So, as you've likely heard, here, the parkrun community is reeling from the news that Stoke Gifford Parish Council have voted to charge Little Stoke parkrun for the use of their park. They claim they need the cash for the upkeep of the park and fixing the paths.
This stamps on the beautiful idea of parkrun being always free and for everyone. It sets a dangerous precedent and will likely give other underfunded councils ideas. It makes me angry beyond belief.
But I'm a problem solver. Stoke Gifford Parish Council claim they need money to fix the park. Fine. Here's some ideas to do just that. I'm proverbially teaching them to fish so they stop trying to "fish tax" parkrun.
Okay. Let's begin. Firstly you're aware that I love post run eating here and I'm not alone. I often pick up a drink or a snack on my way home/to work after parkrun. I suggest that the council sees this need and stops the gap.
All they'd need would be a little cart serving tea, coffee and cake. It's a tried and tested idea. There are some excellent schemes for homeless people providing carts like these. Here
Cake could be purchased from a local bakery and it would be a nice part time job for a local young person, running the cart.
I'm not saying it would make millions, but enough to make a dent in the maintenance bill. Plus it could be used at other local events.
Next, and this idea won't be for everyone, would involve the council organising a pay for participation event. Hear me out.
What you have at parkrun, is a delightful mix of the running community. Young/old, fast/slow, new/old timers, racers/just for fun. That's what makes it brilliant.
Some, like me, find out about local races from chatting with fellow runners and hearing what they've signed up for. If the council were to organise a race in the community, held on a non parkrun day, the park would be a logical place to advertise it. Not everyone would want to take part but there would be some sign ups. And people wouldn't mind being offered a leaflet or seeing a poster. Obstacle races/races round local hills are popular these days.
Even better, organise a running roadshow! Brands and service providers could pay for stalls and a small entrance fee could be charged. I went to a cycling roadshow earlier this year mainly to test out sports nutrition for running!
There is money to be made from hobby running. The difference is that we must be allowed to choose if we want to do this and feel that we're getting a special experience.
Finally my favourite idea appeals to my love of sharing and bargain hunting. Most of us parkrunners have lots of sports clothing and equipment hanging about that we don't use any more. Too big, too small, not the right sport for us, we upgraded to the newer model. Then why not hold a..
SPORTS JUMBLE SALE
Parkrunners could bring their unwanted, lycra, gadgets and, as my Welsh Godmother would call them "nicky nacky noos" along with them. They'd run as usual and afterwards head to a local hall or parish building to rummage for bargains. Set at charity shop prices, with the cash going to fix the paths, everyone would win. Unsold items could be donated to charity. Participation would, as ever, be free and optional.
So, there we go councillors. Rather than attacking the concept of free but organised exercise offered by my favourite organisation. Couldn't you have a wee think and fund your park some other way? I understand that you think you're protecting your community. However you are attacking mine.
If I can think up 3 ideas overnight, then surely you can come up with a few too.
Put your minds to it. Maybe it'll be an idea as brilliant as parkrun.
(Although I doubt it)
Run Cat Girl Run x x x
Hi Run Fans,
Well I say "run" fans....you may well be disappointed that this is yet another blog about NOT running.
Don't be hasty, I'm not talking about giving up running, but merely having a bloody good time when you decide not to run.
If anyone can take relaxation and lounging to the extreme, to 5 star level if you will, it's me.
Essentially I'm a big lazy sloth. My natural state is draped across a sofa, more of a liquid than a solid human. Adorned by my 2 cats if at all possible.
You want to know how to get the most out of an evenings rest? Step right up. Here's the lazy girl's guide to, as my friend would say, "getting your cosy on"
Wee bit of background to this weeks "big cosy".
I've been feeling lightheaded and getting lots of headaches. I'd kept my daily runs ( I'm streaking, I'll blog on that soon....no not naked) down to a single mile and thought I was feeling better. I smugly told my colleagues that I was running the 15 miles home. I left my car and my clothes and set off........
