Well, the rain was certainly put into ‘reindeer’ today as a couple of hundred runners splashed their way around Epilepsy Action’s five kilometre Reindeer Stampede, five kilometres on a rather soggy and muddy Roberts Park, and Saltaire towpaths.
A gaggle (or should it be herd?) of Eccleshill Road Runners had volunteered to marshal at the event. A number of us had tested out the snowy conditions on Friday night when our training run became a slideathon. We were ready for anything – and definitely ready for coffee and cake after all the reindeer had galloped past the finishing post.
Children just don’t care about getting cold and wet, do they? They ran around the course, many with big grins on their faces, some with that competitive I-want-to-win look and others far too interested in the surroundings to run at all. The grown-ups sauntered rather than stampeded except for those in the lead of course. They ran like hell!
Marshalling is always a pleasure, encouraging the runners, chatting with the passers-by – and getting to wear a cool fluorescent diddy jacket. It’s particularly rewarding when the kids come back to show off their medals.
On the way back, we called in to Cartwright Hall where David Hockney’s latest super-size canvas Bigger Trees Near Warter was on show. The hall has a superb setting, surrounded by a modest collection of local and national art, including a couple of Hockney’s earlier works. The man is an artistic genius, Yorkshire’s answer to Picasso, he can turn his hand to any medium, just one flourish of his brush and there’s another work of art.
One of his early oil paintings there shows a scene from the village of Fagley, just up the road from us. It seems young David started life in Eccleshill (presumably quite unaware it would become home to the award-winning road runners). There he was often seen pushing his paints and other kit around in a pram. I wondering if we should honour him by designing The Hockney Half Marathon, taking in local Hockney scenes and whimsical places. Maybe he’d join us… or at least fire the starting gun!