As I sit here in my Christmas pyjamas and novelty socks (thanks mum) with a pint of the Heggs’ traditional ‘Christmas cocktail’ (consisting of one third baileys, one third eggnog and one third mulled wine), I find myself reflecting on the approaching culmination to both the Totley parkrun Challenge and of 2023.
From its inception, the challenge was always meant to be a celebration of the Totley community, an opportunity for friends to meet and perhaps for us all to get to know a few new names and faces, whilst also enabling the more competitive members of the club the opportunity to complete some fast jogging.
The spirit of the challenge was demonstrated during the 9th event, which eventually took place at Graves, having seen our previous attempt in October interrupted by a bit of wet stuff.
On one end, we saw the competitive edge, with Matt Burden showing true team captain grit, coughing, and spluttering his way around the course in a time most of us can only dream of, just to ensure that he received the point that almost guarantees him the top spot with only one challenge to go. He received little sympathy from his fellow team mates, and with a desperate attempt to garner some kindness, he mentioned that he was currently on a heavy dose of steroids. The medical panel are currently investigating, and it is very likely that Matt will receive a lifetime ban from all future events.
When it was highlighted to Matt that he did not need to resort to such underhand tactics to win, but that he could simply have volunteered to receive the single point he needed, his already monochrome complexion seemed to turn a paler shade of grey.
At the other extreme, we saw, or rather heard, the social aspect of the challenge, with Scott Blanks and Martin Robbins spending 4.9 km barely a metre behind yours truly, constantly chit-chatting. After the first lap, I considered throwing both my hearing aids into the duck pond, just to gain a little peace and quiet.
The conditions for the challenge were considerably better than for the previous week’s Graves Totley Takeover, where Yvonne Twelvetree and her umbrella had used the blustery wind and driving rain as the perfect opportunity to recreate a scene from Mary Poppins.
Back to this event for a moment, where 49 answered the call of the hills (or perhaps it was the offer of a mince pie and homemade snacks from Anne Hegarty or even the chance to see the official launch of Bryony’s latest Totley merch – the sherpa blanket, available now from the back of the Hartley’s car boot).
We all ran up some hills and down some hills, and then just for fun, we repeated it all again with Tom Hughes sneakily completing his 100th parkrun.
For the grand finale, we return to the beautiful grounds of the Sheffield Castle parkrun on the 13th January 2024 (the same day as the awards evening).
Why not make it you new year’s resolution to attend? I look forward to seeing you there.