Friday, 27 April 2012

Contrasting Views

This month has seen me at a couple of 10ks, the 50th Abingdon parkrun and the London Marathon with my camera, and I've taken part in parkruns at Hull and Newbury, with a return trip to my first "home" parkrun at Bedfont Lakes planned for tomorrow morning . .

It was great fun to share in Hull parkrun's 2nd birthday celebrations and catch up with friends there, on the first Saturday of the month. The following morning I was up bright and early and on my way to Helmsley to cover the 3rd 10k MT Challenge. Earlier in the year I'd been in two minds about going along because the new Hull Marathon was also on Easter Day and it would have been nice to support my friends who were taking part, but when I received a lovely e-mail from the Race Secretary asking me to come back because everyone had liked my photos last year so much, I couldn't refuse. A little flattery does go a long way!

I decided to do something different there this time, and once the race was under way found a place to take my photos where the runners were just at the crest of a hill. Usually I find a picturesque background but I just thought this would make a change, particularly with the steel grey sky as a backdrop. I didn't sell very many, but I enjoyed myself and was pleased with the photos I took that morning . . and that's what's important . .

The following weekend I drove over to Newbury where a friend was completing her 100th parkrun at Greenham Common, and again, I loved joining in the fun and celebrating a great achievement . .

On Sunday it was back to normal (in terms of photography) in sunny Kent, and I found a great spot to take photos of everyone taking part in the Darent Valley 10k, with some lovely views of the valley in the background and the runners winding their way up the hill towards me. Another great morning in a lovely part of the country . .

Last weekend saw me on the banks of the River Thames . . at Abingdon on Saturday for the parkrun . .

And then in London . . Westminster in fact . . where I saw some famous people (see below) amongst the crowds that were running and watching the London Marathon . . as well as the many thousands of runners who were all heroes on the day . .

I've more races and parkruns to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead . . I'll look forward to them next time . .

Lots more photos from these races are on my website at

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas party game . .

Here's a game for Christmas . . let's play Spot the Difference . .
there are no prizes . . just a shiny red parkrun t-shirt for me

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas

A quick note to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy and Peaceful New Year. Keep warm, stay safe, and run strong . .

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Turning a corner . .

Last month I wrote that I was approaching a corner in regard to my own running . . and I think it's now fair to say that I'm part way round it now . .

At the end of November I returned to East Park in Hull and on a windy morning somehow got myself round the 5k parkrun in 29.19, my fastest time in any parkrun since September 2009 . .

Dave Gowans always takes excellent photos at East Park but even he couldn't make me look like the runner I am in my imagination that morning . .

Since seeing the photo above I've tried to run taller and stretch my legs out more, rather than shuffle along all scrunched up . . 

And on each of the subsequent two parkruns, I've succeeded in running quicker on that course than ever before. I've not beaten the time I set in Hull, but I was pleased with 31.05 last week and even happier with 30.15 today on what is a slightly more difficult course . .

Many thanks to William Forde for the photo below . . it's hard for me to believe that it was taken only a week after the one above . .

John Harvey is another excellent photographer who comes along to parkruns and takes photos of us all running . . and thanks to him for this photo of me . .

Tomorrow morning it's my turn to take photos and I'm looking forward to being back at the Andy Reading 10k in Oxfordshire, before returning to Abingdon next weekend to see if I can shave any more seconds off my time there . .

Monday, 28 November 2011

Dirt Half Challenge meets expectations

Last Saturday saw the second running of the Dirt Half Challenge, a great race that starts and finishes on the southern outskirts of Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire,  takes the runners north along the Grand Union Canal for 5 miles, up into Great Brickhill, across through the woods in Rushmere Park, and down the Greensand Ridge before 3 more flat miles along the canal, and the final climb up around Tiddenfoot Pit back to the finish beside Cedars Upper School.
I had planned to take photos at the Three Locks pub, and then again on the canal at a point quite close to the finish, as I had last year. However in the week before the race, Andy Hulley, the organiser, aked if I would consider instead going up into Rushmere Park and taking photos of the runners coming through the woods. Always eager to please, I said yes, subject to there being enough light. Last year the race had taken place on a dank day which did nothing for my photography and meant that I struggled to get good sharp images. I needn't have worried, as last Saturday was in fact so bright and sunny, that any runner wearing reflective clothing was almost too bright. I did get up into the woods, and found a nice spot in a small glade where the runners would all be coming past, and got all the photos I wanted.

