I must stress that the title of this report is strictly
metaphorical: you will not see a single chicken at any time in the
But this is Dorking, known far and wide for its famous Chicken. I
think I mentioned in a previous report how the Dorking Cockerel
dates back to Roman times, so I won't repeat myself (and if I didn't
actually mention it at all and am suffering from false memory
syndrome, sorry. (And if I did mention it, but you personally were
not a recipient of that epistle and therefore don't know what I
said, then I'm also sorry. (And I'm sorry if I've apologised too
What? Err? Yes? Oh, back to today...
She's come to it so she'd better cross that bridge.
A few moments before, Merilyn crossed it too, but my camera battery
chose just that moment to go flat. You'd think that nearly two
decades into the 21st Century, when we were supposed to have had
flying cars and holidays on the Moon and stuff like that, we'd at
least have batteries that didn't go 'phut' at critical moments.
So to our goal, the start line on the village green.
I think this is a low-tech autocue!
As I walk down a moment before he climbs up to make his speech,
megaphone man and an associate (not in this shot) cry out to me,
"Don't touch the mat!"
Now I don't have a timing chip about my person, so i could dance an
Irish Jig on the mat without it being an issue, but I don't actually
need to cross it and don't think it's very helpful to cause trouble,
so I just shout back, "It's all right, I won't touch it! I have
committed many sins in my life, it is true, but I will not touch
Sins? The aforementioned associate informs me he's the deacon of the
What can I say, but, "Forgive me Father, for I have almost touched
the mat". I'm not sure we have time for a full-fat absolution with
all the trimmings, so a quick blessing will have to do.
Dr Rob has got himself a Steadicam clone. The big ones they use in
Hollywood will set you back a few thousand quid, but then they have
rather posher cameras too. Note that his special marshal's helmet
cover appears to have blocked all the ventilation holes; that may
turn out to be a mistake in hot sun!
And off they go. Despite intense study, I don't see a single person
I know to photograph at the start! They're in there somewhere,
Well well well...
A bit down the road, I stop to take some general shots of the
runners and suddenly this voice calls out, "Hello, we met at
Dorchester!" Yes, it's Lindsay the Wimbledon Windmiler, and somehow
she's managed to spot me. Ok, it's probably not so difficult really:
the number of people riding bright yellow bicycles wearing Friesian
cow T-shirts and carrying half a ton of camera equipment is probably
[Aside: I was thinking that if anybody asked me if I was one of the
official photographers, I was going to say, "No, they're all wearing
hi-vis vests, whereas I'm going for the inconspicuous look", but
nobody did. I'll have to save that bon mot for another
Aha, it's Natasha again, out in front of our merry band for now at
And that's the woman I'm supposed to be looking out for!
At the first water station, people are already doing the pour it on
your head thing.
Note that Merilyn has taken a cup from the water station but still
carries an entire bottle of her own! Amanda feels off-balance
carrying any sort of supplies, but fortunately for her, she has a
support team to produce gels/water/whatever her little heart may
desire at appropriate times. Usually, anyway.
Back on a villagey bit of road for now.
Nigel, Natasha and Merilyn (just) all in shot together. And number
120 looks vaguely familiar: a bit of checking via my time machine (I
won't blow anyone's mind by explaining it again) and it turns out
she's been in loads of races we've done, not least the Woodman Five
just the other week!
Because the route has some sections you cover twice, and there's
also the 10k race using part of it, there are quite a few distance
markers that you need to ignore some or all of the time. This,
however, really is six miles into the race.
And here's Sara. Nigel earlier asked if we'd seen her, but neither
of us had.
What a cheek! Sara's overtaken Amanda!
Coming up to the finish with Nigel leading our little clan. He's
about to be passed by the guy behind, but he's only a 10k-er, so it
Natasha looks like she's literally got the bit between the teeth as
she puts on a real sprint to the finishing line!
Then Sara, quite well clear of Amanda now.
Here's my girl! I don't actually see as I'm taking the photo, but
that's Lindsay just a little further back.
And now she's pipped Amanda at the post too!
About a minute slower than two years ago, but it's been very hot and
humid, not good for the lungs. Indeed, at around the 7 mile mark, I
had to stop to help a lady who was having a serious asthma attack. A
marshal called in the paramedics and I trust she is now fine, but
that's not the sort of thing Amanda wants happening to her.
Hmm... I don't think gaining the place back in the finish funnel
Back to plain old water after the posh watercress and mango
smoothies at Dorchester! And no beer either. Of course, I haven't
had a prang on the bicycle this time, so swings and roundabouts...
Although the wound doesn't look so impressive now, it's actually
much more irritating as it's scabbed over.
I will leave you with a poem that I have composed especially for
Here's to the Chicken of Dorking!
He'll help you keep running, not walking.
He'll cluck by your side
And it can't be denied
That it's fine motivational squawking!
Ok, no, I won't give up the day job, then.
Love to all,