Today has been so fabulous that I’m not quite sure where to start. I am sure that I won’t be able to do it justice.
It started, as all good Saturdays should, with a parkrun, the brand new Northala Fields. It is in one of the most unusual parks of any parkrun I’ve ever run, not least because the park itself is only 6 years old and features four grassy mounds which would make a sadistic running coach rub their hands with glee.
Fortunately for my legs, the single lap course doesn’t feature any of the mounds, and is largely flat and entirely tarmac. It also starts and finishes by the café, always a good thing, especially when there are so many familiar faces around. I’d love to mention all of them, but as there were about 30, plus Paul and Julia who were over from New Zealand, it would take a fair while.
Suffice it to say that there was chatting before the run, chatting during the run, chatting in the café after the run and chatting at the top of one of the knolls. And then some more chatting in the car park.
And the walk up and run down the spiral path of one of the mounds has given me what is arguably my best Garmin trace ever.
After all of which (and an extra lap of the park hunting for some motorcycle keys that had gone AWOL), it was time to head home for a quick bite to eat before dashing out again for the Midsummer Munro.
The Midsummer Munro is a fast and flat half marathon run entirely on tarmac. If you want a half marathon PB, then this is definitely the course for you. Honestly. Just look at this elevation profile. Not a hill in sight!
Okay, okay, I was lying. The Midsummer Munro is an evil, hilly half marathon run on trail, and which has a course which goes something like this:
Hike up hill 1 (grass).
Pick your way carefully down hill 2 (giant steps)
Run over a bridge and loop back over some stepping stones.
Struggle up hill 2 (seriously, who designs these giant steps?)
Loop around a view point (if you have the energy to take in the view, I salute you)
Run down hill 3
Walk up hill 4
Cross a road (carefully)
Run down hill 5
Hike up hill 5
Run down hill 6 (the mile-long one I did my hill reps on the other day)
Cross another road
Curse your way up hill 7 (more giant steps)
Run along a relatively flat stretch to the sound of bag-pipes
Slip-slide your way down hill 8.
Crawl your way back up hill 8.
Wave at the bag-piper and enjoy the relatively flat stretch.
Pick your way gingerly down the giant steps of hill 7.
Cross the road.
Walk up the mile-long hill 6.
Pelt down hill 5.
Hike back up hill 5.
Cross the road.
Go “wheeeeeeee” all the way down hill 4.
Pant back up hill 3.
Admire the view.
Make your way down the giant steps of hill 2 while singing “I’m going to slip and fall and die, it’s just a matter of time”.
Loop over the bridge and stepping stones.
Struggle up the absolutely humungous and ridiculously steep steps of hill 2 wondering why you ever signed up for the race and swearing blind that you’ll never, ever do anything so stupid ever again.
Run down hill 1 to the finish, collect your medal, your t-shirt with all the competitors’ names on it and a pint glass, and instantly forget everything except how much fun all the downhills were.
Be in awe of Dave Ross (who ran the marathon version (as above but twice over)) and finished second, one week after he finished third at SDW100. Be equally in awe of John Melbourne, also running the marathon version, who finished second at NDW50 a month ago and then paced his brother for the last 45 miles of SDW100 last week.
Vow to train harder.
Sign up for next year.
In all seriousness, it is a super race. All the out and back hills mean that you see all the other runners time and time again, which means lots and lots of encouragement. There are water stations galore (all of which have Jaffa cakes), enthusiastic marshals and scenery to die for. All of which make the hills worthwhile.