BB Kong 

by Tonk

It has been a while since I felt compelled to write owt down. Though having just finished the final race in the Kong WInter series the time is nigh. 

Last night I spent the evening up at my Grandad’s. Since my Nana died a few years ago it’s been tradition that someone goes and has fish and chips with him on a friday night. It was my turn tonight. When I got up there all the lights were off and he was fast asleep in bed. I woke him up briefly to say hello. It was a struggle for him to keep his eyes open whilst he was talking to me. I said I’d leave him to sleep for an hour and then would start the fish and chips. 

I sat downstairs twiddling my thumbs, marvelling at how crap television actually is these days. I don’t have a telly at mine so I don’t often get to flick through and say “all these channels and there is nowt to watch!”. Instead I found a pile of handwritten letters to my Grandad from various old running friends. Most of which were sent to my Nana and Grandad to thank them for helping with Bob Graham’s or other rounds. It was lovely to sit there and read about these adventures. Nana and Grandad used to get them out when I went up and we’d sit there telling running stories. One letter that really tugged on my heartstrings was from Pete Trainor when he’d heard the news about my Nana’s passing. Pete wrote that he’d been keeping an eye on my running and remembering the old days. He wrote something that my Grandparents have often said to me “I couldn’t get around that route nowadays, but in my head I can remember every step”. Pete finished the letter once again thanking Grandad for his support on his Bob Graham, some 40 odd years ago, and included this photo. 

Grandad, Pete Parkins (Standing far left) Nana, Uni Parkins (kneeling, middle,navy top)

I cooked some chips for my Grandad, who only ate 4 before wanting to go back to sleep. I hung around for a bit before giving him his bedtime pills and leaving him to it. 

I came back home a bit deflated. Sometimes I really don’t like growing up. So far this year I haven’t raced. It’s been one thing after another. Two bad colds, food poisoning, too much socialising and numerous hospital trips for family members. Luckily everyone is alright and still here. 

The Blencathra race was supposed to be my start to the racing year. I am lacking some ‘match fitness’ as running these last 5 weeks has just been about looking after my own mental health. I should get back to running fast, but I’ve not had a chance this week. In a state of ‘I can’t be arsed’ / panic I very nearly didn’t go to the race today. I was going to revisit an orienteering area to get some more practice in.  Yet I found myself in the van heading to Threlkeld. As I parked up I thought I could still go home.  I walked up to registration I was telling Alex Sharman about how I haven’t any mojo today. As the words left my mouth I was stopped by a smiling Colin Valentine. “Jacob, could I have a word?! I’ve just been reading your section of the ‘Why We Run’ book. I thought it was lovely. How is your Grandad?” My frown had been turned upside down. I felt the dark clouds above my head lift. We spoke about Nana and Grandad and the events they’d put on that Colin had taken part in. In that moment I forgot the stress and worries of adult life. As cheesy as it sounds I remembered ‘Why I Run’.  (Full story is in the new book “Why We Run” Go read the book if you haven’t. There are some amazing stories in there!) Before I knew it I’d forgotten about not wanting to race and felt a spring in my step. The mention of my Nana and Grandad from someone who knew them was all it took. 

As the race started I ran up past the school thinking of how they’d sit up to watch headlights coming down Blencathra when I was helping on a Bob. Or the time that my Nana insisted I take a packet of crisps with me for Helvellyn and the Dodds. I said they wouldn’t fit in my bum bag, so she popped the bag, crushed the crisps, let the air out and wrapped an elastic band round them just to crush them some more. I had to pretend I’d eaten them at the end just to not upset her. Before I knew it I was at the top of Blencathra. Funny how taking your mind off things can help you on a climb. 

I didn’t really switch on for the descent, and felt a uncharacteristically hesitant. I crossed the line in 23rd place.  Thankfully for me my club mate Tobias took a radge line off Blease, Fell which meant I managed to come home 1st Keswick runner. That doesn’t happen very often. 

The craic at the finish was all about what line you’d taken on the descent. Some folk went absolute walkabout! It was a lovely morning out on my favourite fell. Hopefully Grandad had the binoculars out to see some, though it was very claggy. 

I am worried about my Grandad. The whole family is. Though he’s never not seemed happy to see us all and listen to our stories. The more stories I tell him, the more he tells me. So I’ll keep eating all his biscuits whilst listening intently to the best story teller I know. I take a lot of comfort in the fact that there are not as many people who can say they have had more adventure in their lives than my Nana and Grandad. 

Hopefully my running year starts now. I’ll keep today’s motivation in my heart and remember why I run. 

Big thank you to all at Kong for a great race. Especially big thank you to Colin, without you today I’d have gone home!

Full results here