04 January 2014

Janathon: Newbury Parkrun: The Rain

Not my only friend - for one thing, I had my four-legged one with me this morning, making her Parkrun debut at Newbury as Hugo did a couple of years ago. The news is full of reports of atrocious weather, and widespread flooding is predicted as more water falls on already-saturated ground and flows straight into already-full rivers. Except, of course, those places that are already flooded. At times like this I am pleased to live well up on the edge of the Berkshire Downs away from rivers, floodplains and the sea. I wonder how Bedford fares, now that the supermarket that was mooted when I was a councillor 25 years ago has been built on the Ouse's floodplain? The Environment Agency website indicates that it's OK at the moment, but the flooding problems haven't really begun to hit inland areas yet, except for Tewkesbury which must be the most vulnerable place in southern England (York being its equivalent in what southerners regard as 'the north').

Arriving nine minutes late for the start (according to the time-keeper), we set off in pursuit of the slowest runners who were not even in sight by then, Lucy safely restrained with a harness and lead. After a few yards she thought it was time for a bowel movement, notwithstanding the earlier one or perhaps even two when we fed the horses en route for Newbury. At least I now had a hand-warmer. I released her from thelead as clearly we weren't going to be among fellow-Parkrunners for a long time and with a handwarmer to carry and a short lead that required frequent swapping from one hand to the other according to where she saw fit to run it was easier to let Dogs Run Free (but I can't use that clip, or song title, again so soon!).

My plan was never to run this one quickly. I'm not up to it, and I haven't run enough with Lucy (who, amazingly, has only been with us for three weeks) to be sure of how she will behave. This was an exploratory outing, which meant that a nine-minute handicap wasn't a problem. In fact the handicap became even greater when Lucy roamed away out of sight, seemingly having lost sight of me and threatening to head back to the start. But just as I was about to set off to find her, she appeared from a completely different direction splashing through one of the many temporary lakes that covered so much of the former airfield.

I thought it best to attach the lead again - by now, despite the stop, the tail runner was in sight, and indeed in a few minutes of dog-assisted running I had caught and passed a few other participants. At the far end of the course water from the newly-formed lakes was running across the path seeking lower ground, and I had to splash through several fords.

Back at the car, it became apparent that we were both absolutely soaked. My rain jacket was a sodden mess, fit only to be dumped on the floor of the car. My shoes and socks were wringing wet, and as for Lucy, the towel I had brought made little impression. But 5K like that is surely worth at least a Marathon in more conducive conditions.



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