The Hairy Helmet relays was great fun in 2012 despite the rain so I was back this year for more of the same thing, rain? Teams of 4 running round Darley Abbey Park for two and a bit miles (that bit is very important you know!) whilst baked in gorgeous british summer weather – rain! Luckily this year despite downpours in the afternoon it stayed dry for us all evening. That afternoon I received a text from best friend Becky to ask if I would run for both teams – this apparently was allowed so I was down to run leg 2 for the Cheeky Monkeys and leg 3 for UKNetRunnes due to someone else not being able to run. Hell why not I thought; it then makes it 4 and a little bit more miles. Give me a little bit more…
Running unites us and brings us together because, in the words of the great Bill Rodgers, We sweat the same. We struggle the same. – Dean Karnazes
There was record turn out as we made our way down to the park, a mix of club runners, recreational runners and dogs. I introduced friends to friends and teams were sorted out, me supporting two numbers, 13 first unlucky for some then 12 maybe lucky for some? not that I like to count my luck or count backwards or anything. Was this plan going to work – basically I would do leg two for one team then do a superwoman impression and rip off my bib wait a little bit for leg 3 of the second team to come in then off I would go again – understood? right off you go then! what you waiting for? So the gun went and Becky shot off for UKNetRunners and Chris for the Cheeky Monkeys. Some brilliant 16 minutes (and a bit i.e 13 seconds) later Chris was handing over the batten to me and off I sped across the green green grass past some runners and past some dogs and past some crowd and past some marshalls and round and up. I overtook quite a few runners with determination. My legs still had 24 miles of man v horse in them – neighhh, but I still powered on up the hill. Er I mean long slope. Meanwhile Becky brought home a fantastic time of 19.51 a much faster time than in 2012.
Flying, Soaring, Gliding, through the air. Running, Sprinting, Skipping, through the trees. Being Free. – Author Unknown
The grass was pretty much compact even though I supported my trail shoes incase of a bit of mud. Down the grassy bank I went, arms flapping everywhere grinning ear to ear. The 1 mile marker came in sight along the gritty wide footpath as I powered on and round the corner to conquor the next mile on path and grass enjoying the feeling of the grass under my feet and the slight wind by my side. Onto a small narrow footpath and back round some grassy side bits I went. The finish was soon in sight but not before a roughly 400m circle around the cricket pitch on trail and smile for the camera man on the way. One guy with what looked like a full on tri suit came striding past me as I felt my body slow down towards the finish to had over to fellow team memeber Simon having done the two and a bit miles in 14.42 some 40 seconds faster than the previous year.
No one can take away your finish – Author Unknown
Rather exhausted I got my breath and Becky managed to bring me a cone of water (cone I said yes a cone of water). I managed to get about 8 minutes rest before I was off again taking the batten from fellow UKNetRunner team member Dean who came in at an awesome spot on 18 minutes. This time I set off what seemed much slower, or as my breathing became deeper almost straight away. However I was still overtaking some of the other teams and still feeling relatively runny. With a big grin on my face I passed the marshalls again and flew down the hill not thinking just running and round to the 1 mile sign again – oh you look familiar… Back on the grassy part I began to loose it slightly but kept pushing as hard as I could. My legs were tiring my muscles on fire, my body being pushed to the limit, I am not bolt I will never be a bolt but I was bolting as much as I could with as much strength as I could. This is not really my forte but I was giving what I could, I was out of my comfort zone. Give me 24 miles chasing horses around the Welsh valleys with 4000ft of climb or a 2 mile run around a park in Derby with a minor slope and the former will win every time. However this was a fun team effort and that was what was important tonight.
Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. – Brian Tracy
A couple of the really fast guys over took me as my whole body felt like a lump of clay munching through a packet of deep ridged walkers crisps. Round the cricket field I went, someone shouted out to the bloke next to me “count your steps to the finish” so I did the same, 30, 29, 28 come on and push – push push, as I sprinted to the finish line, just remember the finish line and keep going and I did to bring home a time of 15.16. I handed over to UKNetRunner Alex who put in an amazing final lap sprint of just under 15 minutes (14.58).
Focus on what it’s like to be outdoors, to feeling your body move, to the relationships you may have built through running. These are experiences that can be reproduced with every run—you don’t need a good finish time to produce them. By shifting the focus from results to running itself you’ll feel empowered. – Jim Taylor
Meanwhile Simon had finished his lap in a very happy 15.36 for the Cheeky Monkeys and Paul was half way round the final lap for the same team. He brought us all home in a staggering time of 18.13 – amazing for someone who has only ever done 3 running races in his life and all of them over the past 2 months. Such fun! A great event and a free Hairy Helmet afterwards if you so wished. The Cheeky Monkeys completed the event in 1.04.43 and the UKNetRunners completed in 1.08.03, with team positions of 63 and 86 out of 148 teams – we will all take that thank you very much and a hairy helment too.
May your helmets stay hairy, always. – Hairy Helmet Website
Time: 14.42 – Cheeky Monkeys lap 2 Time: 15.16 – UKNetRunners lap 3 Results from Hairy Helmet Website