Highnam Court Run

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My 2019 goal of "get the Strava 10k badge each month" hit a bit of a stumbling block in June when half way through being one of Those People who run to parkrun, run parkrun, then run home (total of 12km) I fell and sprained my left ankle.  And then stupidly thought I could 'walk it off' and kept going - managing a 31min parkrun, oops.  It didn't hurt that much until I took my shoe off - and then I couldn't walk for a couple of days.

So that ruled July out. I probably could have managed August but instead I was lazy and did barely 10k total all month.

And so to September, and the Highnam Court 10km run. Back on track with a race I've done twice before (in 2015 and 2016).  I wasn't expecting a great time (see aforementioned laziness) but was looking forward to it anyway as it's such a lovely location.

highnam court run 2018 medal

Sadly, the course had been changed a bit and despite the addition of an extra mini-lap, when I crossed the finish line my Garmin reported 56 minutes for just under 9km.  Disappointing.  Lots of others had recorded a similar distance, and there was a fair bit of grumbling going on.

Other differences this year - the race was in the afternoon rather than morning, and the 5k was done completely separately.  There certainly wasn't anywhere near as much of a bottleneck at the start as last time, which was an improvement.

I'd like to say I got a September 10k done later in the month but nope, still being lazy...  However I've entered another race at the end of October which is UKA certified, so it had better be the correct distance!

Plastic Patrol in Gloucester

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Recently I took part in a Plastic Patrol session in Gloucester Docks. The idea is simple - after a bit of stand up paddleboard tuition, you get to float around the waterways armed with a litter grabber and a bucket.

I joined the final session of the day, and was actually quite surprised to see how (relatively) little rubbish had been collected so far - apparently last year it was much worse. I was not surprised to see the obligatory rusty old bike that someone had fished out.

We paddled around the main basin, then down to just past Sainsbury's. I spent quite a while picking at this patch of water lilies.  It may look clean, but actually there was a lot of very small bits of rubbish caught up in it: polystyrene balls, bottle caps, chewing gum, and loads of corners torn off from opening chocolate bar wrappers. Yuck.

waterlilies
Just out of shot: a dead pigeon

This is everything I collected. It may not look impressive, but it all adds up.  I know about microplastics affecting the oceans etc, but it hadn't really sunk in that not-so-micro-but-still-small rubbish would be so plentiful closer to home.  Think carefully when opening your Mars bars!

me on a paddleboard

This was actually the first time I'd paddled in Gloucester Docks, despite having lived literally metres from the main basin for three years with a kayak stored in my living room!  I have been on the canal further down a few times though (including swimming around in the water doing safety training)

I've paddled boarded once or twice before, albeit several years ago, so it didn't take me long to decide I was going to try standing up rather than kneeling.  Grabbing tiny bits of litter was a bit more difficult from higher up, but it gave me a better view and took the pressure off my knees/quads - which were complaining rather a lot the next day.

Definitely want to do more in future!

Cheltenham Circular, part two

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Part two of walking the Cheltenham Circular Footpath - we started where we finished last time at the Racecourse park and ride and walked to Charlton Kings. (Sections A to D in the guidebook)

We went wrong pretty much straight away.  I'm still not sure how it happened, but I set off the wrong way around the Racecourse!  The actual route follows the North side, past the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, but we went East and only realised when we found a marked signpost pointing in a different direction to what we'd expected.  Oops.

Once we got back on track we headed through the churchyard in Prestbury, then along a well kept footpath until we ran into this:

footpath closed

Ah. You will note a lack of information about exactly which bits of path are closed, how long for, or an alternative route.  It later turned out that this information was at the other end of the path, which was not helpful for us!

I can't possibly comment on whether we retraced our steps and found a detour, or just carried on past pushed over/apart fencing with well trampled paths through the grass and nettles.  But put it this way - it was the weekend and there was nobody working on the building site...

Once back on track, we stopped for lunch stop at Harp Hill, then continued through the fields and up a hill where we enjoyed lovely views across Cheltenham, spoilt only by the delightful bit of architecture than is Eagle Tower. Heading back down we eventually reached the main road, but not before another game of "hunt the overgrown stile in the corner of a hedge".  Always a fun one.

views over Cheltenham
Eagle Tower looking, er, lovely in the middle there...

Once we reached the A40 we left the Cheltenham Circular and walked all the way into town. This was 4km of tarmac - not ideal, but we weren't sure what the bus situation was.  There is a Pulhams bus that goes along the A40, but we had no idea of the timetable, or whether dogs were allowed on board.  Once we'd walked to Sixways we could have got the B, but by the time we walked that far we figured we may as well just keep going.

As with last time, we ended up in the Swan for another well earned burger.  Then it was just a case of getting the bus back to the racecourse before heading home.