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Friday, 28 June 2013

Longest Sunday 2013 - Yorkshire/Lancashire

Sunday 23rd June 2013

As is now tradition, the longest Sunday of the year sees parkrunners from many different parkruns getting together to go on a relaxed tour of seven different parkrun courses.

The idea is to run 5k at each venue, making a total of 35k or 21.7 miles for the full day, but participants are free to choose to do less distance at each venue or fewer venues. The main aim is to promote the idea of Freedom parkrunning whereby any parkrun course can be run at any time, any day of the week, any week of the year. In fact, many courses have been permanently marked out for this very purpose.

Across the country this year there were 13 different loops of 7 parkruns taking place.

And locally this year was a bit different in that we built in the option of three different loops to give participants a choice of which selection of courses they wanted to tackle.

The three loops were nominally labelled Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire but all had a common starting point of Oldham. The loops were as follows:

Yorkshire - Oldham, Bradford, Dewsbury, Cross Flatts, Roundhay, Barnsley, Huddersfield

Lancashire - Oldham, Worsley Woods, Preston, Pennington Flash, Wythenshawe, Heaton Park, Huddersfield

Cheshire - Oldham, Worsley Woods, Sth Manchester, Woodbank, Wythenshawe, Bramhall, Marple

The Cheshire crew will no doubt be issuing their own summary of the day at some point but to give a flavour of the Lancashire and Yorkshire loops:

Combined  Stats:

This is the list of people who have supplied feedback so far. There are plenty more so if you wish to be added to the list please add your times to the facebook page : 

(NT = No Time recorded, N/A = No Run)

Christopher Healey   29.51, 35.25, 30.19, 15:35(1.5m), 27:32(2.6m), 32:16, 32.25
Adrian Leach   25:48, 26:30, 25:42, 25:06, 25:56, 26:02, 26:05
John Robson  19:54, 19:45, 19:29, 19:24, 19;29, 19:10, 18:55.
John Broom 
19:54, 19:45, 19:29, 19:24, 19;29, 19:10, 18:55.
Dawn Broom 
25:00, 23:40, 22:59, 22:52, 22:55, 22:54, 23:06.
Tom Howard  22:00, 23:50, 26:10, 24:35, 25:00, 26:19, 20:23
Steve Darby  NT, NT, NT, NT, NT, NT, 18:28
Hannah Oldroyd  NT, NT, NT, NT, NT, NT, 18:53
Simon Brass  27:07, 26:43, 26:48, 26:58, 27:03, 28:03, 27:07
Melvyn Burton 
29:21, 30:41, 32:07, 32:55, 34:39, 35:25, 36:52
John Kees 
29.52, 29:27, 27:01, 27:49, 28:19, 25:41, 24:42
Ian Rutson   29:25, 30:38, 29:10, 28:35, 28:46, 29:58, 28:29
Martin Downey 
28:44, 29:39, 30:35, 31:11, 33:30, 12:03(1.0m), 32:59
Nykie Duffy  N/A,
29:35, 27:23, 28:17, 28:17, 30:54, 32:39
Chris Cobb  N/A,
24:36, 26:23, 26:50, 28:24, 30:32, 29:26
Neil Musgrove 
28:13, 26:34, 24:59, 23:19, 23:22, 25:31, 22:32
Matthew Kelly   25.09, 22.52, 22.42, 22.58, 22.59, 23.11, 23.06.
Joe Leach   22:07, 22:56, 22:48, 23:22, 24:48, 25:09, 25:17
John Mitchell 
20:42, 20:54, 22:27, 20:39, 22:26, 22:47, 22:31
Louisa Luna Galvin  27:08, 29:10, N/A, N/A, 29:38, N/A, 28:26

Other Participants who haven't supplied times include:
Margaret Fletcher  7 completed
Rob Boughen  7 Completed
Steve Chapman
Lee Dolman

Lancashire Loop

Oldham (Venue 1)

There was an anticipatory buzz in the air as runners started to gather for the start at Oldham at 9am:

This is how Alexandra Park in Oldham looks on a bright sunny day but the slight drizzle encountered on Sunday certainly wasn't dampening spirits:

Worsley Woods (Venue 2)

Worsley Woods is mainly run on a disused railway line with an added wooded section. There is also a 'wheelchair friendly' version that ignores the wooded section, going straight up and down the railway line route. Due to the muddiness on Sunday this seemed like an ideal choice for many.

Or at least it would have been an ideal choice if the route had been accessible:

So we got muddy anyway! Ah well......

Preston (Venue 3)

Then it was on to Preston for the Lancashire loopers. Avenham Park is one of the most picturesque parkrun courses and is always a pleasure to run around.

