COVID 19 Update – September 2020

parkrun

Sadly, after significant consultation and discussion, circumstances outside of our control have dictated that parkrun cannot return in England by the end of October, as we had hoped. We know that many people will be disappointed to hear this news, and that it is likely to add further to existing anxieties and frustrations. Please do know that we will continue doing everything we can to support our parkrun family, and we remain committed to reopening parkrun events as soon as circumstances allow and local stakeholders are comfortable.

Since we announced our intent to reopen in England, from an incredibly positive position and with support from DCMS and the Deputy Chief Medical Officers, things have changed. The Government has introduced new restrictions on social gatherings, local lockdowns have been implemented in several regions, and, earlier this week, the Prime Minister suggested that more stringent measures could be in place right through the winter. Understandably, local public health leaders are anxious about groups of people gathering, and, whilst events such as parkrun are exempt from the six person rule, we feel, at this moment in time, that it would be insensitive to push forward with reopening.

Whilst we reluctantly accept this reality, parkrun’s absence will come at a cost. As we head into winter and face the many associated seasonal health issues (both in terms of COVID-19 and other mental and physical illnesses), we believe parkrun has an incredibly important role to play in supporting public health. We also strongly believe that, as existing and emerging evidence suggests, and contrary to popular opinion, that there is little to no risk of COVID-19 transmission at outdoor physical activity events such as parkrun. Increasingly, we are seeing outbreaks traced to indoor work and social environments, yet to date there is little if any evidence of outbreaks directly resulting from participation in outdoor physical activity events.

The health of our nation is facing its greatest challenge in decades, inequalities are increasing, and disadvantaged communities are suffering disproportionately. It is absolutely critical therefore that decisions to restrict activities, particularly where there is a demonstrable public health benefit, are based on robust evidence. And whilst caution should always be taken, where evidence is lacking it should be rapidly developed such that where risk is sufficiently low, activities can be supported to return.

It is essential that, as we map out the coming weeks and months of our collective efforts to get back on our feet, we look beyond baseless assumptions and a culture of fear, and move toward evidence-based interventions. We must act now if we are to avoid irreparable damage to the health and happiness of our communities.

 

parkrun profile: Peter Jemmett

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Number of parkruns: 109

Favourite parkrun (other than Wycombe Rye, obviously!) and why:

I have ran only two other parkruns one being Henley on NYD, but out of the two I guess it would be Taunton Longrun Meadow just because the course was flooded (far worse than the Rye), but I somehow got my best time up to that point.

Why did you start parkrunning:

Following a heart attack in Dec 2016, I decided I needed to work on my health and fitness in order to prevent further cardiac problems, the heart attack being my second coronary angioplasty in just over 3 years. After completing Cardiac Rehab and then Wycombe Wanderers FFIT (football fans in training) courses covering such aspects as diet, nutrition and fitness; parkrun seemed the next natural step, initially to help reach step targets but also to increase my exercise levels.

I had been a bit of a casual runner when I was younger, running several local half-marathons during the 80’s with my last being the Wycombe half marathon in 1993, since then family and other distractions meant that I hadn’t ran again until joining parkrun in Oct 2017

Number of volunteers: 11

Favourite volunteering role, and why:

Tail-walker because I can keep up my step count and you get to talk to, find out about and encourage the slowest person – they’ve all got their own story behind what they hope to achieve and having been through the process this is a great way to give that same support back to the community.

Favourite/funniest parkrun memory:

While under general anaesthetic during a minor surgery I had experienced some atrial fibrillation so ran one Saturday wearing a 24 hour ECG holter heart monitor with the consent of my Cardiologist. Because it was a hot day and I didn’t want the electrodes to rub loose I ran without my shirt … this attracted a few comments and a fair bit of attention with a small posse nurses who followed and guided me down the finish funnel!

What does Wycombe Rye parkrun mean to you:

Without doubt the support, encouragement and friendships, I would never have got beyond my first run without being made to feel so welcome. I also found right from the start that having a timed set course helped to track my progress and set targets for continued improvement, plotting my times on a spread-sheet and seeing the curve dropping week by week helped no end to keep up my motivation and strive for better results.

What do you miss about parkrun:

The comradeship, support and encouragement from my fellow park runners. I live on motivation and find running on my own so much harder.

What running are you doing now:

I try to get out for short runs during the week and maybe a mega longer (up to 14K) alternative parkrun on a Saturday morning.

What is the best bit of running advice you have been given:

Not really advice but encouragement. I was still pushing myself hard but walking great lengths of parkrun due to angina pain when Andy King helped and gave me the belief I could run a full 5K simply by pacing myself and breaking the run down into smaller chunks … I’ve not looked back since, thanks Andy!

What is your favourite run other than parkrun:

I think it will have to be the Ridge Off Roader 10K, the start/finish are exactly where I had my heart attack. Last year this was my first serious run other than parkrun since the 1993 Wycombe half marathon and it was particularly pleasing to be able to run this with many friends that I made through Wycombe Rye parkrun. In the process I raised a further £1,444.00 towards cardiac rehab. bringing the total to £3,461.00 over 3 events.

Special mention must be made of my own ‘Attack the Attack’ run that I have now ran 5 times with 10 members of the ‘Your Pace or Mine’ group. This is the original 11km walk around the Radnage area that led to my heart attack and has now become its own established event, even to the extent that Kris Chaplin produce the special heart shaped medal with a flashing pulse! – Warren Bennet being the first replicant of this prestigious award and the latest your own race director Ruth Walne!

What run would you most like to do in the future, and why:

My ambition fairly simple - to get fitter enough and confident enough to be able to run my first half marathon since 1993. Although not feeling ready I have now decided to run the Maidenhead half marathon course late September as a fund raising effort for Hearts & Souls whose own activities this year have been cancelled due to COVID-19, if you would like to support me on this challenge please visit my JustGiving page

What is your most essential/favourite piece of running kit, and why:

That’s must be my white WWFC shirt. This was given to me when I started the FFIT course and I have worn during nearly all my exercising throughout my rehabilitation. It is symbolic of all I have achieved in the last 3.5 years going right back to those first tentative short walks down the road and back during my convalescence.

