Unicorns dancing on ice
After forays into the Midlands, I finally hit the north for a parkrun. I’d previously drifted no further north than Newark or Lincoln for my parkrun fix; but York’s a city that’s worth the extra miles up the A1. What constitutes ‘The North’ has always fascinated me; it being a state of mind and culture rather than a strict geographical demarcation. The consensus at York seemed to be anywhere north of Leeds!
It was my first racecourse parkrun, having toyed with the idea of Market Rasen for a while. The Knavesmire is a magnificent venue for a run, you can imagine the thunder of hooves and cheer of the crowd, as you run round the course (approx. 25 furlongs!). It’s a course where amateur athletes have run with Olympians such as Jonathan Brownlee and Laura Weightman (female course record holder). On my warm up jog, the Puddle of Broken PB Dreams appeared to have dried up. This joy was quickly offset by the Breeze of Broken PB Dreams which gusted across the exposed racecourse at around 40 mph. The Knavesmire Knobbler which sweeps down from the Pennines is an infamous thwarter of running ambition.
A total of 618 athletes turned up for the 368th York parkrun, with representatives from 64 different running clubs. Many of these were first-timers to the course (105) and parkrun such as the fantastic walking effort by 5 year old Betsy Wilson to finish her first parkrun in 51:02, beating mum Ellie in a sprint finish. The fantastic support of 34 volunteers supported the athletes, eager smiles and encouraging comments more than welcome on a windy morning. Despite the strong wind there were 86 new pbs; well done all! We were awash with milestones beginning with Joe McDonald joining the Junior 10 Club. The 50 Club had three newcomers: Briony Mawson, Andrew Storr and Sally Shuttleworth. And last but not least, David Barrett stormed into the 100 Club! Congratulations to all runners for staying the course! An unofficial milestone in the form of Catherine Ward’s 200th parkrun didn’t go unnoticed. That’s true dedication to parkrun!
Personally speaking, 270 runners beat the poet (26:38); I was checked by the Knavesmire Knobbler after going out too fast in the first mile. That I ventured into the Sarlacc’s sandpit shortly after the start did not help matters. It was equally as treacherous as the infamous Swaffham Sarlacc and the Great Pit of Notley (Essex)! No-one mentioned the Knavesmire Knoll, the small hillock in the southern part of the course. Oxygen was in short supply second time round!
While scoffing a bacon bap after the run, I was informed by run director, Ellie, of the York Ice Trail in the city centre. Forty ice sculptures were dotted around the streets, melting rather too quickly in the February sun. I managed to find Sonic the Hedgehog, Gruffalo (minus a hand which had dropped off) but missed out on the Ewok and Jawa from Star Wars. It’s something I’m gonna have to learn to live with. On my return to the racecourse, maybe the Jawa will be lurking around the Sarlacc’s sandpit?
Poetry Corner #8
To fit with the majestic location, this week’s poetry corner features poet Jane Lovell, who has won many poetry awards and is widely published and anthologised. To date, Jane has had three poetry pamphlets published. She also has a love of horses and nature which she captures beautifully in this superbly crafted poem, the last line of which captures the emotion that can consume a parkrunner when they enter the finish funnel for the first time.
Beneath the sleeping giant, bones white as hazel,
Godolphin’s stallion shifts and twists
with the turning of the Earth, the slow creep
of rainfall through the hillside,
crawling, burrowing subterranean life.
Lost in the soil:
the rush of wind against his face;
startled partridges and pheasant airborne
like winged bottles, birds of Phasis ringing the silence
with their fat rusty bells;
deeper still, his master, long since rotted in his satins,
face drawn to a ghastly leer,
reins, a curled rind, grasped by the bones
of his hand.
The gods remain only in the spines of gorse.
Late June, early mornings, some say,
they flinch at the thundering hooves, the salt
and stench of champed grass as the stallion passes,
eyes wild with triumph.
In the stalls (and possible lame!), a series of my one line poems about parkrun inspired by famous York racehorses, starting off with the winner of The Great Match against Voltigeur (literally a two horse race!) in 1851. It’s said that this duel between Yorkshire horses drew over 100,000 people to the Knavesmire. Kudos if you can name the year each horse won without looking it up!
1. Flying Dutchman slowed down by a headwind
2. those second lap blues Die Hard
3. where’s that watter tap - Lake Coniston?
4. Vicious Circle lingering thoughts of another lap
5. personal best missed by a second Heartbreak City
6. Invincible Army first-timers smile from ear to ear
Aka the parkrun poet
The event was made possible by 34 volunteers:
Jane LAWSON • Chris POULTON • Egg CAMERON • Mark HARNEY • Nick GRIFFIN • Adrian STIPETIC • Deirdre SOUCH • David CHRYSSIDES • Barbara GRIFFIN • Ellie GRIFFIN • Graham WALTON • Fiona SEFTON • Adam SEFTON • Julia GAVIN • Ian JENKINSON • Rachel GILLESPIE • Alan WILKINSON • Ellie PAGE • Angela NORTON • Peter NORTON • Penny GREGG • Andrew CLARK • Yvonne ORTON • Tim GARDINER • Judi WATSON • Sally MINSKIP • Jill MOGER • Myra MCKAY • Ruth MALONE • Pauline DUCAT • Stuart MASHEDER • Adele STORR • Margaret INGHAM • Danny EVANS
Today's full results and a complete event history can be found on the York parkrun Results Page.
The female record is held by Laura WEIGHTMAN who recorded a time of 16:12 on 12th March 2016 (event number 190).
The male record is held by Graham RUSH who recorded a time of 14:37 on 19th August 2017 (event number 253).
The Age Grade course record is held by Angela OLDHAM who recorded 97.59% (21:25) on 17th November 2018 (event number 308).
York parkrun started on 14th January 2012. Since then 22,009 participants have completed 139,390 parkruns covering a total distance of 696,950 km, including 22,452 new Personal Bests. A total of 1,042 individuals have volunteered 8,533 times.