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@thomasclowes - a 2016 tale from Canalathon:-
The rusty shopping trolley lies at a jaunty angle half buried in the muddy bed of the Rochdale Canal. Traffic rumbles along Great Ancoats Street oblivious to the abused waterway below. Renovations are suspended for Easter. A slow trickle of water seeps from the closed lock gates, and descends down the centre of the empty waterway towards Piccadilly Basin. I shiver as the cold air pushes through the cavernous arch carrying the road above and step back into the pale morning sun bathing the huge retail outlet car park.
The registration marshal takes me through the mandatory kit list.“Hat?”“On me head mate!”“Litre of fluid?”I take out, spin, and deftly re-holster a bottle of coke from each breast pocket.“Phone?”“Right cheek pocket.”“Food?”“Left cheek pocket.”“Full waterproofs?”“Waist pocket.”“Head torch?”“It’s a canal, in broad daylight? Not a coal mine?”I get a hard stare.“In me waist pocket too.”“That’ll do!”He hands me my running number, T Shirt and medal.“Medal? I haven’t even started yet?”“You paid for a medal; you get a medal!”
Back at the car I pin the number on my vest and kit up. Everyone else, 150 or so runners, look like their mums dressed them this morning fearful they would starve to death; running tights, long sleeved tops, waterproofs, bobble hats. I’m in a vest, shorts and wesc’t. I prowl around fighting the hypothermia, trying to keep the faint sun on my pimpled skin. Thankfully the gun releases me from my creeping torpor, although it’s a very gradual affair, towpaths are a couple of people wide, we take several minutes to filter onto the canal in our quest for Sowerby Bridge 50km north. I’m near the back of the throng but gradually improve my position throughout the day as the mollycoddled overheat and pause to de-layer in the lovely warmth of the rising sun.
I’m glad it’s daylight and too early for the hoodlums that dumped the shopping trolley and daubed the graffiti and burnt the towpath and broke the cider bottles and… o-o a major dog leaps into view, I breathe a sigh of relief as it pursues some ducks and not me, I think of asking the grinning owner who now appears over the rise why he isn’t controlling the mutt, but as several more hoodied shapes follow I think better of it and head on towards what can only be safer territory. Please!
The landscape is century old industrial; vast brick warehouses mostly silent and teetering on the verge of collapse sometimes echo with miniscule unseen manufacturing activity in their hidden depths. Every once in a while the tang of burnt diesel wafts by or cloudy steam exhaust snakes into the air. Are these forgotten cotton mills still churning out their original wares, or have they been colonized by modern 3D printing startups and cookery show set builders? The bricks ultimately recede and evolve into overgrown demolition sites and open countryside. I suddenly realise how engaging industrial Manchester has been; 8 miles have flowed by in the blink of an eye, the green stuff that has replaced it is quite nice too though.
After passing under the M62 the canal path abruptly forces into middle of th’road? What? Where’s the canal? I have the obvious choice of running down th’road under the A627(M), or, through the hobo’s gap in the fence littered with cider cans and glue bags. Sight of the waterway draws me through the hobo gap and I am soon wishing my mum dressed me this morning as my skin is nicely scored by dense towering brambles. Impossible to re-join the canal from here, far below and railed off, I ignore my inner voice of reason and plough on, forced out onto the hard shoulder of the A627(M). I spy check-point-one through an unnervingly complicated spaghetti of roadways, thankfully, as I haltingly skip over crash barriers, verges and traffic lights, every road has traffic paused in my favour. A couple of strange looks and jaffa cakes later I am back on the towpath Yorkshire bound.
It seems that every time I’m forced from the relative safety of the towpath the modern world bites me. I clearly see the sweeping bend ahead of me and the first car ploughing through the massive puddle throwing water high over my pavement. Even when I arrive at the spot and the perfect storm of me and another car coincide I am not really prepared for the coldness of the head to toe soaking I receive arms aloft and shouting Geronimo! I run on giggling to myself nicely cooled down and thinking rather too late what else other than rain water might have been in that puddle. I am soon rinsed off by nature’s own downpour as the climb to Calderbrook Summit begins, the dark skies and ice rain are a further welcome cooling although a pensioner wrapped up in topcoat and cap walking his Yorkshire terrier remarks at what a daft apath I am out in me vest and pants in this lot! Me cap’ll keep me dry I retort as I press on.
Dropping down into Walsden and onward to Hebden Bridge the canal is in various states of disrepair; drained of water with collapsed edges from the winter floods. In the worst place we are forced onto town roads for several miles where, to my delight, my brambled city marathon legs easily burn away several fellow runners. On returning to the canal I momentarily jump out of my skin as a hedgerow morphs into human form! It is a massively rotund fisherman in the most perfect camouflage gear I have ever seen simply pouring a cup of tea from an equally well camouflaged flask into a perfectly camouflaged cup and raising it to his strangely camouflaged head! He reminds me of the film Predator, possibly he’s been trapped on Earth so long he’s developed a taste for tea and scones over his native killer instincts. Around the next bend I am shocked at the trees; for several feet above my head they have blossomed with shredded carrier bag flowers. This must represent the height of the flood tide that ravaged the whole area.
