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Paddock Wood

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 unusual.

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 Amanda.

Anthony's kneeling, so he'll probably appreciate my Biblical reference earlier.

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 ten miles.

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 industrial estate.

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,


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