My plan for the day was to take photos of everybody streaming past me at the start of the event, and I wobbled at the top of my step ladder as they did so that I was able to look down at everyone. I'd realised that I might be able to stop by the canal on my way to Rushmere Park and take a few more photos, and in fact about half of the 448 runners had gone by before I had to carry on up Old Linslade Road and get to my next photo opportunity.
It wasn't long before Greg Spellman, who went on to win the race (repeating his success of last year), came by . . and 65 minutes of shouting and shutter pushing later, the tail cyclist Clive Thomas came by. In between them had been runners of all ages and abilities, wearing all manner of colours, and mostly smiling broadly too. By this time they were in the 9th mile, and they were on their way back down to the canal.
Around 380 of the runners had already finished by the time I returned to Race HQ, so there weren't many of them still out there for me to take photos of. It didn't seem long before they were all back in, and Clive had reappeared on his bike, and we could put everything away and go home.
Several runners said how much they were enjoying themselves as they ran by, and others have commented on how much they enjoyed themselves when buying photos from me. I can only agree, and say that from my perspective it seems to be a great race to take part in. As with most of the races I take photos of, it's one I'd love to take part in myself one day.
Meanwhile, I'm already looking forward to taking photos there next year, and I've got almost 12 months to walk the course and find somewhere different to take my photos. This year's set can be found here on my website, with an executive summary here, in Facebook . .

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Coming to a corner . .

I raced on Sunday . . or maybe I should say that I took part in a race. It was extremely hard work, but well worth the effort . .

I've continued to run in different parkruns through the autumn, at East Park in Hull, Concord Park in Sheffield, Braunstone Park in Leicester, Southwick Country Park in Trowbridge and at Rye Meadow in Abingdon . . and I've taken photos a few times at Abingdon too . . here's me running past Southwick's Spirit of parkunner statue at the start of the final lap . . thanks to Andrew Morrison for the photo . .

So Southwick's time came as a surprise. But also a relief. Because at the end of October in 2009 I took over 30 minutes for a 5k for the first time (and that was a very unwelcome shock, believe me). Since then I've struggled with my breathing and have tried to learn to breath whist running again. Finally I understood that I had become obsessed with my breathing, and so had to learn to ignore it, and allow it to take care of itself. And finally it feels as if my hard work is paying off.

I wouldn't say that I've turned a corner, but I've certainly arrived at one. I've begun going to my running club on Wednesday evenings, where there is now a bridging group to help aid the transition from new runner to joining the regular groups. And for someone returning from illness or injury, the bridging group is invaluable. So having not run through either of the past two winters, I'm planning on training right through this one, and we'll see where that gets me.

The race on Sunday was Watford Joggers' Autumn Challenge, where I've taken photos for the past two years, but not having had much take up decided just to come along without my cameras and watch, and cheer on some friends who were taking part. The recent good feeling I've had about my running persuaded me to enter what would be my first event of longer than 5k since I took part in the Guy Fawkes 10 miler in November 2009. I declared that to be my final race and I'm very pleased that it wasn't. I have to report that 5 miles is an awfully long way, that there were 4 runners less fast than I, and that Cassiobury Park and Whippendell Woods are quite beautiful in autumn sunshine. The avenue of trees above was great to run through on the way out of Cassiobury Park, but it was hard work going back the other way.

The previous day I'd been on photo duty at the 28th Abingdon parkrun, and here are a couple of photos taken during the run . .

followed by a little montage showing the fun we had outside Coffee Republic in the Market Place after the run . . 

On Saturday I'll be at the 2nd Dirt Half Marathon Challenge, at Leighton Buzzard . . and you'll find the photos here

Friday, 16 September 2011

Lucky Sunday afternoon . .

I had a great stroke of good fortune last Sunday. I'd enjoyed the morning taking photos of the participants in the Dunstable Downs Challenge . . and when I'd almost filled a memory chip swapped it with a fresh one, and placed the used one in my pocket . .

As I do each year, I took photos of the runners up on top of the Downs, snaking along the footpath towards me . .

. . and then went to this field just south of Studham . .

 . . before returning to the hill at the edge of the Downs, where the runners would come back into Dunstable . .


This year, instead of hanging around near the bottom of the hill to wait for everyone, I struggled up to the top of the hill for a while and got some different photos from those I'd usually take . .

. . and of course there were lots of other things to keep me occupied whilst waiting for more runners . .

But once this rain started tumbling down I began to struggle to keep my camera dry, and decided it was time to go home. But once there, I couldn't find that memory chip. Emptied everything, including the car, but it was nowhere to be found. So I drove back to the Downs, never really believing I would find the chip but needing to do something and satisfy my curiosity. Amazingly, even as I pulled into the layby, I could see the chip on the road. It was soaking wet, but didn't seem to be damaged. Got it home, and yes, it worked, and the hundreds of photos I'd spent hours taking were safe. Somebody was looking after me that afternoon . .

To have a look at many of the photos that almost didn't see the light of day, please follow this link . .