Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Friday 13 April 2018 – A Short Walk to Sheffield Pike

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It was far too long since I’d seen Mike and Marian, TGO Challengers and good eggs generally. So I popped up to Patterdale and enjoyed a coffee with them both.

Mike and I then set off on a short circuit involving the 675 metre summit of Sheffield Pike. It was another grey day, albeit slightly warmer than of late.

After passing the southern end of Ullswater (pictured above), we made our way slowly up to the summit, looking back down into the Glenridding valley before entering the mist.

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Mike posed for me, with the mist laden summit behind him.

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We enjoyed a bite to eat on the summit. A lack of wind meant that it was fairly warm, though Mike’s hands did mutate into icy blocks.

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After passing a few folk who were blundering through the mist, we found ourselves descending gently to a good path. By now the valley had come into view again.

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Then we trundled back to Patterdale to discuss bike and TGO Challenge routes, commiserate with Marian, who has a sore foot, and enjoy the luxury soup, freshly baked bread, and marmalade cake that she had contrived to concoct whilst we had been out.

Delicious, all of it. Many thanks, Marian.

Here’s our route – 10.5 km, 550 metres ascent, taking us 3.5 hours.

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Well worth going up this hill again on a brighter day, but it was lovely to see Mike and Marian.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Thursday 12 April 2018 – Jessica Visits Chester Zoo

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We took Jessica’s older brother to the zoo in 2015, when he was 4 years old. I wrote about it here.

Today it was Jessica’s turn, as she is now 4, and can be taken outside the school holidays as she has yet to start school.

Sadly it was a cold day and Jess got fed up at lunchtime, but we did mostly have fun, and I took just a few pictures, some of which are below, to illustrate the occasion.

There is much in addition to those pictured, in particular today we saw butterflies, birds, frogs, an impressive 6.5 metre snake, monkeys and chimps, and much more.

Here are a few lizards.

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The giraffes were very frisky. How many in this picture?

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The Okapi looks pretty miserable, but as for many of the animals and other species here, the zoo is trying hard to help this species to survive.

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I think this is a Monitor Lizard.

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The penguins seem attracted to their human visitors.

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The elephants were just getting on with family life.

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After Jessica had recovered from her lunchtime setback, we took a monorail back to the entrance and visited the meercats, as well as the elephants.

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Nearby, a young black rhino lay contented in a smelly house.

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It’s mum was camera shy today.

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Jess cheerfully posed under a couple of statues.

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Then, after five and a half hours at the zoo, we went home.

It was great to have you to stay with us Jessica, and there will be some more pictures from Sue’s camera.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Wednesday 11 April 2018 – A Bramhall/Poynton Walk

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After our Cheadle circuit last November, Paul and Jeanette suggested that we should continue on the same theme with a circuit from Bramhall to Poynton and back. So I slotted this slightly longer than usual ‘Short Morning Walk’ into the programme.

A long list of excuses – family matters, dentist, Etihad blues, LEJOG (2), etc left us with a select group of four for this pleasant stroll in rather cooler weather than we would have preferred. At least there was no rain, but compared with the bright autumn colours of our November excursion, today’s light was very flat on a cool grey day.

After striding off through Bramhall Park, next to the golf club (top picture), we fumbled our way down a muddy path and along a muddy non-path. After correcting the navigation error we admired the daffodils and a nuthatch in a sumptuous garden and eventually emerged at some tarmac. The next attempt to leave the tarmac was foiled by locked gates at both ends of a ginnel between Plymouth Drive and Seal Road.

More tarmac led eventually to a farm near Dairyground, where nervous horses were housed in fields of mud, and a couple of displaying turkeys wandered up to us for a chat.

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Shortly before we reached the kennels at Birch Hall the clock struck 11 and we stopped for drinks and a selection of cakes. Here we are before pressing on down the lane.

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From the same spot, the Peak District looked as if it was shrouded in smog.

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Soon we came upon a significant obstacle. A new road was being built. Our onward path had been obliterated. Anyway, an alternative route proved satisfactory and we soon re-joined my planned entry to Poynton along the narrow traffic free lane that is Lower Park Road.

Time constraints prevented us from pushing on into the fleshpots of Poynton, so after just a few metres along the busy A523 road, we turned left alongside the southern end of Poynton Lake. Numerous Canada Geese were in residence, alongside a variety of other water fowl.

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We weren’t able to take a route through Poynton Park, as the mansions of Anglesey Drive back on to the lake, blocking any exit from the park. So we wandered down this exclusive road before re-crossing the A523 and heading cross country back towards Bramhall.

Shortly before an interesting lane from the housing point of view, in Mill Hill Hollow before Millhill Bridge, we returned to the new road that had interrupted our earlier progress. Here, a pedestrian route was obvious. The current OS map shows the road as ‘Due to open Late 2017’.

