Saturday, 4 April 2015

From Strava Art to the Chocathlon, muddy hills and Chocolate of course.

A month or so back the guys at Team OA posted a photo on Facebook of someone's Strava Art (using the gps line of a run or bike ride to create a picture) of a Giraffe. Along with the picture they posted a challenge, if anyone could create a Strava Art bunny they would win entry to this years Chocathlon. They also challenged anyone to create the Team OA logo and if they could do that they would win lifetime entry to the Chocathlon. So what do you think I did a couple of days later......yep that's right...

And yes I won lifetime entry, LIFETIME, I can't help but keep saying it, LIFETIME, how cool is that? A big thank you to the guys at Team OA for such a cool prize, I hope that I'll be running/walking the Chocathlon for many years as it is such a cool idea and run. For those of you that are wondering what the hell is a Chocathlon it is a 9km run around the hills of Marsden with 2 chocolate stations along the way. Like your normal water stations but these have chocolate treats for you to eat, chocolate biscuits and water as well so that you can manage the hills and trails of Marsden. Well that was a month or so ago and this past Easter weekend I actually got to use my prize.

This Easter Saturday it was Huddersfield parkrun's 4th birthday and their carrot relay after the run, plus after that it was the Chocathlon. So right from the off I knew this day was going to be exhausting, even if I took it easy at parkrun. I was running with Dexter and Flynn this week, Flynn even got dressed up for the celebrations. 

With the beautiful weather conditions we cruised to a 2015 PB for Dexter of 30.14mins then we hung around to take part in the carrot relay. The carrot relay is a race around the small loop (cafe part) of the parkrun course for teams of 3 people, which for #TeamPattison was SJ, Dexter and I. This year the was about 17 teams about double the number of teams from last year, which added a bit more competitiveness to the fun atmosphere. Everyone was eyeing up the competition but with great fun and friendliness that comes with any parkrun family. Dexter was running the first leg for #TeamPattison and on his own this year, followed by SJ and then myself on the final leg. Last year Dexter started crying because he was passed by too many people and thought he wouldn't win, but this year he understood that he would be passed and was determined to complete the lap without crying. This year unfortunately he cried again but this time it was because I distracted him cheering him on and he slipped in the mud and face planted on the floor, hurting his hand slightly in the process. I picked him up and carried him for a bit then he walked the final 100 metres until we handed the carrot off to SJ. She ran round with the possibility of a wardrobe malfunction, managing 3/4 of the way round before her trousers threatend to fall down, so she cut a corner and handed me the carrot before things got a bit x-rated! We were in second to last place and had no chance of gaining anything from this blantant bit of cheating and as I set off we had a huge gap to make up any way. I busted a gut to catch up but with no success as I finished just behind Team Brook still in second to last place. This wasn't a problem at all as like any parkrun event everyone was very supportive wherever you finished and we all clapped and cheered John Cottam as he crossed the line to finish the relay. Dexter was still a little upset at this point but a chocolate teacake from Simon Edwards at least silenced the cries and stopped the tears. Plus one of the guys from the winning team gave Dexter his Easter egg he got as part of his prize, which was really nice of him. So from here it was off to Grandmas for some breakfast and a rest before the Chocathlon and the Marsden hills.

As we arrived at the race HQ we were greeted by Simon Brass in his full bunny onesie and a big smile on his face, the boys really love Simon he makes them laugh so much, it's brilliant to see. Simon wasn't the only familiar face there, there was lots from parkrun or Stadium runners and other races too.
Parking up we unloaded the boys and as I was get the buggy out I managed to scrape my leg on a large bramble and this was before I had even started the race, what was going to happen then?

Once we were unloaded we gathered at the start and chatted with all our running friends and a few others too. We had selfies taken by the Pulse radio crew that was there and then we lined up at the start ready for the off.

