Janathon day two: canal

First off an apology – the link to the google bundle yesterday was the 2012 Janathon list – while there are quite a few repeat offenders on the list, if you signed up with that link, you might be missing out on the full Janathon experience. I’ve amended the link accordingly (thanks to the eagle-eyed Not Much of a Runner for pointing it out).

The advantage of working a late shift is that I had time for another daylight run this morning (I’m being spoilt now). The disadvantage is that I didn’t have time to blog (although I did manage to stick two loads of washing on, hurrah for the Athons…) and had to spend the day repeating the mantra “don’t forget to blog…”.

I had a parcel to collect from the post office, so porridge-filled and lycra-clad I trundled off into town and then drove down to the canal for a damp and drizzly towpath run. I’ve neglected my canal running since the “running the length of the Leeds-Liverpool canal” project ground to a halt last year (I did the better half in 2011, but the other side of the Pennines eludes me) and it’s gone on my stuff to do list for 2013.

This was an uneventful three miler along my home stretch, the drizzle was steady and I thought that the wind was gentle until I turned round and ran into it…

A strangely low water level

A strangely low water level

I saw some cows.

Especially for JogBlog

Especially for JogBlog

I finished the run by splashing fearlessly through the many puddles so that the gathering anglers would see that I was hardcore and not think that this was just on day 2 of a new resolution.



Oh, and himself did 16 miles on the bike.

Juneathon 14/30 – Pier pressure

The Lancashire coastline is punctuated by piers; Southport, Lytham St Annes, three at Blackpool… I’ve run past two of them (maybe I need to venture to St Annes for a race one day) and any one of them would have made for a jolly Juneathon day out. That’s not my style though.

I ran after work today. Literally. Changed in the ladies and then a sprint downstairs before any of my colleagues spotted me in Lycra and wicking fabric. It’s not that I’m bothered by what I look like (heck, the other shoppers at my local Tesco will testify to that), more that I can’t always be doing with the bewilderment and questions. Maybe it’s a female thing, but any mention of exercise is often met with huffing and puffing, talk of grudging trips to the gym or a complete lack of exercise being worn almost as a badge of honour. I know I sometimes moan a bit about going for a run and I do love the sofa and the knitting and all the lovely indoors things, but I also bloody love my running. You are all welcome to remind of this point in the future when I’m whinging about going out.

So I don’t really admit to running at work. Especially if I’m in a spell where I’m doing longer distances – I can imagine the conversations; “So what did you do this weekend?” “Um, well I ran 10 miles in the pissing rain” “Oh”. If you met me at work you wouldn’t guess that I run (sod it, if you met me at a race you might not guess that I run) so I keep schtum.

Anyway, I got out of the building only to be spotted by one of our managers who cycles. He looked somewhat perplexed that I was standing at the side of the road swearing at Miles (“It’s a bit of cloud cover, not a steel vault you git, get a bloody signal and don’t you dare ask if I’m indoors”). He wanders around the office in cycling shorts though, so I’m not too bothered about that.

When Miles decided to play ball, I sped off down the road, down onto the canal and down to Wigan Pier. It’s not a pier where you’ll get an ice cream or try to win a mildly deformed teddy bear with a crane, in fact it’s not much of a pier at all* (and probably isn’t what Morning of Magicians had in mind when he added it to the list). But it did make a nice three mile loop and if it’s good enough for George Orwell, it’s good enough for me.

I bet George would be well chuffed to have a pub named after him

We actually ran to Wigan Pier as part of last year’s canal running/Juneathon crossover – it was mostly raining and drowned my camera.

*the pier was actually a coal tippler where coal was transferred from tram to barge. I think that’s the kind of joke we had to make do with up north while the Industrial Revolution was on.

Juneathon day 19: Canal adventure #12 – Maghull to Halsall

Back on the west side of the canal running today – this wasn’t on the official plan, but events conspired to make it a logistically viable plan. On Friday I ran and ate alone because Ginge went out for food and beers with work. Being the law-abiding souls that we are, he left his car at work and I did a 50 mile round trip through the wilds of Merseyside to retrieve him at the end of the night. A contributing factor to my poor sleep and reluctance to run on Saturday may have been the cement mixer-like snoring that I endured on Friday night, but I couldn’t possibly prove that. With Sunday came the prospect of another 50 mile round trip to collect Ginge’s car. After a bit of head scratching and map consultation, we decided that if I was going to drive that close to the Liverpool end of the canal, we might as well run a bit. Unfortunately, he actually had to do some work, so I sat around and did some work stuff and some knitting (it took me right back to being small and sitting around in hospital staff rooms waiting for my mum to finish being on-call. There was often watery vending machine hot chocolate and colouring-in in those days).

When he’d done what he had to do, we hopped into separate cars and did a convoluted there and back to the beginning and end of the canal route, dropping cars off as we went. Eventually we were assembled at Maghull train station and ready to set off from Bridge 11b.

Bridge 11B

First stop for a photo was Maghull cricket club, where some of the towpath benches face the ground so you can sit and do a sneaky bit of spectating.

Insert weak cricketing pun here

It was a bit warm today, but luckily there was a lot of shady greenery. This didn’t stop me complaining mind you.

Another lovely bridge

We spotted some Day of the Triffids style giant hogweed, which we steered well clear of. Giant hogweed was one of my more leftfield childhood fears.

Evil Giant Hogweed

There was a bit of a reminder that we’re in spitting distance of finishing the west side of the project…

So near!

…swing bridges both closed…

Closed swing bridge

and open…

Open swing bridge

…a field of sheep treading their own path of desire…

Sheep: clearly up to something

…and, two miles earlier than we expected (it makes up for my under-estimating last week), Bridge 21A.

