Oaklands parkrun

Event #78 run #293

Attending the With Me Now pow wow

With Me Now is a weekly podcast all about parkrun. It is presented by Danny Norman and Nicola Forward, with regular guest appearances from surrogate mum Bev, cat Dolly, various Ste and Steve’s, and many more. In jokes include “ Dolly or Bev”, describing things as “ arbitrary” when they are not official milestones or “things”, no context comments and random vegetable emojis. I’ve been a listener for a number of years, and have often had comments or emails read out on the show.  So when the get together ( or Pow-wow) was announced, for the weekend after my birthday, I did not hesitate to book my flights to Birmingham and a cheap hotel.


The flight from Belfast to Birmingham is less than an hour, even though my car decided not to start as I was leaving the house, and I had to take a taxi instead. Birmingham airport is well connected to the main New Street station in the Bullring, and from there my Ibis budget hotel was a short 10 minute walk away.

I’d sussed out which bus stop I would need for the 60, X1or 2 the night before, but I was very happy when someone spotted my cow cowl at the stop and asked if I was heading for Oaklands. We gathered another pair of WMN hoody wearers, and our local guide made sure we got on the best bus and got off at the correct stop.  It’s very near the Swan shopping centre, where there is ample parking.


The shopping centre has loos and coffee shops a plenty. For the post run parkfaff we took over the Costa, and I joined a breakaway group in the Subway right beside it, with Greggs also getting some of our business.


Three and a bit laps on wide tarmac paths, with a very slight undulation. I like 3 lappers, you can usually see where everyone is, and for slow runners like me you usually have the last lap in peace and quiet without being overtaken.


Well, what a crowd there was today! Normal attendance would be around 100, but the WMNers swelled that to 250. It was great to meet some of the names I’ve become so familiar with, as well as bump into old friends I’d met at previous tourism gatherings like Bushy Dublin. The volunteers did a fantastic job of keeping us all in order, with friendly cheery marshals and fast efficient results processing. Remember the days when you used to have to wait for an email about 5 pm to get your results? The virtual volunteer app is just brilliant, modern tech at its best.


I was wearing my apricot #parkrundancer top, but I was getting serious T shirt and hoody envy from all the delightfully personalised tops- Not Dolly, arbitrary, it’s a thing, cool down, warm down, fall down, lie down…. I need me one of those.  But what should my handle be? Good ole parkrun dancer? Wardrobe mistress? Potatoe? Hoedown?

I came bearing gifts- a moth cloak for “ forgetful moth” Nicola, which she absolutely loved and wore for most of the rest of the day. Danny had been specifically clear that he did not want any gifts, so I send him a picture of some Comber spuds to thank him for virtually volunteering at Comber ( his barcode number had been used in error a few times resulting in him being thanked for volunteering even though he’s never been over to Norn Irn). Oh, and a big thank you to the Master Baker, whose lemon hearts were just delicious!

Strangely appropriate song on shuffle

I didn’t have earphones in, it was much more fun to cheer and chat with fellow runners


Having recently celebrated my 60th birthday this was my first time running in a new age cat. 37-34, faster even than Dulwich, and my best age grade in quite some time.

And the rest

I really enjoyed my short stay in the city, even though open top buses are not operating right now. But I was able to wander through Chinatown, along the trendy Gas street basin, visit the upmarket Mailbox, home to Harvey Nicks and the BBC, take a trip on a canal boat, and admire the beautiful library of Birmingham. And the super KittyCafe above the station concourse, which rescues cats and lets them roam around while you enjoy your coffee.

I’m still fundraising for the Smile Train, do please donate if you can, and let’s spread some smiles around the world


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