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Just Dorking get on with it!

Yes, I know, I've been a bit tardy with this race report.

I could attempt to find excuses, or I could just avoid answering the question, but after Boris's Olympic-gold-standard ducking of the, "Are you a lying adulterous incompetent dolt whose personal life is reprehensible and whose political achievements are entirely negative apart from those that involve taking others' rightful credit?" question that everyone's been asking him, I know I can't compete and shouldn't try.

So, mea maxima culpa, as Boris would never say, but let's see what I can do to make amends...

As a DMVAC race, Dr Rob is normally taking some part in events, but he's off saying "Hello, Sailor!" to strange Irishmen on mountains or something. You may find enlightenment at but don't blame me if you don't!

Likewise, SSP have always been there taking photos in the past, but not this time. There's no indication whatsoever on the race web page or social media that I can find as to why this might be, or if anyone is taking over; indeed, as best one can tell in advance, there will simply not be any official photography.

Now in fairness, this is a very hardcore club race, so almost everybody involved will have had a million opportunities to buy photos in the past, and while I have found that careful positioning can produce the appearance of a photogenic scene, it's really not that pretty a route compared to what you can find a mile or two up the road. I can therefore readily imagine that the commercial viability is marginal at best, and judging by Ant's blogs and Facebook posts, the poor boy isn't exactly suffering from lack of things to occupy his time.

So who is going to be here?

Well, Pat and Merilyn for two, plus the mysterious Ceara, who you will recall me pointing out has appeared in several previous reports without me making the connection at first. And Lindsay, who spotted me before I spotted her last year, is on the entrant list too. And there's Nigel, but he's a man, so he doesn't count.

What excitement beckons! Let's get to some pictures!

So here we are, with everyone milling about on the green. Despite the list of people I just gave, i cannot see a single one of them!

As they line up for the start, Amanda does find Merilyn nearby, and Pat is within sight, though too far away through the crowd to talk before the start.

Off they go, and Pat obviously spots me! I'm standing on the wall of the churchyard, and wearing one of my not-exactly-inconspicuous T-shirts, so it's not all that difficult, but Amanda and Merilyn, who are actually in this shot but on the far side, are not so observant.

I dunno... I explain to them about photographic angles and how they should think about where to be for the best pictures, but it's in one ear and out the other...

Ok, a bit further down the road, I can get a picture of Merilyn.

And Amanda shortly behind her.

Note that Amanda is wearing her Stragglers shirt - its first formal race outing! - right next to another Straggler. She's still not quite used to being a club member, and she's not the sort to accost random strangers with "Nice shirt!", so I don't think they're deep in conversation.

Well there she is, Ceara is here!

The guy just behind makes a feeble attempt to emulate her, but his heart obviously isn't in it.

"OMG, Steve's found another woman to chase. What's a poor girl to do?!"

I suppose that all I can say is that you'd be even more worried if I were chasing men...

So I jump back on the bike and ride ahead and call out, "Hello Ceara! I'm Steve, and you've featured in several of my past blogs, so I think it's time we were formally introduced!"

It doesn't really help that Merilyn is just ahead and well within earshot and calls out, "A new member of your harem!" or somesuch, which so gives a bad impression. Fortunately Ceara either: a) doesn't hear; b) understands that it's all meant in a spirit of fun; or c) fancies being a member of my harem anyway. I shall not speculate.

The first water stop is barely a couple of miles in, but already people are pouring it on their heads. Even Pat will take some. It's not all that hot if you're standing around, but it is if you're running, though slightly less than last year. Chasing round on the bike is quite a good compromise, as I'm certainly not cold, but not about to collapse from heatstroke or dehydration either.

Hey, it's Nigel!

This is the first I've seen of him, although Amanda later tells me they ran together and chatted for a bit earlier. I gather he started behind her, then overtook, which is not really the behaviour of a gentleman, but this is racing. Never mind all being fair in love and war, this is serious!

