Unlikely “Librarians” - Whickham Library

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What do volunteer librarians do in their time off?

Whickham Library
Published by John Lavender in Thoughts of a Volunteer · 29 August 2018
This Volunteer is a "Total Warrior"

One of the longest standing volunteers at Whickham Library, John Lavender has an alter ego as  an "Obstacle Racer",  a Sport which combines overcoming obstacles, both natural and man-made, and cross-country running.

The sport is relatively new to the UK, having crossed the Atlantic some years ago  from the States; it is firmly established now and many people will have heard of “Tough Mudder” and “Spartan Race” which  are the best-known events of the Genre.

“Total Warrior” is another of the events in the UK, which take place anually in two or three locations; in Yorkshire at Bramham Park, near Wetherby, Shap in Cumbria, near Penrith, and last year, in Oxfordshire.

The Format is fairly straightforward. Competitors have to complete the course as quickly as possible, and are categorised in age groups, similarly to other sports such as athletics.

The age limit for adult events is generally 18, but some events have junior races of around 1-3 km with miniaturised versions of the obstacles the adults face, for younger people from about age 10.

The courses are rugged, with usually, about 25-30 obstacles over a distance of between 10 and 15 km (6 and 10 miles).

The longer events, such as the 10 mile event in "Total Warrior" (Shap) include a fell-run of about 3 Miles.  Clothing for the runs is up to the competitor; most runners will wear breathable tops and shorts, with highly-specialised footwear.
Depending on the amount of mud and water expected, some will refine their clothing accordingly.

John did his first obstacle run in 2014 when aged 62, and did his first "Total Warrior" event in 2015 at Bramham Park. He completed the course in just over 2 hours 20 minutes (distance was about 12k).

This year, his "Total Warrior" events were at Bramham Park, and Shap.  

He completed the Shap course in 3 hours 15 minutes and was narrowly beaten in to Second Place on the fell-run section of the course, by about 10 minutes by another experienced fell-runner.  For this run, he ran with his training partner, Lorraine Smith, a NHS worker from Stocksfield in Northumberland.  She completed the course in an Identical time, each supporting and helping each other as required around the Course.

I think I now know why John always looks tired when he turns up for his shift.  Well done John you are an inspiration to us all.


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Whickham Volunteer Library Association
9 Front Street, Whickham, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE16 4DN, UK
TeL: 0191 433 6424     Fax: 0191 433 6425
website: www.whickhamlibrary.co.uk
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