.....things did not go to plan. after a mile I felt EXHAUSTED. Out of breath, heavy legged and downright ill. At a pitiful 1.3 miles I stopped. I was done. I couldn't even bear to run/walk the 1.3 back to my car. I drudged over the road and dejectedly got the bus back into town. I hadn't got my endorphins, I was a massive grumpus.......I started to drive home......and then it clicked....
....I realised that I couldn't change the fact that I wasn't running this evening.....but I could make my unexpected free evening a heaven of treats and pampering and lounging like a Greek goddess. So I detoured and headed to the home of zen and nice things.....where everything is lovely, even the basic things and everyone is super friendly and helpful.....WAITROSE.
Yep. WAITROSE. I'm totally a Lidl gal for my shopping. But when it comes to my happy place, it's furnished by WAITROSE. Everything about it is really grown up and chilled out. If you sign up for a loyalty card you can get a free cup of tea (or coffee) every time you shop. I bloody love free things. And WAITROSE free things are even better.
So. To get your cosy on you need comfort food. I have a rule that I have to try to eat healthily most of the time, but if it's reduced in WAITROSE I can buy whatever sugary snacks I desire. That way you get the double whammy of a smug bargain AND sugar. You'll note from the picture above that I didn't even get to photograph my half price iced biscuit before I'd absent mindedly eaten half of it. (My hand and mouth work without my brain's input it seems)
I went for the decadent option of 2 iced biscuits and a donut and cornflakes to count as "real food" so I didn't have to leave the sofa to cook dinner. (I love cake but even I need proper food too) Having spent over £5 in WAITROSE I claimed my free copy of The Guardian, so I could do the G2 crossword inbetween episodes of lying still/bathing/stuffing my face.
Next you need tea. Lots of it. For an evening cosy I recommend decaf, sleepy is preferable to wired. You won't want to be getting up and down to make more tea, so invest in a teapot. I received this delightful 2 cup pot one Christmas from friends. It has its own built in strainer so I can try loose leaf teas too. The mug was also a present from a good friend, I think you'll find it sums me up perfectly.
To accompany the tea you need entertainment. Nothing you need to concentrate on or get too emotionally involved with. Music might be your thing, alas I'm rubbish at buying and listening to music. So I watch trashy TV on my iPad. Inspired by my love of cake I've become mesmerised by The Great British Bake Off: Creme de la Creme. They get teams of experts to make hundreds of tiny cakes.....then 3 mean judges slag them off. I can't bear talent shows where they tell people they can't sing or dance......but cake doesn't have feelings so I can wholeheartedly enter into it when a snooty French guy takes a team down over a wonky garnish.
They even have a cake measuring ruler. I like it best when they get out the ruler. After the ruler comes disappointed eyes and tutting.
Plus watching them create dozens of identical pastries is like those enchanting videos of crayons or malteasers being made in a factory that they used to show on kids morning television. Swirl, flick, cut, swirl, flick, cut, swirl, flick, cut...................*gets hypnotised*
Now we get to the pampering stuff. I assume you good folks appreciate a bath as much as I do. Tired muscles + hot water = happy me. If you add new beauty products to the mix then I'm the proverbial pig in muck.....only cleaner.
I'd detoured to Boots and impulse bought things with words that I liked written on them:
RELAXING bath foam
REFRESHING eye drops
COMFORT bamboo socks
(Plus ORCHID body butter from WAITROSE)
It's all in the adjectives. When it comes to comfort I'm more "simples" than a meerkat.
I added an aloe vera face mask, not caring that I looked like a serial killer, seriously these things feel amazing. Plus they start as tiny dehydrated pills and expand like MAGIC! I've bought them in bulk. I'm planning on owning this look. *strikes a pose*
Annnnndddd......here's the bit where you may think I've gone too far.....do all of the above at once. Combine-cosy.
