It’s a (park)run…not a race(course)

(Me: 49/179; Cathy: 50/258)

Spoiler alert (…with apologies to Will Shakespeare):
Now is the autumn in our discount tent,
Made glorious (late) summer by this sun of York
 [1]

We live about 3 hours’ drive south of York, so making a special trip just to do the parkrun there, and then heading back home seemed a bit extreme, even to get the much coveted “Y” in the unofficial parkrun alphabet challenge. So, when we planned our autumn holiday (Friday to Friday) in Northumberland, we thought that we would also take the opportunity on our homeward trip, to stop off at a B & B somewhere near to where York (racecourse) parkrun takes place. We found somewhere “budget priced” in the Fulford district just for the night of parkrun eve, duly booked it and then thought no more about it.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but perhaps we should have been a bit more discerning when we made the booking. To be fair, the term “discount tent”, coined to fit the Shakespeare parody above, did not really apply as the accommodation was at least in-doors, clean and relatively comfortable. But that was about the most one could say of it; and it wasn’t actually all that cheap tbh! Our place for the night, was a room over a pub beside one of the main roads (A19 in this case) into the city. One glance at the place and one got the impression that the pub had seen better days. However, we thought to ourselves, its only for one night… it’ll be fine.  

It turned out that the pub didn’t “do food”, as their kitchen was shut; whether this was permanently or temporarily, and the reasons whereby, we were not sure, (we didn’t like to ask).  Anyway, our friendly host mentioned a few places to eat-in or take-away within easy walking distance so that wasn’t going to be much of an issue.

As we were walking back from the local eating establishment, we were noticing a decided “nip” in the air; autumn is certainly beginning to set in. It was just as well then that the duvet was nice and cosy since the central heating in the pub appeared to be turned off. There was however a large fan in the room, referencing the recent hotter spells, but the landlord wasn’t yet, it appeared, thinking about equipping the accommodation for cooler days and nights. 

We had been told that there was a live music night event on in the bar that night but that would finish “no later than 11pm, so that shouldn’t be a problem”. The music itself couldn’t be heard but the base riffs could be felt! As it turned out, the music went on to just before midnight. 

We decided to watch some telly, mostly as a “noise cancelling” exercise, only to discover that it was somehow “restricted” to six satellite channels none to our particular taste; there wasn’t even any “free to air” channels like BBC or ITV. Oh, and we didn’t have any internet access (first-world problems!).  Ah well… ♫ things can only get better ♫…

Come the morning, everything went to plan…well almost: the shower was only delivering cold water. Bit of a shock to the system, although, I believe that there is one school of thought that holds that ice baths and cold showers are good for “toning the body”. Ah well, at least the bathroom door didn’t get jammed shut, precluding a rapid exit to parkrun![2]

Having finally getting washed and suitably dressed for our parkrun, we checked out and headed by car to the racecourse, in good time for the visitors’ welcome. There is plenty of free parking in the roads next to the course, as per the parkrun page blah de blah, including Racecourse Road. This is ideally placed, not in front of any local residences, and is the nearest point to pick up the footpath across the complex which leads to where the finish funnel is set up. However, being first timers, we did have to ask others who appeared to be “locals” which way to head off from the car park. (A car park marshal or parkrun signage might have been helpful at this point, although, on reflection, maybe this was a cunning ploy by the parkrun core team to encourage newbies to engage with the regulars. A sort of icebreaker, if you will.)

And, speaking of temperature…I was glad of my fleece, as we crossed the threshold of the course and walked the five minutes or so to the, (now visible once we rounded a corner) parkrun welcome flag in the distance.

It’s all a bit relative really: our perception of coldness. The sun was starting to accelerate its progress towards its zenith, the sky mostly clear; but there was just a moderate northerly breeze to cancel out the warming effects, so far, of the late summer sun. We dumped our bags at the finish point and set off for the further few minutes jog across the common to the other side of the course for the starting point, me still clad in my fleece.

549 participants gathered together at the start line, over on the far side of the course. A minute’s silence was respectfully and unanimously observed to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth.

RD briefing concluded, we set off on our way. I sensed that it was going to be one of those parkruns where you are milling (and literally) chilling at the start but, by the time you’ve gone a couple of hundred meters or so, you start to regret keeping on that extra layer. Anyway, those canny people at York parkrun have got that all sussed. They set the start line about halfway round the course from where the finish funnel is. So approx. 1.7k in, you pass the finishing funnel for the first time, where you can jettison that extra layer, for later retrieval once you have completed the other 3.3k (It’s a 1.5 lapper course).  Fleece duly dropped, body duly warmed up, I resumed my pace, under milky blue skies and basking under the, by now, glorious sun of York.

Whether it was due to the perfectly flat and smooth course, our early morning cold shower, the glorious (but not-energy-sapping) afore-mentioned sun of York, or a trinity of these positives, but we both managed to improve upon our times, from recent weeks. Having a good time always comes before getting a good time in our view; but having both is the icing on the cake, or the chocolate on top.

And speaking of chocolate…

There is an imposing art deco building which can be seen near the boundary of the racecourse. It used to house the HQ of the York chocolatier, Terrys; now the building has been redeveloped into a care home complex. A sweetener for old age, one might say. [3] 

Photo credit: Springfield Healthcare

Post parkrun faff-age was duly enjoyed in The Knavesmire pub: reasonably priced bacon baps with a bottomless coffee mug of filter coffee included, and convivial atmosphere.

True story: A parkrunner walks into a bar and asks, “Do you serve hot food”. “Yes”, smiles the barmaid. Person already at the bar cuts in and adds “But you’re not having anything to eat!”.

“Yes I am…I’ve earned it!” retorts the parkrunner in reflex, revealing his parkrun 100 Tee. parkrunner then notices the landlord’s black Labrador sidling up to him.
“I wasn’t taking to you…” laughs the man at the bar. “…I was talking to the dog.” 😊

Undeclared “shout out” for Mrs B, who attained her half Cowell today. Mr B is still lagging behind, by one, but hopes to catch up soon. (Just Rother Valley to do, in order to gain a matching inventory with Mrs B. I have it on good authority that the scenery is great, even if the coffee afterwards is (allegedly) naff. 

So, all in all, a successful stop-over in York. We did arrive on Friday with time enough to walk around the ancient walls. Much more fun than riding the round York tourist bus, (and costs nowt, except for the parking.)  

We had a great time, contributed to the local economy, and gained a much coveted “Y” for our alphabet challenge. Rumour has it that the name of this parkrun might be changed to reflect its locality, in this case “Knavesmire”. It just so happens that we don’t have a “K” in our alphabet challenge so I am ambivalent about that although, seeking another “Y” within the rest of the British Isles, could be a problem.

Ending on a chocolaty theme…we stopped off at a service station on our homeward trip, to change drivers and to take on supplies. An obvious choice of confectionary:

Footnotes:

[1] Speech: “Now is the winter of our discontent” by… | Poetry Foundation

[2] This actually happened to us recently, on a parkrun day morn. For more on that story read “♫ Oh, dear, what can the matter be!♫” – Running Commentary)   

[3] Chocolate Works Care Home

“ In its heyday, the building housed the headquarters of the Terry’s Chocolate empire.
The Chocolate Works – Wikipedia

“In 2017 it was transformed from its tired and dilapidated state into the majestic yet welcoming Chocolate Works Care Village which boasts a cinema, salon, spa, a gym and a light-filled glazed atrium containing a residents’ pub as well as a sweet shop.”
Chocolate Works l Luxury Person Centred Care (springfieldhealthcare.com)

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