This morning, as I scraped the ice off my car windscreen after a luxuriously late alarm call, I cursed myself for not checking the weather forecast the night before and desperately tried to remember when I’d last updated my sacrifices to the parkrun gods. What if Pontefract was cancelled? I’d left it too late to get anywhere else. I reminded myself that a cancelled parkrun and the end of the world are not synonymous, crossed my fingers and headed for the racecourse.
It wasn’t cancelled.
There was ice, and the path around the lake was applying for death trap status, so the standard course was deemed unsafe but the back-up route, an out and back which bypasses the lake completely, was runnable. I chatted to a couple of other tourists, tried to ignore the iceblocks that had taken up residence where my hands and feet had been, and waited for 9 o’clock.
The back up route is an out and back along the tarmac path that runs around the inside of the racetrack, and your options are to accept the congestion and stick to the hard path or to run slightly to the side through the grass and mud. The former may be less effort, but the latter was far less stressful, so by the time I made it back to the finishing funnel I was liberally splattered in mud.
Next stop was Nostell Priory, a two lap course with what I’d heard described as a big hill. I’d opted to stay in my trail shoes as the course description talks of a mixture of surfaces including roadways, footpaths, unmade roads and bark paths. The run briefing reinforced my decision with talk of an extremely muddy section by the bridge.
Hmmm. It turns out that the footpaths and unmade roads are tarmac and hard packed stone, and the muddy bark path section is (a) short and (b) omitted on lap two. As for the hill, it would lose to Bolton in a game of parkrun Top Trumps, though the course designer did try to compensate for that by making it part of the sprint for the finish.
I was saving all my sprinting for tomorrow’s parkrun, so I pootled up it at a leisurely pace before heading to the cafe for an even more leisurely chat to a couple of parkrunning friends.
A perfect start to a brand new year.