Wear something bright, they said. Make as much noise as you can, they said. Run with 150 others through thousands of people making a right show of yourself, they said. OK, I replied, out of character, but rude not to, really.
Leeds Light Night is an annual celebration of arty Leeds and light, taking place, not surprisingly, at night. There’s music, installations, dance, weird and wonderful noises which I think were one of the attractions, and 150 runners cutting a swathe through the lot, waving glowsticks, blowing whistles and shaking our maracas.
I don’t think I’ve ever been papped so much in my life, as I led one of the groups on the Art Run, the brainchild of the lovely Veggie Runners. Thousands of people who were buzzing around the city were stopped in their tracks as the neon whistling runners passed by. The look of bewilderment was replaced with looks through cameraphones as we jogged past. It was glorious.
Our four-kilometre route took us into the Corn Exchange, where we gave the jiving lindy hoppers a run for their money, then through the Trinity Centre where our whistles and maracas nearly raised the roof and, I suspect, temporarily robbed some people of their hearing, past the Town Hall where the Leeds Festival Chorus was drowned out by our cacophony, and up the the Arena where, as if we hadn’t run enough, there was a 60m track set up for a sprint. Noel, who likes to think he has a sprint, gave it all he had, taking on three very nippy youngsters from Leeds City Athletics Club, they left him for dead. He blamed the maracas.
As we headed back, one long line of art, a couple of ne’er-do-wells stepped out of the shadows and tried to trip up Gill. Gill one of my clubmates at Eccleshill Road Runners, is recovering from knee surgery and didn’t take kindly to being injured again, so she clocked him on the head with her maracas, adding a little colouful language which left him in no doubt that he was messing with the wrong runner.
Great fun, great run and eventually my hearing will return to normal after all that whistling!