All about races

October 2018

October seemed to be all about races. First there was the Ageas 10k. Actually that one was right at the end of September but let’s not quibble about a day or two. Commando was pacing a very slow, for him, fifty five minutes and I was supposed to be taking photos. As I was still suffering with the lurgie this was not as simple as you’d think. 

Runners are quite a germ phobic lot, mostly because they always seem to have important races coming up and don’t want to get sick. This meant I had to try to stay away from everyone so I didn’t spread my germs, whilst still getting as many photos as I could. There was some degree of success and a lot of coughing.

The next weekend was taken up with the Bournemouth Half Marathon. It was a stupidly early and slightly chilly start but, once I’d taken team photos and watched Commando walking towards the start line, I had a nice walk through Boscombe Cemetery.

You all know how much I like wandering through a cemetery, and this turned out to be the best part of the whole day for me. The Cemetery, designed by architect Christopher Crabbe Creeke, was opened in 1878. Entering from Kings Park, my first view was of the Jewish Chapel, looking rather atmospheric in the early morning light.

From there I took the main path towards Gloucester Road, stopping to admire the chapel in the centre of the cemetery. This beautiful building with its central tower and spire, looks more church than chapel. It was built in 1877, before the cemetery was opened, and contains both the Church of England and Nonconfirmist chapels. In the golden morning light the Purbeck and Bath stone almost seemed to glow. Unfortunately for me, the door was closed so I couldn’t get a look inside.

Frankly, I could have happily spent the whole day wandering around the cemetery looking at graves. There are more than forty three thousand to look at though and I had a half marathon finish line to get to at some point. In the end I had to content myself with a quick walk around the war plot. As Remembrance Sunday was fast approaching, this seemed fitting.

The plot is enclosed by a low box hedge with the war cross on the west side. The rows of plain white stones made sobering viewing. Most of those buried here died in Bournemouth’s auxiliary and private hospitals and are from World War I but seven are from World War II.

While my route to the finish line was going to be far shorter than Commando’s I knew I was bound to get tangled up in runners at some point. A quick look at my watch told me I really should get a move on so, rather reluctantly, with a quick stop to photograph the little stone lodge, I headed for the gate.

Luckily, I more or less knew the way due to previous Bournemouth Marathon adventures. Now my main plan was to get to the centre of Bournemouth as quickly as possible, get a coffee and find somewhere to watch the finish. Once I’d crossed the railway bridge and Christchurch Road I took what I hoped would be a shortcut through Woodland Walk. This turned out to be a mistake and gave me rather a longer, but probably prettier, walk than my previous route would have.

When I eventually got back on track I met with the first runners. Commando was not amongst them and I had no idea whether he’d already passed by or not. What I did have was quite a long and frustrating detour to get around them and onto the beach side of the road.

Eventually I made it and the cliff path was in sight. It was just a matter of walking down it onto Boscombe Promenade. In theory, this should have been when things got far simpler and my progress much faster. At first, getting to the finish line before Commando looked like it was going to be a breeze. There were barely any runners on this part of the course and I could almost taste the coffee. The sun was shining. There were beach huts, sea and sand to enjoy…

Things didn’t go quite to plan though. When more and more runners began to appear I had to decide which side of the course to walk on. I made the wrong choice and ended up at a dead end by Boscombe Chine Gardens. Only runners were allowed in the gardens and spectators weren’t allowed to cross the course. I had to turn and walk all the way back, past Boscombe Pier, and find a way across there. If only someone had thought to put up signs for spectators this frustration could have been avoided, along with the extra walking. On the plus side, I did see Commando and Rob twice on this stretch of the walk.

After the Boscombe Pier debacle I was stuck firmly on the beach side of the course and, fairly soon, there were so many other spectators I couldn’t see much of anything. So much time had been lost on the various detours I now had to rush if I wanted any chance of making the finish line before Commando. I might have done it too, if it hadn’t been for the chaos by Bournemouth Pier.

The crowds around the pier were so thick I could barely get through them. To get to the finish line I needed to cross the course but there were impenetrable barriers stopping me. The pier turned out to be a dead end. The only way past was to walk onto the shore and under it. On the other side there were no runners or spectators but the promenade was lined with barriers in preparation for the full marathon later in the day. On and on I walked in the sandy beach, getting further and further from the finish line. My legs were tired and I was looking desperately for a gap in the barriers. For a while I thought I was going to have to go all the way to Sandbanks. Eventually, after about a mile, there was a crossing point but now I had to walk all the way back up the other side of the course. By the time I reached the finish line again Commando had already crossed it. After lots of dashing back and forth, pushing my way through crowds, I finally caught up with him and a few other friends in the Lower Gardens.

The pleasant beachside stroll and relaxing coffee I’d anticipated never did materialise. Commando, Rob, Kim, Nicole, Mark and I had a quick bite to eat in MacDonalds. On the plus side, Commando enjoyed the race and got a half marathon PB. On the minus side, I walked over twelve miles trying to catch up with him and I never did get my coffee.