1. Run a bath. Put all the beauty products near at hand.
2. Set up your entertainment nearby.
3. Pull up a stool and put your snacks on it.
4. Put your fluffiness towels, softest pjs and (bamboo) socks ready for when you get too cold/sleepy/wrinkly.
If you're me you'll be looking like a crazed killer, watching people make cake, while you eat even more cake....you might want to warn people if you don't live alone.
Finally to complete the "cosy" you need to book in a future treat, so that you aren't sad when you have to get off your arse and back on with your life. You could book a massage or a day off work or arrange to meet a friend.....I like to buy things online.
I have been looking at Dry Robes online for nearly a year now. Since I saw some cool cats wearing them at a 24hr relay running event. To the uninitiated it may look like a big ugly dressing gown...and yes....it sort of is. But it's so much more than than. It's waterproof on the outside, quick dry fleece on the inside. It has pockets for your stuff. It has big sleeves so you can get changed inside it without flashing your bits after a race and whip your sweaty clothes out easily. It will keep me warm when I'm cold, dry when I could be wet and it's really cool.......
......but yeah......I spent £90 (basically my net worth) on a cool dressing gown.
And yes. It did make me happy.
Emotionally and, when it arrived, physically.
I hope you find your cosy place too. Tell me about it, I'd love to hear from you guys.
Run Cat Girl Run x x x
Hey run fans,
I like to think of myself as an adventurous world citizen but I have to admit, sometimes small and local is best. Especially when it comes to cake shops, brunch venues and my local pub The Blue Blazer (pictured above)
There's a comfort in knowing that they know that you like your pancakes with butterscotch sauce instead of maple syrup and your bacon on the side, that the waitress asks you how many miles you've run today or the landlord invites you to his birthday party. (Casino themed it was awesome!)
Over the last month I've been reminded why wee local races are just as amazing. They may have less race bling, smaller goodie bags, fewer supporters and require you to carry your own water. But they more than make up for this with style, unique touches and heartfelt enthusiasm which will bring a tear to your eye......or make me sob!
I thought I'd name my top 5 for you guys in case you fancied any of them. I think you'll fall in love with them just as I have. (Plus I can share some silly pics of me posing for the camera when the endorphins kick in-enjoy)
Let's start with the craziest, and possibly coolest race I've ever attempted: The Man v Horse Marathon. Yes you read that correctly, it's a marathon run vs horses. They trot past you as you struggle through mud and hills and some of the best scenery I've ever run through.
Full disclosure, for the perfectionists amongst you, it's not quite a marathon, but 21-24 miles up and down the Welsh hills. If you're quick you can learn more about it in the first part of this BBC series. The route is confirmed on race day and depends on weather and access being granted by local farmers!
I first encountered it when friends were running it in a couple of relay teams, last year I was back to run in the relay myself (the long, last, GLORY leg). This year I've lost my grip on reality and am doing the full thing.......gulp!
Cool fact: one of my friends has done "The Triple", on a horse, in a relay and solo!
We make a weekend of it and camp (in the rain) in the delightful town of Llanwrtyd Wells. The organisers are super friendly, very amusing and help in any way they can. The finish line is famed for a buffet put on by the locals and includes their speciality "jam and cheese sandwiches". An experiment a few years back which has turned into a delicacy!
Cake. Sandwiches. Horses.....definitely worth a few (a fair few) hills.
Next on my list is the 7 hills of Edinburgh.
It does exactly what it say on the tin. You run up 7 local hills, stamping your race number as you go, and finish where you started at the top of the 7th (as you have to climb it to start you really do 8 hills, so prepare those legs)
I adored the simplicity of this race. No prescribed route, no big name sponsors, just a way to run all over my delightful Edinburgh in a challenging way with great company. Plus squash and jelly babies at every check point!
For folk like me there's the "Challenge" and for speedy peeps wanting to win there's the "Race". The challengers leave first so that they get overtaken by the racers in the first hour. I enjoyed the thrill of watching them all speed past!
