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Norfolk Gazelles take part in many Park Runs across the county, being such a friendly club we also target Park Runs so that we can meet up and enjoy a post run coffee and cake. In some cases there is an option for a bike ride or an open water swim, all are welcome to join us. Whilst not an official race we do wear Norfolk Gazelle running tops.
In 2019 Norfolk is expecting a few new Park Runs to open, reserved dates are for these to be included in the tour once we know they are officially open. We've also added some Park Runs not previously included in the tour.
1st - 8.30am Brundall followed by Catton at 10.30am
19th - Handicap 10k or 5k with Tri Anglia details above
26th - Colney Lane Gazelles marshal take over
16th - Gorleston
23rd - Proposed Bushey Park Run (contribution to coach costs will be required)
9th - Sizewell (New in 2019 for the Gazelles On Tour)
23rd - Blickling (with possible bike ride following)
6th - Holkham
4th - Swaffham
25th - Watton
15th - Kings Lynn or Wimbledon Parkrun
22nd - Lingwood (with possible bike ride following)
13th - Sheringham (with possible bike ride following)
27th - Sloughbottom (New in 2019 for the Gazelles On Tour)
10th - Mulbarton parkrun
24th - Laura Richardson "Hen" parkrun at Blickling
7th - Lowestoft
21st - Thetford
5th - Brandon (with possible bike ride following)
2nd - Reserved TBC
21st - Colney Mob Match revisted
25th - Eaton
After deciding to run a half marathon (the first ever for two of the party) we had to decide on a destination which had to be a) a country none of us had visited b) easy to get to and c) had cheap beer. Travels in our youth, family holidays and a small matter of outstanding fines ruled out the EU nations. Our eyes turned eastwards; Moldova, Romania, Belorussia and the Ukraine became contenders. Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine won the vote. A country which none of us has been to, a Ryanair destination which sold the cheapest beer in Europe (according to Google). The small matter that Ukraine was technically still at war with Russia did not phase us.
Our accommodation was ideally situated ten minutes’ walk from the start line. With our numbers pinned to our vests, flying the flag for Norfolk Gazelles and Great Britain off we headed to a thronged Sophia Square. The start/finish line was flanked by the golden domes of Saint Michaels Monastery and Saint Sophia’s Cathedral which glimmered in the warm autumn sunshine. The countdown commenced, and whilst our Ukrainian language skills were sparse, suddenly “Urrahs” echoed round the St Sophia’s Square and we were off.
The cobbled road was a surprise, but before long we were on the wide boulevard of Volodymyrsk St. We ran past the historic Golden Gate; a Soviet construct of wood and brick. The world famous Opera House was next, no time to take in a show as we turned left past Besarabski Market. On the corner stood a Ukrainian choir in full national dress. The women’s blonde hair, braided and shining in the sun, like the corn on the Ukrainian steppe. Their stirring patriotic songs spurred us onwards.
Up Khreshchatyk St, and on the right Independence Square. The scene of violent clashes which ended in the February 2014 revolution. It was sobering to see shrines and memorials to the ‘Heavenly hundred’ protesters who were killed by government forces.
We turned right, the running crowd thinning as we wound our way up Petrovska St past a teenage guitar band, spurring us on with Chuck Berry covers. This was our first hill. A pitiful lack of research meant that we were blissfully unaware that other, more challenging ascents were to follow.
Motoring on with a naïve exuberance that we’d pay dearly for later a steep downhill section gave us the chance to open up a bit as we circled the ‘Motherland’ statue; her sword raised saluting us as we turned into a headwind. Next came the Holy Lavra monastery and cave complex, scene of a near death underground experience involving mummified monks and candles the day before. No such fun this time round.
The Dnieper River flanked our right side and the wind blew into our faces as we turned back toward the city. No shelter, no respite for 6km. Muscle bound, militaristic types running bare-chested powered past with grim determination.
Through a tunnel then left onto Nyzhnii Val St. I looked up and saw a cobbled hill. Bad news – this was more Ketts Hill than Elm Hill. What followed was 4km of pain. The names Shekavytsa Ascent and Hlybochytska Hill will be forever etched in to our collective memories. Fortunately, pavements were thronged with cheering crowds, children handing out cups of Pepsi and dancing girls with pom poms! High fives were given liberally and well received. “Urrahs” once again were heard, as well profanities in Ukrainian, Russian and, mainly, English.
A kilometre of flat amidst Stalinist edifices was a relief as we re-entered the city centre proper, through the Square of the Intellectuals. Then we were turning right back onto the cobbles for the golden confetti, big crowds and booming disco of the finish line.
A medal the size of small dinner plate was hung around our necks whilst we feasted on the hospitality: fruit, yoghurt drink and black tea. Foil blankets whispered in the breeze as goody bags full of unidentifiable Ukrainian freebies were handed out.
Possibly a little over-exuberant after going the distance, for cool-down we decided to take on the free walking tour of Communist Kyiv, followed with a slap-up meal for three pounds and a blurry night of beer and vodka in a 24 hour pub costing somewhat more.
