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Happy Birthday to Parkrun

So it's Parkrun's 12th birthday, and doubtless the merry throng in Bushy Park is even merrier and throngier than ever, but we're off to the upper lattitudes again, reliving our recent arctic adventures, this time in Northolt. (Ok, I may be exaggerating slightly.)

Early morning sun over the archaeological remains of an Iron Age hill fort.

Err, no, not really. Wikipedia is a great destroyer of illusions sometimes :-(

Its an artificial hill, true, but built from the rubble of the old Wembley Stadium specifically for the Northala Fields 'country' park, opened right by the A40 (which is not an ancient Roman road) in the rather less than ancient historical year of 2008!

And the name?

"Northala" is how the old manor of Northall (Northolt) was recorded in the Domesday book in 1086

Oh, well that's alright then.

Never mind the shattering of my romantic notions, here's our girls off for a warmup.

Ok, now they're warmed up, they can cool down while the local MP makes a speech...

TBF, he's actually talking about Parkrun and how cool it is, and how he's going to be taking part but hopes nobody will laugh at him for being last (which in the end he isn't quite), but although it was sunny earlier, the clouds have now mostly covered the sky and it's getting pretty nippy just standing around.

The start is nearly six and a half minutes late, and words will be had! Pat knows the organisers and will doubtless be the very model of tact and diplomacy in gently hinting that THEY SHOULD GET THEIR @$£)#ING ACT TOGETHER!!!

Anyway, off they go!

It's funny the way our perceptions of Parkrun are skewed by our local being Bushy Park. We thought Richmond was small, but this is even smaller; nervertheless, the enthusiasm and commitment seems absolutely identical. And TTBOMK, we've not had our local MP at Bushy either!

She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes. "For small values of 'mountain'" as we mathematicians say.

The route leaves the park for a short segment of rather less picturesque pavement. Pat, as you can see, is doing her best to smile, having promised that she would be taking it easy and therefore be able to react in a moderately sociable way to supporters. It's a touch marginal, but we won't hold that against her.

Down the rabbit hole she goes, cheered on by an enthusiastic marshal.

And Amanda comes through the same hole.

At the end of a long straight, she will go back round the (fake) mountain again. Unlike both Bushy and Richmond parks, this run is entirely on tarmac and it's pretty flat too. Pat had claimed that it involved running up and down the fake mountains, but she really needs to work on her lying technique if she wants to be believed.

And here she is, taking it easy as she said, which is why she's just done a PB!

Interestingly, as I'm hanging around the finish line, I notice at least one person actually collapse, and several looking on the verge. For all that it's not a 'race' as such, there are plenty of people taking it very seriously and really pushing hard.

The loneliness of the long-distance runner? Well, 5k and careful framing of the picture will do. Just out of shot is the finish line. Not a great time for Amanda (although far from shameful! She's third in class which is really "second apart from Pat") which she blames at least partly on the time spent freezing in the cold air before the start.

Yee-hah! I'm wearing trail shoes, so in an almost unheard-of overturning of the natural order of things, I can run up this hill a lot faster than Amanda or Pat, struggling in their racing flats. Post-run, Pat is supposed to be coaching some of her clubmates on hill reps, but she's suddenly thinking this really isn't going to work.

Shortly after this, the heavens open and Amanda just manages to get into the car in time while I get soaked putting my bike back on the rack. A fit punishment for hubris some might say... Naturally it will be sunny again later.

So happy 12th birthday Parkrun to you all.



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