Exposed Vs Frontrunner

Exposed takes on Frontrunner Sheffield in a jogging challenge.

 

This month, we took to drawing straws to find our next Jess Ennis or Mo Farah – after being challenged by pacey pros Frontrunner to take part in the Endcliffe 5K Park Run.

A piece of inch long spaghetti sealed intern Olivia’s fate. What follows are the (t)highs and (b)lows of her challenge. Jog on…

 

Frontrunner are a running shop based in Sharrow Vale who supply all manner of clothing, footwear and equipment for outdoorsy activities. The challenge? A 5KM race – us at full pelt and them handicapped by pushing round Gertrude the mannequin in her specially designed push-chair. As yer do.

 

Where? Endcliffe Park. When? 9am Saturday morning. The course? Start near the café, run as if your heading out of the park and over the bridge, curve back round into the park and turn left, up past the tennis club then right onto Rustlings Road and progress up the steady incline parallel to the park. Then…

 

When you reach the corner of Endcliffe Park turn down and follow the path past both duck ponds, back past the café and the playground, and repeat! The finish line would be near the entrance to the park through a generous helping of flags and a cunningly displayed ‘finish line’ sign. 

 

As this is my first Exposed VS challenge, I was determined to not let my team down – and somehow, through some crafty bribing, I roped in my partner Danny to run with me for moral support (which also gave us two cracks at taking the title).

 

 

Ahead of the main event, we’d we spent three days in Skegness – where in about 72 hours 75 centimeters of rain managed to fall. That said, I was determined to get a practice run in ahead of the big day, so at 7:30am we forced ourselves onto the beach in gale force winds and driving rain. Imagine cross country in first year of high school followed by the bleep test and you’ll  get the idea. However, my determination didn’t waver – and we managed a 4km round trip without drowning.

 

Come the big day – and it’s 22 degrees with sun beaming down on the race track – meaning all our training was for nowt. Mark, of Frontrunner, was a lovely bloke – a 6ft lean mean running machine who informed us he should be pretty tired as he’d done a “quick” 10km the night before.

 

After sizing up our opponents, Danny and I stole off to a corner for quick tactic chit chat. I decided to start off at the back with Mark our challenger and Gertrude – while Danny snuck forward to the middle of the 400 strong group of runners as he judged the pace needed to beat our leggy adversary .

 

And we’re off! I’d prepared a playlist for the race that included some 140bpm power trance and techno. Danny… power ballads and rock anthems. And things began well enough. Danny moved forward with the middleweights and got a good start. I took to a steady jog, keeping Mark just within my sights about 10 people in front of me – with Gertrude and the buggy slowing him down as he tried to maneuver around people.

 

But, as the race progressed and the crowd thinned, he was able to overtake more easily. As the course turned up Rustlings Road, I began to feel the heat, but pushed on with a steady pace – intending to gain ground once we’d turned the corner at the top and descended into the park. Turning the corner, Steve began to pick up the pace, so I followed suit to keep him within sight. I saw no sign of Danny up ahead – meaning he was keeping his lead strong.

 

As we ran around the course for the second time, disaster struck for Mark! Whilst performing a tricky over take on the outside poor Gertrude lost an arm! He stopped, collected the arm, dodged a jack Russell and took off again – but this time with elongated strides and a change in gear. This took me straight out of the race. As Mark sprinted gazelle-like up the steady incline, my jogging pace slowed  – and it was a constant mental battle not to stop. A combination of thirst, the heat and the incline began to take its toll. I knew the situation was truly dire when a man pushing a set of twins in a buggy went past me and I could no longer see my challenger. Meanwhile, back in front, Danny had set his first lap at a steady pace –  something that just about classed as running over jogging – but by the second time round he’d slowed to a walk (he tells me later Mark overtook him on the hill of Rustlings Road and he marveled at how effortless Gertrude was positively gliding along in front him).

 

 

I managed to turn the last corner and then it was onto the home straight from one end of the park to another. I cracked on and started to sprint knowing that I’d soon glimpse the two lads at the finish line waiting for me. Half filled with dread, and half filled with determination, I crashed through the finish line to see Mark waving, Danny half dead… and Gertrude with a smug smile on her face. Sigh.

 

Verdict:

You don’t know life sucks until you’ve been beaten in a race by a dummy. That said, hats off to Mark and the Frontrunner team who clearly know their shizzle. Who wants a piece of us next? Is it you? You giving it all Gallagher-like at us? Come on then! Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire…!

 

www.frontrunnersheffield.co.uk.

 

Words: Olivia Riches.

Photos: Phil Turner.




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