Tom Howard, Christopher Healey, Margaret Fletcher, Steve Darby, Rob Boughen and photographer Hannah Oldroyd ready to get underway:

Chris Healey showing fine form coming into the finishing area:

With three venues now completed it was time for some well deserved liquid nutrition to set us up for the second half of the journey:

Pennington Flash (Venue 4)

Pennington Flash is a very nice country park centred around a large lake which was designed into an area of subsided mining land:

By the time we arrived it was sunny and warm but very, very windy:

It was all going really well until this happened:

And we needed the assistance of these guys:

Ok, that wasn't quite the case but that tree did actually blow down during our run showing how strong the winds were. A good job that we'd had the pre-run Guinness to provide some additional ballast :)

Wythenshawe (Venue 5)

Next it was on to Wythenshawe Park at Sale in South Manchester. The start and finish of the parkrun are right outside the front of Wythenshawe Hall:

For some reason this particular run had a tendency to create strange expressions:

5 down, 2 to go......

Heaton Park (Venue 6)

Heaton Park is the largest park in Greater Manchester at something like 650 acres. As with Wythenshawe, the parkrun starts and finishes outside an impressive historic hall, in this case Heaton Hall which dates back to the middle ages:

It is certainly not a flat course but everyone coped with it comfortably enough to complete the 6th venue of the day. That was now 18.6 miles done with just a friendly little 5k still to come at Huddersfield.

Huddersfield (Venue 7)

The 7th and final venue at Greenhead Park in Huddersfield saw the Yorkshire and Lancashire loops come back together for a final 5k blast:

Some of the survivors still standing after completing two laps of the playful Huddersfield course:

Longest Sunday - Yorkshire (written by John Broom)

Arriving at the beautiful Alexandra Park in Oldham at 8.30am, Dawn and I wondered how many runners would be attending the event, given the uncertain weather.  What can be an inspiring day, full of bonhomie and mutual support, can easily turn into a case of sitting in a car, dashing out, running 5k, then dashing back to the car cold and wet.

As 9am approached a decent sized group started to congregate in front of the ornamental covered area in the park.  I recognised quite a few Sweatshop Running Castleford folk, familiar due to our Barnsley AC clubmate and friend Simon Newton also being a member.  There was also a smattering of familiar Huddersfield faces to add to the cosmopolitan feel of the group.

Personally, I was glad to see the sight of John Robson, of Hyde Park Harriers (the front of his head this time rather than the increasingly familiar back of his head as he strides off into the distance) as I had set myself some personal challenging goals for the day (seven mini-history lessons and a spot of running).  On seven occasions during the day he was to say that his legs would not be up for it.  On seven occasions he delivered the goods.

The weather Gods seemed to be taunting us at first, as Steve Darby stood on a bench to make his announcements and the heavens showered him.  However, a roll call indicated that around 25 souls would be heading back over the Pennines to undertake the challenging set of courses Steve had decided to set us.
Oldham went reasonably well for the Yorkshire crew, as everyone managed to run a 5k loop around the park on a route just about on the official line, give or take the odd corner.  Then we dispersed as if wisps in the wind to make the journey along the A627(M), M62 and M606 to Bradford, the city made famous in the novels of J.B. Priestley. 

Lister Park is one of the most awe-inspiring parks in the parkrun locker, and it was excellent to arrive there and see that as well as the Longest Sunday group, many other people were enjoying the lands donated to the city by the wealthy Victorian industrialist, Samuel Lister.  It was even more excellent to see that some of these park-enjoyers were cyclists intent on riding loops around the park on the exact route of the parkrun, except in the opposite direction…
However a minor problem like that was not going to bother us, and off we set, past the bandstand, round the side of the impressive Cartwright Gallery, past Samuel Lister himself looking rather stony-faced, turning again at Mr Titus Salt, famous for the foundation of Saltaire, without which there would be no Saltaire Striders!  As we finished, each runner turned to applaud the others in, a nice touch and once we were sure everyone was back safely with no tyre marks on the them off we set for Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury.
Well, most of the group set off for Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury.  My google maps on the Blackberry wanted to take me to Crow Nest Golf Club in Brighouse.  It was after passing a few turns for Dewsbury that I twigged we may be heading in the wrong direction. So a quick about-turn and we arrived safely in good time for run number three.

Dewsbury encapsulates many of the inherent values of parkrun.  Whilst Lister Park may attract tourists due to its many attractions, Crow Nest Park is very much one that most people from out of the town would not visit for any reason.  So to have had runners from so many different clubs and areas (I’m sure Steve Chapman will be able spend a minute reeling off the exact information without even a pause, repetition or deviation) come and enjoy their run and the other features of the park is a real bonus.

Trying to explain the course loop left me issuing some vague instructions ending with, `You should come out this side of the Museum’.  Perhaps a little less history and a little more course information…

Fortunately there were a number of Dewsbury regulars there to give a little more meat to my skeletal directions.  This was a good course for encouraging fellow Longest Sundayers as there is quite a lot of criss-crossing people coming in other directions and the spirit within the group grew measurably during the run.  During the walk back to the cars we were entertained by a DJ who encouraged us to partake in a charity cake sale, an offer that was gladly taken up by many.

