We run and we run RaceBest. This blog is about running, but it's also about what we're up to at RaceBest.

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Tonight, tonight, the highway’s bright…

Out of our way mister you best keep
Cos summer’s here and the time is right
For racin’ in the street

The summer is indeed here, well according to the Gregorian calendar it is, and if I stick my head out the window, I can definitely make out a distant patch of azure in and amongst the grey clouds and driving rain.  British summers: love ’em or loathe ’em you just can’t avoid ’em (unless of course you book a flight to the Balearics).

But summer does bring with it late sunsets and late sunsets bring with them the pleasures of light-filled evening-runs around water-filled holes-in-the-ground.  Having strained away all winter beneath the downtown sodium glare of Headingley and Horsforth, Meanwood and Moortown, the advent of British Summer Time presages the return of the restorative respite that is Eccup Reservoir.  Eccup Reservoir, home to dog walkers and dogs, cows and calves, twitchers and twits, where the red-breasted, lesser-vested Abbey can feast upon the flies, frolic upon the flora, and fornicate with the fauna (allegedly).

Tuesday evenings have a familiar hue at this time of year, as Abbeys from far and wide skip through the fields and meadows of Eccup, dash around the lapping waters of Eccup, and speed through the hamlet of Eccup.  In fact, it is written in the Book of Peter, chapter 4, verse 8, that whenever two or more Abbeys are gathered together within 60 nights of the Summer Solstice that regardless of wherever they start and the direction they take, they will not find a path to enlightenment, but a trail towards Eccup.  All roads do not lead to Rome, all roads lead to Eccup, or ecce homo ergo Eccup as Hadrian said when he took a weekend break from building his winter windbreak.

But other reservoirs are available.  Summer weekday racing in the streets, in practice, often means journeying to the shores of Lake Esholt, Loch Swinstey and Lac du Fewston.  In this respect, we have it good compared to our soft southern counterparts because we have reservoirs filled to the brim with water just waiting for us to run round and round.  Pity the poor South of England runner, who has, in his drought-ridden village of burnt-thatch cottages, parched lawns and unwashed cars, nothing more than a small pond populated by two dehydrated ducks to circumnavigate.  The Eccup 10 is measured in miles, the Medway Meander is a point to point race between the paddling pools of numbers 12 and 14 Acacia Drive.

So, although down South they may have more jobs and more money, up North we’re faster and fitter because we’re the ones who can run in the summer because we’re the ones with all the water!


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And you run and you run to catch up with the sun

But it’s sinking
Racing around
To come up behind you again

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free and I’ll give you the Abbey Massive on the second cold Tuesday in September.  Hand rubbing, self-hugging, foot stamping, clad in nowt but triple-layered lycra long johns and luminescent yellow jerseys (has anyone else noticed how many Tour de France winners there are in Abbeyville?), they low like cattle indignant at the unannounced and unwelcome annexation of their hay manger by a newly awoken one-in-the-eye-for-Dawkins infant (I am categorically NOT going to mention how many shopping days it is until Christmas at this juncture) and shiver, shake and shudder as if their quivering, in itself, will generate the will needed to overcome the nagging feeling that an evening at the bar would be a better way to spend the next sixty minutes.

However, whilst that was true the second Tuesday of September, it was so not the case two weeks later.  The seasonal mayhem that is so random it’s predictable, and to which by now we ought to have become accustomed, particularly as it can be blamed for everything from late trains to poor high street sales figures, played its anarchical hand and delivered not so much an Indian summer as a sub-Saharan heat wave.  Just when you’d put all those skimpy summer shorts and variable velocity vests (no I don’t know what I mean by that either) at the bottom of that smelly kit drawer, the mercury soars ever upwards like an atom bomb about to oh oh oh oh oh explode, breaking all records on its way (in fact, I understand, a record previously held by my county of birth was broken by my adopted county…if the fates are trying to send me a message there it’s far too cryptic; please hang up and try again).  It’s too darn hot and I for one do not like it.  No I do not.  When Blighty-hot has been and gone (and once again failed to outstay its welcome) its return is as welcome as Nick Clegg in a student union.

As we enter October 2011, month of 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays and 5 Mondays, (apparently the first time, since 1188 trivia fans) it should be mild, it should be clement; it should be autumnal, dammit.  It’s just too confusing for a bear of little brain to experience simultaneously, concurrently, contemporaneously and undoubtedly unnecessarily tautologically the blazing sun baring down upon me as the falling fruit of the chestnut, beech and oak bruise my battered back (wow, even I think that sentence is just trying too hard!).

For those who plan to run a North West Marathon on 9th October, I can report that Michael The Fish says you won’t need the sunscreen and there is absolutely no risk of a hurricane.  For anyone who ran on 1st – 2nd October, the doctor will see you now.