12 July 2017
This month really does seem to be all about running. No sooner had we got the busy weekend of parkrun birthdays and 10k races over than it seemed we were off to yet another running event. This time it was the RR10 at Whiteley. There are pluses and minuses to this venue in my opinion. On the plus side is the Costa in the shopping centre by the car park. Tonight the lovely Tori and Teresa forced me to have one so I was happy walking along the narrow lane towards the start wth a coffee and in my hand.
On the down side, the lane is a fairly narrow gravel track, bordered by trees. There is very little room to set up tents and flags and, with several other running clubs all squeezed into a very tight space, taking the team photo was quite a feat. Bug spray was a must to keep the midgies and ticks at bay and, apparently, there were also lots of spiders lurking in the grass too. The narrowness and the trees did give the advantage of shade though. For the runners this was a definite plus point.
Another advantage, at least to me, was the chance to wander off and take some wildflower photos while everyone was warming up or chatting about tactics and the like. It’s doubtful anyone else noticed them but I was in wildflower heaven briefly. The beautiful purple teasel flowers are probably not so good if you brush against the spines when you run past but I liked them.
The Achillea ptarmica, otherwise known as sneezewort, flummoxed me at first. The pretty little white flowers are a rarity in the areas I usually walk, although it likes damp grassland, acid soil, watermeadows and marshes so you’d think I’d see it everywhere. It’s poisonous to cattle, sheep and horses though so maybe it’s been eradicated from the meadows I generally frequent. Apparently the leaves can be used as an insect repellent, so it could have come in handy tonight. The common name comes from its use as sneezing powder.
On my wanderings I also managed to capture a bee on some vetch, a patch of St John’s wort, some clover and the jolly sunburst flowers of yellow fleabane. If it hadn’t been for the race I might have filled my camera with wildflower photos but, fairly soon, the call came for the runners to head for the start line so that was that.
When it comes to photos, Whiteley Pastures is a venue that keeps on giving. The RR10 route is a two lap affair meaning three opportunities to snap pictures of runners as they pass. This is both a blessing and a curse. It gives me a better chance of getting a picture of everyone running, as long as I stand well back on the narrow track, but it also means I end up with way too many photos to go through afterwards.
The first photo opportunity came as the runners headed off along the track at the start. The narrowness of the lane meant I captured more runners than usual. At this stage they were all looking clean, fresh and happy. This was unlikely to last.
The next time the runners passed by they had almost completed one loop of the course. Surprisingly, many of them still looked cheerful. None of them looked particularly muddy either. Perhaps all the recent dry weather helped with this. Commando looked strong and confident, although he was a little further towards the back of the pack than he would usually be. There were smiles and waves from some.
Then there were the finish line photos. These are always the interesting ones. There were no real surprises in the order they arrived back. There were some great sprints for the line along with a few smiles and lots of flying feet. Commando finished strong. He looked to be deep in concentration, feet flying, arms pumping. He wasn’t where he wanted to be but he’d gained a few places since the last RR10 so there could be no complaining.
At this point I was beginning to wonder if I should have brought a spare memory card. With a burst of shots as each club member passed by the number of photos was climbing at an alarming rate. Most of them would be rubbish I knew but I still had to go through them all later to sort the wheat from the chaff. It was going to be a late night.
Finally the last runner crossed the line and it was time to pack everything away and head back to the car park. Of course, for me, the evening was far from over. First there were the all important finish numbers to add to the spreadsheet and send to Kylie. Then there were almost two thousand photos to work my way through, although I’m only sharing Commando’s here. Finally there were ticket number queries to deal with. By the time all that was done I’m pretty sure everyone else was in bed fast asleep. Well, except Commando who was at work.
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