Category Archives: Jonathan Hamill

Club Policy on Bib Swapping, Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Jonathan Hamill

Bill McGuirk, who many you know as a respected referee and official has published a blog concerning the North Tyneside 10k:

http://harrierleague.blogspot.com/2019/04/north-tyneside-10k-bill-mcguirk-referee.html

This particular event was marred by a reported large number of competitors running using someone else’s bib number, and in the top 30 women’s finishers, 5 were men (not from our club but one was from another North East club).

Bill has asked for support from local clubs and I’ve been in touch with him to reaffirm our commitment and support to highlight this topic.

Our club line is that we play by the rules, including only endorsing legitimate and proper transfers. There are medical, fair competition and inconvenience issues.  

There are also sanctions for the individual and the club which we take seriously. We have agreed that we will seek opportunities to drive improvements in lobbying race organisers (with the support of other clubs) to put in place more appropriate transfer provisions.

With our own events (e.g. the Willow Miner Trail Race) we do our bit to illustrate good practice with a lenient transfer policy, and special measures such as spot checks. In perspective, I know that we are held in high regard as a club who play by the rules, which is to our credit.

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The Duergar Nightcrawler Run, Simonside Hills, Northumberland, Saturday, February 23, 2019

Jonathan Hamill

Intrigued by the picture on the Duergar Run website of a fierce looking character, and the prospect of being chased through the fells by a wild creature or suchlike, I decided to find out more. I discovered that Duergar comes from the old Norse word Dvergar which means Dwarf. There are many old stories which suggest that these Duergars live in the rocks and hills around Simonside, their purpose being to lure unsuspecting hikers or travellers by torchlight over rocky ravines or into deep bogs. I reckoned they would be happy to target unsuspecting runners too.

If you go down to the fells tonight, you may be in for a big surprise …

I downloaded the GPX route and imported it into my OS Maps app – my ‘just in case’ navigation aid, then pondered the relative merits from my shoe arsenal, opting in the end for my newish Hoka Mafate Speed 2’s, which amongst comfort and cushioning promised much for technical trails. I checked that I could comply with the kit list and that my head torch was charged then set off for the 1-hour drive North to Rothbury.

Steep Ascent, Slippery Descent …

I couldn’t make this event last year due to a clash with the Northumberland Coastal Marathon which Lesley had run. Although Lesley had recommended I run the Coastal Marathon this year, our eldest Son’s drum exam meant that the only sensible alternative was to take my chances on the Duergar Run!

When I arrived, I parked near to Tomlinson’s Café and Bunkhouse where registration was taking place. I noted a swathe of competitors engaged in essential carb-loading preparations, the choices on offer making me lament my choice of a triple-chocolate muffin from a global chain of coffee shops en route.

I strolled across the bridge to Haugh Car Park, engaging in discussion with other runners (including fellow Strider Karen Wilson) about the ‘steep climbs for 4 miles’ and ‘treacherous declines’. We listened attentively to the safety briefing, which amongst other things called for dynamic risk assessments by all runners. Then we were off, and up, up, up and up a bit more on Whitton Bank Road and Hillhead Road until we hit a trail which continued to climb. Leaving the normality of farm tracks and paths, and passing the first water station, we encountered the challenging climb past caves and a man in traditional costume fiercely beating a bodhran.

At various points which followed we encountered marshals who encouraged us but we also heard screams and noises which could only be associated with a dreaded Duergar! The climbs were often on stone steps which slowed progress, and on the flats (or sections which were less hilly) we had the challenge of running on stone slabs, which were irregular and with gaps between them sufficient to catch an unsuspecting foot.

After Simonside Crag we had a steep technical descent and then a set of forest trails, which were certainly not tourist paths but on balance less climbing to contend with. We enjoyed a further series of descents on slippery loose rocks before the lights of Rothbury started to appear in the distance. At the final water station, I had three jelly beans which provided me with a welcome sugary boost and then I set to work on the final section which was net downhill.

Pleased at this point as I knew I was within 1km of the end, I let my guard drop and on exiting (falling through) the final gate at the drop down to the bridge in Rothbury, I performed one of my trademark barrel rolls. Having managed to maintain forward momentum I regained sufficient composure to lift my pace over the bridge to the finish. A friendly welcome at Tomlinson’s, a t-shirt and a welcome cup of mulled wine followed.