As hangovers subsided and, after a ‘wacky races’ style panic, we made it to the airport only just on time, we were able to reflect on a successful trip. Out of the ten GBR male runners on the results page (a number of whom had suspiciously Ukrainian sounding names) Norfolk Gazelles finished 2nd, 3rd and 7th.
Wissey Half is advertised as fast and flat so it’s a shocker when you meet that long haul of a hill about mile 9, and the general undulations along the way can make you curse, but this is a lovely half marathon course, all along country lanes through fields and villages. The weather was kind, sunnier than expected but cooler than some of the recent summer races. Mile 10 is a treat of a downhill stretch through a shady narrow lane. Somehow sweeter when you can tell yourself there is also only a parkrun to go.... There is a friendly feel to the village hall start with the teas and coffees, cakes and snacks, and while there’s no great changing or even toilet facilities (start was delayed this year as people were still queuing...) it’s easy to park and Oxborough Hall is grandly on the doorstep. Marshalls were friendly and it all felt well organised with very little traffic. Some runners were complaining about lack of medals or goodies but everyone got a canvas bag and a buff, and the first hundred or so got last year’s leftover glasses. In previous years there has been beer on tap to fill these glasses so there were some disappointed looking people wandering around with empty glasses for a while... There was a small but strong team of 9 Gazelles there. Jason Black was 15 seconds off a PB and there were age category wins for John Moore, Lisa Bolton and Theresa Dooley. Roy Roberts was running as a Gazelle for the first time.
Hills, hills and more hills. The Dartmoor Highground Marathon takes in the highest peaks in southern England and it’s a toughie, with more than 5000 ft ascent. I’ve been doing some hilly Westcountry half-marathons in training, but knew that the marathon itself, my first trail marathon, would be a new challenge. This is the first race I’ve done with a kit-list, and the inclusion of a compass, hat, gloves and baselayer (for an August race) was ominous.
There were only 113 participants doing the marathon (with 50 others doing the 50-mile ultra) and the start in Okehampton was low-key. A few nervous glances among the back-packed runners, but looking around I thought, “We all seem to be up for this; let’s do it!” Today is not about time, but about the challenge. Complete, don’t compete.
The first few miles are in the rain, winding through the woods beside the East Okement River. In places we’re scrambling over slippery rocks. Before long though we’re on the desolate moor, ascending above the tree-line, and the wind picks up as the rain lashes down. This is going to be tough. I look at my watch and think, “Ooooh, I’m doing 12 minute miles…pretty good…” But I’ll soon learn that pacing on the moor takes on a completely different meaning.
In the distance the first misty Tor looms, and I see a long, trudging procession of runners being hoovered up by the cloud. Soon I’m joining them, run-walking over the springy moorland grass and sidestepping the many boulders en route to Row Tor, shrouded in mizzle. We pass the Tor and head down to the first checkpoint, where runners are in good spirits, stocking up on Jaffa cakes, flapjacks and squash. We know it’s a long way to the second checkpoint.
Next we climb to West Mill Tor, then head to the big two: Yes Tor and High Willhays, the highest points in southern England. The rain means we can only glimpse the peaks. There’s no path as such; we’re slow-jogging or walking over rocks and thick grass, following a trail of little red race flags spaced about thirty metres apart. The ground becomes boggy and we’re scrambling over boulders to cross a stream. Then, with the wind whipping around us, faintly through the mist I see the huge, flat slabs of weathered granite at Yes Tor’s peak. Suddenly I’m down the other side, then on my way up to a very windy High Willhays. I’m relieved to reach the course’s highest point. It’s a wild and barren landscape all around, and I love it.
But as the miles go on, we realise this race is going to be a relentless, rollercoaster ride of climbs to lesser Tors, followed by sharp descents. At mile eight, there’s a long, gradual downhill section with stunning views to the West Okement River valley, and before long, we’re wading across that river, and climbing sharply again past a solitary tree on route to Kitty Tor. By this point most people are walking, with growing gaps between us.
At one point my ankle seems to give way on a boggy sheep track and I scream in pain, “F*************ck!” But when Dartmoor’s windy, no one can hear you scream…And my ankle seems to be okay. I calm my nerves and get a grip: this is tough, but it’s not going to be another ‘Touching the Void’. Unlike Joe Simpson, I have a ‘phone.
A few miles over springy grass on flattish moorland and then, as we approach Great Links Tor, I see my brother, Neil, who has hiked to that peak. He’s waiting with his camera, so I think of my best race pose: ‘Shoulders back, knees up, arms out, big smile…’ I get a real boost from seeing him, and he reassures me I’m well on my way to the next checkpoint. It’s a long winding descent to checkpoint two, for refuelling and encouraging words from the friendly marshals.
The next section is tough. The sun’s shining and the climbs seem relentless. I can feel blisters on my heels. We’re over half-way now, but people’s shoulders are dropping as they run-walk. This is tough. The only consolation is the colourful yellow and purple heather all around us and the occasional bemused sheep looking on.
I say to myself, “Okay, I’m still feeling good.” And I know deep down I’m loving the experience, every step of the way.
