Totley AC Parkrun Challenge

Millhouses Report (Chris Heggs)

A sporting event took place on Saturday 15th April 2023, featuring 39 runners, covering a middle length distance, including tight, exhilarating turns and a hazardous water jump.

It was the 175th running of the Grand National.

Meanwhile in Millhouses, Sheffield, we saw 49 runners take part in what will no doubt go on to be defined as a sporting accomplishment to surpass the grand national, the inaugural Totley AC Parkrun Challenge (not a Cup).

Thoroughbreds all, we gathered on a thankfully dry morning, for the 8:50 obligatory group photograph. (A massive thank you to Harriet Eisner and Graham from VSP images for all the wonderful photographs).

A sea of green vests swept majestically through the field of fellow park runners, many of whom probably wondered what was occurring.

There were no fallers at the first bend, which can be notoriously slippery, and on we went, traversing the wider of the two bridges, before hitting the water feature (a rather large puddle), ahead of a tight right hander onto the narrow bridge.

Where non Totley runners were unsure of their footing around the periphery of the puddle, those from the pavilion ploughed onwards, appearing to pay no regard to the depth of the sludgy brown liquid and the condition of their footwear.  

At this point, the course widens a little and participants tend to settle into their rhythm and place within the field.

The mantra of the parkrun organisation is ‘it’s a run not a race’ and inclusivity and accessibility are at the heart of the event.

This was evident in the camaraderie shown before, during and after the run. The warm greetings between Totley members at the start, many of whom had not seen one another for a significant period, the smiles on the faces of the runners, which did not diminish even on the second or third laps, all reinforced the spirit intended for this challenge.

Of course, for those of a more competitive persuasion, there were points to be collected.

All runners, whether registered or not, received their participation point.

Those who had confirmed their availability were drawn in pairs (men and ladies separately) at the end of the Hathersage Sunday social run via the recycling of a set of hungry hippo balls.

A bonus point per pair was available for the runner with the higher age grade.

There was a great deal of psychological banter between pairs via the dedicated Totley AC Parkrun Challenge (not a Cup) WhatsApp group ahead of the day, particular Kieran Hickey and Matt Ridge with the latter epitomising the phrase ‘talking the talk, but not walking the walk’, Kieran taking the bonus point for the pair, having the higher age grade rating by a sizeable 3%.

9 Totley runners also achieved their personal bests for the Millhouses parkrun with Yvonne Twelvetree achieving a ‘world class’ age grading of over 90%.

The after-event cakes and granola (thank you to Lucy Smith, Charlie (not a) Baker and others) were much appreciated by all and the gathering ended as it had begun, with friends sharing smiles and conversation.

The next canter takes place at Graves on 20th May.