The present Mrs e-Quip and I have just returned from visiting grandchildren up t’north so on Saturday I took the opportunity to go to the Skipton Parkrun. It’s at a relatively small park and the run is petty-much 4 times round the park. I quite like multi-lap runs – in the winter my local Parkrun at Hinchingbrooke Country Park in  Huntingdon is a 2 lap course. I suppose that my brain finds it easier to keep track of  when the pain will stop if I go past the same place several times.

The problem with Skipton park is that is has a hill. The locals probably don’t even notice it but I’m from the Fens; we don’t do hills. There is a village near us called Pidley which has a Mountain Rescue Team and it’s only 88 feet above sea level. Hills seem to be fairly messily scattered around the north for no real reason. They not only block out a bit of the sky (the ideal ratio of sky:land being 1:1) but water tends not to stay  put on a hill. It runs down to the bottom and accumulates in dirty great puddles. In the Fens all of our water soaks into the ground and we have a cunning network of drains & dykes to pump it to somewhere else. Our road network has been superimposed onto the dyke network which means we have lots of 90 degree bends to confound strangers. As the soggy land has dried out it has now sunk about 10 feet below road level and as the winter winds swirls over them they get nice and icy, which makes the right-angled bends even more entertaining. Not brilliant for driving but excellent for running.

I live near a village called Ramsey, which is a bit like Midsomer (of Midsomer Murders fame) in that we lots of variations: Ramsey Mereside, Ramsey Hollow, Ramsey St Mary’s, Ramsey Forty Foot etc. We actually have a village called Ramsey Heights although without a spirit level it is difficult to discern which bit is the eponymous “Height”. Perhaps if the mere was re-flooded the height would be the bit sticking out of the water.

So while I normally prefer to run several short laps, at Skipton that effectively means running up 4 hills. You might think that there would be the benefit of running down 4 hills but this never seems to materialise. By the time I have recovered from the ascent the blasted hill is almost upon me again.

There is also an additional humiliation factor. On a 2 lap course the younger, fitter participants (i.e. just about everyone) only sprint past you once, but at Skipton there is a non-stop procession of runners queuing to get past me. Of course I don’t think that they actually “tut” as they swish past but I can’t tell. Various bits of my body shut down in an attempt to avoid what my respiratory and circulatory systems must perceive as imminent collapse and so my hearing loses its normal kestrel-like acuity. Any tutting that I might hear would be drowned out by the sound of my lungs desperately trying to suck some oxygen from the rarefied high altitude  atmosphere.

Still, I keep telling myself that I enjoy it, and it certainly works up at appetite for the trip to Bill Bob’s Diner for the “Full Monty”! It may seem odd for there to be an American Diner on a farm high up on the windswept Yorkshire Moors, but if Paris can have a Disney Land, then Skipton can have an American Diner.