On a few of our recent road trips me and wifey had gotten a little frustrated with the many radio blackspots littered across this fine country. These are usually the more beautiful parts of said country, and thus probably don’t require the questionable musical landscape of Fife’s Kingdom FM. We usually find ourselves scrabbling around though between bizarre teuchter offerings, Classic FM or some sort of chat before electing to just turn it off altogether.
To solve this non-problem, we elected to pop into the local charity shop and purchase whichever compilation albums presented themselves. I’m pleased to say that we’ve rarely spent £1.50 more wisely, and as we journeyed to Dumfries it was worrying how many of the lyrics to ‘Mi Chico Latino’ I knew. Tom Jones’ version of ‘Sex Bomb’ is as fresh today as it ever was, and I’d completely forgotten that Billie Piper was once a pop star. It’s safe to say that ‘the ultimate summer party’ album definitely got us in the mood, and I think almost made wifey glad she got up before 6am to make the trip. Next time we’re going to see what the Cream Anthems CD has to offer. I wonder though if it can ever be as entertaining as singing along to ‘The Thong Song’ whilst changing the word ‘thong’ to ‘pants’.
The other part of what motivated my fabulous wife from her bed at such a ridiculous hour was the talk on the Crichton parkrun website about the cafe having spa facilities attached. I’ll be honest that I was pretty sceptical about this, but as luck would have it, they weren’t joking. Parkrun completed, we first sat down to a lovely breakfast, then a fiver each got us into a pool which for a good while we had sole use of, with a steam room and sauna. Basically, this has now ruined me for other parkruns. This is the first time I’ve ever headed back from a parkrun cleaner than when I arrived. This has seriously upped the ante, and I’m now wondering how other parkruns might respond. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
We got a great run across the country and arrived at the Crichton campus in really good time. Such good time in fact that there was no sign of a parkrun anywhere. This however was not the first priority, since we’d been sat in the car for a few hours and hadn’t seen many opportunities to stop off on the journey. Emergencies taken care of, we started to see people arriving, so now, confident we were in the right place, we went for a quick warm up jog to have a little look around. The past few weeks in Scotland have been gloriously warm and today was no exception. Up to the start line, and a quick chat with a regular gives me a quick heads up on the course, and, crucially, which direction we need to go. I’d been thinking that this was a one loop course that looks a bit like a scribble on a page, but was told that there would be two short-ish loops before another long-ish loop. If nothing else, my total lack of preparation for any of the parkruns I’ve done has been fairly consistent.
Off we go! The path is fairly wide, and a small group go off the front and quite a clip. I’m quickly into a nice amount of space as we head up a runway toward the sandstone church. Along the front of the church and right to go down alongside it and gently downhill. Stretch the legs out and here we go! The path wiggles right, then a sharp left and onto the flat and heading up what feels like the long entrance to a stately home complete with trees lining the route. I peer to my right and see a range of hills in the distance, wonder what they are? Then is that a bus stop on my left? Little time to think as a sharp left turn takes us straight back in the direction we came from and back up the hill. The top comes round pleasingly quickly as we chuck a right, then another right and head gently downhill again. Into view comes a building that looks like it’s straight out of the film ‘Dead Poets Society’ complete with a lovely clock as a centrepiece. Then a newer building that looks like my old sixth form. A sharp left, then a right at the top and I’ve now been spun like a top and don’t know where I am anymore. The route curves round to the right, and I start to see the old school building again and figure I must be heading back in the direction I came from. Mile #1: 7.03
I’m often asked how I remember so much detail from the parkruns I do. The truth is that it’s often quite a jumble in my head. I have a lot of snapshots of bits that I see, or comments I’ve internalised while I’m running, but it sometimes takes a while to piece it back together afterwards. As I ran on past a junction I heard a voice from behind saying ‘No, that way!’ Looking behind I saw the runner behind me disappearing up the left turn I had just missed, so I scampered after him. It definitely makes things a lot harder when I completely zone out on a run, thankfully this woke me up quite effectively.
Through this turn we’re now on lap two of the short loops, and back onto stately home territory. I catch my guide up and thank him. Who knows where I might have ended up otherwise. I see another bus stop, past my old school, a quick wiggle and onto the turn to launch us back homewards. Mile #2: 7.09
Out of the loops and we’re heading back toward the church. We get pointed left, and we’ve a brilliant long downhill stretch to play with. After the undulations of the last two miles, this is brilliantly welcome and as I near the hill I see a marshal heading toward me. I now can’t see anyone in front of me, so I’m asking which way to go. Right at the bottom, then the rest should be self explanatory… OK! At the bottom, the character of the course changes. We’re now heading along the bottom of the gardens of a manor house. I’m feeling pretty good and lock into a groove. Half way along I can now see some of the guys in front of me heading diagonally up along the garden, that looks fun! I turn at the bottom and we’re onto a road briefly. The marshal instructs me to go up and into the garden, but this doesn’t initially register and I very nearly go all the way up the road. At the last second I see the garden path and head between the hedgerows. The path is now a fine gravel which as we head up hill makes life a bit trickier. I’ve no one in front of me, so I’m craning around each corner to see if I’m going the right way. The path shimmies around, and with each turn I’m rewarded with a string of cones telling me I’m in the right place. A quick duck under a tree and before I know it the garden ends. I’d been warned about the uphill finish, and as the garden ends, I see the end in sight by the church. The climb isn’t horribly steep, and with the finish line in sight I push myself home.
Scores! 9th place, 21.53