Run Date: Sunday 22nd January 2023
Run Report by Brian Jenkins
Location: Hillsborough Park, Sheffield
The genesis of this event can be traced back to Strider Chris Smith (a well-known face in the Heeley end of town, and indeed elsewhere) and his decision to take a charity place at the London Marathon (I didn’t even get past the ballot, but less of that). This necessitated him fund-raising for his good cause (“Help & Care”).
One thing that he came up with to raise funds was a one-off event: an endurance run where you turn up and pay, and get to see how far you can run in 6 hours, or as far as you want, or just turn up and enjoy being surrounded by like-minded runners.
The venue selected was Hillsborough Park, the course involved laps of the park, with a route heavily inspired by the current Hillsborough Parkrun route. The date was set for Sunday 22nd January 2023. He then put out the word.
With the 6 hours time window, runners could start whenever they wanted, complete a few laps, and then take their weary bones home.
The intention was for an inclusive event, catering not only for those in training for a spring marathon (people like me), but also those preparing for the shorter races coming-up, and those who just enjoy racing in their team colours. The wide paths in Hillsborough Park meant that all runners could run at their own pace, and get the most out of it.
The day arrived and the Striders’ tent was erected in the park. With it being January in Sheffield the temperature at the beginning was sub-zero, with a light frost (but fortunately very little slippy ice).
The race start time approached and runners appeared. The net had been cast wide, so the Striders that made their way to the start were joined by runners from other clubs (notably HRRC).
After a short speech we were off, with Mr Smith (yes him) in the lead to orientate runners unfamiliar with the Hillsborough Parkrun route. At the end of the lap we went past the Striders’ tent and a completed lap was recorded for each of the runners (by the group of volunteers supporting the event).
Many runners started with a pre-decided number of laps (or length of time) to complete, others chose to make use of the opportunity to see what could be done in 6 hours (essentially treating the event as an Ultra Marathon). I needed to complete a long run for my marathon training, so my original target was to complete a marathon distance.
This was not a race in the usual sense. My experience of Ultra Marathons comes from one instance of gate-crashing (sorry “supporting”) a backyard ultra in Leeds. Distance was the primary consideration and pacing yourself is very important (and breaks from running helped with that), this was unlike shorter races where you start, and run the whole race distance, stopping only at the finish line (if possible). Like an ultra, in the Hillsborough Endurance Event, the Strider’s tent at the end of each lap provided a place to relax, enjoy the refreshments and chat before considering doing another lap.
Races which consist of laps are often accused of being a bit “samey”, often this is fine for a Parkrun (for the record, the current Hillsborough Parkrun consists of 3 laps) but for longer runs this repetition can grate. In this instance that was not the case, people were running at their own pace, so when you were overtaken you could join them for a bit (upping your pace for a bit), or join those taking a more leisurely approach, and enjoy a chat.
The start was busy, but as people completed their target distances (often with an additional lap(s) “for good luck”) new runners joined, often combining the event with a run-in from their particular part of town.
Throughout this constant change in runners, there was a strong thread of continuity, the volunteers in the Striders’ tent were ticking-off the completed laps (some of the volunteers managed to put in a few themselves), also there were runners that lined-up at the start, and were determined to rack-up a few miles before the end of the event, amongst them Nick Booker (a repeat offender at these long distance events) who merrily lapped me on quite a few occasions.
I completed my marathon, but with about an hour to go before the event was due to end, I still had a few miles left in my legs, so I decided to keep on going, and venture into the mythical “ultra” territory.
I thought the completion of my 33rd lap (15 minutes before the event finish time) was a good point to “call it a day”. I started lap 34 and doubled-back to complete the last few yards, and was able to log 30 miles run on Strava.
Despite being able to complete my first ultra marathon, there was so much more to this event than that. The open-ended nature of this event meant that it could be whatever a runner wanted it to be (and if they were happy with that, then everyone was happy for them). It was also a social event, with Striders (and other runners) descending from all parts of Sheffield (and further-afield) and able to catch-up on what they had been up-to since the last time they met.
I would be immensely unhappy if this was not to become a regular event (and I know I’m not the only one).
Chris Smith, on the other hand, might be thinking about the amount of hard work required to achieve such a successful outcome. He and his team of volunteers have my thanks.
103 runners took part In Chris’ event, with six clubs represented. All entrants are included below in bib order, but for those interested, the top three mileages were logged by Nick Booker (41.8 miles), Sarah Moss (36.1 miles) and Brian Jenkins/Martin Moss (31.4 miles).