What is your Favourite/funniest running memory:

My favourite moment was that final stretch down the road and to the finish line of the Ridge Off Roader, I have never felt so emotional or pumped with adrenaline on a run (and I was determined to run) than covering that ground recalling the events 28 months previous.

 

parkrun profile: Ann Eardley-Wilmot

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Ann Eardley-Wilmot
Number of Parkruns: 139
Favourite Parkrun and why:
I’ve had some great times visiting other Parkruns, my PB was at Leicester’s Victoria Park for instance, but, I think my favourite has to be last year in Canada with my granddaughter Lucy when we did three, one of which was Whistler, when we were warned about bears! We didn’t actually see one until later the same day but it certainly made you keep your wits about you.
Why did I start parkrunning:
My first was in 2008, I had done the couch to 5K around the streets of Marlow and we were off to Portugal for 6 months later that year and I wanted to do a “race” before we went. One of my sons enrolled himself, his brother, who are both runners and me to do Bushey Parkrun. I turned up feeling very excited with all my family there for support. Mike and Jem promised to stay with me and they did despite me saying I couldn’t run on grass! And coming in last when even my grandchildren were embarrassed and the team had put almost everything away. There was no Tail Runner in those days but they did manage to smile at us. My next effort was in 2016 when I joined Mike again on his home PK of Rushmere, although this was my worst result I got the bug. He told me to look for the one near me which had late finishers so that I wasn’t a nuisance. I came to Wycombe anyway and was welcomed by Rebekah France who told me I would never be last – I did get to know a lot of Tail Runners though! Doing this was part of my training for 50k of the Thames Path Challenge - walking of course.
Number of Volunteers: 19
Favourite volunteering role, and why:
My favourite role is finish tokens because you get to meet everyone and they are glad to see you and I also like marshalling at the waterfall watching everyone go by looking hopeful and if you’re lucky you sometimes get in the coffee queue early.

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Favourite/funniest parkrun memory:
I guess my two favourite Parkruns are firstly, when I ran on my 75th birthday in March 2017 and in March 2019 when I ran my 100th. On both occasions I was supported by my family who are now used to me wearing bright, gaudy leggings and on the second occasion my grandson nearly got me a PB. He kept saying you can do it Granny then his Dad and Uncle turned up just after the playground and he and his cousins ran off. The older generation of the Sharman’s didn’t have the same effect.
What does Wycombe Rye mean to me:
I didn’t know anyone when I started in August 2016 but it didn’t matter, Kate Rogers and her daughter Elizabeth were the tail runners on that first occasion and I now feel I know them really well, I met Bob Engel quite early on and I would like to think we are now firm friends. This is surprising since he was a very good runner and I never have been but I am hoping we shall still be doing Wycombe Rye Park Run when we are 80.
I have been a member of loads of organisations over my lifetime but never one which has such a diverse membership in every way and yet all these different people are friendly and encouraging even to slow people like me – so thank you very much for your support.
What do I miss about parkrun:
The turning up every Saturday and looking out for all the people I’ve got to know, doing my best for 45 minutes and having coffee and a chat afterwards.
What walking am I doing now:
I’m very proud that I have twice walked from Marlow to the steps on our Parkrun Course – something I’ve been hoping to do for ages - and back home again. I feel very lucky that I can do so many different walks from home it is doing them which has kept me sane over the last months.
What is the best bit of walking advice you have been given:
Don’t only walk on the Thames Path – walk the Chiltern hills as well. You can only do 50k in a day if you are fit and you don’t have to do the distance before the event. I am not sure I could do it now but I do still make sure I walk up steep hills on most walks.
What is your favourite walk apart from parkrun:
That is very difficult as I enjoy them all but walking to Hambleden on the riverbank and back across footpaths to Rotten Row, Bockmer End, Marlow Common and home is a favourite as well as the Jubilee River from Maidenhead to Eton and back.
What walk would I most like to do in the future, and why:
The Thames path from the Thames Barrier to Runneymede – but not all in one day! Because I thoroughly enjoyed the Runneymede to Henley Thames Path Challenge in 2017.
What is your most essential/favourite piece of walking kit, and why:
My gaudy leggings. They get me out of bed and encourage lots of comments and as I say “all the gear but no idea”

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What is your favourite/funniest walking memory:
Completing half of the Thames Path Challenge with my three sons and with David, my husband in the support vehicle. David turned up with lunch and encouragement at all the stopping points as well as driving us all to the start and home again afterwards. Once my sons accepted that we had to go at my speed they relaxed and acted just how they did when they were kids. We had a great day and thanks to all the donations from friends and family we were able to give lots of money to the Sue Ryder organisation.

 

parkrun profile: Yaton Tang (Hong)

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Name: Yaton Tang, better know as Hong

Number of parkruns: 119

Favourite parkrun other than Wycombe:

Bushy because it is where it all started and when I made the pilgrimage, there were over 1500 people there and seeing so many people at a parkrun was just incredible.

Why did I start parkrunning:

I wanted to run faster and a friend told me to do some shorter, faster runs and 5km would be good, then told me about parkrun. Although I had registered, I didn’t run my first months after because waking up for a 9am run on a Saturday morning was just too early! But once I started there was no going back.

Number of volunteers: 60 including Wycombe Rye junior parkrun

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Favourite volunteering role and why:

Marshal because I love seeing the speed of the fast guys and encouraging the slower runners. I like marshalling at The Split, seeing runners twice and can say they are over half way. At the juniors I like barcode scanning, saying well done to the children and calling out their names makes me smile.

Favourite/funniest parkrun memory:

Leap year parkrun at Wycombe has to be top. There was a Facebook post saying it was on and nobody will go home with dry feet. I didn’t know what it meant until I did my warm up lap, but credit to the RD and volunteers, it went ahead and probably most people enjoyed it even it was flooded. Funniest would be when I made the cover photo of the run report when I was a volunteer as I picked a high vis!

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What does Wycombe Rye parkrun mean to you:

It means a great big family that everyone gets on with no prejudice. I love going down on a Saturday seeing and meeting so many people, and if it were not parkrun, I would never have met. I also love we are all inclusive, everybody is welcome including buggies and dogs. I couldn’t believe what was happening on my first parkrun when I was overtaken by a buggy on the last straight.

