my suit was incredible. The whole thing was bouncing about and all I could hear was swishing and swooshing and banging and crashing. Richard was running beside  me and trying to keep up the conversation. I yelled back as best I could. I suspect I misheard most of what he said and it’s quite possible that most of my responses made no sense at all. Nice chap that he is though he made no mention of this and still struggled valiantly to chat and guide me along as we ran through the park.

We started slowly but increased the pace as we went along. An ache developed in my back probably brought on by my having to bend forward to peer out of the suit. As our pace increased we started to pass people and made several of them (especially the ones wearing headphones) jump and utter little shrieks. Evil rhino that I am, I found this immensely satisfying.

It was an incredibly difficult run. I got hotter and hotter inside the costume and was nicely stewed by the end. I staggered over the line feeling enormously relieved to get there without keeling over and becoming stranded rhino in a puddle in the park. Various people have suggested that I try to run the marathon in the rhino suit. After this outing I can confidently say that I haven’t the strength or the stamina to do it. It’s possible that I may gain this stamina and strength with my winter training but very unlikely.

Jim in rhino suit
Richard checks to see if I’m still alive in there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

miltonrhino03
My friend Richard carrying the rhino head

So, it was a lot of fun but was it a success from a fundraising point of view?

We took 22 pounds in cash at the event and I’ve been posting tweets, blogs and videos about it all day. A good number of donations have come in to the  website http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and now at 20:52 in the evening I see that we’ve added 117 pounds to the total for Save The Rhino.

Cambridge News rang me for an interview and they’ve got a whole bunch of photos for the paper so maybe we’ll get a few more donations from that.

It was an enjoyable day. Cambridge parkrun and my fellow parkrunners were all splendidly supportive. My friends Lloyd, Steve and Richard all helped and it was great to have them around. Run director Paul Beastall was really great and of course my wonderful wife Carrie ensured that I was organised and handed out stickers and contact cards to anyone that wanted one. She also made sure that I didn’t get run over on the way to and from the parkrun for which I was most grateful.

Most excellent fun!