I’m not really one for parkrun tourism. If I’m on holiday, the thought of getting up at 730am to go find a local run doesn’t really appeal. Jane and I tend to go to bed later than normal because the kids stay up later….so it all makes parkrun a no no for us. This leads to me usually taking my trainers and going out for a run on an evening when the family is chilling prior to food etc.
Out of curiosity, I had checked if there were any races during our week away in Jersey (incidentally the birthplace of the prettiest of the Littlewoodi (the correct plural I think), Wendy)….and to my surprise the local running club was to hold a 5km race along the prom of St.Hellier.
We arrived back at our Airbnb an hour before the race which was a nice 1mile from the start. The Facebook page had just said “meet at the first shelter” which obviously meant nothing to me. Luckily the aforementioned Wendy knew all about this famous bus shelter so I was given a handy map. I didn’t ask how or why and assumed it was a weird local thing.
I jogged down the hill expecting to get there 15mins before the start at 6:30pm and totally misjudged it. I arrived 30 mins early and had that awkward decision about whether to go for a run or stay and meet the local club runners. I stayed and had a nice chat with a few. People filtered down and we all had to sign our names and get a hand written number, or old GNR number for our vests. Didn’t seem to matter as it was free.
At 6:45pm there was a photo shoot of some in attendance and a little speech by the organiser about the meaning behind the run. It was for a nice sounding lady called Daphne Wagstaff who had passed away a few years previously but had done a lot for the local running community.
The race started at 7pm in full sun and no wind. Gutted. I hate running in the sun. It was about 26c. I knew it would be flat though so decided to take it easy and not do anything stupid (which is hard for me!).
The 37 of us set off at quite a nice pace and quickly formed into the usual groups. I was at the back of the fast pack and we pounded along watching out for cyclists (who can be quite aggressive in these parts we had been warned) and the odd dog walker. The simple route was an out and back along the prom with the beach (and sun) to our left. I passed about 5 bricked shelters (so I’m glad Wendy knew which one was the special one) and picked up my pace to pass one chap who was being tracked by his wife on a bike. Up ahead we passed almost through a cafe and I eventually saw a friendly face smiling at at sign directing me to turn back. By now the fast lads had passed me on their way back and I had a decent gap between me and the next runner. But it was hot and my head knew what was going to come.
The elevation map of the route should be flat but there were key sections which where I had to jump over a grate or a curb and thus added mini hills of about 10cm. Nothing Fiona B or Stuart and his ladder would struggle with.
With about 1.5km left I started to really feel the heat (Have I mentioned that I hate heat!?). I’d been eating and drinking holiday food all week and probably wasn’t hydrated nearly enough for a parkrun paced race. I could see a female closing about 100m behind me so I had to focus on the bus shelter ahead….but to my horror it wasn’t THE shelter but a trick one to put me off. Onwards forged against the driving wind, rain and 1:4 hills. I wished! My feet were on fire and my eyes were blurring with sweat. I saw the shelter again….people were stood at it so I put my all into the last 100m to make sure I wasn’t passed by the closing lady. But once again I was betrayed by the shelter and it was just a trick! I had to crack on but I’d mentally gone. If I was a horse in the National the jockey would have just pulled me over to trot to the end to protect it from injury. I couldn’t do this! I was representing the Elvet Striders internationally and I could feel the weight of expectation on my drooped shoulders. By now the lady’s shadow was just in the corner of my vision. I knew I’d be beaten. I could actually see the finish now but with 50 yards to go I was passed by what turned out to be the female winner (she was actually second female but you can only win the trophy once and the other lady won it previously).
I passed the line to claps from the fast lot as the first Elvet Strider! I was happy to add to my tally of being the first in purple for my last 2 races (See Roof of England Fell Race).
We stayed around by the beach clapping in all the rest, much as we do up in Durham. The trophies were given out to the first new Male and Females from Jersey Spartan AC. This seemed a good idea as it enabled different to win it rather than just the same persons each year – it was a memorial run after all.
After the photos I popped down the steps to the beach, ran to the shore and jumped in!! Poppy and Fred met me there whilst Jane sunned herself on the beach.
This was a lovely local race with some fast runners and inclusive feel. 37 of us ran and nobody needed a GPS/OS map or more than 1 Marshall. I’d recommend the island and this race to everyone!