We were set off by Ally Young and a starting pistol, it always adds a little extra race feel when your set off by a proper starters pistol, maybe it's the hidden athlete in us or does it just scare the crap out of us. Either way we were heading down the canal and at a fairly quick pace, but it wasn't long before the earlier runs were taking their toll and my legs were already feeling a little heavy. By the time we arrived at chocolate station 1 I couldn't face any chocolate so I just took a drink of water especially as all I could see from there onwards was a huge hill. There was two stages to this hill which weaved it's way upwards like an S and as we were going at a full on pace I ended up walking about half way up. Not for long though as I dug deep and yelled at myself to get my arse moving, and I ran the rest of the hill that just got steeper as you went. Luckily there were some friends (Mr and Mrs Edwards) at the top cheering us on, taking photos and just keeping our spirits up even if it was early in the race.
I was still blowing a bit as the roads levelled out and was heading towards the trail route part of the course. So much so I scared a pony that was being led up the road with a little girl on. A quick apology to her Dad and I descended down a trail path to a little wooden bridge and on with the race. It didn't take long on the trail part to realise that my choice of trail shoes over road shoes was a good decision as some bits were very muddy and slippy. The views were stunning but as the terrain was constantly changing I couldn't enjoy them as much as I wanted to, I needed to keep my focus on the route as I didn't want to misjudge something and go over on an ankle or worse. The course kept changing from trail to road as it traversed the hills above Marsden but eventually it headed back down and I was back on the streets of Marsden once more. Running parallel to the start line I could pick up the pace again until I came to the end of the street and station number 2 and more chocolate before heading back onto trail paths again. I came to a very thin and slippy set of steps down to a road and everyone had to slow down unless you wanted to fall on your backside. At the bottom of these steps I was overtaken by a lady dressed as a bee but I was determined not to lose her and I stuck with as we turned on to the canal and the final 2km of the run. At last I was on the flat and I headed back to the finish, but I forgot that at the locks there are small uphills that zap your stamina. I picked up the pace anyway and took back my place from the bee and as I did she congratulated me. It is always nice to hear encouragement from people but someone you're passing is awesome. You won't find that sort of sportsmanship in other sports like you do in running, and it's one of the reason why I love running so much at the moment. At this point I was also catching my friend Steve and if I pushed hard now I could of passed him, although the competitiveness in him wouldn't have liked that and I knew he would come back at me and push us both to the finish which probably would have killed us both.  (I may be being slightly melodramatic here!!) That desire to push it and catch him was wiped out by the final muddy hill off the canal and back on to the roads of Marsden.  I turned one final corner and I was on the finish straight and the final 100 metres, crossing the line just behind Steve was a great feeling and seeing him drop straight to the floor with exhaustion was evidence of how hard we pushed on the final section.

It wasn't long before we realised we had finish in 3rd and 4th which was amazing but at the same time we started to wonder what had happend to Jonny Cartwright( last years reigning champion) who was leading the last time we saw him. He wasn't at the finish and no one knew where he was, it turned out that someone had turned round a sign on the course sending us in different directions. Jonny knew the route and  went the right way, where as the rest of us went the the way the signs suggested which turned out to be a few hundred metres shorter. Still though Jonny didn't turn up until 8th place and about 10 mins behind us, so somewhere he had gone wrong too because of the signs. He ended up doing an extra mile and a bit on us some how, he seemed to be the only one that took that route. It was a shame as he would have won it again this year if everyone had all gone the right way, and someone hadn't messed with the signs on the course. We all had a great time anyway and there was lots of chocolate biscuits to eat at the finish too. 

Here's a link to a short video of the start of the Chocathlon....

We hung around and cheered on a lot of the runners before we had to go and get ready for cousin Liam's 7th birthday party and probably more chocolate. All the chocolate did end up being a bit too much for Dexter and he threw up at Liam's party due to chocolate overload!!

It was a fantastic day and great fun and I can't wait to use my lifetime entry to the Chocathlon again next year. Thank you to Team OA for putting on another great event as always, the next one is the Huddersfield half/full marathon which is a beast and probably one of the toughest road marathons in the UK. You have to do it just to say you've done it, plus it is one of the most scenic runs around too.

Keep running everyone


  1. I really enjoyed reading this. I completed the chocathlon last week too but as I'm not from the area I wasn't expecting it to be quite so hilly and really struggled ! The scenery was beautiful though. well done on winning a life time entry!

    1. Thanks Julie, I've lived in Huddersfield pretty much all my life and the hills were steeper than I thought too. Well done for finishing it anyway, you might want to try the Wineathlon too from the same people as the Chocathlon, it's an amazing race/walk/piss up. Thanks for reading my blog and hope you carry on reading about my running.