The BIG Running Weekend

Last weekend was a busy one - there was training to do, litterpicking, running with poles, running without poles, talking to people at the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, watching films, watching people ride bikes down hills, watching people ride bikes up hills, and talking about rubbish, introducing other people to talk about other things, some cycling, and more litterpicking!

In a world first (for me), I'm going to try a two-part blog: Part of it will be on this blog, and part will be over on the Runners Against Rubbish blog. It may or may not work so bear with me, but it's a good way to fit everything in! Here we'll focus on the BIG Running Weekend, whereas over there it's all about ShAFF.

So, here goes... BIG Running Weekend. What a fantastic event. Accelerate are so much more than a running shop - there's Accelerate Trail Runners, WoodRun, Running Past 50, Accelerate Events, and some others I've forgotten. Once a year they all come together for a weekend all about running. There are runs, talks, films, cakes, Pizzas, and maybe even a beer or two. This is the BIG Running Weekend! It takes place at the amazing Woodland Discovery Centre in Ecclesall Woods on the edge of Sheffield.

Woodland Discovery Centre. A great place for a BIG Running Weekend!
The whole thing kicked off on Friday morning. At 7am Jon, Holly, Laura and I were in the Rivelin Valley for a lovely few kilometres of early morning running. This was a recipe for confusion as we normally do this on a Thursday, but this time we had a purpose: Plogging!

We found loads. Some bits more repulsive than other bits, but we collected and binned it all. Job done, good work team.

Jon, Holly, Laura and the fruits of our early-morning labours
This year the weekend was supporting Runners against Rubbish, and we're mega grateful to everyone at BRW for this. During Friday another three plogging runs took place. First, Stu H and Sarah led the Running Past 50 group on a cleanup of the canal near Accelerate...

Friday afternoon plogging
...then on Friday evening, once we'd all arrived at the Discovery Centre, we joined runners on the blue route for another litterpicking session. This time we were joined by David Bocking from the Sheffield Telegraph, who wrote a great article on the whole weekend.

Thanks Anna - great to see you back running too :)
Running and litterpicking done, I headed home, but the night just got better - next up was Rob Jebb. Rob doesn't know who I am, but we are basically colleagues since he's also supported by Scott! Sadly I had to miss his talk to go and set up my stand at ShAFF, so let's head over to the RAR blog and hear about that...

To ShAFF!
Welcome back. With the stand set up and ready waiting for the inevitable stampede of interest, I headed home and got ready for the next day's shenanigans.

My first task on Saturday was leading the Outdoor City "Black" route. This is the longest of all the routes (which are graded like Ski runs, from green, through blue and red, to black). Nearly 20 of us set off on the 24km route out of the city, then up and over open moorland and across Stanage and Burbage edges before descending back down via the Limb Valley. It's a beautiful route and I absolutely loved it!

Black route team at Stanage Pole
Thanks to everyone who came out, and to my fellow leaders Kieran, Alex, Matt and Chris. Great to see you all (except Kieran - I see you all the time). We rolled back into the Discovery Centre with some tired legs but lots of smiles. A quick refuel for me then onto the bike, it was ShAFF o'clock again!

To ShAFF!
Phew! Back in time for the first of my talks on Saturday night. Stu Hale had organised a great evening called "Take Nothing But Photos, Leave Nothing But Footprints". I would be speaking at part of the introduction, followed by Rob Cole from Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens, and a volunteer (I'm really sorry, I've forgotten your name) from Africa's Gift. I prattled on for 15 minutes about what we try to do as RAR, how we do it, and tried to get a few people to come and join us.

Rob Cole telling us about how to keep the microplastics from our clothes out of the water. Great stuff - thanks Rob!
Over the BRW weekend I had a great response, so thanks to everyone who picked up a badge or sticker, but most importantly to everyone who picked up some rubbish! I saw so many people do so, I was really pleased.

Sadly I didn't have time to stay to hear Chloe Lanther from Patagonia give her talk, or to watch the film Takayna, since I had to... can you guess?!

Back on your bike!
We're back! Sunday is upon us. After a quick trip out to watch the Magnificent Seven bike race pass close to our house, I headed back to the woods. The weekend was in full swing with some great sessions taking place as part of "Trail School". Just look at this:
Margo and Jon showing Trail School pupils how it's done!
My next job was a date with some Poles. Along with podiatrist to the stars Colin Papworth I was leading a session called "Running with Poles". I've managed to resist a terrible joke about Running with Czechs being held the day before so far, so I'll be as quick as I can. It went well. We demo-ed various types of poles from long rigid ones to flexible collapsible ones, even including traditional wooden ones. Everyone had a good go at running up and down the hills of Ecclesall woods with them, and I think we all learned something.

Things were now starting to wind down at BRW, there were still loads of sessions going on but I had now finished all those I was involved in. What a fantastic weekend. The woods are such a lovely place, particularly in the evening, and I loved every minute of BRW. I can't wait for next year, so thanks to Stu, Debs, Laura, and everyone else who organised and contributed much more than me for involving RAR in your great event. Thanks as ever to Chris Dunn and Scott who keep supporting me when I seem more interested in rubbish than winning races, and thanks to the great runners who turned up to take part - you were all brilliant!

Till next year :)


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