The descent from Shelstone Tor is the steepest I’ve ever encountered: it’s thirty percent in places. I’m running in tiny steps to keep my brakes on, through boggy moorland and over boulders, every step hammering through my knees. I know there are speedy Westcountry runners way ahead of me who will have bounded down these descents, but I’m running with the confidence of a new-born lamb.
The terrain changes as we run the length of the Meldon Reservoir. The trail path is fairly level here and I’m relieved knowing I can chalk up a few easy miles. Neil’s waiting again before checkpoint three, with more encouragement and, importantly, fresh socks. At checkpoint three (mile 20), I refuel and change my soggy socks; that’s a great relief.
“Nearly there,” I say to a fellow runner. I know that the final six miles is mostly downhill.
“Nearly…but Yes Tor’s still to come…” she replies, with grim foreboding, which I soon understand. The climb back up Yes Tor is two relentless miles uphill over boggy, boulder-strewn moorland with gradients of twenty, twenty-five, in places thirty percent. But I know that this is the hardest part, and I’m going to do it.
And then I’m at the top, where I pause to take in the breathtaking views all around. With a huge sense of relief, I know I’m on my way back to Okehampton, retracing my steps back to the woods by the East Okement River. For the last three miles I can see no runners ahead and only distant glimpses of runners behind. This is a race for people comfortable in their own company!
The finish is a welcome sight, but I’ve enjoyed the experience so much that I’d be happy to keep going. I finish in just over six and a half hours, more than two hours slower than my previous slowest marathon, in 80th place. And straight away I think, “I’m doing this again next year!” Quite incredibly, I learn that the winning time was 3:43, and twenty people completed the race in under five hours. Amazing.
Dartmoor is stunningly beautiful place and if you’re looking for a different type of running challenge, I highly recommend it.
Worstead 5 Mile 26th July 7pm
Michelle and I arrived in good time, looking forward to the race as we missed it last year. Collected our numbers and chatted to fellow Gazelles, all saying how warm it was, but not as hot as the record the previous day of 38.7.......... I went to warm up after wishing Shell Good Luck. I've been running with Shell everyday keeping her company running her rainbow . I did a 2 mile warm up which brought me to a total of 999 miles for the year so far!! This would mean my first race mile would hit 1000 which is a record for me, as I've never reached that goal in a whole year, let alone 7 months. Managed to get to the start at the very last minute, saying hello to club members supporting from the side. On the gun, we all set off down the hill like bats out of hell....this is always a fast start!!! Looking at my split for the first mile, 5:58, I thought, OH, that's a little quick! The next was 6:34, I was finding it a struggle with the heat and humidity, along with everyone else. I enjoyed the race despite the conditions, and finished in 32:42. Not bad for an old boy of 52, who had spent the week working outside in the furnace of summer..... I don't think I've ever dripped so much sweat in a race, and whilst I was chatting to Pete Thompson and Steve Sadd, a dubious puddle had formed on the hall floor from Steve .....LOL There were 31 Gazelles.... James Fowler Jason Brunt Adrian Waters Mark Fowler Derek Bye Jason Black Tom Townsend Louise Hurr Stephen Sadd Chris Moore Pete Thompson Steve Cook Anne Ellen Helen Terry Andrew Hammond David Goodwin Debbie Powles Stephen Terry Graham Hardingham Neil Staveley Hannah Monteverde PB Justine Davenport Callum Davenport Estelle Corner Mark Drysdale Susan Moore Elaine Hudson Sally Black Michelle Waters Tracey Goodrum Nigel Bullen Well done to everyone. Great turnout from runners and many thanks to supporters.
Great Yarmouth 5 mile race 3
Wednesday, 22 May 2019
39 Gazelles took on Race 3 of the Great Yarmouth 5 mile series. A warm evening with a gentle breeze and several Gazelles were hoping to beat their previous times from races 1 and 2. This was my first 5 mile race and I was hoping to get my silver standard to pair up with my Wroxham 5k time from the week before.
Ady made a clean sweep for the men’s 50-54 age category coming 1st in all 3 races of the 2019 series. Other age category wins for John, David and Theresa plus a Senior Ladies team win. John Moore was the first Gazelle across the line in 29:23 and Rowena the first female Gazelle at 33:49.
Lots of PB’s and I managed my silver standard, so lots of happy faces all round. Chips on the seafront as a reward for some!
Wroxham 5k Race 1
Wednesday, 15 May 2019
There were 750 runners in total and a big turnout for the first race of the Wroxham 5k series with 58 Gazelles lining up at the start. This was my first 5k race and my goal was to beat my current park run time. A dry, still sunny evening giving near perfect race conditions. A loop with a very gradual slight incline at the start which rewarded you with a gradual decline for your final sprint to the finish line.
A plethora of PB’s were earnt and I knocked a whole minute of my park run time giving me my first silver standard. John Moore was the first Gazelle to cross the line with a time of 17:17 with Rowena being the first female over line at 19:36.
Fantastic results for all the Gazelles, well done!
Gazelles! We're always looking for simple reports of races (e.g., how many Gazelles were there, who did well), or fuller first-person accounts. If you've taken part in a race, please let us know! We need to know the date and name of the race, and the URL for any results. Please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.