How can I describe the park near Wakefield? Imagine if Sandall Beat Woods were in Sheffield… hilly.
Unfortunately, the race takes place on a Wednesday evening at seven. Myself and Dave Langofrd set off early to avoid the weekday rush hour. It was a good thing we did because the car park had gotten full really quick. This was because the car park was free after six, and we Brits’ love anything that is free. We parked by the gentle waters of Newmillerdam lake, and began our ascent to the start line by climbing the wooden steps to HQ. Once on top of the stairs, I was already out of breath… that was not a good start. After following the signs to the start line, we arrived at the event shelter. I noticed something unusual about this tent. On all the sides, there were many rubber yellow ducks hanging with their individual nooses. I thought “Is this some strange New Pagan ritual? Or West Yorkshire’s version of Midsommar?” Then I noticed a woman dressed as a giant yellow duck. “She’s the one that is going to be sacrificed?” It wasn’t until I got my number that I realised the “Newmillerdam 5k” is actually called “Newmillerdam Quacky 5K”. It was a duck themed event, the woman dressed in the duck costume was the Tailwalker, and it’s not some shrine to Quacker from Tom and Jerry. (You young ones won’t get that reference). I say “until I got my number”; myself and Dave arrived at ten minutes past six, only to learn that the numbers hadn’t arrived yet. This was worrying, because the race was commencing in fifty minutes. So we went for a walk to the car, and by the lakeside to see purple Clematis blooming in the summer. When we returned from our wonder, (and the standard lake photographs) the numbers had arrived! With half an hour before the race, we stretched. I definitely needed to stretch becauseI had damaged my ankle whilst climbing up to Everest Basecamp (oh, did you not know? I went to Nepal to climb Everest Basecamp.) Seeing many twigs, roots, stumps, rocks, and hills did not boost my confidence. Dave was worried that he would be injured before the Edinburgh Marathon. To be fair; on the course, most of them had been red taped – so they were easily visible.
We started the race downhill, winding our way down towards the lake. Dave was way ahead of me running below seven minute miles. I started at the back taking it slow, because I’m recovering from an ankle injury. (The injury that was caused by climbing Everest Basecamp). However, I started to feel stronger, so I began to pick up and started to overtake a few people (feeling superior to them in every way possible). The descent became sharp, so it was time to be more cautious with the footing. The flat section was concrete, I ran past a few locals who’d let their dogs play in the small stream. After crossing the man made bridge, I turned left to the Marshall, to get back onto the muddy trails. Sadly, the circular path was a scramble to the first (and only) water station at one point two miles. The water’s there to prepare you for a steeper climb. One tree had a sign, which read “rough terrain”. I thought “well Durrhh”… then I nearly went over my other ankle. I couldn’t afford to have two bad ankles (because I damaged my left ankle, whilst climbing Everest Basecamp). Once me and the runners reached the apex of the high ground; one runner asked a Marshall, “How many K’s is it now?” The Marshall replied with a simple, “I don’t know.” Further down the path; he approached another Marshall and asked the same question. However, he got the same response… “I don’t know mate”. This was Marshalled just as well as a Grim Up North race. Why would you want to know anyway? It takes the fun out of it.
“What goes up, must come down.” After doing the small loop, we descended down another path, which led back to the concrete around the stream – and towards the right hand side of the first Marshall. This time there were more spectators, and just as I approached the sharp descent I came down on earlier – I thought, “they’re going to give me some encouragement before I tackle this gigantic hill”. Two girls in their late teens, or early twenties, spotted me – one asked the other, “Do you think he’s fit?” The other girl just went, “No.” That was not very motivating. This is where some people started to walk. I had spoken out the usual encouraging lines of: “well done” and “keep going” (works every time). I could have been exaggerating the hills here; they were sharp at times but they were not as long as some in Round Sheffield Run, Norton Nine, or Ambles Revenge. After struggling up the hill; I believed we were doing an out, a loop, and back – like a hilly trail version of Brigg 10K… Ok, so nothing like Brigg 10K. But, you get what I meant. However, the route had taken me down another path. I ran along a lumpy path by the side of the road, some suspicious looking teenagers, and into the woods. Most of the path was sealed off by red tape between trees, so you didn’t make a wrong turn. In fact, it was probably more sealed off than running through the woods for KMR: Santa Special in Rotherham. Perfect for people like me, who tend to get lost easily.
The finish was amazing; I expected a standard Parkrun finish by receiving a few claps. But, lots of people were screaming, clapping, and not one person told me I was unattractive. It was enough to lift my spirits at the end of the race. Dave ran the course in an amazing time of 20:21 minutes, and was probably top three in his age category. Out of the 160 runners, I finished in 74th place with a time of 27:36 (watch time). The race did not have a chipped time, it was done the old fashion way, via: a stopwatch, notepad and a pen – similar to Burringham 10K. We celebrated by going to The Fox and Hounds pub, which is conveniently placed opposite to the car park. ‘Twas there, I enthralled him with the tale of the time I walked up to Everest Basecamp (because he did not know that I went to Nepal to hike Everest Basecamp).