So, I spent 9 hours a bus to run a 30 minute race. That may seem a bit excessive, but I did get to see some of Leeds too. Although Leeds is one of the largest cities in England, it is not a tourist destination. It is largely an industrial city. I expected it to be a real dirty dump (kind of like Hamilton …he he), but I was surprised by how commercial it was. The city centre is full of shops and markets housed in old Victorian Era buildings. With all the Christmas lights strung everywhere it was all very magical. The people are even more fashion obsessed than Londoners, and it was more pronounced because there were less tourists walking around with backpacks and crumpled jackets (I may have been the only one).
The only real tourist attraction in Leeds is the Royal Armouries – a great shrine of swords, guns, and violence dedicated to the gods of War. I wasn’t too interested in the myriad of weapons they had, but I did enjoy the exhibits on castle building and battle strategies. I guess I’m more of an engineer than a soldier. They also had a really good display on the Battle of Waterloo, complete with a giant battle scene with thousands of little plastic soldiers.
Leeds has a huge student population and is well known for its nightlife. However, I was alone and had a race to run Sunday morning, so I missed probably the greatest attraction in the city. Instead I spent Saturday night curled up with the Chronicle of Narnia. I stayed in the Clock Hotel, a low real hole in the wall hotel that is under new management and undergoing a renovation. The place is still a dump, but the furniture is all new and the bed was super comfy. It was the best night’s sleep I’ve had since I arrived in London. It helped that I was able to leisurely wake up in the morning. I wasn’t woken by Miles’ alarm clock at 6:15, Trish wasn’t yelling at the dog, and my roommates weren’t going about their morning rituals. Instead, I slowly woke up, grabbed some fresh fruit and my book, and snacked on grapes and read my book until I had to leave for the race.
Finding the start of the race was a bit of a panic. Roundhay Park is the size of Assiniboine Park and I hadn’t received a race package. Luckily as the bus drove by the park I saw a lot of runners with numbers on their chests assembling and followed them to the start of the race. It was an hour before I thought the race started, so I was surprised to see everyone standing at a starting line. Then an official pulled up in a car, explained the rules, and started the race. I thought “great, came all this way and I missed the race”. Turned out it was only the 5 km fun run, but I still didn’t have a bib. I found an official who pointed me in the direction of a church that was serving as race headquarters.
The ladies at the race headquarters didn’t know anything about my registration, so I had to re-register and pay another 10 quid to enter. That’s what I get for sending cash by post. But after that the race went off without further complication (no, I don’t consider puking a complication, it’s all part of the journey).
After the race I found a little local cafe that served Vegetarian English breakfast, complete with veggie bacon and sausage. At least I think it was veggie. It was the perfect protein punch to refuel the muscles after a hard race. I then spent the next few hours exploring more of the shops. Maybe I was already tired from the race, but shopping seemed more exhausting than running a 5 mile race. I didn’t buy anything, but I’m gathering ideas for Christmas presents. I just have to convince myself that Canadians can handle the crazy fashions here.