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Back to the Hogture

Well, it's a short race, if an odd distance (11.7k, near-as-dammit 7 miles), and it mostly circumnavigates parkland and farms that it's not easy to cross by bike, so this is a bit of a short report too. But I'll pad it out a bit with some things that you might find interesting, and if you don't, I will refund your subscription in full :-)

Getting ready for the start, a little delayed because the traffic has been very difficult. While crawling down the road, we thought there must have been an accident, a notion reinforced by the two ambulances that came roaring down on full blues-and-twos, but that turns out to be a red herring; it's just the race attendees queueing to get in. We gather they've had to change the parking arrangements at the last minute, so perhaps that's why.

Amanda is cold. No surprise there, unfortunately, but at least it's not as bad as it could have been. There's some wind, but the temperature is relatively mild and although we've had some spots of drizzle, it's dry for now.

I've carefully taken a position to get Loseley House at the start, but Amanda is too busy looking out for me and the other runners to realise that she's running past the house!

It's Sara from RTL RC. Didn't know she was here! "Hello you!" I cry, "What are you doing here?!"

And not far behind is Amanda. I'd hoped to catch her at another point nearer the start, but by the time I'd forced my bike through the muddy "short cut", she on good roads had got way ahead. I had another theory to then head back to Watts Gallery, but talking to a local dog-walking woman, she suggested I might be stymied by stiles on the route I had in mind. I just hit the road in the opposite direction to the runners, then, and while the first few guys were virtually at the finish as I rode past them, I was in good time for the mere mortals. I don't think Watts Gallery would have worked as a backdrop anyway: it's very visually interesting in itself, but not from the road AIR.

And the final straight! Sara must have crossed the line just a few moments before I arrived, because although I benefitted from a good long downhill sweep on the bike, I was still taking a longer route with a muddy track back up to the finish line, so I wasn't that much faster overall than the runners.

And she crosses the line! Never having done this race before and knowing essentially nothing about it, her goal was sub-1h which she has just achieved. A brief check of the results shows her finishing 21 out of 126 old dogs ('Open' and 'FV40+' are the only categories), or better than 5 out of 6 of them.

As it's the Hogs [sic] Back Race, the Hogs [sic] Back Brewery are the title sponsors, and a soupçon of ale is offered to finishers. Amanda, as you can see, delegates the drinking of said ale to her champion.

But she'll pretend long enough for a celebratory photo!

Here we are, the spoils! The course is in the shape of a hog, the medal is in the shape of a hog, the beer is in the name of a hog. Dunno quite where the Garmin fits in...

So back home for lunch. Note carefully my coffee mug. If you look closely, it shows me on my bike descending the final approach at Denbies for the Three Molehills, caught by Anthony of Sussex Sport Photography who never told me he'd sneakily snapped me! He just quietly put the pictures in the gallery under Amanda's race number, and she thought it would make a fine thank-you present for my support.

Note also the Badger T-shirt. As I was standing waiting for Amanda at one point, a guy running past cried out "Badger! Favourite race!" At the finish, I saw some Chineham Park RC folk, a club I'd never heard of until I got chatting to some of them at Bath the other week, which one of them had been at. It's a bloody small world, this running malarkey!

As I say, a short race report with some padding. In the afternoon, we went to RHS Wisley for a famly meetup. You don't want to see pictures of the coven (they're women of a certain age; there hasn't been a male born into the family since approximately 1560 or something; you've all seen women of a certain age before), but the illuminated flowers were very pretty.

Best seen just as it starts to get dark

In summer, the pond is full of colourful waterlilies, but it provides a fine reflection now.

And that's it then, the last race of 2015!

We're off to Ethiopia for Christmas and the New Year, so have a great time everybody and we'll see you in 2016.


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