"In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of
But it's not quite spring yet, so something a bit heavier is called
for. What, though? I know! How about wife-carrying?!
Nobody quite understands Rob's invisible-bow-and-arrow mime, but
nobody's quite rude enough to say so.
Slightly ominous cloud in the background, but the sun is shining
here as the leaders leap the final hay bales. This is something of a
pleasant surprise as the forecast has been pretty awful.
But who needs rain when you have a small army of enthusiastic bucket
Goodness! Rob has another new wife! He'll be making Henry
VIII turn in his grave at this rate!
The shoulder carry is good for helmet-cam footage, but slow, which
is why none of the serious contenders use it. However, this has the
hidden advantage that the buckets are almost empty by the time you
get to them. One is never entirely sure quite how much Rob tells his
wives about what's going to happen, which may explain the quickie
divorce every time.
Later finishers get an honour guard of earlier ones.
This is the second of two all-female teams, and we've had every
possible combination in the past (including bigamy), so when the
Daily Mail calls this "The most gloriously un-PC sporting event in
Britain", one suspects they haven't quite been paying attention.
Still, press interest in the event is growing every year, as shown
by the number of photographers and videographers turning up. I may
have to get a bigger lens if I want to impress the ladies in future!
There are prizes for last finisher and heaviest wife, and it's not
surprising that they are often the same couple.
The winners have come all the way from Wales specially to take part,
and are keen to represent Britain at the world championships in
Finland this year. And if you look carefully, you'll see Amanda in
the background, wrapped up warm. We have no plans to enter this
And so the Leith Hill Half begins. The hay bales are in bounds for
anyone who wants to show off, but nobody does that I can see.
Amanda has some kind of lurgy, so she's going to take it very easy.
Any worse and she'd have pulled out, but she reckons she should be
able to get round.
There are times when if one didn't know better, one might wonder
about his proclivities...
A few other supporters have taken the same muddy trail from the
start as me. It's flatter and more direct than the race route, but
even more wet and slippery, and it's a good job Amanda isn't a
younger man or I'd never get there in time.
Here she is, a bit isolated towards the rear when she'd normally be
in the thick of the main pack.
Back at the start, they're clearing up the hay bales. I'd offer to
help but I have to jump in the car and head to Leith Hill. Well
that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
For the first time, I'm taking some pictures from the top of the
tower. The sun has come back out and the views are superb.
And here's the first lady. We will later learn that she is Georgie
Bruinvels, who made some headlines in 2015 by winning the female
prize in the Manchester Marathon by a seven-minute margin despite
never having run the distance before in her life. Shades of Julia
Bleasdale who shattered our very own Greensand Marathon record in
2013 in her first ever 26.2.
Through the trees, you can see the turnaround point and the view the
runners have if they're not too knackered to appreciate it.
From here I can check out the women's bald patches...
...and the men's cleavage...
It's pretty windy on the tower, and I want some more conventional
angles, so back down I come.
"No funny faces, Nigel?" "I'm too bloody knackered!"
Amanda is just beginning the return half now. We'd agreed that if
she didn't feel up to continuing, she'd stop here, but although
she's definitely finding it tough, she's carrying on.
See you later!
I go back down to the car park and start my return, thinking how
lucky we've been with the weather, and at the very moment I have
that thought, it starts raining. Oops, sorry folks, my apologies for
tempting the weather gods. Up on the hills I gather they even get a
bit of hail :-(((
But wouldn't you know it, by the time I'm ready to take some more
pictures, it's stopped and it's all looking pretty again.
Approaching the top of The Nower. It looks a bit like I've hit a
dead end, but there is a narrow (and muddy, of course) path here.
The final climb up the Nower steps is a real killer.
Even with a dog to pull you up, it's still not easy.
Still, it's surprising how cheerful people can be, even when they're
accusing me of outrageous cruelty for taking pictures at this point.
I explain that I am simply an evil man: my mother never loved me and
I'm taking it out on them.
She looks positively frisky!
Amanda struggles a bit up the steps and needs to stop for a couple
of puffs on her inhaler before continuing. But now that she's on the
flat she's all smiles again and she's off; and even in her weakened
state I can't keep up for long.
She begins the final descent. With a combination of a short cut and
the fact that I can run faster than her downhill, I almost
catch up by the finish.
So there it is. A substantial PW for the course, but she's finished
without mishap and despite being convinced she would be dead last,
there are still plenty behind her.
Love to all,