An account of our recent awesome weekender at Alton Towers as told by Nick Finney:
"Wow. What a weekend that was!
I missed out on Alton Towers last year as I was injured and feeling sorry for myself, so I didn’t make the 150-mile trip up there. Having seen the photos of the event I was gutted I hadn’t just gone along to cheer and go on the rides. This year I was really looking forward to it and my word, it didn’t disappoint.
It was an early start on Saturday, up at 4am and on the road at 5 (I had to do my hair and trim my stupid tache for fear of JP reprimanding me). I got to Alton Towers just before 8am and, although I knew there were going to be quite a few of us, I was still overwhelmed by just how many turquoise tops there were as we all congregated by the entrance. Whether it was people I’ve known for a couple of years now, or those I was saying hello to for the first time, everyone was just so lovely and friendly.
The weather was not conducive to standing around for 20 minutes on a massive ice rink, but we managed to get through that, do the warmup and then head to the start line. With over 2,300 runners, it was quite busy but also very well organised. The course is not the nicest, unless you have a sadistic love for going up steep hills every 3-400 meters. However, to divert your attention from the pain, there are plenty of opportunities to high five the Teletubbies, various other CBeebies stars and of course the amazing crowd who cheered everyone round. (Apart from when we were running around the car parks, that was pretty grim).
Running with the lovely Karin and Laine, I was blown away by the noise from the WTF cheer squad as we came in to the final straight. It was like being famous for 15 seconds. I was more than happy to then join that cheer squad to welcome the rest of the Fartlek Family home, the noise getting greater and greater with each finisher.
With that done, it was time to go and enjoy the rides. I say enjoy, after a 10k run I’d really have preferred a bath and a nap, but instead I was given whiplash and nausea. I don’t remember the rides being like that when I were a lad.
Having diced with death for a few hours, it was back to the hotel for food and some beers. A truly lovely gathering where we took over a large section of the pub and had a fantastic evening of fun and laughter. What our family is all about.
Just an example of how brilliant this group are, Darren/Doug had produced name labels for everyone so no one would feel awkward not remembering other people’s names. He even added our Instagram handles for those like me, whose Insta name bears no semblance to my real name.
But most of all, for me it was Bee messaging the group to say how much her daughter had enjoyed the day and had felt welcomed as part of the gang. And that’s because she is part of the gang.
Finally, to sum it up; I was thinking to myself on the drive home, this all came about from a bit of word of mouth during lockdown. My friend Rav mentioned she’d been interviewed for episode 5 of this running podcast, so I thought I’d give it a go.
90+ episodes and two years later, I’ve met dozens of lovely new people, got some of my old friends involved, been given the run-around at a charity footy match, had several boozy nights in on Zoom (Karin and her cheese and coleslaw piece will live long in the memory), several boozy nights out ‘up Norf’, and got a brilliant little local Parkrun network going ‘Dahn South’. But most of all, at the core of it, I have got to share my enjoyment of running with a load of like-minded people who don’t care how fast or slow you are. We are all runners, and we all support each other. It’s been amazing.
Already looking forward to the next meet up."
Thanks to all the Fartlek Family members who helped make the weekend such a success. Keep a look out for more events coming soon in the new year.