Report by Kathryn Epworth
A chilly Saturday (7th Feb) saw well over 20 Striders make their way across Sheffield to Concord parkrun for round 2 of the 2015 Parkrun Tournament. Some of the more hardcore athletes decided to run over 7 miles from the opposite end of town to the venue, setting off at the crack of dawn to get there for the 9am start. This bunch of hardy souls included Sam ‘Where am I?’ Needham, who got lost somewhere around the Firth Park area of Sheffield on the way to Concord and is believed to be still roaming the streets looking for his lost bobble. Ashleigh Barron and I chose the sensible option and travelled in comfort by car. However, immediately upon arrival we were hijacked by Colin Hardy, who practically forced us to take part in the Hardy Warm-Up – a pre-parkrun event that’s “Guaranteed to knock 30 seconds off your PB” and is not to be missed.
There was a decent turnout at the Concord start line, due in part to a layer of ice and snow resulting in the cancellation of several other Sheffield parkruns. Thankfully Concord has its own microclimate and as such, was free from any injury-inducing ice. As in round one, I’d decided to run tactically and was aiming for a time of 28:40-29:00 in order to keep some time in hand but still beat my very fast opponent, Martin Billington, who I’d stalked on Run Britain a few days earlier – knowledge is power and all that! Unfortunately as we set off I had a Garmin failure (i.e. I pressed the wrong button) which meant I spent the first 30-40 seconds sorting that out while still trying to run. It was soon sorted but my error totally threw me and I spent the entire race thinking I was going way too slowly. This thought was confirmed when the three dogs taking part in the race with their owners overtook me on the first lap. I sped up on the second lap and overtook the owner of two terriers who’d stopped to sniff a tissue and pee against a sorry looking bush (the dogs, not the owner). Ah, you’ve got to love parkrun!
Concord is really deceiving because from the road it looks like a tiny little park, but in reality it houses a wide open space, at points providing picturesque views towards the Tinsley canal. Beautiful. But I didn’t have time to stop and admire the vista because I had a parkrun to try and not come last in. After a second lap that seemed to go on and on forever, I eventually reached the finish funnel (still ahead of the terriers, I might add). Unfortunately at this point I had another Garmin failure (i.e. I forgot to press the ‘stop’ button) which meant that by the time I realised, the Garmin said 32-odd minutes for 2.9 miles. Even by my lowly standards, that would be very slow. At that point I had no idea of my time but luckily a tasty biscuit handed out by a fetching young man brandishing a Family Circle variety box soon took my mind off it.
When the official results came through later that morning I was amazed to see I’d achieved a time of 28:25, despite spending most of the run feeling slower than a tortoise running through treacle. Clearly Colin’s warm-up worked! My time was almost a full ten minutes behind that of my opponent Martin, who finished in 18:34. However due to his time handicap of 10:48, this meant that I progressed through to round 3 – despite Martin coming in 5th behind him in 65th and first female Strider home – and first woman overall – was Sian Evans at an equally incredible 19:38. Ace!
Bring on round 3 at Rother Valley. And Colin, I hope you’re available for warm-up duties?
Round 3 Draw
1. Alasdair Menmuir vs Andy Green
2. Richard Sayers vs Kathryn Epworth
3. Mark Gray vs Colin Hardy
4. Matt Gibson vs Tim Ryan
5. Michael Richardson or Helen Davis vs Michael Greer
6. Laura Fletcher vs Hannah Milton
7. Graham Hague vs Kevin Rains or Gareth Hague
8. Siân Elizabeth vs Ed Startup