I’d recommend this event without reservation, if you are content with a challenging trail/fell route and the prospect of being captured by a Duergar! Well done to Cold Brew Events for slick organisation, and to the marshals and those involved in supporting this excellent event!

Total distance: 15812 m
Max elevation: 425 m
Min elevation: 82 m
Total climbing: 522 m
Total descent: -522 m
Total Time: 01:34:31
Download
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Cuddy’s Corse – The Mince Pie Equaliser, Chester-le-Street to Durham , Friday, December 28, 2018

~8 miles Social Run

Jonathan Hamill

Keen to settle their festive excess debt, a dozen or so Striders met at St Mary and St Cuthbert Parish Church in Chester-le-Street, lured by the promise of a challenging, hilly yet rewarding route – Cuddy’s Corse.

I explained at the start how lucky we were not to have to carry the uncorrupted body of Cuthbert, the Patron Saint of the North, like those who went before us. I then suggested we stage a club relay run with a coffin – this received a less than enthusiastic response.

Off we went from the Church, under the A167, following part of the Riverside parkrun route, then across the River Wear towards the field edges and a lovely climb up to Great Lumley. Luck and fair weather were on our side as the conditions were favourable compared to the slip-slide of the last Striders’ run on this route. Having paused at the top to admire the views, we processed on to Finchale Priory and to more familiar ground – HMP Frankland, continuing down to Durham (at this point folk seemed to rejoice in the downhill opportunity).

Following the exact Cuddy’s Corse route, we crossed Framwellgate Bridge and startled shoppers as we climbed Silver Street and up to the Cathedral – job done and well done all!

Corse Map

Corse Leaflet

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Harrier League, Wrekenton, Saturday, September 29, 2018

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

Jonathan Hamill

Ready.

Faugh-a-Ballagh!

I offered this battle cry ahead of our first Harrier League fixture – it means clear the way (for the might of the purple and green).

The sun shone, cakes on top of tables and club flags blowing in the breeze – sounds idyllic and would tempt many an unsuspecting Strider to enrol for Cross-Country duties?

Everything above is true. Then to the race itself – a lap-based route mainly on grassy surfaces, and gravel paths, with some testing hills. I was lucky, as a Veteran Man, I got to run three laps – a total distance equating to ~9.2km or thereabouts.

I attended with the full blessing of the Minister for Home Affairs (who I suspect has hidden my offending socks) and indeed, given this was the first fixture in the Harrier League, it seemed appropriate for the Chairman to lead from the front (at least for half a metre).

I really do encourage the whole club to subscribe to our XC activities – it unites us and the team spirit is truly fantastic. Of course, we’d like folk to run and you need not be the fastest runner – every performance counts. That said, the performances of many are enhanced by the valiant efforts of our enthusiastic supporters who provide encouragement aplenty.

Far too many watches there ...I won’t lie – I found today a bit tough. Perhaps it isn’t advisable to run a race like this so soon after an ultramarathon (exactly one week to the day I was running in the Causeway Coast Ultramarathon in Northern Ireland). I decided my best my best option today was to try to run briskly but steadily (mainly because I feared that if I went off too fast with the after-effects of last weekend, I’d come unstuck on the third lap).

And so, I managed to run with even(ish) splits and a half-reasonable average pace of 5:01/km (8 minute-mile in old money) until the final couple of hundred metres when I put in a distress call to the engine room which responded with a slight surge to the line. 46:22 on the results and position 420 from a field of 594 runners and a warm glow as my reward. See you at one of the next fixtures.

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RAF Spadeadam Half Marathon 100 Year Edition, RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria, Sunday, September 16, 2018

Jonathan Hamill

Apparently, the previous organisers had turned to a local race organiser (Trail Outlaws) for some help to ensure the future viability of this race. I decided at an early stage to support it. It was to form part of the RAF Centenary celebrations on 2018 and let’s face it, you don’t get the chance, every day, to run around a historic base that was part of the UK’s missile project during the cold war.

I was also lured by the description of, “stunning views along its length, winding its way around and through Spadeadam Forest with views over to the Lake District and Sycamore Gap on Hadrians Wall. With numerous RAF practise targets and tanks along the route..”. I figured the RAF wouldn’t be doing much practicing on the day!