What do you miss about parkrun:

I miss the people, saying hello to everyone, having a chat before and after and comparing our runs. I miss not being able to run on Saturday morning which have been part of my life for the pass 3 years. Also on Sunday morning too when the children are so eager to run their 2km.

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What running are you doing now:

I ran a lot during the first part of lockdown, running most days but got injured, maybe because of running so much. I now run less often, maybe 3 times a week. I have done a virtual OCR in the woods and am doing a 5.6km time trail challenge with a group of friends. We’re all happy so running life is good.

What is the best bit running advice you have been given:

Keep running, do not stop, just slow down. It can be so much harder to restart when you are tired.

What is your favourite run other than parkrun:

I did the London marathon once and would love to do it again, the crowd and noise was just the best. People shouting my name made me feel special and like a pop star. I will get a ballot place again....I hope.

What run would you most like to do in the future and why:

London marathon because I have unfinished business with it. When I ran it I thought it wouldn’t be a problem, I was too cocky, thinking I was a good enough runner but how wrong was I! I didn’t respect it and it chewed me up like no other race and said take that. So I would love to run it again to proof to myself I conquered it.

What is the most essential/favourite piece of kit and why:

My Garmin watch. It tells the time, pace and everything I want and need, no need for a phone.

What is your favourite/funniest running memory:

My favourite and proudest memory was at The Big Half 2019 when I saw a runner fall with exhaustion and thought I cannot leave him. I saw his jelly legs in front of me and knew he wasn’t going to make the finish which was only a few hundred metres away, so another runner and I picked him up, each holding an arm and took him to the finish where he can get the help and care he needed.

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parkrun profile: Douglas Gordon

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Name: Douglas Gordon

Number of parkruns: 174

Favourite parkrun (other than Wycombe Rye, obviously!) and why:
I have run at 15 other parkruns other than Wycombe Rye, including Bushy. If I had to pick a second favourite to Wycombe, it would probably be Weymouth – we do this with a group of friends over a weekend of camping in the summer, so inevitably it gets tied in with warm weather, ice cream and BBQs.

Why did you start parkrunning:
The wife (fiancée back then) made me! Honestly, I swore that I would never be a runner, but she wanted to give it a try, so joined her for her first parkrun – my competitive spirit and the friendly community then took over and I’ve not looked back since. Another of a long list of great things for which she is responsible.

Number of volunteers: 156 including 88 at Wycombe Rye

Favourite volunteering role, and why:
It’s probably a close-run (excuse the pun) thing between Run Director (54 times) and Photographer (44 times). As an RD, you get to enjoy fully immersing yourself in parkrun and our wonderful community for a full week. As Photographer, you have the ability to preserve some very happy memories for runners, friends and families as well as catch some awesome finish line expressions – “flying feet” photos are usually especially prized.

Favourite/funniest parkrun memory:
Funnily enough, it was at a parkrun that we didn’t even go to! On the morning of our wedding, the RDs made a Good Luck sign for us which was photographed at the start of parkrun – the sign made its way to the wedding and even into the official wedding photos. Just goes to show, parkrun is much more than just a run.

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What does Wycombe Rye parkrun mean to you:
It’s just a phenomenal community. We have met and made so many good friends there, including a good number who came to our wedding. It’s a point of consistency in what can be, as we are all experiencing now, a very unpredictable world.

What do you miss about parkrun:
Other than cake and breakfast in the Lido (they do a great scrambled eggs), it is that regular chance to meet up with friends that without parkrun we simply wouldn’t see as regularly.

What running are you doing now:
It’s a little bit sporadic now, but generally 15-25km a week, including on the treadmill as well as routes close to home as well as along the Jubilee River and the countryside surrounding Wycombe.

What is the best bit of running advice you have been given:
Don’t wear cotton! It absorbs water & sweat making it become heavy, cold and chafes – synthetics and merino wool are the way to go; you always want to run comfy.

What is your favourite run other than parkrun:
WOLF Run – WOLF stands for Woods, Obstacles, Lakes & Fields. A great 10k excuse to get thoroughly muddy and enjoy a truly epic water slide (normally several times over - the climb back up the hill is worth it).

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What run would you most like to do in the future, and why:
There are several runs that I have missed out on this year (COVID) and last year (injury) that I so want to get back to running: including WOLF Runs and Endure24; but, in terms of ambition, I want to do another half marathon and go sub 2hrs; I missed by 1 min 48 seconds on my first and only half so far.

What is your most essential/favourite piece of running kit, and why:
I love my Garmin 945 – I love a good bit of data to figure out how things are going, plus the navigation feature helps me not to get lost when I am leading a run (my sense of direction is infamous). At a WOLF Run however, the essential piece of kit is good strong duct tape – a couple of turns of that round your shoe, over the laces and you don’t have to worry about fishing for shoes in the mud (well, at least your own).

What is your Favourite/funniest running memory:
Enjoying Endure24 with a team of 7 good friends (A full team of 8). A great mixture of 5-mile trail laps combined with camping, eating and socialising. I especially enjoyed the night laps, running through the quiet trails with only a headtorch to light the way. We completed 150 miles in 24hrs and ran in together on the last lap.

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parkrun profile: Mohammad Khurram Mahboob

 

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Name: Mohammad Khurram Mahboob

Number of parkruns: 213 not out

Favourite parkrun (other than Wycombe Rye, obviously!) and why:

It has to be Oxford. It is a 2 lap course, very fast course and there is plenty of overtaking places.

Why did you start parkrunning:

I have always been a runner. I was running down London Road and saw a lot of people. I investigated and someone told me to go online and download the bar code and join. I remember it being a wet windy day with about 130 runners and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Number of volunteers: 25

Favourite volunteering role, and why:

Where cross over point is by the 2 / 3-mile point. You get to see the runners as they have spread out. You also can shout out a lot of encouragement.

Favourite/funniest parkrun memory:

I have too many. But one that comes to my mind is at one of the Jnr ParkRuns. I saw a group of children (between 10 -15) all charging to the finish line. Then they all suddenly stop and tell one another to go first. You would not see that at an adult parkrun. I found that moment very touching and the kids got the message. It is a run, not a race.

