"Don’t leave me!" Hardly positive thoughts to start a trip when a fellow commuter leaves the train. I have flown from Manchester to Berlin Schoenefeld Airport & I made a decision on the type of ticket I wanted to buy on the train for my trip. I am almost doubting myself on the S-Bahn, hoping I am travelling the right way to my accommodation. I get talking to one of the commuters as it is coming into evening rush hour. "How has your day been?" I ask her politely. "Potsdamerplatz station is closed, I’m informed." I must admit things are not as intimidating as when I was a stranger in Moscow, when a Russian Yorkshireman gave me his business card & told me to take it in case I ever needed him. I knew I was going to a city with a real modern history, a city of change. This week I hoped to complete my first non-UK parkrun, as it was time to explore Berlin!
I guess at this stage you may be asking why Berlin? The main reason I was there at the time was to follow the German Masters Snooker Championship. I must admit I am certainly as big a snooker fan as I am a distance running fan. My love of the game started when I was 9 years old, when I 1st discovered Pot Black on a Thursday night after Top of the Pops & Tomorrow's World. There I found my favourite sportsperson & lifelong hero Steve Davis. I was to discover athletics 2 years later aged 11.
I won’t bore you with all the match details (although some may really want to know). It had been a great week - big breaks, surprise exits & late night finishes when I got used to the S-Bahn & U-Bahn (I was only 15 minutes away from the venue). I'd also completed some other runs, including from the picturesque Tiergarten leading on from Berlin Zoological Gardens - a park setting full of water fountains, monuments & a great pathway leading up to the Brandenburg Gate. As Saturday morning drew closer I reflected on the same mind set I had at Bressay, where if anything goes wrong I've had a great time. People in years to come will ask each other the question, "Where were you the moment Britain left the EU?" - well I was sat down in the foyer writing down my instructions of how to get to parkrun. I heard a cheer at midnight but I think it was because it was somebody’s birthday in the next room.
Saturday morning the alarm went off. I was later to find out that Cardiff’s Charlotte Arter had lowered her own world record at her home parkrun. It was to be a weekend that many would remember. I was now much more confident on the train then when I arrived & was soon at the park. The first people I spoke to were a German couple with their dog. I said, "I am looking for the fairy-tale playground." I’m not sure what they were thinking but when they realised I was runner they said, "I’m sure we saw some people running round last week." On reaching the path next to the playground beside the start I realised that Berlin, like all cities, has its problems with rough sleepers & there were several in this area. This group certainly didn’t want to disturb proceedings as they promptly got themselves ready & moved away.
The volunteers had now arrived & the next people I spoke to were a young woman & her son. "Is it alright if I warm up with you to see the course?" I ask. "Yes of course," she says. Haseinheide is a 2-lap course with some undulations. Cyclists enter from cycle paths around the park, each manned by a volunteer. The woman’s son Ivan seems very keen. "He will be 12 next week," mum says. "He hopes to run under 20 minutes for the first time.". Knowing it is the start of a new season, with all eyes on this year’s handicap, I reply, "I really hope to get well under 20."
It is now time for the run briefing. There are 2 briefings, 1 in German & 1 in English. There is a whiteboard to sign, stating where you are from. I certainly wasn't the only foreign tourist - Great Britain, Netherlands, Poland & Switzerland were all represented, to name but a few. I have been following the results for some time & I knew that Josh Sambrook of Cambridge Harriers had been the 1st finisher several times recently, running about 16 minutes. It’s Saturday, its 9 o’clock & it is off to the start line.
The start feels fast. I look at the 1st couple of runners moving across the ground. Some come past me & then young Ivan comes past. There are some gentle bends & downhill in the early stages. We climb a hill before we go past a small zoo. The 2nd lap is going to be tough. I was warned that there is a steep hill at 4K - I see it coming as my legs are screaming at me. I was told when we turn for the last time there is around 250 metres to the finish. It is all happening in slow motion now. Josh Sambrook is 1st finisher again in a new PB of 16:17 but is pushed hard by the German Sebastian Stockl. Sebastian represents LTC Berlin, which seems to be the lead club at this parkrun. His wife Annika Stockl is the 2nd female across the line, finishing strongly as she jostled past me on every hill. Ivan holds his form very well in a time that has hammered his personal best & I can’t make up any more ground. The runner finishing in front of me is a Vegan Runner but not from Great Britain. I cross the line in 14th place in a time of 19:49. After the world has stopped spinning, a friendly Polish runner offers me an energy sweet. It was delicious & just what the doctor ordered. "You are quite welcome to visit my home parkrun in Poland, we may run together next year if the snooker is on the same weekend as my money festival," he says.