I set off to drive the ~1.5hr journey, stopping off at a national chain of coffee purveyors on the outskirts of Hexham for a latte and luxury fruit toast – an army marches on its stomach (oops – wrong service!)

Leaving the A69, I headed toward the base along minor roads and then encountered a tail-back – cars and passengers dealing with the security measures to access the base. Fortunately, this gave me time to stretch my legs, and don my offending compression socks (I’m amazed they let me in!).

Once through the gate and parked up, I collected my number (if only every race organiser insisted on seeing a form of photo ID, we’d avoid Bill running as Ben and so-on). I then decided a warm up was in order and being a bit of a radio geek, and noting the additional hazard at one point of non-ionising radiation above 2 metres, I decided to keep my head down!

There was a bit of delay to proceedings with many a pre-race photo opportunity but before long we were lining up. Now having run an Ultramarathon a fortnight ago, and with another a week away, I decided my plan was to throttle back a little and enjoy the sights. Then we were off, up the hill past the parked cars, and up, up, up – in fact the first few miles were definitely ascent territory. Once off the tarmac, we were on lumpy gravel paths for the majority of the remainder, which were ok on the uphill (plenty of that) and on the downhill corners, enough scree to catch you out.

I remember being pleased with myself and thinking that 53 minutes for the first 10km was half sensible and then there was another series of leg-pulling uphills.

The wind was truly formidable – trees were uprooted and it was hard to run straight at times – I remember thinking that the wind would excite a RAF pilot. The highest point was around 13km and I heard one runner say something about it all being downhill from that point. Now I’ve been to a fair few of these events, and whereas there were some fast downhill stretches there were many uphill sections, including one hill near the end which caught a few folk out.

I was hitting a ~1:55 half marathon by distance, again half sensible but from my earlier warm-up, I knew I was about a mile from the finish – a typical trail race then in terms of value for distance. I decided to drop a gear on the last mile and 7 min/mile pace to the finish, feeling the value of my Hoka Speedgoat 2 cushioning.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, managed to stop for a few obligatory selfies, and actually managed to appear in the race photos looking remarkably presentable for once. In summary, not an easy route, but a great experience, with amazing views and I’d do it again in a flash.
Congratulations to Robert Allfree who was 1st Strider home and all the other Striders!

Many thanks to RAF Spadeadam for their hospitality, Hippie Nixon Photography for the photographic memories and Trail Outlaws for a great event, and a rather cool medal!

Name TimePositionGen. pos. Cat.Cat. Pos
SteveRankin
(Unattached)
01.33.1211M1
LisaTang
(Tynedale)
01.43.1181F1
RobertAllfree01.58.113733M4015
JonathanHamill02.02.414944M4022
KathrynSygrove02.09.59709F502
EricGreen02.16.499377M5015
LouiseBarrow02.19.2810521F3
LisaSample02.21.2811024F5
MalcolmSygrove02.34.14161108M5022
JaneDowsett02.38.2417563F5015
JillYoung02.38.2717664F13
MatthewCrow02.46.59201124M32
GillianGreen02.52.3120984F5020
KarenMetters03.06.4622799F4050
HelenThomas03.06.49228100F4051

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Hardmoors Princess Challenge, Ravenscar village hall, Saturday, September 1, 2018

31 miles 3000ft elevation

Jonathan Hamill

The Princess Challenge is simply a marvellous event, which raises much-needed funds for the Scarborough & Ryedale Mountain Rescue Team. It sees a range of distances offered – the Short n Sweet, the One in the Middle and for me, the Ultra. I ran this event in 2017 as part of my training for a longer event and followed a similar plan this year.

The summer had been warm, and although I had run plenty, it had been a blend of shorter distances. On holiday in France, I knew the Princess was indeed going to challenge me if I didn’t prepare adequately, so I started to step things up. Upon returning to the UK, and some two weeks out I did a long training run of 30km, having gradually worked my way up. Training was going well, and I felt confident.

To throw another couple of things into the mix, I had decided to buy some new shoes (Hoka Speedgoat 2) and christened them on a 6km trail run during the week running up to the Princess. I also had just taken delivery of a new watch (Garmin 935) and the evening before the race, I experimented with it walking a couple of km to and from the car park at Kynren.

I wouldn’t say I was that well-rested – apart from the late evening before the race at Kynren, I had also just returned from a mid-week work trip to Germany. On the morning of the event, I woke, got some porridge down and set off to the event nice and early (the rest of the house still in bed).