|1||Brian Jenkins||Steel City Striders||33||31.4|
|3||Ady Good||Steel City Striders||15||14.3|
|5||Michael Ingham||Steel City Striders||19||18.5|
|6||Billy Costello||Steel City Striders||21||20|
|7||Mandy Taylor||Steel City Striders||25||23.8|
|8||Kimberley MacPherson||Steel City Striders||3||2.9|
|9||Nick Booker||Steel City Striders||44||41.8|
|12||Nada Ross||Steel City Striders||13||12.4|
|14||Clive Downing||Steel City Striders||8||7.6|
|16||Martin Moss||Steel City Striders||33||31.4|
|17||Sarah Moss||Steel City Striders||38||36.1|
|18||Sue Braddock||Steel City Striders||30||28.5|
|19||Gary Roche||Steel City Striders||9||8.6|
|20||Mel English||Steel City Striders||15||14.3|
|21||Jane Greyson||Valley Hill||8||7.6|
|22||Steve Blake||Steel City Striders||22||20.9|
|23||Jane Evans||Steel City Striders||10||9.5|
|24||Chris Greyson||Valley Hill||7||6.7|
|25||Charlotte Civico||Steel City Striders||11||10.5|
|26||Helen Eberlin||Steel City Striders||7||6.7|
|27||Janine Frost||Steel City Striders||11||10.5|
|28||Mark Norman||Steel City Striders||15||14.3|
|29||Phil Swirles||Steel City Striders||15||14.3|
|30||Chris Patterson||Derby Dinos||15||14.3|
|31||Grace Steade||Steel City Striders||10||9.5|
|32||Laura Greaves||Steel City Striders||4||3.8|
|33||Neil Schofield||Steel City Striders||13||12.4|
|34||Robert Hoffmann||Steel City Striders||13||12.4|
|35||Martin Downham||Steel City Striders||16||15.2|
|36||Jonathan Legon||Steel City Striders||6||5.7|
|37||Cathy Liddiard||Steel City Striders||11||10.5|
|38||Laura Mella||Steel City Striders||10||9.5|
|39||Tessa Bainbridge||Steel City Striders||19||18.5|
|40||Victoria Johnson||Steel City Striders||17||16.2|
|41||Jamie Booth||Steel City Striders||16||15.2|
|42||Adam McCauley||Steel City Striders||13||12.4|
|43||Helen Royles-Jones||Steel City Striders||4||3.8|
|44||Anne Petit-Jean||Steel City Striders||7||6.7|
|45||Sam Keen||Steel City Striders||11||10.5|
|46||John Liddle||Steel City Striders||7||6.7|
|47||Caroline Brash||Steel City Striders||9||8.6|
|48||Vikki McCauley||Steel City Striders||7||6.7|
|49||Angela Lester||Steel City Striders||7||6.7|
|50||Anna Copp||Steel City Striders||10||9.5|
|51||Tracey Gledhill||Steel City Striders||8||7.6|
|52||Nikki Mills||Steel City Striders||8||7.6|
|55||Dot Kesterton||Steel City Striders||7||6.7|
|56||Simon Gleadhall||Steel City Striders||9||8.6|
|57||Graham Hague||Steel City Striders||8||7.6|
|58||Laura Rangeley||Steel City Striders||11||10.5|
|59||Jim Rangeley||Steel City Striders||15||14.3|
|60||Laura Fletcher||Steel City Striders||16||15.2|
|61||Caroline Greenough||Steel City Striders||5||4.8|
|62||Martin Greenough||Steel City Striders||5||4.8|
|64||John Eggington||Steel City Striders||19||18.5|
|65||Hannah Murton||Steel City Striders||19||18.5|
|66||Al Cook||Steel City Striders||16||15.2|
|67||Isabel Cook||Steel City Striders||5||4.8|
|68||David Wilson||Steel City Striders||9||8.6|
|70||Adam Brooks||Steel City Striders||9||8.6|
|71||Sophie McKie||Steel City Striders||8||7.6|
|72||Nancy Stuart||Steel City Striders||7||6.7|
|73||Ruth Thomas||Steel City Striders||5||4.8|
|74||Nicole Nield||Steel City Striders||8||7.6|
|75||Graham Nield||Steel City Striders||7||6.7|
|76||Nick Burns||Steel City Striders||9||8.6|
|77||Helen Smith||Steel City Striders||4||3.8|
|78||Robin Nelson||Steel City Striders||14||13.3|
|79||Richard Lewis||Steel City Striders||5||4.8|
|80||Rachel Rae||Steel City Striders||11||10.5|
|81||Catherine McKeown||Steel City Striders||7||6.7|
|82||Zoe Dickinson||Steel City Striders||3||2.9|
|83||Maxine Gregory||Steel City Striders||12||11.4|
|84||Jude W||Steel City Striders||3||2.9|
|85||Julie Armstrong||Steel City Striders||3||2.9|
|86||Peter Brash||Steel City Striders||2||1.9|
|88||Pete McCoy||Steel City Striders||6||5.7|
|89||Joel Driver||Steel City Striders||12||11.4|
|90||Kate Waddicor||Steel City Striders||12||11.4|
|91||Kevin Wong||Steel City Striders||7||6.7|
|93||Rob Dawson||Steel City Striders||8||7.6|
|95||Zaheer Mahmood||Steel City Striders||11||10.5|
|96||Kevin Haighton||Steel City Striders||6||5.7|
|97||Faye Baugh||Steel City Striders||8||7.6|
|98||Cara Hanson||Steel City Striders||10||9.5|
|101||Des Ryan||Steel City Striders||9||8.6|
|102||Elliot Hargreaves||Steel City Striders||4||3.8|
|103||Chris Smith||Steel City Striders||13||12.4|