Running up a storm

Posted: 05/08/2012 in Journal, Running

It’s me birthday, and that calls for a stupid birthday photo, no?

Does my head look big in this? No, don’t answer, I already know. I was initially going to call this “which way to Sherwood” as it was taken at Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s wall, used in the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves film as being a convenient location between the White Cliffs of Dover and Nottingham. Via Northumberland.

But I realised that could be a bit of an inside joke, especially as there’s no way of telling it’s that tree without someone explaining it to you, and I wouldn’t be that obvious, would I?

Anyhow, my birthday started out pretty good, with a trip to the beach and a scramble around on the rocks with Mrs. Angrybees.

It was fun, though that green stuff on the rocks is pretty slippy. Luckily my Vivobarefoots coped relatively, which was nice to discover – I had no idea how well they would cope with wet rock at the beach. They weren’t so good on the green beardy growth, but then I don’t think a set of crampons would have fared much better – it’s a surprise they haven’t found a use for it on the Space Shuttle…

Home from the beach, and despite the warnings of end-of-the-world weather issued by the Met Office, I felt  buoyant enough to have a look out. I’ve wanted to go for a run at Hadrian’s Wall since forever (well, since November 2011, when I first put on my running shoes), so this seemed like a grand chance.

On the way over, I drove through one storm that reduced me to 30mph, the visibility was so poor, then another one that looked to travelling sideways. I arrived at Housesteads just as the second one had cleared to make way for a mild but consistent rain. No problem there, a bit of rain will keep me nice and cool.

Hang on, £3 to park for the day – but I don’t want to park for the full day – an hour, two tops and that’s it. But no choice in the matter, and I had to cough up or head homewards.

Up the hill to the wall, and I’m vaguely running. Given that I live in an outrageously flat borough, I don’t get much chance to run up hills, other than the one at the country park, and that’s not that tall to be honest.

I reach the top and the rain intensifies a bit – hey-ho, it’s all part of the fun. Off Westwards, and through some lovely trees, all branchy and rooty with a fair bit of stoniness too. This feels like proper trail running, it’s all a bit uneven and such, and I can’t help thinking that my core muscles must be feeling like they’re getting a handsome workout.

Emerging from the trees the rain decides to properly get to work and I get my waterproof out – I’ve just finished struggling into that when the rain stops again, so I take it back off.

Up a hill, down a hill, along a bit… you get the picture – it was fantastic, if very very wet. I realised that the Mizuno Wave Harrier 2s that I had on were a bit rubbish in wet Northumbrian rock, and had to take it easy on the wide stone plates that made up part of the path. I was pretty surprised about that – I figured they’d be (pardon the pun) rock ‘ard on wet stone.

Getting a bit further on, and the rain started again, but I wasn’t about to waste more time playing with my waterproof so I took a photo instead.

As you can see, the view over Crag Lough was <a little> gloomy. The big downhill after this was groovy, right up until I hit the bit made entirely of wide stone slabs and had to crawl along…

Slightly further on, and I make it to Sycamore Gap – and took the picture at the top – it would have been a better picture if I could have stood my phone up somewhere – if I could have figured out if there’s a timer option, and if I didn’t look like I had a mis-shapen head, obviously.

Turned around, headed back with a bit of walking as the hills were taking it out of me a little. Well OK, I was breathing like I might cough out a lung, but I was still enjoying it, even the rain. Returned to to visitor centre, and in a rare moment of excess decided to buy something to eat from the thieve-o-tron that is the shop at English Heritage venues.

As it was my birthday, I decided to go wild and I purchased:

  • A slice of cherry cake
  • An Eccles Cake (I love a good Eccles Cake)
  • A bottle of apple juice

Sum total was just shy of £6 – and if they hadn’t been pointing a blunderbuss at me at this point while wearing highwayman outfits, then I may have just run for it, but let’s face it, I was a little tired.

Total distance? About 5.1 miles. Pace was around 15 minutes, I reckon, and time was around one an a quarter hours. Must do this again so I get a bit better at hills. Also good practise for The Wall next year when I’ll be back this way again.

On an annoying note, the mesh on my OMM Ultra Waist Pack has started to go again – happened to the first one and had it replaced, not it’s happening again – it’s like they didn’t design it for you to use the specially designed water bottle in the built-to-fit bottle holder. Will need to get in touch with them, I love this bag, it’s fantastic, but I can’t keep having the same bit fail – only alternative I can see is an Osprey Talon 8 – may need to investigate, but I’d rather have an OMM that works, it’s the prefect shape and everything except that one irritating point of failure.

Back home for a bit more of the Olympics, and I declare my birthday to have been something of a success.


  1. thebriars says:

    Happy Birthday Pursued! Here’s to many more. That’s a fine portrait of you up there – I’m sure the Scots on the borders would have been tempted to flee back north if they spotted you on The Wall…I also am partial to an Eccles cake by the way and I’m a southerner!

  2. Thanks! Thinking about experimenting with Eccles Cakes as mid-race fuel – it’s got to be tried, though the crumbs may be a hazard…

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