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Apart from a couple of minor mud challenges, the riverside path by Lady Brook from Millhill Bridge back to Bramhall was a delight, eventually reaching the manicured surfaces of Happy Valley Nature Reserve and a bevy of dog walkers.

A second break to justify carrying provisions this far was taken shortly before we passed a series of benches.

‘Sod’s law.’

Then we carried on through the Nature Reserve.

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An information board disclosed that the reserve was opened in 1999 and is a haven for many types of flora and fauna. There wasn’t a lot of that on offer today, but the Lesser Celandine and Wood Anemone are both starting to come into flower. As soon as we get some warmer weather the place will rapidly become more colourful.

On exiting the Nature Reserve, we crossed a main road and entered the grounds of Bramhall Hall – Bramhall Park.

Everything here is even more manicured.

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It was one o’clock, the 13.2 km stroll with minimal (about 100 metres) ascent had taken us about three hours. An excellent little outing.

Here’s the route on my old Anquet OMN Classic software.

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Here’s the same .GPX file using the newer OMN software that I have yet to get to grips with. The map is certainly more up to date, as the route of the new road is shown. I’m struggling with the settings options and waymarks. I think insertion of the Car Park icon has added to the length of the route for some reason.

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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Sunday 8 April 2018 – The Greater Manchester Marathon

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What a brilliant event this was. I left home at 8.15 and got the tram down to Old Trafford (pictured above), where there was an atmosphere of calm expectancy. I could have left it another 30 minutes, but the bin liner I’m clutching in the photo below kept me warm in the 6ºC weather.

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I started right at the back of the nearly 10,000 strong field, leaving space for those ahead. This worked well for me.

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I chatted to other fundraisers with rather more imagination than me regarding ‘dress sense’.

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Starting at the back found me with like minded folk, well behind the five hour pacer. Sue Strickland, parkrunner and ‘Dragon!’, spotted me and I trotted along with her and other Dragons for the first few km, after which I slowly pulled away from them. It was good to have the company though, and it restrained me to my planned 6.30 per km pace. In my previous two marathons I’ve run as far as I could at 6 minute pace, but I found that pace slowed as the run progressed.

This time, encouraged by people like Ken and Norma in Altrincham, where I passed a large gaggle behind the 4.45 pacer, I managed to maintain the 6.30 pace for 30 km, despite a comfort break and a couple of banana breaks, courtesy of Sue and Helen in Timperley. I’m pictured at the second of these, at 23 km.

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Not unexpectedly (after minimal training featuring just a couple of 5 km parkruns) things got harder after 30 km, and my pace slipped over a few km to 7 minute kilometres. There was a slower one at km 35 thanks to the need for another comfort break.

The support was fantastic, all around the course. My previous experience told me that if I stop running I’ll walk slowly and lose my rhythm, so when I felt I was close to ‘The Wall’ I just slowed my pace; others around me were walking nearly as fast, but after a while I found I could increase my pace again, especially when being encouraged by the locals. Quite a few folk were suffering from cramp, but I just had a sore knee, virtually from the start, which I was able to ignore.

Regular chocolate and jelly baby intake seemed to keep me going, and after the 41st km I felt able to push on for the last 1.4 km, and my pace of 4.39/km for the last 400 metres was faster even than my sprint to the finish in Toulouse in 2016, where I was forced on by a Frenchman. This time it was my turn to encourage others during my flight to the finish. It was good that Sue and Helen witnessed this on the U-tube live broadcast!

The finish was jollified by Wythenshawe parkrun’s ‘meet and greet’ team.

(Click on that link, it’s fun.)

As you can see from the picture below kindly taken by Martha during a break from dancing, my knee hadn’t really started to swell at this point.

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By then I’d already received a text message with my time, and the full results were soon available – see below, though there’s a glitch with the Mile 20 data.

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I bumped into a couple of parkrunners (below) who were queueing patiently for a massage, having cracked the four hour barrier. Well done lads, and well done to all the others we know who finished – especially Ken, nearly half an hour ahead of me, and dentist Mark and railway John, who finished 4th and 6th respectively in the 60-65 category, nearly an hour and a half ahead of me.

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Here’s the route:

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Just for the record:

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Starting slowly certainly worked well. I managed to run all the way for the first time, and from 30 km to the end – the hardest bit – this was my quickest time.

All in all a brilliant event in perfect conditions. That’s all for now, pending further edits, as I want those who have donated to be able to read this report. As I write, some £995 has been raised for Levana, so the £1,000 target will be reached. Many thanks to all who have donated, including Roger – for a bonus that I don’t really deserve. The JustGiving page remains open…