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Denbies 10

It's turned a bit chilly recently, I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that. It's the downside of beautiful clear blue winter days, no insulating blanket of dull grey cloud. There's probably some kind of moral in that, but I don't do morals if I can possibly help it, so let's move on!

Hmm... I think I need to replace the bottle of water I had in the car.

Pretty but cold at Denbies.

And here they come! Box Hill in the background, of course, scene of the Knacker Cracker a few weeks ago. Quite a few Trionium old lags to be seen amongst the runners here, taking things easy for a bit.

And Amanda's in the lead at the top of Ranmore Hill. Sadly, it's just a gap in the field. The fetching little hoodie she's wearing is actually a rowing top, which is like a cycling top in that it's extra-long at the back. The idea is to keep you covered while bending forward, of course, but in this case, it's good for keeping the bum just that tiny bit warmer.

That's St John the Evangelist at Wotton for the church-spotters amongst you. At one time, the route took the runners through the churchyard itself, which meant climbing over a stile. I don't know whether it was people falling over or the vicar bringing down the wrath of God that got the route changed to stay outside it.

The sun obviously hasn't been on the far slope long enough to melt the frost and ice.

This is about to become a residential street, but from this angle it looks quite mysterious.

The glorious view from the top of Ranmore Hill. Ish. The runners are mostly too knackered to care about anything here except the fact that there's a bloody photographer pointing a camera at them! The (theoretical) view, of course, is why SSP have a photo point here, and the poor guys and girls do get a few flat yards to recover before their big moment.

I, on the other hand, have no commercial need to show them in their best light. Besides, Amanda is good on uphills (it's the downs that get her), so she's gaining on these people and looking a lot less strained.

See, look at that, full of beans! Or maybe it's Pavlovian, whenever she sees a man with a big lens...

Now this is pretty murky and Amanda is an even tinier speck to the naked eye, but it's quite amazing how you can recognise somebody barely visible in the distance just by the way they move.

The final descent through the vineyard remains one of her absolute fave bits of any race anywhere.

Having not just run 9.9 tough miles, I can easily beat Amanda over the final couple of hundred yards, especially taking a shortcut past the farm shop. This still seems to impress people, and I get a few suprisingly non-ironic cheers from the spectators! And I have a suspicion that when Amanda checks out her official photos, they will include some of a strange man with cameras in both hands just ahead of her.

No favouritism at the water station, please!

The traditional jump: "Hood up or hood down?" We do both, but the hood somehow wins out.

And afterwards, we go to RHS Wisely to see the butterflies in the glasshouse. It's a regular annual event now, and we've been many times, but it's still fun, even with the queueing. This (as I'm sure you all know) is one of the Blue Morphos ( It's not the biggest in the world by a long way, but it makes anything you'll see in your garden look tiny!

Until the next race, then.

Love to all,


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