Looking for Linda
On the drive from my east coast hometown of Great Yarmouth to Hunstanton you realise just how large Norfolk is. From the Acle Straight and its desolate marshes to the beautiful village of Guist with its clock tower, the journey has many rewards for the early riser. On the promenade it wasn’t a case of Sunny Hunny as grey cloud, drizzle and a strong breeze reminded all that it was still early spring. Thankful to be running in light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, 88 people turned up to participate in Hunstanton Promenade’s 23rd event. Run director John Crowley commendably got us underway quickly after a briefing in which Linda from Watford’s birthday (more on this later) was announced along with Emily Crown’s 50th run (which she celebrated with a new pb of 25:32). Visitors came from as far afield as the Middle East and Barking.
And so we were off along a slippery promenade, periodically sprayed by waves crashing into the concrete seawall. The Wash was resplendent in its melancholic vastness. Heads down, the journey south took us past the Sea Life Centre and deserted fun fair (with a bizarre Dracula ride) to the turning point on the precipitous Hunstanton Hump, itself a slipway! Relieved to have a tailwind, it was great sharing a word or two with the fabulous marshals (20 terrific volunteers this morning), even receiving some lovely feedback on my run reports from a runner, thank you all! A second out and back lap led to the finish funnel; exhausted but pleased to have run in the circumstances. Renegade Runner Charlotte Dixon defied the wind to record an overall parkrun pb of 27:38.
My run distance counted towards the UK’s team total in the Vitality Running World Cup. The UK progressed from the qualifying group in 4th place and is now facing Egypt in the Last 16. For those wishing to register runs and compete for their country if they’re still in the tournament, visit https://runningworldcup.com/ The world may still be in motion, if only from a running perspective.
The post run drinks were shared in the Sailing Club, free from the bracingly cold breeze which dogged us. A total of 29 runners beat the poet (26:56), the scribbler struggling with the gusty breeze off The Wash! Those in front were Thetford AC’s Andy Fleet who ran a new overall parkrun pb (22:16)! Andy paced me to a parkrun pb at Thetford last year, so I was pleased to see him achieve his.
In this remote corner of The Wash, whose name derives from the old English word for mud, slime and ooze, are wonderful chalk cliffs with a seam of red chalk. The cliffs are just a short walk from the finish and a must see before you leave Hunstanton. Completing the three parkruns bordering The Wash (Boston, Hunstanton and Skegness) is a challenge I’m calling The Wash Over!
Poetry corner #12
After the run, I caught up with Linda and her husband David in the Sailing Club. Our discourse pogoed from punk to the seawalls and sandbanks of the Wash. I was interested to learn that the Romans built seawall embankments to protect land from flooding, giving the area a long history of human colonisation. So inspired to have met some genuine folk, I’ve written a short poem about our lengthy chat:
on a Yarmouth juke box
enough to drive you
to Fleetwood Mac
you saw the isolation
in post-punk eyes
by the loneliness
of The Wash
As the team of volunteers departed, I was informed that I was talking to Linda from Barking, not Linda Hallahan from Watford with the aforementioned birthday! Amid the confusion, I had made friends with Linda and David Weaver, Barking parkrunners on tour! Musing on an interesting morning, I will definitely be back to run the summer route which takes athletes up the cliffs to the lighthouse.
aka the parkrun poet