What would you do to avoid Christmas shopping?
How about running with pacing elves and sprinting Santas past shimmering lakes, hissing geese and waddling ducks? Osterley Park Winter 10K run had them all. We warmed up to the gentle refrain of “Never dance a Tango with an eskimo”, then set off in temperatures of 1 degree or possibly less, on two laps around the mixed terrain course. Cheered on by lovely Hoops and Sudbury Court marshals amongst others, some of whom had warmed up the course for us by doing parkrun, we glided through the frosty air. Special mentions must go to JoJo for her sub 45 PB and to the wonderful ever present Jean W who cheered us through the finish line. A thousand thanks to el presidente, John W, who persuaded, cajoled, and encouraged me to go beyond my running comfort zone, again!
**Sofia fails to mention that she ran a great PB - knocking off nearly a whole 2 minutes from her time! Massive congratulations!**
I don’t know what your race preparations are like but this morning mine started something like this: Sleeping through my alarm, trying to wake up & dress the worlds laziest children (who only seem to sleep like this when we’re rushing to get out of the house), a mouthful of left over Cheerios, forcing on coats hats and scarves and bundling everyone and everything into an arctic cold car (which thankfully had been fully defrosted by Gildas before he left for his epic Ultra training run), trying to put my foot (safely) on the gas hoping to get there in time for the hoops who were taking part in the Osterley parkrun. My body is starting to warm up and my head is already in overdrive thanks to complicated questions such as “mum, why do helicopters not have wings” and “Mum, where do sausages come from”...
I arrive just in time to see the front runners of the parkrun swing past, Sam Sutherland and Neil Hutchison taking up some of the front spots. The girls and I cheer round all the Hoops, after Sam and Neil we spot Adrian Boylan and Emma Jones who are also enjoying a spot of parkrun tourism. Sam just missed out on victory with a course PB 18:15.
It’s time for the 10K race. It’s still very cold out there, I have no intention off taking off my sheep skin boots and overcoat. I spot a few more Hoops arrive; Sofia Ali, John and Jean Walerych and Paul Scullion who’s running with girlfriend Agnes. I put my shoes on, pin my number and lose a few layers. As usual the organisers have arranged for a local gym to come and lead a group warm which is great, lots of jumping, skipping, stretching and dancing to get us all going. The organisers give a five minute warning for us all to head over to the start - Sam and Emma head off to their volunteering spots (guaranteeing them a free place in the summer 10k race!) and I leave Neil with both girls who have now decided to start crying their eyes out, great... I give Neil a thumbs up, suggest he bribes them with chocolate cake and off I go to the start. My plan is to aim for sub 45 minutes which would be a PB I've been struggling to reach all year. I line up with Paul and Agnes, who also has the same target. The horn sounds and off we go!
I spot the 45min pace maker, who's wearing a santa dress, rub my eyes, yes he's wearing a santa dress, amazing. The route is dead flat with mixed terrain, mostly inside the beautiful National Trust grounds of Osterley House. There's around 3 KM of unclosed road pavement running which is the only downside but quickly forgotten about when you re-enter the stunning park. Along the whole route there is fantastic support from all the volunteers, it’s was lovely to see Sam & Emma along the route, Jean too! I was also very relived to see Neil with two smiling girls (happily eating Smarties, nice one Neil). For the first 5km I was slightly behind the pace I needed to be for sub 45min, by 6km I was feeling warm and determined to catch up Mr. Santa dress. I managed to catch him at around 8km and pushed on. The final 400m is a completely straight tree lined gravel path with the finish in sight, a beautiful sight. I could hear cheers from Sam, Emma, Jean and Neil - I did it. 44:06, phewf. One minute off my PB, negative split and 5th female, chuffed!