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Stormin' Norman - and Ted not Red

Norman Park, Bromley.

Ah, memories!

If only I could remember them...

But actually, I may not be suffering from early-onset dementia, I may have no memory of Norman Park because I've never actually been there. I can't remember having ever been there, but then again if I was suffering from memory loss, I wouldn't remember either. Is this an existential conundrum or just the sign of an inappropriate application of philosophical fluid to the brain?

Amanda can remember having been there, but it has to be said it's not a recent memory:

"The last time I was at Norman Park was to see Eddie Kidd jump over buses...."

This would have been circa 1980 or so, and even Google doesn't remember much from back then. After extensive scouring of the Web¹, I have not been able to find any detailed information or pictures of the event, just a general sense that that was the prime time he was doing such things.

And she doesn't think she remembers the athletic track being there in the days of her youth: it was only built in 1980, so we could be talking late 70s even.

One thing is for certain: there was no Ted Pepper 10k Memorial run there in those days.

But that's not quite so clear-cut either. The race web page tells us,

"The Ted Pepper 'Seven' was first organised in 1979.  The Club Committee turned down a request to make it 10k - as no one ran 10k on the roads! (those were the days).  It was always a short course and basically 3 laps around the Langley Park area of Beckenham"

So Amanda, Eddie Kidd, