A spectator

What I didn't cross today...

What I didn’t cross today…

Today, one of Leeds’ major sporting events took place. While it was awesome being in the city centre for the start of the Tour de France (considering it was a once-in-a lifetime event), it felt less fun being a spectator for another major athletic competition starting in the city centre.

The big event in town...

The big event in town…

For one Sunday in November, the Abbey Dash takes over the city’s streets – at least, a couple in the city centre and Kirkstall Road. I participated in the fun last year and since I’m still in the city, it would only be natural for me to partake in the fun again this year…

Except that I kept procastinating and procrastinating when it came time to register for this year’s edition. I figured I would sign up at the last minute. But then… I never got around to registering for the Abbey Dash (obviously, I have had a lot of other things on my mind recently).

Not that being absent from this year’s edition was a bad thing. I didn’t take my running shoes to the United States when I was home for my father’s funeral. I didn’t take my shoes to London when I was there for the World Travel Market. So, I had two weeks of no training. And that inactivity has resulted in two subpar ParkRuns – subpar by my standards (over 18-minute 5k runs). Maybe I did myself a favor by not taking part in the Abbey Dash because I haven’t been in shape. Although it was weird explaining to people why I wasn’t partaking in the fun (It certainly is an event I should be in).

One of the first wheelchair finishers

One of the first wheelchair finishers

One of the first finishers

One of the first finishers

But watching the event was interesting experience. I took up a spot near the finish line with a clear view of the clock, which provided me a glimpse of how fast the elite runners completed the 10km (Someone recommended that I take up a spot at a viaduct near the one or two km point. But I was too lazy to try to figure where that was). The top finishers were definitely under 30 minutes and some of them seemed to have run low-29. The elite runners crossed the finish line at times faster than I thought they would.

The top female finisher, Stephanie Twell, and the mayor of Leeds

The top female finisher, Stephanie Twell, and the mayor of Leeds

The Abbey Dash is definitely a faster race than the 10km one I ran earlier this summer (which finishes at the same location as the Abbey Dash) – the Abbey Dash is bigger and seems to contain more of an elite field than the 10km race in the summer (In the women’s field, a couple of the competitors actually took part in this year’s Commonwealth Games). In any case, being stationed near the finish line was a fun people watching activity – despite the cold (I don’t think this Abbey Dash would have been fun to run in) – as after the 35-minute mark, runners started crossing the finish line in bigger and bigger groups. Some competitors mustered enough energy to sprint across the finish line while others jogged comfortably home. Fortunately, no one I saw walked across the finish line.

It's back in town....

It’s back in town….

The Abbey Dash wasn’t the only big gathering in town, though. A short walk from the finish line in Millennium Square, the German Christmas Market was entertaining and ripping off shoppers. A bunch of the Hyde Park Harriers made their way to the market to enjoy a post-race beer or two. At first, I didn’t know where everyone was gathering (I first met up with Nishant and some of his friends at some eatery named the Alp Chalet) but although the market was crowded, it wasn’t difficult to find members of the Hyde Park Harriers because the space set aside for the market is rather condensed.

I don’t know how German the market is, but it treats locals to overpriced beer, food and drink. Conversely, it is a setting to get some Christmas shopping done and buy appropriate Yuletide candy. I didn’t see any Christmas stockings on sale but at like any good Christmas market (at least, the ones I saw in France), crêpes were available to much on.

Big Daddy Kane

Big Daddy Kane

Fortunately, on this cold and gray Sunday, there was fun to held indoors. Currently, the Leeds Central Library is hosting an exhibition until November 29 titled “Architects of Kulture” that is celebrating the 35+ years of hip-hop. The exhibition really hasn’t been heavily promoted around town but flyers for it have been posted in certain locales although I don’t remember where I first saw a flyer for the exhibition. In any case…

For the exhibition, the library’s first floor is home to likenesses of numerous hip-hop icons (and others – like James Brown – who were instrumental in the creation of hip-hop), several of which seems to have been created by a woman named Marcia Brown. At first glance, “Architects of Kulture” seems underwhelming as it solely seems to house several drawings. But a further exploration of the exhibition space takes you to several books devoted to hip-hop, which were placed under some of the likenesses. In general, those books were fascinating reads as one of them explored issues regarding race and hip-hop and another I saw delved into hip-hop in Africa.

Here’s more wonderful artwork from the exhibition:

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill

LL Cool J

LL Cool J

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