The Three Days of Harriers Christmas
No, this is not an excuse to burst into song but my take on the festive fun organised by your favourite running club.
This year I wasn’t sure of my Christmas Day availability until the day before, so a 7 mile road/railway track run was in order on the beautiful, sunny spring-like day which was Christmas Eve. A few hours later, a quick text to Nippy and it was ‘game on’ for the Christmas Day cross-country from the club.
As last year there was only me, Nippy and Rosie (for the small number of you who don’t know, Rosie is Nippy’s Cocker Spaniel) running, with Norman Dean manning the clubhouse to make drinks afterwards. This is a great shame, as the traditional route is a good one, taking in the horse field, Swine and the trig point, through the small ditch and back to the club for 6.7 miles in total. We use this route or variations of it all year round but always on Christmas Day. PS – if any of you don’t know these local landmarks, guided (running) tours can be arranged.
Clearly time and family commitments prevent some people running with the club, but it didn’t stop a large field turning out earlier for parkrun. 5k round a park (again) or just over twice the distance on grass and ploughed fields? Don’t all bombard the editor with your answers/opinions……☺
So that was Christmas Day done (other than copious amounts of food and alcohol). Fast forward a few hours and I walked round to the clubhouse on Boxing Day to assist at the annual 10K race. Having spoken with Mike in early December I was scheduled to start the race, set up the finish and record finishers’ numbers. Easy, I thought as I enjoyed a coffee whilst chatting to some early arrivals. Then the queue for entries on the day started to grow, fuelled by the mild, wind-free weather. I jumped in to help take entries, which Mike probably struggled to read due to me not having my glasses! This was moderately successful until a further wave of competitors arrived, at which point Linda Thacker took over writing duties, leaving me to take money and give out numbers and ‘event clips’.
Anyway, we got everyone registered in time and a huge field assembled on the pavement and verge near the ‘new houses’. At 10:00 there was a suitable gap in the traffic, so with Mike at the front and the NEMS ambulance at the rear the runners assembled on the road. After a quick word to them “keep left, drinks station at 3 miles, listen to marshals and don’t get run over” I blew Ron’s trusty whistle (his best one, as he informed me later) and the runners were off. Picking up the ‘Start’ sign’ I made my way back to the club and with the help of Nippy and others, the finish funnel was assembled. I then took on my role of calling out numbers as the runners crossed the line (why do so many sprint past others in the last metre?), acknowledging the performances of runners when it was possible. Some very good times were recorded, several runners achieving PBs in these perfect running conditions. All are to be congratulated on surpassing their previous times, but a special mention must go to Becky Briggs from City of Hull who was third finisher overall in an incredible time of 34:09. This was the fastest road 10k recorded by an under-20 female UK athlete in 2018, which Becky may or may not have realised when in tears (of joy) immediately after finishing. The record number of finishers (270) all seemed to enjoy the event, and thanks are due to Mike for organising and cajoling helpers/marshals.
Bright(ish) and early the next morning I got up to drive to Millington for the annual meat pie and chips (and 13 miles run). After driving through the fog I arrived in the car park which was full of runners milling around, the intrepid 20 mile mob long having departed. I set off with a pack I felt I could keep pace with, which proved correct. We split into two packs part-way through and both groups enjoyed good social runs over some of the best scenery around, building up a hunger/thirst for the afore-mentioned pie, washed down with a pint of Black Sheep (other beers are available). As ever, a great day out and a good way to round off Christmas at EHH.