The next weekend it was back to Bournemouth for a Hampshire Cross Country League Race. As Bournemouth is actually in Dorset it seemed like quite an odd choice of venue. Thankfully this wasn’t such an early start but we did get stuck in a horrible traffic jam on the motorway and were almost late. Commando enjoyed the race. I’m not sure I enjoyed standing in the mud taking photos of him running round the same tree three times but I got some good photos, even if there was no chance of a walk.

Of course, in between the races there were all the normal Saturday morning parkruns too. All in all, October seemed to be nothing but one long whirl of runs. The biggest one came at the end of the month but it really deserves a post all to itself…

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Winchester and Storm Ali

23 September 2018

At the end of the driest, hottest, sunniest summer since 1976, it was a touch disappointing when the day of the Winchester Half Marathon turned out to be one of the wettest, windiest days of the whole year, thanks to Storm Ali. The doom and gloom weather warnings didn’t exactly fill us with confidence but Commando was pacing the race so we wrapped up as best we could and set off bright and early. Continue reading Winchester and Storm Ali

Parkrun tourism, Lakeside

30 June 2018

There was no parkrun on the Common this morning because the Pretty Muddy Race For Life 10k was going on. This meant it was time for some parkrun tourism. With so many parkruns within a few miles of home we were spoilt for choice but, when Teresa and Gerry said they were going to Lakeside in Portsmouth, we decided to tag along too as we haven’t been to the parkrun there before. Continue reading Parkrun tourism, Lakeside

The Marathon after the storm

22 April 2018

Sleep didn’t come easy last night. I stayed up far too late writing about the peculiar storm and flood while it was fresh in my mind. When I did go to bed it was hard to sleep. The lightning was still flashing like a manic disco ball outside the bedroom window. My mind was racing, filled with images of those huge tubs floating across the garden and worries about what the water was doing outside. It really did feel as if we were in a Winnie the Pooh story and, at any moment, Pooh and Christopher Robin would come to rescue us in an upturned umbrella. Continue reading The Marathon after the storm

An accidental run in the woods

18 April 2018

The beginning of April was less April showers and more April downpours. The world seemed to be all about huge puddles, gloopy mud and perpetual dampness. It was also cold, so, just when we should all have been thinking about light spring jackets and losing the layers, we were wrapping up in big coats, scarves and hats instead. None of this made me relish the thought of the first RR10 of the season at Victoria Country Park but, as it was the Spitfires marshalling event, at least I wouldn’t be standing still in the cold and rain.  Continue reading An accidental run in the woods

Happy New Year

1 January 2018

First thing on New Years Day all the sensible people are in bed sleeping off a late night, too much food and way too much alcohol. My warm bed was just a hazy memory as I strolled across Southampton Common, wrapped up against the chilly morning air. For some reason the parkrun organisers thought it would be a good idea to have an extra parkrun today. In fact there were two, one at Netely and one st Southampton, with the Netley one starting before the Southampton one so people could run both. Continue reading Happy New Year

The last championship race

19 November 2017

All through the summer the Spitfires have been working their way through the club championship races. They’ve battled for parkrun PB’s and tried to better their times at races over distances from a mile to a marathon. There have been triumphs and disasters, along with a lot of early Sunday morning starts. In some cases injury or health issues have meant some Spitfires, like Commando, have lost all hope of winning in their age category. Most have battled on anyway, happy in the knowledge they’ll get a finishers medal at the end, while others have had to drop out altogether. Today was the last early start and the last chance to pick up points. Continue reading The last championship race

Run rabbit run

22 October 2017

This morning we got up for a run we weren’t sure was going to happen. Hot on the heels of hurricane Ophelia came Storm Brian. It arrived on Friday night, all wind and rain battering the bedroom window. On Saturday morning I did the unthinkable and stayed in bed nursing a cold I’ve picked up from CJ while Commando went to parkrun in the howling gale. Even parkrun was in doubt but, after Commando and Rob, who was RD for the morning, walked round to check for fallen trees, it did go ahead. Meanwhile, a few miles along the coast in Southsea, the Saturday Great South Run events were being cancelled and there were some doubts whether the ten mile race today would go ahead. Continue reading Run rabbit run

Pieces of Eight

8 October 2017

With the Winchester walks, the Half Marathon and the CC6’s, it seems like years since I last had a nice quiet Sunday. When I went to parkrun yesterday morning I thought I’d be getting a lie in today. While we were having our post run coffee though, everyone was talking about races. Almost everyone was running either the Portsmouth Pieces of Eight or the Bournemouth Half Marathon. Everyone except Commando and Rob that is. All of a sudden they had a bad case of race envy. Before I knew what was going on they’d decided to try to get last minute places for Pieces of Eight and I was waving goodbye to the idea of a lie in.   Continue reading Pieces of Eight

Coffee, cake and mud at Whiteley

1 October 2017

October started with the first CC6 of the season, at least the first one the Spitfires could run. Last year there were a hard core of around eight Spitfires who turned up to run this series of winter cross country races, along with one mad photographer. It isn’t easy dragging yourself out of a warm bed on a Sunday morning to go out into the cold and run around a piece of muddy woodland. The more the merrier, or so they say, so this year the master plan was to get more people interested. There had certainly been enough of them turning up for the marshalling race  last month.  Continue reading Coffee, cake and mud at Whiteley