At Sowerby Bridge the finish is a relatively low key affair; the coffee and goody table are very welcome as I hang off the canal railings stretching the 31 miles from my quads and calves. Five hours and forty minutes is faster than I expected for this longest run in my Comrades training campaign but a very satisfying indicator of my fitness level as those 55 miles on the 29th May approach.
Ha ha! Look at me burning thousands of runners off at Canalathon!
H RR, mmm that sounds good - being on your feet way more than us mere 26ers will be a massive challenge for your support team, so, I bet you will be serving up pasta, mmm! It will be lovely to see you whenever during those 48, don't feel you have to squeeze us into your busy schedule RR, I will be seeking you out for my post-race hug anyway. I have been reticent to declare what I might look like on the day as she is such a challenge to emulate perfectly, and I doubt I will come a long way short, but, seeing as my charity has purple colours and I have been pining to dress up as her for years (I need to go on a starvation diet I think) here is who you should look out for in the post race area:-
So 8 at the osteria for London:-o 1owrez + 1o SS plus Mr SSo thomascloweso Dannirro Becca7o Debra Bourne
7pm table for 8 currently available on the evening of 27th April at
Restaurant - Pasta Menu
Very prudent move Peter, make sure of that 10, blimey - 2017 - did you struggle home - I should know the answer to that - sorry my bloke brain has not recorded it!
Ah - SD - I like how he started queuing and only jumped the queue after they asked if he was still running - I think we should start a picture wall of us taking food breaks in events to honour that startlingly risqué pause against all the common sense rules - but if you've got it, you should certainly flaunt it. Here I am on the Liverpool Rock n Roll Marathon that same year (apparently I was carrying tech that day) having dropped in at Sefton Park Lakeside Café - they did not invite me to the front of the queue...
So 9 at the osteria for London:-o 1owrez + 1o SS plus Mr SSo thomascloweso Dannirro Becca7o Debra Bourneo Peter R
7pm table for 9 currently available on the evening of 27th April at
Today's bling... was on the bus back to the car park and suddenly thought I had forgot to get the medal, then I realised nothing was hanging around anyone else's neck... a fumble in the goody bag uncovered this artefact:-
Hi McH you are definitely in - as is everyone else who would like to go - haven't booked it yet - waiting for the other players on the list to give the nod - my friend has registered as Goldie1 but I'm not sure she will ever make a post but I will list her as that
London power-up at 7pm on the evening of 27th April
o 1owrez + Goldie1o SS + Mr SSo thomascloweso Dannirro Becca7o Debra Bourneo Peter Ro McHilly
Will there be flags a flying on 28th I need to look out for Dannirr? Wonderful seeing them in Liverpool last year Yes we will remain flexible - I will keep you in the booking count but adjust if needed as the day approaches.
Once again I should be in Durban Friday morning and so available for evening pasta, however, my knack at having to spend the day in JNB re-planning my transit to DUR is uncanny so I think it best to leave the planning for Comrades dinner to someone who will definitely be on the ground that evening - of course we are at The Hilton aren't we and so are bound to stumble into each other at some point anyway if my travel plans decay into chaos again?
The worrier in me, with only 14 weeks to go till London, and, knowing how popular Jaimie's is inevitably going to be that evening, has locked in a table for 10 at 7pm. I notice there is an "optional" service charge of 12.5% automatically added to the bill for bookings of 6 or more so we are going to suffer that complication. How does one treat this? Can you tell I don't eat out very often like this? Are we simply paying it and therefore upping the numbers quoted above appropriately to give ourselves an idea of the amount to chip in at the end? I assume that means you don't add a tip on top of all that? Or do we pay what the menu said and apply our own agreed supplement "if" the service is any good?
Hmm; am I taking a risk blabbing about arrangements in public? Firstly Hilton thank me for updating my account? What? And now Paypal wants me to change my password due to suspicious activity?
Sounds like you are in great hands SD
It is becoming a storage challenge Marty, especially as I am like The Queen and have not yet worn the same outfit twice. Must admit if I get in UFO's Lt Gay Ellis shape though I might never take that costume off
I recall lying in the road at the Liverpool RnR Marathon a couple of years back to get this picture of the runners with the Liver Building in the shot too... a few people thought I had collapsed and were going to get an ambulance... and the sneers I got off some of the runners when I jumped up, ran down the road past them all and did the same again for another shot - ha ha! There they were churning their guts out to get a pb or something and here was I [email protected]@ing about - I recall being surprised when I broke 5 hours - I had stopped and taken a shot with every band every mile and done other shots at The Cavern etc... clearly a lot fitter a couple of years ago! Or was it the run-stop activity that bestowed sparkling speed on me between those points?
SS - I definitely need to be a few pounds lighter! Here is the picture from the weekend that I was hoping for...