To the wilds of Kent today, to the Paddock Wood Half Marathon.
Google tells us it'll take around an hour, so we set off in good
time and get there nice and early. Well, almost. We make excellent
speed nearly all the way, until just a mile or so from our
destination we suddenly grind to a halt. Paddock Wood is not a big
place, and its roads are not really designed for several thousand
people suddenly appearing out of nowhere :-(
From worrying that Amanda would get cold hanging around before the
start, we're now worrying about just getting there!
The official car park is a good mile or so from the race village, so
Amanda has to break into a jog to stand a chance of being on time.
And we're far from the last to arrive; there's absolutely no way
that everyone is going to make it. We're a bit surprised that no
mention of traffic problems whatsoever is made in the race info,
because we can't see anything to suggest that this year might be
Here she comes, getting an unexpected warm-up lap in first.
The race begins. Amanda has arrived with seconds to spare and finds
herself starting in the 1:20 pen because she can't get further back
before they're off!
Ok, let's see what happens!
There's an obvious spot for supporters to gather about two miles in,
and I get there to find Claire and a couple of people holding a big
banner. This is a major club event, but nobody else seems to have
anything quite so grand.
Blimey there's a lot of Dulwich Runners! (For reasons best known to
somebody other than me, multiple drag-and-drop has put them into
reverse order, so just think "Matthew 20:16" to yourself...)
I've got forty here, and probably still missed a few. Even Claire
didn't recognise all of them.
Fortunately I'm not so blinded by the vast DR horde that I miss
Anthony's kneeling, so he'll probably appreciate my Biblical
The race heads off into a big loop around farmland that doesn't seem
to have any roads crossing it, so I'm going to take off in the
opposite direction and meet them halfway. That's the plan, anyway.
This is not one of yer charity races where people wear fancy dress,
so perhaps this chap is advertising his tutu-manufacturing business.
The extra wind resistance can't be slowing him down too much,
though, because he's well up towards the front of the pack.
Amanda's much more in the thick of it.
Proof that we're in Kent: oast houses! They're all over the place
here, mostly turned into homes now.
At this point the marshals are all calling out, "Only a parkrun to
go now!" Well, yes, but a normal parkrun starts at zero, not
Spectators line the road near the finish.
Here's Joanne, Amanda shouldn't be far behind. After all the scenic
country roads, the finish is a rather less picturesque small
Yep, here she is. The place I was standing had a fairly good
sightline all the way down the finishing straight when I first took
up position, but then a bunch of people got in the way, so no actual
line-crossing pics :-(
After the race, we're heading towards Tunbridge Wells and looking to
see if we can find somewhere pleasant to stop for a bit of lunch,
and we come to Matfield, proud possessor of the largest village
green in Kent we learn! Amanda is doing a kind of static non-jumping
star jump because she's not keen on falling in the pond.
I don't do star jumps anyway. I shall just look dignified.
So after a slightly uncertain start, it's turned out to be a fine
day for a fine race.
Until the next one, then,