I found Hasenheide to be a parkrun with a good family atmosphere. I feel it could be more competitive-based than in the UK - if I study the overall results the standard is certainly high. There are other parkruns to try in Germany & I would gladly go back again. I certainly felt pleased to have completed my 1st overseas parkrun & hope to do many more. [Owen Flage]
DEWSBURY 10K - 2nd FEBRUARY 2020
Well that’s that then. We’re out, but we can reapply to enter if we wish. In future there will probably be border controls & you will need a visa…..to run the Dewsbury 10K. Meantime, after duff tee shirts, crowded facilities & the wrong distance in 2018, the organisers finally came through with a pretty good event - a decent wearable tee & a commemorative medal in the same dayglo colours with the most palindromic date EVA!
One of the 4 symbols on the tee was a mystery to me. There was the ball of wool (wool town), the suggestive Town Hall logo was retained, the White Rose of Yorkshire…and?
"Incidentally, now that we’re out of Europe B., does that
mean that I don’t have to watch another episode of Inspector Montalbano?"
Running can be serious stuff. With this the 1st competitive race of the season for many, lots of po-faced runners were jogging around the gym warming up in deadly earnest. Lots of race nerves too, so the toilets, even the ones we weren’t supposed to use on the upper floor, were rammed. The chap at the gym entrance looked a bit odd with his makeshift cardboard sign informing us that toilets were available at the start. He needed to sound a bit more convincing, as most sought out the loos in the gym or queued for those on the market precinct, whilst the Brexit-themed Union Jack facilities at the start hardly got any use.
"Did his sign read 'The end of your running career is nigh!' Gary?"
"Ha ha!" (laughing mirthlessly)
Not having attended any club training nights recently, or being lucky enough to work on the Amazon dispatches floor, I hadn’t done any mileage in preparation for this race - which basically requires you to sprint from the get go, to get any sort of time you are capable of.
We were 83 strong at this event, with many wanting to set a benchmark time & duke it out against their main rivals. Some were testing themselves against injury (Steve Goddard, Simon Howard & Tony Kane I’m thinking of, but there were probably others) & loss of form (there’s a few of us out there). Some were commendably running to support others. Others were back after a season’s layoff (Jenny O’Callaghan, Rob Battye, Mick Wildbore & Lee Higginbottom, come to mind) or an even longer layoff. Welcome back then James Henderson, 2nd race in a club vest after his first in 2014!
Congratulations to Ian McBride, who led home Rob James & Jarrod Gritt in a very fast field. Our first 13 runners all ran under 40 minutes, including new RRRs Paul Timms & Andrew Rogers, with another wave of 13 club members coming in under 45 minutes.
I thought that I could hold off Trish Murdin, Liane Gilligan & Tracy Johnson after overtaking them, but they were too strong, & single-minded. All went past me in the 2nd half of the race - as did Gareth McCaffrey, who is probably a little peeved I think at finishing 30 metres ahead of me but with a slower chip time. Adam Stirling went past on my right after the turn & Gary Marshall charged past on my left.
Yes, he charged past in his green Vaporflys. Now DC Rochelle Evans (she really is a DC) got onto the case with a forensic examination of the photos & declared that many of the top 50 runners were wearing these, which provoked some intemperate comments when she put it up on Facebook. An extra 4% energy return, cost v dedication, training etc. Would you pay twice the cost of a pair of Brooks for a shoe that (according to Dave Peart) you only get 300 miles from? Dave I had noticed was wearing his 'older' pair to take down the gazebo at a muddy Heaton Park after just half a season’s worth of running. Great energy return but not a lot of mileage return for your £240 quid! No wonder these Vape shops are everywhere. A fair decision by the committee then that those wearing them at Dewsbury (including Gary M) need to report themselves to Jill 'Statto' Hickson, the new club statistician, so that the code A for 'Assisted' can be appended after their time. The use of personal trainers is also under discussion...
