Dear Reader: Harrogate Parkrun & a dangerous interview!

Harrogate Parkrun which is celebrating its 250th run on The Stay in Harrogate.
Harrogate Parkrun which is celebrating its 250th run on The Stay in Harrogate.

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Having been created in 1778 after the Enclosure Act finally came into effect, The Stray is about to get something truly new at the grand old age of 238.

Thanks to the brilliant organisers of Harrogate Parkrun, which is celebrating its 250th run, an AED looks likely to be installed.

That stands for Accessible Emergency Defibrillator, by the way.

Once the £2,000 fundraising target has been met, this life-saving piece of equipment will be available to everyone who uses The Stray, including the runners themselves who take part in this free-to-enter 5k Harrogate parkrun each Saturday morning on The Stray at 9am.

As much as I admire the cause, I’m not that keen to join those healthy souls in lyrca and running shoes who put the sweat into Sweaty Betty,

In the days, not that long ago, when I ran a bit myself, I once tried trudged round The Stray five times as part of my training for Leeds Abbey Dash 10k race.

My PB at that point was okay but after completing only two laps of 200 acres of wonderful park land I found myself completely bored.

Over the past two hundred years, all sorts of things have been seen on The Stray.

Sheep, horses, cattle, vegetable patches, trenches, circuses, fairs, the annual bonfire, military gatherings, live rock bands, the Great Yorkshire Show and a temporary airfield.

The one thing you won’t see on The Stray, however, is me running round it again.

I’ve had Ken Livingstone in the front seat of my car and sat knee to knee with Alastair Campbell - in the course of working for the Harrogate Advertiser Series.

Still, when it comes to danger it’s hardly Jeremy Bowen in a blue flak jacket in the rubble of Libya flinching slightly as another mortar shell lands.

It’s true I did occasionally face a gang of football hooligans when I was a young sports editor in Goole.

The chairman of one of this Humberside town’s biggest sporting clubs liked to push me towards them like a human shield whenever he was confronted by these known trouble-makers.

I was also caught in a genuine riot once at a boxing tournament in the same town, chairs and fists flying everywhere.

But neither incident was as tricky as interviewing the newly ennobled Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate the other week.

I should say straight away that the hospitality from both Timothy and his wife Caroline was warm and welcoming.

It wasn’t the matter of what questions I was going to ask the former Conservative MEP in the comfort of his home in Scotton near Knaresborough that was worrying.

No the danger was of a more practical manner.

There I was, a slice of Bettys ginger cake by my side, a pen in my hand, balancing a cup of Yorkshire tea on one knee and a scrappy bit of folded up notepaper on the other, attempting to hold a conversation and do my job while eating and drinking and writing.

I’d like to have seen Bowen avoiding spilling tea on the settee or dropping crumbs on Lord Kirkhope’s carpet.