After parking up I entered the village hall and saw Carole helping with the registration – I must have looked a sight, and felt still half asleep. I submitted myself to the necessary kit check, fastened my number and settled my head, reflecting on the announcement of the day before, “…there will be cattle movements on part of the Ultra and Middle route! This will be at 10 am on part of the diverted route! If you get there after that you will be held by the marshal at Pittard Point until safe to proceed. It means you have to run the first miles…Sorry”.

Deliberations were suspended as we lined up, and Kathryn joined me, keen as ever for a selfie!

So, in contrast to my original plan that this was to be ‘just a training run’, I decided to set off a little more swiftly to ensure I didn’t encounter the cattle. I was definitely a bit further up the field than I should have been as I looped back to pass the Village Hall (start point) when I remembered I’d forgotten to put my gels in my vest – I had a 30 second argument with myself about whether I could make do, and then to the amusement of Kelly and the team, left the road, to dash into the hall, grab my gels and run back off down the road.

I soon caught up with runners from one of the other races that was underway and plenty of encouragement was exchanged along the first bit of the Cleveland Way, and then I was running solo for quite a while – without my wingman this year.

I think it was after CP3 I met a chap who I ran with for a while towards Whitby. He had a groin strain but was ok to continue. The temperature was getting up, and I remember running into Whitby which was in full swing with fish and chips, wasps and ice-cream (in no particular order).

I knew that 199 steps lay ahead up to the Abbey and also that they would hurt. I decided my treat would be an ice-cream at the top – motivation aplenty! I made short work of the ice-cream and pressed on along the cliff path to CP4 at which point, I thought I was hearing things when the marshal told me I was 5th – ‘from last’, I quipped but he set me straight. Now, I knew I’d been pushing on a bit early in the race, and I also knew it was now warm and the terrain was to get a bit more challenging on the return. At CP5 (was CP3 on the outbound) I paused for more water and some amazing dandelion and burdock drink.

The descent into Robin Hoods Bay total torture on the legs, I’m sure I looked a real sight to tourists seeing me thunder past, resplendent in my rather bright compression socks (and other clothing thankfully). No rest for the wicked and once at the bottom, the Cleveland Way beckoned again, past the aptly named Boggle Hole and Stoupe Beck with the many, many steps.

With the benefit of having run the route before, I pressed on and was passed by a couple of runners at some stage – most notably on the final ascent past the Alum Works to Ravenscar by a very capable lady who was no stranger to ultrarunning. I could not maintain her pace, but kept going, climbing past the National Trust Café and up to the Village Hall – I rounded the final corner to see Kathryn again who hastened me towards the finish.

The finish – it was confirmed I was 6th male, 9th overall with a time of 6:17:42 and a PB of over an hour! To say I was delighted was an understatement.

Thanks to the SRMRT, marshals and organisers who give up their time to run such an amazing event.

Relive link.
Strava

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Bridges of The Tyne 5 mile Road Race, Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Jonathan Hamill

Photo courtesy of AJ Running Photos

Bridges of The Tyne, or BOTT as we fondly refer to it, is a go-to race for many Striders, where the standard of competition is high. Most importantly, Tyne Bridge Harriers put on a consistently excellent event, and are renowned for the enthusiastic, cheerful marshals (thanks all concerned!).

I had an extended day in the office because I thought it was easier than trekking home and back. The closure of the Scotswood Road due to a burst water main provided an additional challenge but thankfully traffic subsided to near normal levels and the drive to the Tyne Bar (Race HQ) was relatively straightforward.

In stark contrast to the perfect racing conditions of the previous year (damp and cool), the weather this time was comparatively tropical. I collected my number, and decided to rest outside the Tyne Bar, resisting the urge to have a cool beer! I’m not good in the heat, so had decided to just have a steady run out – mentioning my plan to running buddies Dave and John who had already run 5km to pick up their numbers! That plan changed a bit on the warm-up run over to the start as I realised the temperature had dropped and the river breeze was welcome!

Last year I’d had a decent run, with a gun time of 38:30 and I thought maybe chipping a few seconds off that would be ok in the heat. Then in the pen, Fiona reminded me that I’d had a decent run at the Hartlepool Marina 5 miler. The fuse was lit and all restraint and notions of a steady run went out the window.