Bridge 21A - welcome back to Lancashire

(but I actually had a double caramel Magnum)

Miles run = 5.1
Canal miles completed = 5.1
Total canal miles = 72.1/127*
Bridges = 11B – 21A

Juneathon Day 12: Canal adventure #11 – Gathurst to Wigan

Today’s canal running took us back to bridge 46, the site of the very first adventure.

The start and finish - Bridge 46

It was raining then and it was raining today, the important difference being that the first run was in February and I’m lead to believe that we’re now in June. We’d always planned this to be a tea-time run and (for reasons that we’re not quite sure about) we stuck with that plan, despite the fact that it was lovely and dry this morning, merely drizzling this afternoon and generally peeing down by 5 o’clock. Despite the weather and the fact that he didn’t have to join me (“It’s not my bloody Juneathon…”), Ginge and I duly trekked off to Gathurst to run the towpath to Wigan Pier.

As it was a there and back again, we ran the first half only stopping for one photo. This is the home of Wigan Warriors RLFC and Wigan Athletic and used to be called the JJB Stadium before its owner, Dave Whelan, had a fit of modesty and changed it from the name of his company to his initials (I know it was because there was some changes within his business empire, but he still named the bloody company after himself). In our house, it is merely known as…

...The Pie-dome

There was a lot of puddle dodging and nervous edge running because while I don’t mind getting my feet wet, I prefer not to in the first few yards of a run. Despite this, the first half went pretty quickly and soon we were at the halfway point – Bridge 52.

Half-way - Bridge 52 - the most glamorous bridge we've seen so far

Historical detail on Lock 86

We passed the British Waterways offices (incidentally, BW have denied by tweet that they are involved in a topless calendar, but may consider it in the future. I bloody love Twitter) and the Wigan dry dock…

British Waterways

Well at least something was dry

…before stopping for photos at Wigan Pier.

Gazing out on t'pier

The Pier was made famous by two Georges – Orwell and Formby Sr – and is disappointing if you’re after candy floss and arcades. It was even disappointing to George Orwell, who travelled there in 1936 only to find that it had been sold for scrap (at a price of £34)  in 1929 .

Wigan feels pier pressure when compared with Blackpool

A replica pier was built in 1986 and the area is now being redeveloped as The Wigan Pier Quarter (not The Wigan Pie Quarter as I misread). It is cobbled and as such, a pain in the arse to run on in the rain.

Did I mention that it was raining?

One of the features of canal running is the differences between towpaths – they can be tarmac, unmade paths, cobbles, paved, grassy, meaning that you can end up with a variety of running surfaces on one run. This run took in cobbles, unmade paths, block paving (complete with decorative features)…

East, west, home's best.

…and water.

We were able to run round this on the way out...

By this time, my feet were soaked and I adopted an approach of running straight through anything that didn’t appear deep enough to drown me. On we splashed, taking in this beauty…

Pure Genius

…and what appeared to be an ancient monument to the Gods of Lego.

We've no idea what this is.

I completed the run with a splashtastic sprint finish to the bridge and am now on the look out for a new camera as mine appears to be a little waterlogged. I dried out ok so fingers crossed that it does too and there’s no lasting damage.

Miles run = 6.8
Canal miles completed = 3.4
Total canal miles = 67/127*
Bridges = 46-52

*Officially over halfway there! Which is a little scary as I’m sure I have less than 11 remaining stages planned for completion.

Juneathon Day 11: Canal Adventure #10 – Chorley to Johnson’s Hillock

Today’s plan was designed to fit in around Ginge having his hair cut and take in a sneaky bit of canal. By rights, this section was supposed to be done as part of the the very last run when I will join up the East and West sides. We parked up in town and I hoofed it down the road, up a never before run (by me anyway) hill and down the other side to the canal. For those of you that think I only run in lush green places, I have to confess to a little bit of editing on this run. Only about a quarter of it was on the towpath, so things I didn’t take pictures of included:

  1. The town’s bypass
  2. B&Q
  3. The chap drinking cans of Stella whilst sitting beside the bypass near B&Q at 9 o’clock in the morning

I did take a photo of a demonlition site, but the sign that remains seemed appropriate for Juneathon.

I need one of these for our house during the Athons

On the way to the towpath, I accidentally went through some private property – my only defence for tresspassing is that I didn’t notice the slope to the canal because my attention was caught by the brightly coloured tape, smashed up pick-up and fluorescent signs. They brought it on themselves.

Bridge 78a

Down to the canal at bridge 78a and up past the U-Boat. Yes. The U-Boat. This first appeared last year, soon caught the media’s attention (it even trended on Twitter) and is now open to the public with a full multimedia experience thrown in.

The Leeds-Liverpool U-Boat

Bonkers isn

Yup. It

Sadly, it was too early for me to have a look on board, so I plodded on.

No blog is complete without wildfowl - today: geese. Honk!

The end of the canal bit, but not the end of the run.

I’d mapped the route last night and had got it into my head that it was about 3 miles. As I reached the end of the canal section I realised that I’d misjudged that slightly and the only way that it could possibly be that distance was if I ran up the hard shoulder of the motorway (am I the only one who frequently thinks that motorways would be ace to run on?). 4.75 miles later I found Ginge in the car park and that was that.

More proper canal running is planned for tomorrow – I’ve decided to make Monday the last chance to name my Garmin (I love the ideas so far) and we’ve a crowbar on standby so that the tin of Uncle Joe’s can be prised from my grasp.

Miles run = 4.75
Canal miles completed = 1
Total canal miles = 63.6/127*
Bridges = 78A-80
U-boats = 1