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Happenings Ten Years Time Ago

Goodness me! It's almost exactly ten years since Michael Jackson died, and by a weird coincidence, it's ten years since Amanda ran the Claygate Country Five for the first – and until now only – time. I wonder what else is having a tenth anniversary?

Well, Farah Fawcett died on the exact same day as Michael Jackson and the United Nations General Assembly declared 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibres.

Not impressed?

Ok, let's talk about the race.

Here we are on a rather dull and dismal drizzly Sunday morning. The weather's been nice all week and it's supposed to get better again later today, but who knows? At least it's not quite the total downpour of the Apple Pi Run about this time last year, so I'm not having to resort to the underwater camera like I did then.

More history repeating itself! Sarah from down the road is here too, this time with her friends Denise and Jackie. Merilyn was originally going to be running, but has had to pull out through injury. She thought maybe she'd marshal or just pop along to support, but now she's not even sure if she's up to that. In the end, the combination of pain and bad weather gets the better of her.

It's a Stragglers v 26.2 RRC mob match, so an official team photo is required.

Cheer up love, it may never happen!

Looks like a good splash of yellow near the front. In the background, you can see 26.2's rather posh marquee thing, which keeps all their gear and cake dry. It makes the Stragglers' simple banner look a bit junior, but we take comfort from the fact that all their luxury seems to have rendered them soft and weak!

Ok, there's Amanda, where are Sarah and co?

Ah, that's them!

Now in 2009, after the start I just hung around until the runners came back again, but these days I have to work a bit harder for my adulation, so it's on the bike and off into the drizzle!

As I'm arriving, I see the race leader disappearing ahead of me, so this is number two here.

First Straggler is something like fifth or sixth overall, I think.

Look closely. Number 363 is blind and being guided, but he's still ridiculously fast! I saw him at the Dorking 10 last month [yes, I got side-tracked and haven't actually written that one up yet; it's coming, honest!], and he needed to change guides halfway through because he'd worn out the first.

Eek! Amanda's just been overtaken by somebody in a wheelchair. Now sure, on the road, the chair's going to be fast, but they now have the greater part of the race to do on some fairly uneven and muddy trails.

It's not quite like some of the Surrey Hills trails, but even so...

I had been a bit concerned that I might not recognise a couple of women I'd only met for the first time today, but they're making it easy for me. I like easy women. [Does that sound right?]

Ok, now let's go to Arbrook Common and take some pictures in a slightly less urban setting.

As I arrive, another Straggler emerges.

Now apparently, the kids usually race off far too quickly to sustain their pace, and the hares soon find themselves being overtaken by the more sensible and experienced tortoises. But we're well past the halfway mark here, and this bunch look like they've still got plenty of energy.

And it's that wheelchair again! I can now see that it's a 26.2 woman named Claudia, or at least that's what her shirt says. Obviously she may have stolen it and assumed the real Claudia's identity for mysterious reasons of which I know nothing. [TBF, I accept that this is unlikely, and my imagination may be getting a bit carried away. But you never know...]

And muddy trail or no, she's gained considerably on Amanda since they entered entered the common.

Note that Amanda isn't looking at me and smiling or waving. She's looking at the ground so as not to trip over! There's a particularly slippery bit just before here, and several people have had a slight wobble there, although nobody's actually fallen.

I don't think I can wait here for Sarah, Denise and Jackie now, because they are probably sufficiently far back that I'd then not be able to get to the finish in time for Amanda.

Here she is, definitely smiling now.

Slightly more than a minute over her 2009 time, which isn't bad all things considered.

I'll take a little stroll back out of the rec.

Another of the less photogenic parts of the route, just before they come round the corner and turn into the recreation ground.

Aha! Sarah and Jackie, though no Denise now.

She's a little further back, and maybe not quite as bouncy as earlier. Indeed, as she's not waving her arms in the air, I'm not really sure that it's her.

That's better!

And for a final blast, let's have a picture from that 2009 event.

"It's yesterday once more."

Post-race, we're off to what used to be the Hampton Court Flower Show, but which now appears to have become the Hampton Court Garden Festival. What's the difference? Well, as best I can tell, it's mainly that it's harder to find actual gardens in between the craft gin distillers and the Viking Cruises sponsor's tent. If it wasn't just down the road from us, we probably wouldn't make the effort. We certainly wouldn't drive, as Hampton Court Way is pretty much a solid traffic jam for its entire length.

But hey, the sun has finally come out, and if an astroturf giraffe is what your garden needs, this is the place to find it!

[I must now try really hard to finish the Dorking 10 report before the Wedding Day 7k overtakes it!]

Love to all,


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