I struck out a little too sharp but managed to settle myself. Anna was off like a rocket and Fiona and Katy were in front of me gaining ground. I saw Dave Coxon ahead of me too and decided to put all ideas of chasing him out of my head! I saw our fast lads approaching, and knew I was close to the turnaround slope. I managed to utter a few yells of support which mentally told me I wasn’t overcooking the goose at that point.

I dropped a few seconds on the slope to the turnaround, and the marshall was yelling “nil-nil” which I think referred to the progress of a soccer tournament, rather than my running progress. On the drop back down to the river, I didn’t relent, mindful that I could recover those lost seconds. On the return, the marshals continued to provide ample encouragement and it was good to see Rob calmly standing his ground hastening folk on. I remember giving Rachel Toth a big yell, and then I go to work, picking folk in front of me one-by-one and it wasn’t too long before I was on the Quayside again. My mind flashed back to the torture of last year’s finish when I got buzzed by Robin on the line and I had a sneaky look behind to check for any advancing purple vests. Then the finish straight – the best bit! I heard some of our fast lads already finished shouting and I increased my pace to cross the line.

Gun time 37:22 and a course PB – I’d indeed managed to shave a few seconds off, job done! I stayed to cheer the others in and then given my lack of interest in watching the soccer, I beat a retreat home. A great race with some gutsy Strider performances all round!

Pos.Bibno.Finish timeChip timeParticipantCategory
121526:33:0026:30:00Stephen Jackson(M) Senior
226529:24:0029:22:00Michael Littlewood(M) 40-44
348229:29:0029:27:00Mark Warner(M) 35-39
41131:18:0031:16:00Matthew Archer(M) 35-39
52534:49:0034:42:00Anna Basu(F) 40-44
623336:26:0036:20:00Fiona Jones(F) 40-44
717237:22:0037:16:00Jonathan Hamill(M) 40-44
847837:38:0037:32:00Katy Walton(F) 35-39
910437:54:0037:40:00Sarah Davies(F) 50-54
1039938:14:0038:05:00Chris Shearsmith(M) 40-44
1118338:49:0038:35:00Peter Hart(M) 40-44
1238439:39:0039:16:00Michael Ross(M) 45-49
135839:52:0039:34:00Karen Byng(F) 45-49
1414239:57:0039:45:00Mark Foster(M) 35-39
152340:38:0040:16:00Louise Barrow(F) 35-39
1626442:27:0042:12:00Robin Linton(M) Senior
1741943:03:0042:39:00Lee Stephenson(M) 45-49
1834643:40:0043:25:00Joanne Patterson(F) 35-39
1938943:54:0043:30:00Lisa Sample(F) 35-39
2026645:54:0045:40:00Wendy Littlewood(F) 40-44
2150147:17:0046:52:00Kimberley Wilson(F) Senior
2219552:56:0052:29:00Carol Holgate(F) 45-49
2347252:57:0052:31:00Sue Walker(F) 60-64
2445759:25:0058:50:00Rachel Toth(F) 40-44
2526301:00:4001:00:04Helen Linton(F) 55-59

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Georgengarten parkrun #8, Hannover, Germany, Saturday, January 20, 2018

Jonathan Hamill

Photo courtesy of Georgengarten parkrun

Having enjoyed a visit to Georgengarten parkrun during a business trip in December, I found myself in a similar position during January.

Arriving at the Herrenhäuser Allee, I met the friendly core team again. I also met a couple of visitors from London in apricot parkrun t-shirts and Nina from Ireland who told me about some other running options in the local area.

The temperature was a mild improvement over my previous visit but it was still cold! Putting it another way, I was in a clear minority wearing shorts. I took a warm-up along the tree-lined avenue and observed that the Georgengarten had survived Storm Frederike well, with only some damage to the trees towards the Willhelm Busch Museum.

We lined up, and I had the advantage of knowing the course this time – basically just over a mile of straight gravel path towards Hannover, and then a switch back to follow the twists and turns of the Georgengarten park back to the start/finish at the beginning of the Herrenhäuser Allee.

And we were off! I ran down the tree-lined gravel path, perhaps a second or two faster than my previous attempt but on the twists and turns, I found the going tough with the accumulation of miles in my legs from and after Brass Monkey Half Marathon the previous weekend.

