Carriages and Canals 2023
Report – Robin Langhorn
After the earliest alarm ever for a running event of 5:45am, packing the kit laid out from the night before and a quick bit of breakfast, it was time to head to the train station and meet the other members who thought running 50km on a Saturday morning was a good idea!
Catching the first train of the day at 6:43am travelling towards Birmingham, we passed the time by catching up and reassuring each other that this really was a sensible idea.
Just over an hour after setting off, we stepped off at Birmingham Moor Street to some quizzical looks from the public and headed out towards the canal.
After passing under the Bull Ring and walking through the MailBox, we dropped onto the canal and quickly arrived at the University of Birmingham.
It was at this point, I realised we were on the wrong bit of canal! After a quick map check and some reminiscing of my University days, we headed across the city via Edgbaston stadium, taking in some of Birmingham’s more industrial regions and finally picked up the Grand Union Canal at Small Heath to head south.
Serves me right for saying the navigation was easy!
The first 25km ticked by nicely, being able to enjoy watching the scenery change from derelict industrial heartland to rolling countryside, from dirty stagnant water to flowing canals with families of ducks. However, from this point onwards, my left knee was starting to give me signs that I was clearly undertrained. As the pain got worse and I started to limp and feel my form suffer it was clearly a sign that trying to complete the full distance was going to do me more damage than good. As the half marathon start point of Lapworth approached, the decision was obvious that this was the point to make a plan to get back to Stratford.
Thankfully, Rob Gisbourne was still there after seeing off the half marathon group and supporting the front running Ultra runners of Kate Wright, Huw Crossweller and Ian Stevens. He very kindly stepped in to play the knight in shining armour and offered to give me a lift back to the club. So after waving off Pip Bell and Max Ross to finish the last 21km, we hopped into the car and headed off.
Whilst I’m disappointed (if not entirely surprised) that I didn’t finish the 50km, it was great to be rescued by Rob, leapfrog all the runners and be able to welcome everyone back to club as they finished.
Seeing everyone cruising into the club with big smiles was a fantastic sight. And if Strava is to be believed, there were even some PBs set out there! If anyone had to leave early and didn’t get a medal, please let me know and I’ll figure out a way to get you one.
Looking back over the last few months, it’s been brilliant talking to more members of the club as part of the planning and on the day than perhaps I would have done usually. I also hope it’s helped others find new friends and running buddies.
So, what started as an idea to make my marathon training less monotonous (there’s only so many times I could run around Stratford) and take advantage of my fitness after London (oh the irony!) morphed into over 70 responses and almost 50 people participating on the day.
For those who couldn’t make it, don’t worry there has been a fairly strong request to make it an annual club event, so watch this space for 2024!
If you have any feedback, positive or negative, please do let me know, as it will help improve next time around on the email address below.
If anyone has any ideas for a running event up their sleeve, I’d strongly recommend trying to organise one. As ever, Sarah Bland was invaluable in helping make it happen from behind the scenes, by allowing me to bounce ideas off her and helping me plan and think about things I perhaps hadn’t considered. I’d be more than happy to share my experiences and help anyone who has an idea.
Finally, all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone for their enthusiasm, getting involved and getting behind my slightly mad idea. Events like this really don’t happen without you and you make the club!