parkrunathon, Saturday, August 9, 2014

8 x 5km

George Nicholson

TEAM WITH A DREAM

Pieces of eight.To boost my Great North Run Fundraising I undertook yet another parkrunathon. This year deciding on 8 parkruns courses in the Manchester area. Rather than attempt it on my own I ‘volunteered’ Sam Nightingale to accompany me. Before she married, many Striders knew her as Sam Brown, former Event Director of Sunderland parkrun, & the young Lady who started up the Netball club, Wearside Wildcats.

It was Sam of course who introduced so many of us to parkrun, organising our Televised Santa Run and our annual Netball Tournament, which is now in its 4th year. Sam and her hubby Oli now live in Manchester.

zero down, eight to go.The schedule of events was decided upon and contact was made with each of the Venues and promoted on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Vodafone JUST TEXT GIVING also helped me along the way with promotion by designing ‘posters’ and promoting it via Twitter. From that we were contacted by Chorlton Runners and 2 of their Members Leona Beaumont and Lorraine Pang elected to accompany us on ‘our journey’, and what a difference they made. Apart from being delightful Company, they turned out to be invaluable help and support in so many ways. Arriving at the first venue – Woodbank ( more of that soon ) 2 other ‘unattached’ parkrunners Karl Downing and Jason Ridgeway also decided to come along for the ‘fun & runs’. At the 3rd venue ( Bramhall ) Sam’s Hubby arrived with 2 of his friends , Neil Grice and Gazz Pashley. From then on, we were a ‘TEAM WITH A DREAM’ travelling in convoy to each subsequent parkrun location, enjoying many laughs and providing morale boosts for each other whenever the going got tough, making it a most memorable day for me.

The omens were favourable from the start. Weather forecast was good and at 7:15 am we arrived at WoodBank park to be greeted with an amazing reception of friendly faces. There were approx. 18 parkrunners who had turned out at this early hour to run with us, the course had already been laid out, signs, cones flags etc. – Wonderful. My aim was to attempt to run each parkrun in about 30 mins, but that soon proved to be unattainable on some tough hilly courses on a very hot day. Survival and enjoyment became far more important than ‘times’.

Run #2 was the Official parkrun at Cheadle Hulme. This was only their 7th Event, but the 60 other runners and all the Marshalls & Organisers had put out the ‘Red Carpet’ for our arrival and again we were given VIP treatment. Of particular note here was a delightful youngster called Annabel who had a bell, and must be the loudest Voluncheerer in the Manchester area.

Event Director Janine met us at the magnificent Bramhall park for run #3. A most scenic run through woods & hill around a magnificent Stately Home

Run #4 was different again, 2 laps & flat around Burnage RFC and the very pleasant riverbanks. E.D Katherine & other ladies did an excellent job here of marshalling the ‘Dream Team’ at some critical junctions.

THE DREAM TEAM.

Run #5 was back to another magnificent stately home – Wythenshawe park. We were escorted round by 2 of their runners, but unfortunately became quite a spread out Team and several took wrong turnings at key points. one of us, namely me, took a major wrong turn and ended up running almost 5 miles rather than 3.1 L – a major fail.

Run #6 at South Manchester park was known by most of the team as it was their main local run and we were met there by another regular runner. However I never got to see any of it. The major fail on the last run resulted in me getting severe cramp in both calves and I simply could not walk, never mind run. It was also on this course that Jason went ‘down’ with a bad leg injury, which meant both he and Karl had to pull out. Each of them did however a credible 6 runs that day.

I at least had 2 hours to recover and was able to continue at Worsley Woods for run #7. Despite being quite late on a Saturday afternoon 6 ‘Locals’ turned up for us and were proud to show us round their scenic route.

At 6:30 pm we arrived at our last venue for run #8 – the magnificent Heaton Park. We were met by E.D. Damian, who explained the course and ran with us. Despite being desperately tired by then, not even twice up ‘Angina’ hill would prevent me from completing this one.

So by 8:00 pm we were ‘done’ – literally and physically . Although I missed out run #6, I’d still covered 25 running miles in the 12 hour day. Thankfully for me it was Sam that had driven the 90 miles in between. It was also worth noting that it was only the 3 Ladies who had completed all 8 of the 5k’s – Girl Power at its best.

A great day however, many friends made, but most importantly a lot of money raised once more for my chosen charity, Acorns. Big thank you to all who contributed and made this possible. Next stop for me Great North Run #34

Absent Friends.

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