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As Easy As Falling Off A Slog

This will be my fourth Surrey Slog photostory, so there's a real danger of repeating myself. I must find new things to say! Or at least new ways to say the same old things that might fool you into thinking they're new things. Ok, so it doesn't work for Theresa May, but perhaps I'll be better at it than she is... But wait a mo', thinking about it, she doesn't do that: she says the same old thing in the same old way but just claims that it's new! That might work...

"Slog means Slog!"

Convincing? I think so!

Ok, that's definitely new!

She's standing in a group with her arms crossed initially, but is happy to reveal all for me.

The lad on the right reckons he's an expert at falling over, and promises he'll try to make sure that I can capture it on camera. Could he be seeking to usurp Amanda's crown?

I want to try and find some new spots to take pictures, so I'm looking down on the start from the top of the hill by the school itself.

This is why, so I can get the school with the runners coming towards me. In previous years I've only had them sideways or retreating, so to speak.

Neither my Runnymede guy nor Amanda are falling over yet.

Sorry, Dave. You get the rather less grand gatehouse.

Now I have to follow behind the runners over the stile and along the narrow footpath. This section is the reason I don't take my bike for this race, because it's the only efficient route to the main part of the course around Hurt Wood. To do it by bike would be a huge detour and take longer. What might possibly work is to take the bike by car to the Radnor Road car park and leave it tied up there waiting for me, but I'm not sure the faff would be worth it.

For whatever reason, the entry is small this year - the lowest since Amanda first ran it in 2011 - and the runners are very quickly spread out. I have relatively few shots with more than one person except where friends are deliberately running together. Amanda is feeling a bit isolated already.

We gather that they've been cutting down trees to return some areas to heathland, providing a more varied habitat for wildlife. I doubt this open view was here last year.  We had a similar removal of trees from common land near us in Esher a few years ago; it did look a bit devastated for a while, and a lot of residents weren't very happy, but now you'd think it had always been like that.

A little past the halfway mark, and it's time for me to give Amanda a flapjack and some water. The marshals are most impressed with the speed and precision of this manouevre!

However, when she requests the "Other half at the trig point!" I have to tell her that I don't think I stand a chance of getting there before her. I had originally planned to be there, but I must have misread the complex route.

After some pondering and further study of the map, I decide that my best bet is to follow the final loop of the race in reverse, thus guaranteeing I will see Amanda again at some point, and with luck, still be able to get back to the finish ahead of her.

More Runnymede Runners, this time at a marshal station. The pink thing at the bottom right is the little girl's tent: there's posh!

Still not fallen over, it seems. Oh well, maybe the heat is a bit too much for such strenuous activity. It's hard enough just running.

I don't know. I don't think I want to know!

All alone in the woods, it must have an effect...

Aha! Successful accomplishment of Part 1 of my plan. But I'm not absolutely certain where we both are now on our relative paths, so will I be able to get back in time for Part 2? We will see.

Incidentally, not obvious in the picture, but Amanda has fallen over. Nothing serious, just a bit of a graze and a lot of dirt.

You saw their backsides earlier, here are their frontsides: the back markers are just beginning their final loop through the woods. I tell them, "I'd say you're looking good, ladies, but that's sexual harrassment these days so I won't." One replies, "We'll take it anyway!"

Right, now she was a little bit ahead of Amanda earlier, so if she's behind me now, I should be ok.

So I'm chatting to the marshal on whistle duty by the stile: his job is to blow a whistle to warn the marshals handling the road crossing that a runner is coming because they can't see anyone until it's a bit too late. I catch a movement in the corner of my eye, look round, and blimey, Amanda is almost upon us! Whoops, bye, must run!

Made it!

Slog complete, and just behind her, the really hard work of timekeeping goes on. To be fair, even just sitting, it's pretty hot in the open without any shade.

I noticed that I hadn't seen Dave after the start, and it turns out that the heat got to him quite early and he retired. I suspect he wasn't the only one.

And so to Hannah Peschar Sculpture Park, just down the road and which we've visited several times post-Slog now. The turnover in artworks means there's always plenty of change over the course of a year. The Gunnera is not a work of art, of course, but it's pretty impressive even so.

Better have some proper art then...

I guess this is taking "let's get naked!" to the next level.

Love to all,


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