So, the most important bit of the report, those who scored a PB - in order of posting in response to my Facebook request. Susan Heaney, now marathon training, "took over 90 secs off"; Mark Foran "knocked one minute & 22 secs" off his; Neil Brock 51 secs; Kevin Hutchings "by exactly one minute"; Gary Marshall was mentioned by Garry Bower, "got one but don’t know by how much" (by 4% maybe?); after being nudged & told not to be shy by Kevin Hutchings, Trish Murdin "sure did by 59 secs"; Natali Brown "by 70 secs"; Karen Jones reported "53:53 this year compared to 56:38 last year"; Jill Heywood "got a PB 51:55, last year 54:07"; Tim Walsh "by 32 seconds thanks to Kevin Hutchings - real surprise coming back from injury"; Adam Bolton "PB by 1 min 33"; Andrew Rogers "got one, about 1 minute" (about?); & Liane Gilligan "was 4 mins 13 secs faster than last year". ("Yeah I could see", I thought ruefully); Lisa Cummins announced "Me 39 seconds, Richard 10 seconds". Lastly, but not so tardily, Helen Radcliffe "45 seconds I’m sure". Congratulations everyone, smiley & thumbs-up emojis. A great start to the race calendar.
"Did you mean best PB EVA? Or best Dewsbury PB?"
"The former...but seeing as it’s you, here’s your mention."
Bernadette ran her fastest Dewsbury EVA!
Congratulations also to Ronnie Quinn (3rd MV65), Rob Nixon (50th club race), Sharon Dracup (25th) & Warren Siddall (10th). Good to see my old mucker Paul Cooke at the finish. Even though I felt I ran slower than an episode of Inspector Montalbano & we’ve both been relegated to Group 4, we’re both still going. The end of our running careers is not quite yet nigh!
All the RRR finishers: Emma Bower (1:12:55), Anne Jones (1:10:19), June Allingan (1:09:13), Sue Farrell (1:04:14), Karen Stuttard (1:04:08), Sharon Dracup (1:03:24), Stephen Rogowskyj (1:02:30), Dave Bardsley (1:02:23), Elaine Whitehead (1:00:47), Jenny O'Callaghan (1:00:25), Bernadette Ball (1:00:19), Martina Naismith (59:47), Natali Brown (59:25), Clare Darraugh (59:22), Steve Goddard (58:52), Sharon Leach (58:52), Tracey Hall (58:16), Tim Dickinson (58:02), Bernie Allen (57:36), Claire Timms (56:47), Amanda Richardson (56:46), Stewart Jones (56:08), Susan Heaney (54:45), Karen Jones (53:53), David Smith (53:07), Adam Stopford (52:37), Simon Howard (52:36), Tony Kane (52:34), Kevin Hutchings (52:10), Tim Walsh (52:04), Jillian Heywood (51:55), Lee Higginbottom (51:38), Paul Cooke (51:21), Kevin Heenan (51:06), Warren Siddall (51:01), Lisa Cummins (51:00), James Wright (50:50), Gareth McCaffery (49:28), Gary Smith (49:18), Liane Gilligan (49:08), Tracy Johnson (49:08), Gary Marshall (48:28), Adam Stirling (48:27), Trish Murdin (48:24), Mark Phelan (48:04), Garry Bower (47:37), Adam Farrell (47:16), Robert Nixon (47:14), Helen Radcliffe (47:07), Ronnie Quinn (46:42), Valerie Kilburn (46:40), Adam Bolton (46:29), Rochelle Evans (46:22), John Fay (46:03), Mark Heaney (45:42), Mark Foran (45:26), Jason Keast (45:25), Alex Critcher (44:18), Janet Jobey (44:03), Mark Kelly (44:00), Bryan Lawton (43:46), David Hall (43:37), Brett Spivey (43:02), Matthew Kilburn (42:46), Darren Ogden (42:17), James Henderson (41:38), David Emanuel (40:25), Mick Wildbore (40:08), Ian Dale (40:07), Brian Moore (40:05), Dave Peart (39:55), Carl O'Callaghan (39:48), Bernard Goodwin (39:43), Rob Battye (39:23), Richard Cummins (38:24), Neil Brock (38:07), Andrew Rogers (37:36), Paul Timms (37:24), Shane Reading (36:51), George Booth (36:30), Jarrod Gritt (34:38), Rob James (33:54) & Ian McBride (33:28).
