Six full hours after the 'witching' hour, the clock ticked around to 9 am, otherwise known as the Dead of Night' to teenagers, 419 runners lined up for the Arrow Valley 'Spooktacula' to appease the Spirits. Looking at the state of some of them they had been drinking plenty of spirits last night.
It had been hoped to offer a sacrificial virgin but the search was in vain as you don't find many of those in Redditch. Fittingly, there was a chill in the air and if you listened carefully enough you could hear Wagner's 'The Ride of the Valkyries' dancing across the Stitch Meadow.
Unverified reports suggested that there were some mysterious tourists in attendance from Gravesend, Coffinswell, Devil's Dyke, Upper and Lower Slaughter.
The runners gathered to listen to the briefing given by the Clare 'Pussy-Cat' Grennan. You could see that the spooks were huddled in groups including Zombies, Vampires, Skeletons and there were several Mummies in attendance. An eerie silence descended over the participants like a blanket as they waited for the run to begin. It was broken by the roar of the monsters and blood curdling screams of the masses as the race started.
The marvellous Marshals were in place at strategic points to encourage the runners and point them in the right direction. This was particularly important as the Headless Horseman from Headless Cross were in danger of taking a wrong turn into the Forbidden Forest.
Some of the runners were slow, dead slow, and some were fast, frighteningly fast. Non mores so than the mightiest of monsters. Typhon (aka Chris 'Batman' Lockhart) who showed super-human strength, stamina and speed, accompanied by the three-headed hell-hound, Cereberus (aka Ronan), completing the course in an amazing PB time of 16 minutes and 7 seconds.
A clutch of mortals, running for their lives, or maybe just trying to keep warm, sped over the finishing line ahead of the first ghost, Sammy Taaffe (who also won the prize for the spook with the most vowels in his surname).
There was no denying that the ghosts were the fastest, followed by the witches and then the vampires who were no doubt in a hurry to get back to their coffins before the sun burst through. Predictably, the Mummies were hampered by their bandages and bringing up the rear were the Zombies who shuffled around as fast as they could go; not bad considering that they had only just risen from their graves. Just ahead, in honour of the festival of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) was a well-known gentleman doing the 'Monster Mash', it was the Graveyard Flash (Well done Ken).
The runners came streaming in, relentlessly stomping home. All the heroes made it to the end, thankfully unscathed and living to fight another day.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who turned out on such a cold day and who made this event happen: William ALDRIDGE, Richard BANKS, Rashida BASHIR, Scott BEVERLEY, Raymond BOYLE, Diane Mary BRIAN, Victoria CARUANA, Janet CRIPPS, Natalie CUTLER, Barry DREW, Paul EDWARDS, Clare GRENNAN, David HARRISON, Anita HARTLEY, Alison HIGGINS, Adam KNOWLES, Rebecca MOORE, Pamela MORETON, Willow MUGGLESTONE, Katie MULHALL, David OLDAKER, Stephen REA, Andy SCOTT, David SNAPE, Lauren SYKES, Kate SYKES, Andy TERRY, Katie THORLEY, Pauline TIMMINGS, Lizzie TOVEY, Mark TOVEY, Rhona ULYETT, Matthew VAS, Mark WEAFER, Clare WEAVER, Ian WIDDOWS, Paula WIDDOWS, Shantell WILLMOTT.
Thank you to the pacers who did a great job: Scott BEVERLEY, Richard BANKS, Mark WEAFER, Andrew WAREING, Ricky YOUNG, David SNAPE, Diane BRIAN, Katie THORLEY, Anita HARTLEY, Kate SYKES, Clare GRENNAN and Natalie CUTLER.
There were an incredible 92 PBs. Were they inspired by the pacers, running fast just to keep warm or petrified by the presence of spooks? Who knows? Any PB is a great achievement but it is even more sweeter if you finish in the first 10 or when it dips under one of the notable benchmarks, so congratulations to:
Chris Lockhart 16.07, Oscar Barbour 16.33, Phil Wells 18.41, Frazer Slade 19.15 and Ellie Burrell 23.48 who all finished in the top 10 for male and female categories and Richard Kemp 24.45 (on 64th parkrun), Simon Smart, 24.53, Michelle Taylor 29.24, Ken McMullan 29.44, Paula Widdows 29.49 (on 83rd parkrun!), Eleanor England 39.54, Claire Reid 39.12, Lynda Aharp 39.37, Monica Smith 39.38 who all dipped under the time benchmarks.
Congratulations also to the following runners who reached important milestones:
50 runs: Richard Latham, Richard Banks and Kelly-Rose Rignall
10 runs: Ryan Oldfield