Nonline Bants at the PBGP.

Like most people these days, I spend a lot of time on social media. I catalogue my entire existence on Instagram, like/wow/sad face emoji the mundane on Facebook, save recipes I’ll never cook on Pinterest and obviously witter and waffle on WordPress. (I draw the line at Snapchat. Selfies with dog ears? I don’t get it?)

Social media sites are a brilliant platform for connecting with people. Running forums and groups have provided me with training advice, support and plenty of banter. I’ve met up with people at races that I’ve come to know online and have good friends that I will never meet.

I find that nonline, people aren’t interested in my running. They don’t care if my 10k pb is sub-hr, sub-50, sub-40 or sub-anything-come-to-think-of-it. I don’t bore people at work talking about races, (though I have been known to corner people and talk marathons on a bus,) going online is where I get my fix.

I am the daughter of a runner. A runner who was running in the days before the internet. A runner who had to enter races by post and send a stamped addressed envelope if he wanted the results sent by mail. (Imagine having to wait a fortnight to see how you’ve done!) An era before chip timing, energy gels, gait analysis Garmin, Strava and social networking. So where did Pops get all his running bants from?

As a new runner, I was intimidated by the Pendle and Burnley Grand Prix; I remembered it as a series of races that my Dad used to sneak out to do mid-week. Proper races for proper runners. I also remember the arguments with my mum about when he was going to eat the tea she’d made him! (Half before then the other half in the microwave for later seemed to work for him.) The idea of lining up against the areas serious club runners scared me and I did a lot of other events before I dared to try a PBGP one.

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What I discovered was that the PBGP is not just a cracking series of races it’s a kind of real life, nonline running community with plenty of craic! Throughout the summer months everyone ends up at the grand prix at some point. Yes, there’s the fast lads in the teeny shorts up the front but it’s not an elite set up; normals like me rock up too clutching five pound notes (seriously cheap race entry,) and looking for the freebie safety pins. Unlike the cross country, where we huddle together in our club tents glaring at each other, not daring to cross party lines and going to war in the mud, the PBGP is an opportunity to mingle, meet up with people, oh and do a bit of running.

Everyone has their favourite race, (there’s 14 to choose from in 2017,) and everyone has their nemesis. Regular runners will find themselves in competition with new-found frenemies and with much sweaty hand shaking, hugging and laughter they’ll swear to catch them next time. There’s no team prizes so, if your not chasing a time, you can have a good ole chinwag as you go and put the world to rights, (it can’t be just me that does that?) 

Ok, now I am one happy Humbug but I’m also a cheerleader of the Tangerine Army. Club affiliations don’t seem to matter at the grand prix so much and it’s great. At the final junior race last year, I spotted my son shaking hands with a Barlick lad he’d sparred with over the past few meetings; so hopefully this mindset will be passed to the next generation.

The PBGP is not exclusively for clubs; plenty of unattached runners take part. In fact, there’s no dress code. No rule stating that if you’re rushing from work you can’t wear whichever top was clean. (Personally I always do a quick mirror check along the lines of “will David Belshaw spot me?” But that goes for all local races. Again, surely not just me?)

I’ve discovered what my dad already knew, if you want to have running bants you don’t have to go online. There’s a whole nonline community of runners on your doorstep! Training goals mean that I’m not planning on a full assault of the entire PBGP in 2017 but I will be cherry picking. And there’s no charge for hanging around with a cowbell milking the bants for free. 

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