To Denbies, then, hoping that Storm Angus will find somewhere more
to his taste... ("Angus"?! Whoever thought of naming a Southern
England storm "Angus"?)
Ah, chocolate! There's a whole room full of artisan chocolatiers
proferring their wares for our perusal...
But they're not quite open yet, and there's the minor detail of a
race to be run first. Ho hum.
The bag ladies do whatever it is that bag ladies do with their bags.
"Do I really have to take my fleece off?"
"Follow these signs, not any of the others out there!"
What was it Robert Browning wrote? "Oh to be on the A24, now that
November rain's there"? Is that right? Or am I getting him confused
I think it's safe to say that the stepping stones do not form part
of the route today.
Ah, here they come on the alternate route.
Across the bridge instead. Rather drier!
The Belted Galloways are sensible for once and keep out of the way.
I tell Amanda to smile for them, but she's feeling very unhappy
after the downhill on the rough chalk track. In previous years the
route has gone down the grass slope where the cows are now, but
apparently that's fenced off at the top to keep the cows in, hence
the need for the slight change.
The top of the road section before returning to muddy trails in
Norbury Park. It's a good job I can take lots of short cuts, because
going up this hill on the bike I'm a fair bit slower than any
Amanda has been told that there are some very special puddles just
for her on this leg. Unfortunately, she's long gone by the time I
get to any of them. I thought I'd leave the bike because part of my
route to the next point involves cutting through a fenced-off field,
so while I can keep up for a couple of minutes, this section is
longer than I remembered and I decide to conserve my energy. Amanda
may need me to be strong later.
At this point I'm standing next to one of the official SSP
photographers, so I'm not sure if Claire's doing this for him or me.
One guy stops and strikes a special pose for his photo: apparently
the people who do that never actually buy them! We have an
interesting chat about how so many other race photographers seem to
be completely useless when it really shouldn't be the proverbial
rocket science. [Note for pedants: rocket science is
actually very simple; rocket engineering is hard!]
"Don't look at him!" I shout to Amanda, "He'll only want you to pay
for the pictures!" Although we'll quite likely buy at least one of
Amanda's favourite part, the final descent through the vineyards,
because I can't be there for that photo and still get back to the
finish in good time.
So I'm up at Ranmore Hill and this woman obviously thinks I'm worth
making an effort for, because initially I'm not looking at her when
she does a jump for the camera and so she does it again! Still, as
you can tell from the red final digit of her number, she's only done
this section. I don't expect anyone on their third Molehill to be
quite so frisky!
Amanda appears in the distance. Just this slight climb and then it's
downhill all the way to the finish. Pity really that downhill isn't
her greatest strength in running terms, but she does love that last
Viewed through one of my shortcuts, the aforementioned final
section. Actually, it's great fun on the bike too, because after
this short bit of rough track, you get onto the main road and can
pick up some real speed if there's enough of a gap between the
runners. It's only fair to detour onto the grass to give them plenty
of clearance, but this time I have an almost free run to the bottom
before I go offroad. It's a bit too fast and bumpy to see if the SSP
guy there is one of the ones I know, but I definitely see the camera
being pointed at me too!
Amanda round the final bend to the finish.
And the traditional victory jump!
Things you see (a continuing series...): This is the last person who
was caught wearing headphones in an ETL race.
Ok, no, that's not true. It's the DJ's mascot. Or something.
And to close, an arty-farty still life: the spoils of victory. "Old
Speckled Hen" is a beer I know of old, but other kinds of
henniness need to be investigated. And "Tangle Foot"? I think it
should be obvious why that's appropriate today!
Right, that's it: now for a shower, clean clothes and some strong
Love to all,