Cross Flatts was new to most runners, being a few months old parkrun, and in what was becoming a recurring theme of the day, I left many of the group confused as to where they were actually meant to run, but left them well informed about criss-crossing farming strip patterns.  It was becoming noticeable that everyone had approached the event with due respect, and that people were knocking out pretty consistent times.  This is not an easy trick to master, and it was great to see people working as pairs, working individually and giving each other encouragement all the way round.

According to most travel directions, the journey from Cross Flatts to Roundhay is a straightforward one.  However in 20 years of driving, including many visits to Leeds for parkruns and other entertainments, the A58(M) has always left me baffled.  True to form, we found ourselves off to Skipton, then Halifax, before finally we settled on going towards Roundhay, leaving literally minutes to spare.  It must have all been so much more straightforward in 1891 when the first out of town tram terminus was built at Roundhay to transport the Leeds masses to one of the largest parks in Europe.  Giving running directions was getting easier now, and the start and finish points (as well as each km) are clearly marked en route.  After another little bit of cricket-related history we were off.  

I think a few people found Roundhay less of a grind than Cross Flatts.  This is where nutrition comes into play.  Many of us had eaten during the 40 mins lunchbreak allocated before Cross Flatts and personally the food sat heavy in the stomach.  By Roundhay it had had time to digest and provide that boost of energy needed for some.  It also flows nicely as a course, with the long drag giving you an opportunity to get into a rhythm. It was nice to see Nicola Forwood of the parkrun show fame sitting by the bench at the finish to encourage us round.  During the day her husband , Ben, was one of a number of runners to join us for a few runs.

After the delights of Roundhay came Barnsley, or `Barnsley tough’ as it’s known in the parkrun world.  This was where the first slight alteration to the day’s carefully laid plans was necessary.  At 4.45 pm I was stood near the startline with Melvyn Burton, Dawn and two clubmates from Barnsley AC who had come to join us for the run.  By 4.50 we were 70% quorate, so Ian Rutson left to phone the missing SRC-ers.  And as if by magic, they appeared from the opposite direction!  So just one parkrunner light, but Ian soon returned.

During the run I worked out why it is `Barnsley tough’.  On paper, many of the other courses have climbs and drops, but my view of Barnsley is that you can never get any momentum going.  There isn’t one part of the course where you’re running the same section for more than 150m.  Short climbs, turns, short descents, a bit of a climb then a turn, a steep drop followed by a sharp turn; it requires the sort of strength one would normally use over cross-country, not the sort of graceful athleticism the Longest Sunday group had exhibited so far. But cometh the hour, comet then men and ladies, and one particular moment of the day which sticks in my mind was Ian Rutson clenching his fist with delight on completing the course in a couple of seconds under 30 mins.  That summed up the nature of the challenge. 

On the face of it, no one except the individuals concerned cared two hoots whether people ran each one in 15 mins, 20 mins, 25 mins, 30 mins or 40 mins, but each runner took it upon themselves to set challenging but realistic targets, so added to the fun of the day by not just enjoying the tourism and the camaraderie, but by undertaking 20-odd personal challenges.  I for one was proud to be part of that group.
It was now time for the final drive of the day over to Huddersfield to take place.  Greenhead Park is a fine example of Victorian parkland, always an interesting feature to see when running.  However the only feature I saw was the back of the heads of Steve Darby and Hannah Oldroyd and the floor as I ground out the last few weary kilometres.  It was good to have the support a decent sized crowd of parkrun folk and their families, and when we crossed the finishing line (and then the extra 120 metres for OCD’s sake on John Robson’s Garmin) we were all elated.  Many went back down to course to run the last few metres with friends and colleagues.
So a day that threatened rain turned into one of sunshine; sunshine on the faces of the 20 or so individuals whose collective efforts made the day so much greater than the sum of the individual parts.  So many thanks to Paul Sinton-Hewitt and Tom Williams for growing the parkrun concept over the last few years, to Steve Darby for setting up the day, and to each and every individual who ran, walked, cheered, had jackets chucked at them en route and generally did their bit to contribute to a hugely satisfying day for all.
Bring it on next year!

After Huddersfield was completed there was a short walk across the road to the Junction pub to enjoy the rewards of the day. It seemed to be flowing down very nicely indeed as the stories of the day were swapped:

However, after finally deciding that it was time to go home at about 9pm the short walk back to the car became quite painful for the three male subjects in the photo above. As a car drove past we were sprayed with some kind of pellets, which certainly had skin piercing capabilities. Ouch!!

But we don't intend to have this last event of the day as a permanent element in Longest Sundays of the future so put the date in your diary for the next one:

Sunday 22nd June 2014

And happy Freedom parkrunning between now and then :)

1 comment:

  1. Nice report. Drive by shooting included. Ps. Mr. Darby all if my results were immediately logged as parkrun freedom runs on the parkrun website, including a 22:00 PB at Huddersfield.