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What does Wycombe Rye parkrun mean to you:

It means I get out of bed and out of the house. Get mileage in my legs and meet all you wonderful people.

What do you miss about parkrun:

In Wycombe, I certainly don’t miss those 21 steps. I miss my Saturday morning cake. I also miss the banter I have with my friend Iain who is a forced Man Utd fan (YNWA).

What running are you doing now:

Currently I am still running minimum 25 miles a week (100 a month).

What is the best bit of running advice you have been given:

Simple – Enjoy. Not many people can run 3 miles, so you are doing well. If you ask me, not many of my (non parkrun) friends can run 3miles.

What is your favourite run other than parkrun:

I ran London Marathon back in 2014 and I really enjoyed it. But my favourite has always been the Great North Run, I go every year.  The amount of people running it and cheering you on is really good. It is also a good way of having a mini break up north.

What run would you most like to do in the future, and why:

I would like to put my little one in a buggy and run a 10km or even a parkrun. But I need to get a buggy first. I also want to run all the ‘Great Run Series’ in the same year.

What is your most essential/favourite piece of running kit, and why:

It has to be my Garmin Watch. I bought it 5 years ago and I still have it. I would not run without it. Even though it is an old model, I still love it.

 

parkrun profile: Craig Harrison

crigName: Craig Harrison

Number of parkruns: 166

Favourite parkrun (other than Wycombe Rye, obviously!) and why: I used to love the original course at Penrose Parkrun (Helston, Cornwall) which meandered through the Penrose Estate, with part of the route following the Cliff-top towards Porthleven – it was absolutely stunning! The current course (re-routed due to parking issues) still takes everyone through the grounds of the lovely Penrose estate and alongside “The Loe” (a huge lake, pronounced “The Low”, so I’m told by the locals). Luckily I get to run Penrose about twice a year.

Why did you start parkrunning: I’d been doing a bit of running off and on since about 2011, when back in 2015 one of my work colleagues mentioned a Parkrun he’d done a couple of times near to where he lived in Essex. I can’t remember exactly what he told me about it, but I remember he said it was free, and I’m definitely a sucker for free stuff! Consequently, I jumped online, found out that Wycombe Rye Parkrun was just down the road from where I lived, signed up, and the rest is history!

Number of volunteers: 27

 

Favourite volunteering role, and why: Probably Volunteer coordinator. Not only do I get to ensure we’ve got enough volunteers for future events, but I also know that I can’t screw-up anything really important, like I always seem to do when I’m a timekeeper!

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Favourite/funniest parkrun memory: My favourite Parkrun memory, has to be completing the Tokyo Parkrun last year at Futako Tamagawa, during the Rugby World Cup. Unfortunately the usual course had been re-routed due to recent flooding at the time, but it was still pretty cool to run with Parkrunners from all over the world in what has to be one of the most amazing countries on the planet!

What does Wycombe Rye parkrun mean to you: As a result of participating in Wycombe Rye Parkrun, I was introduced to the amazing Running Club that is Handy Cross Runners (other clubs are available), where I’ve made some great friends (many of whom are regular Wycombe Rye Parkrun attendees) and had some terrific times (as well as improving my running a bit too!). Back in the day, Phil Burridge was one of the RD’s who encouraged me to get myself along to the club and try it out, and I can’t thank him and Parkrun enough for opening up the world of running to me!

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What do you miss about parkrun: I can’t believe quite how much I’ve missed Parkrun during the Covid-19 outbreak and I just really miss my running buddies. I miss all of the social interaction and all of the banter, along with the bit of racing (sorry, running) that we enjoy every Saturday morning. Wycombe Rye Parkrun was always (and will be again soon, hopefully) the perfect start to my weekend.

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What running are you doing now: When I started parkrun and subsequently joined Handy Cross Runners, my main aim (as well as improving my speed and fitness) was to build up my endurance so that I could run at least run one Marathon in my lifetime. I’ve now completed three full Marathons and more Half’s than I can count. The Cliveden Cross Country in January was the last competitive race I ran this year, but I’ve been out running constantly during lockdown (about 15-20 miles a week) trying to stay fit, and I hope that we can all start participating in organised events again soon. I’m particularly looking forward to dressing up as a Nun again and joining my fellow Sisters from the Handy Cross order for the Marlow 7!

 

What is the best bit of running advice you have been given: I’ve been given lots of good advice over the years, so it’s very difficult to single out any one thing, but somebody once said to me (probably as I was complaining that my feet hurt, or my legs ached, or I was about to pass out) “The more you do, the easier it gets!”. At the time I thought it was a load of old rubbish but it has proven to be very true (for me at least).

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What is your favourite run other than parkrun: Although I think the Cliveden Cross Country is amazing, I have to say that my favourite running event is Endure 24. For those that don’t know, it’s an Endurance trail running event where you complete as many 5 mile laps as possible in one 24 hour period. Handy Cross Runners enters several teams and we camp out all weekend, just having an absolute blast - drinking, eating and dancing - all interspersed with about 20-30 miles worth of running. What more could you want?

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What run would you most like to do in the future, and why: It’s got to be the London Marathon. It’s one of the most iconic Marathon’s in the world, and it’s on my doorstep! Fingers crossed for the next ballot.

 

What is your most essential/favourite piece of running kit, and why: It’s got to be my Garmin watch (Forerunner 735XT, for those who are interested). I thought it was a bit extravagant at the time when I bought it, but it’s been invaluable. Not only does it tell me where I’ve been and what I’ve done, but it also stops me from getting completely and hopelessly lost! I’m not originally from the South East and having the watch means that I can explore new routes around here (or anywhere else for that matter) safe in the knowledge that I’ll end my run somewhere close to where I started it.