More Stragglers, and the reason they're tied together is that one of them is blind. But they're not bravely bringing up the rear; no, <expletive deleted>, no, they are ahead of all our boys and girls! What can I say? Respect!

A bit further on, our blind guy has changed guides, presumably because he's too fast for them to keep up the pace for the full ten miles.

<expletive deleted> me.

Now here is proof that it's a tough race: Pat and Nigel both walking! The camera fails to show the slope here, although to be fair, it's not that steep if you haven't already been pushing yourself. Cycling up it was not fast, but not knackering because I hadn't exhausted myself previously.

[I must interject that earlier on, a guy came hurtling up the hill on his bicycle at a speed I don't think I could have matched on the flat! Just phenomenal! Ok, sure, his bike almost certainly had carbon this, titanium that, you-can't-afford-it whatever, but if he wasn't a pro or a serious Team GB contender, I'll eat my proverbial. [Ok, technically, he could be a cycling equivalent of Josh Griffiths, the 'mere' club runner who was first Brit in the 2017 London Marathon, but that's not exactly something that happens every century.]]

A bit further up the hill, Pat asks if I have any water; fortunately, yes I do. She's really struggling, which is not like her, but she's never been a fan of heat in races. It's weird: all those hot-country genes and yet she's an Eskimo under the skin!

I don't know if Nigel has subversive genetics too, but again, this is not what we expect normally.

The thought occurs to me that you, my readers, have never seen a picture of Ceara without her arms upraised, and could be forgiven for thinking that this is a permanent state: how she goes shopping, eats dinner, watches TV... I must assure you that this is not the case, but regret that I can't actually prove it. I have personal knowledge to the contrary but no photographic evidence.

Blimey, Merilyn's walking this bit too. Even Little Miss Crazy has her limits!

But Amanda, who's been taking it sensibly if more slowly, is still running.

Remember that last year a woman had a really serious asthma attack and collapsed shortly before this hill. Amanda would rather sacrifice a place than do likewise, and I rather agree with that! As the likes of Paula Radcliffe show, asthma needn't prevent you from doing something to a world-beating standard, but that doesn't mean "don't be sensible".

So I'm looking out for my girls and don't see Nigel until he shouts "Hi Steve", whereupon I can just about swing round and catch him as he reaches the 200m board. I'll be honest, I haven't measured it, but if that point is really 200 metres from the finish line, I will be... <ahem>... surprised.

Pat looks to have more or less recovered from her struggles earlier, although Nigel has obviously got ahead of her at some point.

Merilyn and Amanda appear at the beginning of the road to the finish line. It's noticeable that they are a lot closer together than they were at earlier points in the race, so Amanda's conservative strategy has maybe been a tiny bit

Clearly Amanda doesn't want me thinking Ceara is the only woman who can do this!

Bugger! Pipped at the post again!!!

Now those who've been paying attention will remember that I said Lindsay was on the entrants' list, but we've seen neither hide nor hair of her. That's 'cos she's not here. Later [much later; like I said, this is a bit tardy!] I will learn that she double-booked and completely failed to realise! Oh well, I'll add her to the distribution list so she can see what she missed :-)

Ok, the running is over, but Amanda is in training for her first Olympic-distance triathlon [which regular readers will already know about; yeah, this is really late!], so after the race, we go for a bike ride around the local villages.

The pretty church of St Peter's, Newdigate.

And some horse-drawn carriage enthusiasts meeting for a pint at The Star in Rusper. I would join them for a pint, but I don't have a horse-drawn carriage, and they don't look like they'd be fooled by a bicycle.

And finally we return to Brockham Green, where there is no longer the slightest sign of all the excitement that transpired earlier.

Ok, I've now got the Wedding Day 7k and the Thames Turbo Triathlon to write up and unless I've forgotten something, that will get me back to the present! But that's for another night...

(Belated) love to all,


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