Top tips: You can get by following the pack if, like me, you're rubbish at navigating as you run. But be aware of your options. I tried to clamber up a bare muddy slope and ended up clinging to a tree branch hyperventilating until a passing racer pulled me up to safety. I did yell "THANKS" to him as he sped away, but I'm not sure he heard. I found out afterward that there's a slower but easier path that loops the slope and doesn't induce vertigo!
Recently I was thinking about local races and realised that I've never done one local to my home town. I started running late in life, long after I moved from the Midlands to Scotland and do much of my running up here. Being an organised type I realised that I could drive home for Easter and fit in a race while I was there.
So I signed up for the deliciously named Poets Path Potter. Held in the village of Dymock you start in the local primary school and run the famed Poets Path 1, Poets Path 2 or the Daffodil Way. You can run 8,8, or 10 miles or combine then to run 16 miles or a marathon. I plumped for 16.
As I have found with lots of wee races, information online was minimal and online sign up didn't work. But an email to the organisers had a place reserved within a few hours.
On the day you start the race with a poetry reading by a local poet. The poems are specially written about running and really ring true. She famously offended a vicar's wife with "The hill that is better than sex" (although I'm not sure I've ever found a hill THAT good)
It's fair to say that this is not a fast race, it involves tonnes of stiles and navigating. ( I got lost one and RAN UP AN EXTRA HILL BY MISTAKE) But its charm lies in its relaxed attitude. I have a new eating PB of a flapjack, custard cream and 3 milk tray chocolates at the halfway point! It really wasn't a gel kinda race.
Being so close to home my darling Mother and Godmother came along to cheer me on. It was the kind of race where they ended up hanging out in the hall drinking coffee and chatting to the organisers, rather than trying to push through the crowds to catch a glimpse of me. Fun for all the family!
I've talked about it a lot lately, so this is just a tiny note on why I picked a small, relaxed race as my first ultra marathon.
I thought all ultra runners were slim, training obsessed,super food eaters made entirely from muscle. They ran marathons at sub 8 minute miles and planned to run on every continent in their cutting edge race gear.
For many reasons this was not me. When I looked at ultra marathons they all looked so slick and scary, and involved high end navigation through difficult terrain. Then I discovered the D33 Deeside Way Ultra. You run along the river, turn around and come back......even I couldn't get lost doing that!
But it what finally swung it, was seeing that last year's medal was a jam jar lid! How scary could people possibly be if they ran to recieve a jam jar lid medal? I had found my people, down to earth, crafty people!
And I wasn't wrong, they couldn't have been nicer. Full race review here.
This last one is close to my heart. Last year I went over to Ireland with my Father for the friendliest and most Irish family reunion you could ever imagine. Seriously Father Ted is an understatement of the truth.
Lots of my Father's cousins live in Belderrig on the west coast and pictures cannot do it justice. The rolling sea, the majestic cliffs, the unblemished beauty of nature and ACTUALLY HAVING TO STOP FOR SHEEP ON THE ROAD. The community spirit is strong here are they hold an annual mini sea triathlon here called The Belderrig Bronze Man. 100m sea swim, 4km bike ride and 4km run. The whole town turns out. There's a barbecue and ice cream and LOTS of cheering.
I was so excited about doing it that Dad bought me a new bicycle for Christmas and we schlepped it over on the ferry in a special bike box (yep, I'm a bit spoilt). 2 of my cousins took part in the race too and it was really lovely to race alongside them.....I BEAT THEM TOO (I never beat anyone so I was very excited)
But the best bit of all was that in order to collect your medal you had to go to the presentation ceremony in the community centre. They played a video of photos from the day and called you up by name to collect your medal. The closest I'll get to being Mo Farah.......maybe Zo Farah?
So. Yes. I love local races.
To weekend with friends or family.
To rediscover my home town or new city.
To learn about where my family come from.
To see if I can complete a new challenge.
To have my heart lifted by kind people, places and traditions.
All without the pressure of cut of times and road closures and needing to be fast or spend a huge amount to enter.
Sometimes perfection lies in the imperfections. You find a place where you can be comfortable, just like your local pub.
Run Cat Girl Run x x x