 

 

What is your Favourite/funniest running memory: I think my favourite memory has to be crossing the finish line at The Richmond marathon, which was my first ever race at this distance. It was a real culmination of determination, hard work and phenomenal support from my family, friends and running buddies. The funniest moment (well I can look back now and laugh at it!) was also at the same race. I was about 6 miles in, running along a stretch of footpath along the Thames, when a desperate, irrepressible need for the to evacuate my bowels struck me. There were no toilets on that particular part of the course and no suitable areas to hide and crouch, so I just had to grin and bear it. Just at the point where I was pretty certain I was just going to have to go all Paula Radcliffe, I came across a rowing club, who fortunately allowed me in to the clubhouse to use their facilities – I’ve never felt so relieved (literally) in all my life!

 

Wycombe Rye parkrun non-Run Report, 8th August 2020 #21

On 4th April 2012 Wycombe Rye parkrun was started by Sam Amend and Manfred McKenzie. There wouldn’t have been a parkrun without Sam and Manfred but since then the work has been shared by a team of Run Directors.
Twenty Run directors have shared the bulk of the responsibility of running Wycombe Rye parkrun.

Robert Alistair France [56 as Run Director]
First RD on 20th April 2013

Me
When did you become a Run Director at Wycombe Rye?
I missed the inaugural at Wycombe as we were on holiday, but I have been running and volunteering here ever since. I first volunteered at event 6 on 8th September 2012 and did my first stint as Run Director with Sam and Manfred on 20th April 2013. I remember it well, mostly for the sense of panic I felt rising in me as all the results came up pink (instead of the normal yellow or green). It turned out that we had forgotten to clear the scanners so had duplicate results. Easy to fix, but it certainly raised the heartrate.
What do you enjoy about run directing?
The thing I like the most about Run Directing is that if you are doing your job right then most of the time everything goes smoothly and everyone else does the work. The Run Director is responsible for the safe operation of parkrun but once the course is set and the volunteers have been briefed then you really can start to enjoy it. I also really enjoying seeing new Run Directors join the team and watching volunteers grow in confidence. That said, the best thing about the role for me, and also as Event Director, is that we represent Wycombe Rye parkrun: we get to talk to first-timers, tourists and milestone runners; we share in people’s PBs (and disasters); and we get to be at the heart of an amazing, caring, encouraging community.
What is your favourite memory of being an RD at Wycombe Rye?
I wrote the question, but I am really struggling to answer it. I have so many favourite memories from Run Directing with my each of my children, to some of our birthday and anniversary runs. If I had to pick one then I think it has to be our 200th run on 25th June 2015. For me, this had everything that makes Wycombe Rye parkrun so special. Not only were there 397 runners and 20 volunteers but, to celebrate our partnership with Wycombe District Council we were joined by their Chairman Counsellor Mahboob Hussain. We also had a great collection for the One Can Trust and there was cake!

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Anything else you want to say…..
Yes. Thank you. As Event Director and Run Director I couldn’t do this without first the team, and second, you. You are what makes Wycombe Rye parkrun. Also, a personal thank you. Wycombe Rye has always been a special place for me and that is because of your kindness, encouragement and support.

Ronnie Mubayiwa [56 as Run Director]
First RD on 20th July 2013

Ronnie
Ronnie has been involved with Wycombe Rye parkrun from the start. He volunteered at the inaugural and is still here with us now. Ronnie joined the team in July 2013 and has now volunteered 78 times including 56 as Run Director. This means that Ronnie has been Run Director [56] more times than he has run parkrun [55].

Nick Sendall [55 as Run Director]
First RD on 30th November 2013

Nick
When did you become a Run Director at Wycombe Rye?
I am first credited as a Run Director on 30th November 2013 but at this stage I was still learning and under the experienced wing of Sam Amend. What could possibly go wrong? Well, as I learnt over the weeks before that, and since, practically everything.
My first solo outing, where I actually had to pretend that I knew what I was doing, was 14th December 2013, aided by 9 other volunteers, many of which have become good running friends (well, they all still speak to me). Regardless of our combined naivety, we still successfully staged a free 5km run, starting at 9am and 117 runners completed a marked-out, marshaled course safely (or at least, without incident) and they all received a result when they got home.
So, thanks to the volunteers on that day:
Nigel Masters & David Morley (Timekeepers)
Michael Hickman (Photographer)
Caroline Bishop & Matt Fowler (Barcode Scanning)
Peter Astles, Peter Collinson, Martin James Dean & Simon Dust (Marshals)

What do you enjoy about run directing?
I really love seeing the event evolve on the day – starting at 8am as the volunteers arrive, emptying the shed, assigning kit and volunteers to locations, starting the run, seeing the first runners appear, spotting the Tail Walkers on their return leg, seeing the kit packed away by around 10:30ish as if 500-600 runners were never there and then processing the results successfully. (And of course, the cake!)
I enjoy all the background elements that come with the role too. As one of the Event Directors, I am inevitably involved on a daily basis with parkrun enquiries, issues, developments, strategy for how we cope with increasing numbers, course changes, etc. I think a lot of people don’t realise just how much the RD’s also do behind the scenes – we work on all of this as a team and pre-lockdown it is fair to say we are all communicating on a daily basis figuring out how to make the next Saturday go even smoother and safer than the last. There are 27 recognised volunteer roles at parkrun and the RDs typically undertake 8 of those within their role as RD while of course taking responsibility for all 27 of them.
I enjoy operations management and problem-solving in my working life, so it is probably no surprise that being an RD appealed to me.
What is your favourite memory of being an RD at Wycombe Rye?
My favourite has to be the run we staged in the snow. The week, the days, the hours, then the minutes before staging the event were tense and nervous – whether we were doing the right thing when everyone else was cancelling, were our risk assessments correct, would we get through it safely, would the volunteers freeze to death? – all fears evaporated as the runners came into the finish and the sheer delight on everyone’s faces is a memory that will stick forever. I still feel indebted to so many people who supported the decision-making and helped check and prepare the course, that led to successfully staging that event.

snow

The First Five Run Directors

5 RDS

Norman Lockhart [29 as Run Director]
First RD on 19th April 2014

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Norman first volunteered on 29th December 2012 and joined the team of Run Directors on 19th April 2014. Norman volunteered 45 times at Wycombe Rye including 29 as Run Director. His last stint as Run Director was on 2nd September 2017 before he and Valerie moved out to Singapore.
Norman has now run 238 parkruns, 154 at Wycombe Rye, and its nice to still see both him and Valerie on their returns to the UK.

