We have started going bouldering on a regular basis over at The Arch North climbing wall in Burnt Oak, and apparently it is dangerous. Or maybe it is only dangerous to the over 50s…as Coach Tony Zumba 50 Leary wrote, “Hello team – I had a bit of an awkward fall/landing at climbing last night and yanked my booty – consequently not up for anything too full on tomorrow but would like to do something – I’m thinking maybe Greenwood Park in St Albans for some running on playground shinnanigans!!! – no water Who is around??” I was looking forward to anything that was not too full on because I have not been able to do much running since Nuclear Fallout. Once again I appear to have picked up some annoying, niggling injuries to my feet and legs.
I got a lift over with Kirsten Whitehouse, and it was fortunate she was collecting me from outside my house because I did not wake up with my alarm. In fact, I woke up no more than 5 minutes before leaving the house to find Kirsten waiting in her car outside. We still arrived in good time, which some might suggest makes a change. In fact, we had arrived in good enough time to do a selfie for the Stuart Amory Advent Challenge.
We were joined with Coach Tony by Rebecca Cohen, Robert Boarder, Steven Lamb, and Karen Ballard, who drove up just before Rodney McNamee, who lived a very convenient distance away, walked over. There was no Ray Fletcher. We will pause for a moment, just to let that sink in. There was no Ray Fletcher. Kirsten and I arrived on time and there was no Ray Fletcher. It must be the end of days…
It was a cold morning, but dry, and we started off running on the grass, from the car park, outside the playground and around the boundary, which took us parallel with the North Orbital Road, until we followed a corner round to the left and came to a hill, where we stopped to run hill repeats, doing 5, 10, 15 and then 20 push-ups between repeats, before going back down through 15, 10 and 5 push-ups. I am definitely getting better at push-ups. We split into two teams to do a plank relay, jumping over the others in our team as they lined up in the plank position, before I swapped with Robert for a similar race between the teams, going through the legs of the people lined up ahead of us. Both times we just kept going until Tony decided we had gone far enough. Then we paired up for piggy backs at the bottom of the hill repeats slope, poor Rodney being paired with me. I took one stop near the top of the slope before carrying on to finish with the rest of the group. Then we jogged down to the bottom and swapped round. Unfortunately, Rodney suddenly got cramps before the top of the slope and had to stop, such is the peril of having me as a very heavy load. We returned to the bottom of the slope and continued along the boundary, coming up a hill and around the top of the slope until we reached St Julian’s Wood. We ran through the wood, then ran across the open football pitches back to the playground.
Once there we were faced with the most amazing climbing frame, all metal pipes and red ropes, and resembling something like the rigging from a big ship. Tony had us going over the climbing frame, from one side, right over the very top, then down the other side, before running up a slope on that far side, going down to the bottom on the other side before turning around and coming back again. It was brilliant fun, although once I had got to the top of the slope on the other side I decided to come back down on the slide. That was even better fun. We kept this going for more than a few repeats going over the climbing frame, there being quite a bit of congestion at the top as people approached from both sides. Obviously, we could not miss out on the excellent photo opportunity.
Then we were off running again, going round to the woods so that we could do 5 pull-ups on each of 10 goalposts on the open football pitches, and as I cannot do a pull-up (yet) I did a 5 second deadhang on each.
We came back to the playground and Rob and I took on the bridge of doom before it was decided we would not be able to do anything with the zipline, which was a pity.
We went back to the swings, to climb along them from one end to the other, just using arms. Tony, Robert and Steven took it on, going up the chains on the first swing, going along the top bar, then coming down the chains on the far swing. Then we tried something Spartan Race UK had posted during the week – burpees, over and under a swing. You get the swing going, jump over it, lie under it until it passes back over you and past your head, then get up and keep repeating those movements until you either realise it is all about to go horribly wrong, or you bat the seat of the swing away with your hands, like Robert. Tony, Robert and Kirsten all gave it a very good go. We returned to the car park, where Robert took on a balancing exercise, bending forward on one leg to pick up a folded piece of paper with his teeth, while the rest of us enjoyed the breakfast picnic of sausage rolls, sausages, hard boiled eggs and mini mince pies. It took a few attempts before Robert was successful with an awesome effort. Kirsten also gave it a go, and continued when she got home until she too was successful. Before we left, Kirsten and I took another Stuart Amory Advent Challenge selfie, just in case.
It had been another brilliant session.