The hail started as we drove up Sutton Bank and I knew we were in for a dramatic day. We were on our way to Flamingo Land. I’d dragged the family out of bed at 6:30am to get there for 9:30am. They were not happy. The zoo was open but none of the major rides would be (until the next week).
I was heading for the second, and my first, running of FlaminGo 10k. In aid of the Udzungwa Forest Project, apparently. Yes, it’s a real place. In Tanzania.
This race wouldn’t have appeared on my radar but we were on our way to meet our friends, Sarah and Jamie, who own a caravan in the park and suggested I enter. I’m glad they did. They’re both quite fit, Sarah is a swimmer and Jamie loves cycling. He’s a pretty fast parkrunner and might have the edge on me over 10k.
We met in the car park and they snook Vicki and Annabelle in to Flamingo Land. Then we warmed up with the other 250 runners. The weather couldn’t decide between freezing hail, sideways rain or bright sunshine.
There was more club shirts than I expected. I was the only Strider but there was New Marske Harriers, Wallsend Harriers, Easingwold Running Club, Redcar Running Club and Tyne Bridge Harriers amongst more Southern clubs.
There was a loud and excitable radio-DJ-style announcer on the mic, calling the tunes and organising the whole event. We set off at 10am on the dot.
The race was 2 identical laps that snaked through the park and camp site and around the outside of a ridiculously muddy golf course. There was a couple of small rises but other than that it was flat. It was the most twisty 10k I’ve ever run and the muddy golf course slowed everyone down. Not as badly as you guys doing Alnwick XC I imagine.
I got around in 48:26 and beat my friend Jamie by a couple of minutes, which is all that really matters.
The race was won by Tristan Learoyd of New Marske Harriers who seems to win a lot races I enter. He did it in 35:14. First woman was, with a time of 40:28, was Kay Neesam also of New Marske Harriers.
Runners were allowed free entry to the park but they were generally too wet and muddy to really make the most of it. Luckily we cleaned up in Sarah’s caravan and had the afternoon in the park. The rhinos and giraffes were impressive but there was only a couple of small rides open for the kids.
It was a fun 10k with novel scenery. I’ll probably do it again next year but might not drag the family along. Maybe I could drag some other Striders?