Phil Burridge [32 as Run Director]
First RD on 20th September 2014

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Phil was always an essential part of Wycombe Rye parkrun. He ran at event 2 on 11th August 2012 and first volunteered at event 4 on 25th August 2012. Phil has volunteered a total of 142 times including 32 as Run Director. This is even more impressive when you consider that Phil has also run 53 times at Wycombe Rye out of a total of 63. Phil stepped down as a Run Director on 24th February 2018.

Lyndsay Markham [49 as Run Director]
First RD on 8th November 2014

Lyndsay
When did you become a Run Director at Wycombe Rye?
I attended Wycombe parkrun as a runner and a regular volunteer in 2013. My first time as Run Director was way back in 2014 when the crowd at the start line was a little smaller than it is now. However, a microphone was soon to be on the to buy list as attendance grew.

What do you enjoy about run directing?
There are lots of positives of being a Run Director apart from the Friday night prep which never goes to plan.
1.Meeting with and hearing about the run experiences of our invaluable volunteers.
2. It's great to see everyone cross the finish line including both the experienced runners and parkrun first timers
3. Meeting with parkrun tourists and hearing what they think about our course especially the steps of doom.
4.Cake!

What is your favourite memory of being an RD at Wycombe Rye?
My favourite Run Director memory is when Marlow Striders (my running club) did a volunteer takeover to show off our new kit. This happened to coincide with my birthday and the first run after Christmas so it was a record attendance but a somewhat chaotic hour.

Lynd cake

Jo Warnock Horn [34 as Run Director]
First RD on 5th July 2016

6th birthday RDs
When did you become a Run Director at Wycombe Rye?
Having volunteered to do a January 2016 Run Report, I stated that one of my new year’s resolutions was to try out every different volunteer role by the end of the year. I thought I might be able to shadow an RD one day to tick that one off the list. Instead I ended up wearing the coveted XL RD tabard!
What do you enjoy about run directing?
The great thing about parkrun is that everyone is there because they want to participate: it makes the whole atmosphere and ethos so positive. The special moment for me is when I say “3 – 2 - 1 parkrun!” and the whole process takes on a life of its own. Whether you are running, marshalling, timing, scanning all the elements become come together in one supportive event and the sense of achievement and buzz of happiness is all around.
What is your favourite memory of being an RD at Wycombe Rye?
The events that are often cited as memorable for parkrunners (the flooded one, the snowy one etc) are not the most pleasant for the RD making the call on whether to run or not. The sixth birthday run in August 2018 is probably the event I remember for its enjoyment rather than angst!

6th birthday volunteers

Rebekah France [18 as Run Director]
First RD on 1st October 2016

Roo

Rebekah first volunteered on 20th July 2013 – as a nine-year old – and has volunteered at Wycombe Rye on 93 occasions. Her first event as a Run Director was on 1st October 2016 and she has done the job 18 times.
What do you enjoy about run directing?
I enjoy that you interact with every runner.
What is your favourite memory of being an RD at Wycombe Rye?
My favourite memory is when Beth and I were Run directors and the Mayor came and we all dressed up in a Rainbow theme... all dress up weeks are fun!

Girlcolour

Douglas Gordon [27 as Run Director]

First RD on 15th October 2016

 

Doug

When did you become a Run Director at Wycombe Rye?
My first outing as RD was 15th October 2016 with the help of Phil Burridge, and the following month, 12th November 2016 I got to fly solo (208 runners) – back in the days when we only had one RD on duty each Saturday.
What do you enjoy about Run Directing?
It turns parkrun from being a once a week run to a fully engaging activity, joined by a wonderful team of RDs, that creates such a wonderful community that we all enjoy.
What is your favourite memory of being a Run Director at Wycombe Rye?
There are a great many happy memories as an RD, but I would have to include the first week that over 600 runners enjoyed Wycombe Rye. As a team, we had a sneaky suspicion that there was going to be a large turn-out, so I was delighted that the extra effort to push out the finish tokens above 600 hadn’t gone to waste. Jo and I were RDs for both the first and second time that we had over 600 runners at Wycombe Rye, but not the current record of 666.
Anything else you want to say…..
I have done quite a bit of volunteering at parkrun, especially with many months out injured. I have volunteered at 88 Wycombe Rye parkruns and currently I still have done the photographer (28) role once more than Run Director (27); although if you include junior parkrun, I have been Run Director 54 times and Photographer a mere 44. Volunteering has certainly been such a great way to enjoy the community when running wasn’t an option.

Beth France [16 as Run Director]
First RD on 24th June 2017

beth

Beth first volunteered on 13th July 2013 and has volunteered 65 times including 16 as Run Director. Beth was the fourteenth Run Director at Wycombe Rye and had her first Run Director event on 24th June 2017.

Katt Clark [25 as Run Director]
First RD on 22nd July 2017

Katt

When did you become a run director at Wycombe Rye?
My first ever volunteer role as run director was on the 22/7/2017. I remember being sat in a pub having a meal with several friends (also park runners two of whom are also run directors) after a local running event and the conversation got around to who would like to be guest RD. I thought it could be fun. After a couple of parkruns shadowing Phil Burridge to learn the ropes, I was in charge! On the morning of my first volunteer RD I remember being nervous, not about the role - only about speaking to over 400 park runners in the main briefing!
I’ve now taken on the role 25 times and look forward to getting back to it when parkrun is able to resume.
What do you enjoy about run directing?
As a back of the pack runner, I have always enjoyed having a chat to other runners on the way round the course. As RD one of my favourite things to do is the first timers briefing, meeting the new park runners and of course, the tourists. It is always nice to be able to congratulate the new runners as they come through the finish funnel. Even better when they say that they enjoyed their run and will be back next week.
Favourite memory of being an RD?
So many memories, all the wonderful cakes brought down by runners to celebrate their running milestones, the fancy dress, talking to runners who have run a new PB and of course the runner who ran parkrun with a teddy bear in a pushchair so that he was ready to run with his child, or the lady who made me smile coordinating her leggings to match her dog! and did I mention the cake?

