Thanks to Craig for this post on the annual Sparkhill Harriers trip to Weston-super-Mare!
What a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Considering there were 4 cars going and we didn’t travel in convoy, I was impressed that all managed to meet up at the garden centre, just a few miles from where the run started. Obviously with a long run ahead it was understandable that a good number of us had tea/coffee and scones/cakes. The clotted cream and blackcurrant jam on my scone made it a delight.
All 4 cars then managed to find the car park where we started the run. Amazing.
11 started the run and 11 finished. Of the 11, Manisha, Roman and Stuart were first timers. Patrick was hobbling at the end, but he soldiered on. The distance for the run varied from 8.5 miles to 9 miles. To make us all feel better, let’s call it 9.
The start of the run is gentle and involves mainly running along the River Axe. The scariest bit, at least for Barry and me, is the footbridge over the M5. We don’t like that. It is narrow. Before what is a long uphill drag, we did some strength work. Sit ups for the camera. I must admit I didn’t do the sit ups. I gave the instruction and all did it with only a small amount of questioning.
The long uphill drag, which is pretty steep for the first few minutes was measured at about 1.5 miles. Sorry Manisha, I know I kept saying we were near the top when we weren’t, but it was a genuine belief (hope) that we were. What I liked was that Nick, Simon and Barry who all got to the end of this section first, ran back to meet Manisha and me to offer encouragement. It was much appreciated lads.
By now it was starting to get hot and fluids were a must. Stuart, as a novice, wasn’t carrying water. Don’t worry, we looked after him. Jenny convinced me to carry her drink in my rucksack. She’ll say she offered to take it in turns to carry the rucksack, but did she mean it?
It was then mainly downhill to the crossing of the M5 with a flattish section following before the ascent of Crook Peak. Here Simon will want me to say that his direction finding is better than mine. I dispute this because we’d have ended up at the same place (the little bridge) whichever route we’d taken. We went Simon’s route because Patrick said Simon showed more confidence in his route selection. Simon might also point out that his route avoided an electric fence. The fence was to keep cattle in and not Sparkhill Harriers out.
The ascent was a doddle. I lie. On leaving the village of Barton there is a track which is hard work, but it is only the beginning. The next section up to the ridge is steep and although I have no photographic evidence it is believed Nick, Andy and Barry ran all the way to our traditional stopping point under a tree. Well done lads. The rest of us were spread over the hill with Manisha, Roman and me bringing up the rear. We walked!
Once on the ridge it is quite a long run along it with a final rocky ascent up to Crook Peak. It’s amazing how all seemed to find energy for that last push. It is worth it. The views over the Bristol Channel are fabulous. We were lucky with a reasonably clear day. As we all rested our tired limbs Emma worked her magic and persuaded a lovely gentleman to take some pictures of us.
It was then downhill all the way to the cars. Mind you, it isn’t easy running downhill when your legs have gone. And Paul was at the car park waiting for us. It took us a little over 2.5 hours which was good on a hot day with plenty of stops.
Well done to Manisha, Jenny, Emma, Roman, Patrick, Simon, Nick, Barry, Stuart and Andy L. A good and rewarding effort.
Then on to Weston. The day continued to amaze me, with all 4 cars ending up at the right place. Stuart chose the spot on the beach and a really good spread was laid out. And then Martin and Gill appeared. The planning to achieve all this. Not a cloud in the sky and we all started to roast a little.
What can I say about the rounders? Emma and Stuart were the captains, and the teams were selected. It was like being back at school. Considering most of us had aching and stiffening limbs, we gave it our best. Simon kept hitting the ball over Patrick’s head so he had to try and run for it. Don’t forget Patrick was hobbling. Martin had this knack of being able to direct the ball either way, knowing that if he hit it to Paul there was a good chance there’d be a home run. Stuart retired injured. Emma shouted a lot at all those (un)fortunate enough to be in her team.
What was the result? Game 1 was won by Stuart’s team and game 2 by Emma’s team. By the end we were shattered. As Nick, would say – a well sneaked in speed session after a long run.
You all know I like to provide some information after a day out. Crook Peak is the westernmost and most mountainous of the peaks in the Mendip Hills. Now we know it’s not a mountain (it is only 628 feet high) but it does have a rocky summit making it appear like a mountain. Weston is located on the Bristol Channel which has a tidal range of up to about 48 feet and this is the second highest in the world. The highest is the Bay of Fundy on the east of Canada. Perhaps of greater significance, Cheltenham are playing away at Weston in a pre-season friendly on 15 July.
Thanks all for a great day out and here’s to next year.