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Santa Claus is Coming From Town

"You better watch out
You better not cry"

"You better not pout
I'm telling you why"

What am I on about? Well, all will become clear, but we'll start with Amanda and Pat walking up to the start of the Kingston 10k. That's the Hawker Centre in the background. I'd always wondered exactly what "Hawker" meant in this context, having enjoyed building plastic kits of Hawker aircraft as a young lad, and eating well at hawker stalls in South-East Asia as a more mature (FSVO 'mature') adult. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's the former; this was once the Hawker Siddeley company sports club. We did know that they used to part-build aircraft in Kingston, then ship them down to Brooklands for final assembly and flight trials, and it's a bit sad that the places where truly iconic planes like the Hurricane and Harrier came to life are now housing estates...

(Oops, take that plane nerd hat off, we've a race to run!)

The start/finish straight. To the right are soccer pitches which will be filled with sockers (is that the right word?) later, but not yet.

Looks like a fit young lad at the head of the race as they leave the road for the first time. Not that I'm necessarily any judge of these things, but my apologies if he's not eye-candy after all.

Here's Pat then. She's looking for a good time, and is well up there so far.

Amanda isn't pushing so hard, what with everything, but she's looking happy which is the main thing.

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee have been together since the start of the race, and will continue to be so on all the subsequent occasions I see them. Maybe the red mist will set in on the last kilometre and their friendship will evaporate like the dew, but maybe they'll cross the line hand-in-hand and be so overcome with happiness they'll invite everyone to their wedding.

Pat rounds the bend past Teddington Lock. This, as everyone knows, is the location where Monty Python performed the famous Fish-Slapping Dance, so that's another cultural high point of our tale today!

And here's Nicky, Pat's friend and clubmate from Ealing.

This wide shot of the lock generally could also be a "Spot the Amanda" competition. She is indeed one of the tiny figures in the background: care to take a flutter?

Ok, this one's a bit easier.

As for this one? Well, even zoomed in on the original you need to know she was there, so I'll forgive anyone who thinks this is just a scenic shot of the river.

But what's this? They're virtually neck and neck! Has Pat slowed down or Nicky speeded up? Pat fears the former :-(

And here comes Amanda, not far behind on one of the less attractive bits of the route. It's near-as-dammit exactly half Thames towpath and half dreary suburb, so we do need pictures like this to provide a fair reflection of the race as a whole.

Mind [excuse me, rant mode engaged], R&R Photography, official race photographers, apparently only managed to find an even less photogenic spot than this one, based, as best we can tell, on being less than one minute's walk from the start/finish line. Now look, the Hawker Centre is quite literally sandwiched between the Thames and the A307, so we're talking maybe thirty seconds difference in the time it takes to get to a really attractive riverside location and a really crap one. Ok, maybe if there's only one of you, you can't get both the last people at around 5.5km and the first people at the finish, but even then, you're choosing poor pictures of everyone over good pictures of most. And everyone's got a mate or family member with a phone taking perfectly decent if nothing special pictures that they're not going to expect payment for! [Ok rant over!]

As Amanda finishes, we see Mr R&R. Give him his due, he's more visible than the Ninja stealth position the SnapMyRace guy took at Wimbledon last year... Hmm, let me cut'n'paste...

If you look closely (and I certainly didn't at the time, nor did most of the runners), there's a chap with a camera who's the official race photographer!

Here, let me zoom in! Not that easily distinguished from a casual spectator, eh?

Oops, sorry, rant really over now...

Back to today: our girls pore over the results. It's a bit hard to tell, but it looks like a prize or two could be on the cards!

And there we go! Nicky wins V40 prize!

Pat would have won V50, but...

She's third female overall!

Not just a cup, but cash too! Well that's a grand day out!

She's about to leave, but the MC points out that they don't do that at the Olympics - all the medallists have to stand together - and they're not going to do it here! Then they ask the female winner to say a few words. She's clearly not prepared for making a speech and just basically says, "Work hard and do your best!", which suggests that she'd best not consider a future career as a politician...

So, where was I with the Santa Clause is Coming to Town lyrics...? You what? Why?

Oh yes, right, maybe I didn't say... After the Kingston 10k in the morning, it's the Princess Alice Hospice Santa Fun Run in the afternoon.

Err, now I'm getting confused with the Pied Piper... "Yes, that is a megaphone in my pocket - but I'm pleased to see you anyway".

'Ere they come, 'ere they come, 'ere they come!

Amanda is ahead of Pat here, but sadly it won't last. She was going to take it easy until she got the bit between her teeth; runners, eh?!

Only the other week, this was all green! And the deer all seem to have flown south for the winter too... But on a more immediate note, you will observe that Pat's beard has become a kind of pony tail!

Hmm, Amanda's beard isn't exactly showing itself either.

Nothing like getting the kids to join in with a bit of exercise; and indeed this is nothing like that. They may possibly wake up on the bumpier bits, but they seem to be snoring away for now.

So then, it's farewell from our Santa Sisters...

...And farewell from the man with the micro-Christmas cake. I must feed the rest with a bit more rum before Christmas itself, but I'm rather pleased at how they have survived the fire! Ok, maybe I'm wearing the hat under false pretences, but then again: Pat kept saying how hard the run was, despite the fact that she could have eased off any time she wanted. I had to chase her and Amanda, and that's far harder work than ever comes naturally to the inveterately slothful such as I! I'm sure chasing women was easier in my youth...

Oh, and before I forget, at Teddington Lock when the first of the runners was coming through, a lady walking her dog asked the marshall there what was happening - which he could readily answer - and why they were doing it - which had him a bit stumped!

I explained that it was because they were crazy: that there was this 'sensible' bit in the ordinary brain that runners simply didn't have, and she expressed her delight that I'd understood her question. But look: this was a 10k, and sure, the Santa run was another five, making nearly ten miles in all. Merilyn meanwhile, is off on a 55 (let me be clear: fifty five) mile run (yes, that is two and a bit marathons for the arithmetically challenged), which she won as a prize!!! Perhaps that was only third prize, and second was Ebola virus and first was being an aristo in revolutionary France...

I'm sure that once upon a time I used to hang out with normal women...

Love to all,


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