Dalmation (2)

Barry Vincent [22 as Run Director]
First RD on 9th September 2017

Barry
When did you become a run director at Wycombe Rye?
During a conversation at lunch after the Beaconsfield 5M in 2017, it was mentioned that additional RDs were required, I duly offered my services and did my first RD role on 9th September 2017 shadowing Phil.
What do you enjoy about run directing?
Although I enjoy many of the volunteer roles at parkrun, I do like the additional responsibilities that being an RD involves, from organising the rota for the day, ensuring that all of the equipment is ready and charged, doing the results, everything in fact, except writing the run report!
Favourite memory of being an RD?
One of the main rules of parkrun is no barcode, no time, #DFYB. On one occasion when I was RD, I was approached by a runner after he had completed his run asking if his time could be recorded manually as he had forgotten his barcode, I obviously refused. I am pretty certain that the runner was our local MP!

Carolyn Hall [19 as Run Director]
First RD on 12th September 2017

Carolyn

What do you enjoy about Run Directing?
I love the community spirit, being able to pull people together to put on our fabulous parkrun. It is giving back to the community. I love getting to know more runners down seeing people progress from first starting to getting their milestone tee shirts. I love engaging with people and seeing their exhausted but jubilant faces when they cross the finish line. In a slightly odd way I enjoy the results processing in the cafe afterwards with a hot coffee (and cake if there is any left!).

Favourite memory of being an RD?
I really don’t know. I have lots of fond memories mostly incorporating all of the above. I do remember being RD in my pyjamas one week though which felt rather odd. Announcing Hannah and Matthew Quixley’s 50th milestone also meant a lot having watched them grow up from being pushed around in buggies to running.

Ruth Walne [14 as Run Director]

First RD on 16th June 2018

ruth

When did you become a Run Director at Wycombe Rye?
I became a run director in June 2018 with my first time in a RD vest shadowing on June 16th.
What do you enjoy about Run Directing?
Initially it was very scary when my turn came around to be RD, there was always the worry I would forget to charge something (which I have done) but as I’ve done more turns it has become less worrying. I enjoy the behind the scenes preparation in the lead up to the run, then on the day once the set up has taken place you have the joy of welcoming new runners to the event and set off the run, the feeling of the ground shaking as 500+ runners start is pulse racing and something to be experienced. After the run comes the processing if results which if it goes without a hitch is very rewarding as you see some if the runners in the cafe checking their emails from smartphones.
What is your favourite memory of being a Run Director at Wycombe Rye?
My favourite memory must be that first time I was stood on the rye as 486 runners ran towards me.

Guy Hylton [16 as Run Director]
First RD on 15th September 2018

Guy
Guy was the nineteenth person to don the Run Directors jacket. He knows the course well having run 105 of his 113 parkruns at the Rye. Guy first volunteered on 21st February 2015 and has volunteered 58 times at Wycombe Rye.
Guy caught the eye when he turned up on a snowy/icy morning pulling a sledge with a shovel and some salt on it so that he could clear the steps to ensure a safe run. He did his first stint as Run Director on 15th September 2018 and has now been Run Director on 16 occasions.

 

There have been others who have donned the RD Jacket, particularly when we have had takeover weeks, but it would be remiss of me not to mention Alex Morris [3 as Run Director] and David Milne [1 as Run Director]. We were also privileged to welcome Simon Jones to our team as our twentieth Run Director on 1st February 2020.

 

parkrun profile: Richard O’Hagan

ROH 4

Name: Richard O’Hagan

Number of parkruns: 87

Favourite parkrun (other than Wycombe Rye, obviously!) and why:

I’ve not done another one. My intention was to do my first 100 solely at Wycombe Rye. Unfortunately, time constraints and injuries mean it is taking me about five times as long to get to that hundred than it should have done (it is almost four years since I did my 50th!).

Why did you start parkrunning:

I was a county cross country runner when I was younger, but chronic shin splints made me give up when I was in my early 20s. However, I never actually enjoyed running itself. Then, back in about 2012, the Two Castles Run in Warwickshire turned 30. As I had run the very first one I decided to do it again for charity. After I had done so, my wife suggested parkrun as a fun way to keep on running. It certainly is fun, although the actual running is definitely the worst part of it.

Number of volunteers: 39

Favourite volunteering role, and why:

Photographer. Although it is quite stressful editing and uploading the photos afterwards (I claim credit for inventing the word ‘flickrswearing’) the actual photography is great fun. Although I am a mere hack compared to the likes of Matt and Douglas, with whom I could never hope to compete (nor wish to do so) I love capturing the expressions on people’s faces, trying to find new locations to shoot from and seeing if I can get from the start to Busy Bees, the split or the end of the second field before the lead runner gets there.

That said, I always try to make sure that the photos document the run properly. I strive to get at least one photo of every runner and I got very annoyed when the official parkrun photographer (yes, there is one) showed up one week and began staging loads of shots, because that wasn’t showing what really happened at all.

ROH 1

Favourite/funniest parkrun memory:

It has to be the ‘Beast from the East’ run in 2018. Going out after the snow stopped at about 6pm the night before to make sure that the roads looked like being passable, then getting up at 6am to walk the entire course and the alternative course and make sure that at least one of them was safe. It made for great photography, though, even though this was the run the official photographer showed up for, too.

What does Wycombe Rye parkrun mean to you:

Community and friendship – interspersed with occasional bits of physical activity, pain, disappointment and anxiety. It’s all human life packed into a couple of hours of Saturday morning really. (But seriously, I wouldn’t keep going if I wasn’t enjoying it and my tweenage son now loves coming along when he can, too.)

What do you miss about parkrun:

Pretty much everything, but I guess my body misses having at least one burst of action every week.

What running are you doing now:

I am also a keen cricketer and in the absence of any cricket my club set a challenge of running 100km during June. It meant getting up at an ungodly hour of the morning to do it, but I made it by 200m.

What is the best bit of running advice you have been given:

I’ve always found running advice of the ‘don’t lean too far forward/use your arms more/lengthen your stride/but not too much’ kind rather opaque and difficult to follow, but a lesson which it took me a long time to learn is that at our level speed just isn’t important, it is the finishing that counts. It really doesn’t matter if you walk at some point, just make sure you get to the end.