Photo courtesy of Dirk Große (Georgengarten parkrun core team)

I managed to improve my time and placing finishing 5th and 1st VM40-44, in 23:05 (from 7th finisher and 23:28 in December). Perhaps the lack of Christmas markets and obligatory Glühwein helped.

I joined some of the finishers and core team across the road at the Steinecke bakery for post-run coffee and cake before saying goodbye.

Once again, a hugely enjoyable parkrun in Germany which seems to be attracting more runners. Thanks to the volunteer team for their efforts!

 

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Laufen mit TriAs Hildesheim, Saturday, January 20, 2018

18km

Jonathan Hamill

What else after a rather pleasing outcome at the Georgengarten parkrun? Suitably re-fueled by coffee and cake, I was looking forward to running with the TriAs triathlon club (http://www.trias-hildesheim.de/index.php) in Hildesheim, courtesy of a kind invitation from work colleague, Nils.

“Come along, it will be fun, 12km or so at a steady pace”, was what I heard. The first bit was certainly true!

We met at the DJK Sportplatz at Hildesheim, where the club also has use of a track – more on that to follow.

With introductions made, we ran over a couple of bridges and followed a riverside path in a loop – a shade over 8mm pace. That seemed to be the warm-up, and we then headed for the hills, literally! We climbed up a gravel path through the Steinberg woods, past a zoo and taking in a great view of the surrounding area. At this point, I lamented my decision to opt for road shoes – my new Saucony Koa STs which I’d left in the car would have provided a bit more traction on the muddier bits.

We dropped down back to the DJK Sportplatz hitting 13km. Most people said farewell at this point but there was a (very good) plan b, partly for one of the members who was training for an Ironman event. We bolted on a 5km sight-seeing tour of the old town. Hildesheim is renowned for its historic churches, and we passed St Mary’s Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We also passed a whitewater canoe course which looked amazing, prior to returning to our starting point.

I joined in a “warm-down” with a twist, as we headed to the track for some drills which included some sprint efforts! Just over 18km, an average pace a shade faster than 9mm, and we were done. The mixed grill and isotonic Weißbier tasted really good when I got back to the hotel!

An amazing bunch of people, and a capable triathlon club who put on a fantastic running tour – thanks all, and you will be very welcome to run with us if you visit Durham.

Here’s the relive overview of this run: https://www.relive.cc/view/1366364016

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Georgengarten parkrun #3 Hannover, Germany, Saturday, December 16, 2017

5k

Jonathan Hamill

Impressive levitation skills from the Chairman.
Photos courtesy of Georgengarten parkrun

I was staying about an hour South of Hannover during a business trip and with the weekend spare, I decided to fit in some running. I had heard that parkrun had recently made a start in Germany, and when I realised I was within striking distance of one of the recently established events, I set my alarm!

I jumped on the metronome train and headed North to Hannover. A quick tram ride took me directly to the Georgengarten area, where the temperature was the wrong side of zero. A bunch of hardy runners were assembled beside a gazebo, and I got chatting to the Run Director Bettina as I gradually removed layer after layer of Strider kit. This was event number three, and I listened with some trepidation during the course briefing, “27 turns” and “if you don’t see a marshal, just keep going straight ahead’.

I met a visiting Australian couple (Alex and Naomi Wallace) who were working their way around Germany and the UK with some parkrun tourism in mind. We surveyed the long straight ahead, and I thought the 27 turns mentioned would make the 2nd half a twisty affair.

Front row - centre stage. Doing us proud. And off, a shade quicker than sensible, I soon realised the long tree-lined straight (the famous Mansions Allee) was just over a mile. We turned right to initially follow a fairly straight path but the twists and turns followed. I had a local runner (Frank from Hannover Runners) who had inched ahead of me on the first mile but I held my nerve and caught him in the twists and turns and he stayed on my heel until the end.

To my right, I started to see the gazebo and start/finish area and knew I was close. I remembered the instruction about turning around the last marshal and then I had a short distance to the finish during which I hastened as much as I could, and got a few more yards away from Frank. I crossed the line and was pretty pleased, (not least considering my Glühwein intake the previous evening) with a position of 7th finisher in a time of 23:28.

We strolled across to the nearby bakery to have a coffee and I then left to catch my return tram and train, bidding farewell to the friendly core team and wishing them well for the future. Maybe I’ll manage a return visit one day!

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