Tuesday, 27 June 2017

What goes on tour... goes on the blog! Gareth Beavis reports on the 2017 Weekend Away

Striders hit the beach in May for our annual weekend away in Swanage. Gareth Beavis reports on the fun-filled trip...
Raring to go at the Poole parkrun despite a late night for some...

There’s something brilliant about the Striders' Weekend Away. The chance to hang out for a couple of days with a lot of like-minded runners, spending time chatting about our favourite topic and kicking back from the daily grind of training... with some running.

In fact, it’s so good that it’s worth the mirth and ridicule when you tell your workmates that you need a day off to go on a running away weekend.

This year, the venue was Swanage, a great little YMCA youth hostel on the beach, nestled on the south coast. Rooms allocated (#beavissuite), stuff dumped and straight to the pub for some pre-activity drinks - things were already getting feisty as the reins were off a few Striders…

After that it was straight into the evening’s activities, which consisted of a fiendish quiz put together by the darling Stu Middleton.

Things got fiercely competitive, but it was only at the end that the real prize was offered: an extra ten points for anyone that managed to get a personal best at the Poole Parkrun we were heading down to the following day.
Chilling at the beach
A lot of groggy heads appeared in the morning as the rally cross through Dorset began, a veritable convoy of Striders picking their way through the countryside to descend en masse on the ‘local’ run.

It was a strong performance with some incredible PBs from runners who should not have been able to run as fast as they did, given some of the empty beds seen at 4am.

Every person had a great time at the well-organised parkrun, and after a spot of breakfast in the local cafe (and a couple of Striders panicking when they realised they had no idea where their cars were parked) it was off to the afternoon’s activities - a smorgasbord of choices, including mooching around town, a cheeky bike ride and a trip to the local waterpark.

The latter option was very well-attended, and there’s something to be said for slipping into a tight rubber suit and jumping about on inflatables in freezing cold water. Slipping being the operative word there… even Steve Buckle’s rubber slippers couldn’t stop one of the Striders’ faster runners failing for the first time to conquer a running track (then again, it’s unlikely he’s ever found one that was filled with air atop ice-cold liquid).
A trip to the waterpark was well-attended
After that, it was back to the hostel where the weather had…somewhat turned, and the beach barbecue was called off in favour of pizza and a few more drinks at the pub. It’s always surprising to see how open people are to losing an activity when a libations are offered.

Word seeped out that some Striders headed down to the coastline to skim some stones and… get rather cold in the water. This report is, and shall ever remain, thoroughly unconfirmed.

Another late night ensued as drinks were brought back to the hostel, and the games room played host to a round of confessions that means some Striders will never be able to look each other in the eye ever again.

These excursions meant that getting up for the long run over the coastline was a struggle for some, but the excellent turnout meant that this scenic jog was one of the highlights of the trip and really blew away some cobwebs. Undulating, grey and relentless… well, that’s how some people described Andy Auld’s attendance, anyway.
Back at the beach for some night swimming?
A couple of Striders still found time to take it far too seriously, but Steve and Phill Evans somehow managed to drop in a fast half marathon distance, get lost and yet meet up with everyone at the end of the run perfectly… they maintain it was perfect planning, but the look of relief when they saw the rest of the group told otherwise.

The weekend was winding to a close, and some began departing while others huddled in gourmet coffee shops, drinking far-too-rich hot chocolate and weeping over the thought of the drive home.

But everyone agreed one thing: there’s nothing better than a Striders’ Weekend Away to get to know reams of runners that you don’t usually get to chat to, to spend time freezing on inflatables, fall asleep in car parks or question underwear choices.

Here’s to next year!

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