What is your favourite run other than parkrun:

I will have to say the Two Castles that I mentioned earlier, just because I keep going back and doing it, even though it is pretty much a six mile uphill slog and I start cursing myself for a fool around about two miles in.

ROH 3

What run would you most like to do in the future, and why:

I don’t have any particular desire to do any particular run, but I guess it would be nice to do a parkrun in Perth, Auckland or Vancouver as it would mean I was back in one of my favourite cities.

What is your most essential/favourite piece of running kit, and why:

Knee support, ankle support – and shoes, of course.

What is your Favourite/funniest running memory:

I’ve seen a lot of people run into trees whilst photographing, one almost run into me (an achievement as I was standing well off the course) and Phil Burridge in some outlandish costumes, but a favourite will always be the time that it snowed on the day of the pyjama parkrun. There were about 50 people slowly turning blue before the start and there’s a very odd photo of me standing in the snow in pyjamas, dressing gown, woolly hat and trail shoes out there somewhere.

ROH 2

 

Wycombe Rye parkrun non-Run Report, 25th July 2020 #19

The steps! - love them, hate them, barely notice them, whatever your feelings towards them, they are certainly one of our most (in)famous course features. Is there super special technique to getting up them for an awesome time (excluding grappling hooks, chair lifts or Uber), what should we call them, how many are there???  These are just some of the questions that comes to an RD’s mind when they have too much time on their hands and a non-run report needs writing.

IMG_34401

So, with such puzzling questions befuddling this poor RD he set out to find the answers by asking you, our wonderful Wycombe Rye parkrun community. 272 of you responded to the survey (sorry to the one person who’s results I cannot access as you were respondent 101 via the first link – limitations of the free version), giving a total of 271 accessible and usable answers; and some great answers we did receive.

Before we dive too far into the results, we should probably mention that because of time, software and various other reasons, this would hardly fall into the category of rigorous scientific research and I’m not prepared to do the statistical analysis required to determine whether the results and differences between data sets are statistically significant – after all, the guiding principle of parkrun organisation is “keep it simple”.

What should the steps be called?

“The Steps” – such a little name for something that are such a prominent feature.  They have been referred to affectionately, with respect and in fear by many additional terms by RDs and runners alike in various terms.  This seemed an ideal opportunity to settle the debate and officially name the steps. There was a clear winner, with 49.4% of the vote:

The Steps of Doom

What should the steps be called_

Whilst there was a clear winner, I think there are a few stand out alternatives that were suggested by our runners that deserve a mention:

  • The reason I can eat cake [I am happy to eat cake at parkruns without steps too]
  • Stairway to Heaven
  • Stepping up to the home straight!
  • Get rid of them! [I’m guessing this person doesn’t fall into the “love them” category]

 

Do you know your steps?

Despite 13,433 runs being completing Wycombe Rye parkrun with each runner completing an average of 9 runs since we first started, meaning that a total of 282,093 steps have been climbed (enough to have climbed the Eiffel Tower over 418 times), the answer comes out as a resounding “maybe”.

Whilst 4 of you barely noticed that there were steps on the course (I’m thinking this is a case of bravado) and 11% thought trekking up Everest would feel shorter (we are fairly convinced this isn’t the case (according to the BBC you need to climb 85,238 steps to ascend the same height as Mt. Everest, which means we have collectively only climbed it 3.3 times), there was a tie between those who thought there were 17 and those who think it is 21.

There are 21 steps! – I counted them three times to make sure!

How many steps

A little bit about who answered the survey

Whilst I said this wasn’t a scientifically rigorous study, the good news is that we did have a good number of responses that covered a wide range of parkrunners at Wycombe Rye, with plenty of experience that they collectively will have shared with 78% having completed the steps at least 10 times.

Respondents by Time

parkrun experience

So how do we get up the steps?

Almost every combination of options was chosen by at least one respondent – although I’m a little bit lost by the three people who said they went up two steps at a time via the muddy bit beside the steps (there aren’t steps there, unless I have missed something?).

The most popular option to getting to the top of the steps was to slow down slightly and resort to a “light jog” at 28% with 11% opting for a full sprint.  What is perhaps more interesting is that whilst the majority do have a routing preference, the largest singly chosen option (33%) for routing is “I don’t think about it – getting to the top is all I can think about”.  Perhaps this leaves room for many of our runners to experiment a little and find a PB option?  What I was delighted to see was that only 3% felt like they were on their hands and knees to ascend.

Get up steps

route up steps

What was interesting is that the Ladies have a preference to running on the muddy bit just beside the steps but avoid the right-hand side of the steps, which is almost the revese of the Men.  I personally like the right-hand side of the steps, as they are spaced closer together and are a little more even.

The magic combination – does it exist?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear there is some magic combination of approach and route that will guarantee you a faster time.  It appears that the muddy bit, just beside the steps is most favoured by those runners between 20 – 30 minutes whereas the slowest runners are focused on the achievement of getting to the top rather than worrying about shaving a second or two off by experimenting with different routes to find a preference.

Route by time

Perhaps unsurprisingly, as runners’ speed increases they appear to be more likely to take a more aggressive approach to climbing the steps with the slower runners more often opting for Power walking and the sub 20 minute runners not breaking stride or going for a full sprint – that’s not to say that full sprints are confined to the sub 20 minuters, there was one respondent who completes in 40+ mins and tackles the steps at a full sprint – epic determination there, we have to applaud you for that.

Method by time

Conclusions

So, in summary, what have we learnt?

  • They are called “The Steps of DOOM!”
  • Most of us haven’t counted the steps (there are 21!)
  • Many of us haven’t considered how we approach getting up the steps, so perhaps with a little experimentation there are some New PB!s to be earnt

I think the only thing that we can say with absolute certainty is that once we return to parkrun, hopefully not too far off into the future, there are many more steps to be climbed, legs set on fire from the effort and the Marshal at the top occasionally hearing some colourful language about our most (in)famous course feature.

Douglas Gordon
Non-Run Report Writer & RD with too much time on his hands.

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