Next one is the Settle Half on 23rd February. [Gary Smith]
Well it's nearly over - Veganuary, Run Every Day in January, Dry January.
B. has been a veggie for over 30 years & I am a flexitarian – I only eat meat occasionally now.
"Tell them about when you offered to show Pat in work
Moving swiftly on...Meltham is not a 'tough' town between Huddersfield & Oldham but it does provide a hard 10K challenge. We came off J23 & through Slaithwaite. These places outside Huddersfield sure have some steep hills.
Jason, Neil & myself have always been up for this one &
as the Ribble 10K had been sold out & there was no way I was fit enough to have attempted the 4 Villages Half Marathon I was motivated to see if I could get close to any of
my previous times here...if it's possible to be at all motivated having not done any
Becoming creatures of habit in our old running age, the 3 of us & Bernadette met up in the clubhouse at the table by the window as usual, where we were joined by Ian & Jill, who are continuing with the aim of doing an organised run every weekend. Then Nick Mallon came up, looking & sounding chilled now, a couple of months since his move to Marsden next door. He hadn’t run this one before & not done much running except with his 2 dogs around the reservoir, he says. Rob James was here as well with his Marsden Strider mates. Since Christmas I think Rob has been averaging 30 plus miles per week – already on it. It certainly felt like a meeting of the clans, with many clubs from Halifax, Huddersfield & the rest of West Yorkshire in attendance. Good to see Lee Higginbottom easing his way back after a season off as well as Wing Commander Dave Philips, who always takes part in this race.
"Remember Dave in 2017 when you overtook me at the turn back, just after the bottom of the hill?"
Dave chuckled, of course he remembered. I wasn’t the only one who had been looking at his past times!
That exercise when you count how many times you’ve done a race? Well I’ve done this 4 times now & will attain the final stage in the well-known 4 Stages of Running Trauma:
Denial - 'I can’t believe there is no respite.' After doing the big climb out of the village the road levels before you started going uphill again.
Depression – 'It’s not a bad dream. It’s not going away. I don’t think I can go on.' The shock of having to continue to run uphill way into the 2nd half of the race.
Acceptance – 'Stop wingeing and get on with it!' The stage you reach after running the race so many times already. You accept that it’s a tough race & even though you have worked hard up that 1st hill & on the next bit - you see the feet of the runners in the distance are above your head – more uphill. You grit your teeth & keep going. Even the rain & strong headwind didn’t really bother me. Bernadette (base layer, running jacket, leggings, gloves & 2 buffs) had to run with her hand in front of her face when the hail came down!
Recovery and Celebration – 'I’m soaked through but made the finish.' I ran strongly on the final downhill mile, which comes as a blessing, & finished just 50 seconds slower than my 2017 time when I duked it out with Dave. So, something to celebrate. For recovery there was coffee, tea & cake with one runner lamenting that all the vegan chocolate cake had gone. Sign ‘o’ the times. Well I didn’t eat it! I had the one with the Smarties on top & Bernadette had the gluten-free butterfly cake.
"Don’t eat all those Smarties, you’ll be hyper all afternoon."
"Do you think I’m just a big kid?"
Silence. B. is now giving me a look.
Jason & Neil couldn’t tarry over a cuppa. Jason is still
bothered by his back & Neil was on a flight at 3pm. Who else does an
organised run in the morning with a plane to catch in the afternoon? Well Neil did & won the 1st MV 55 prize! Size
8 Vaporflys & compression sleeves won’t set his baggage allowance back too
much. Congratulations as well to Rob James (2nd Senior Male, 3rd overall) & Dave Philips (1st MV 75).
All the RRR finishing times: Rob James (36:01), Neil Brock (43:01), Ian Dale (44:34), Jason Keast (50:03), Nick
Mallon (52:07), Gary Smith (53:06), Lee Higginbottom (55:40), Dave Philips (56:15), Jill Heywood (59:10) & Bernadette Ball (1:08:40). [Gary Smith]
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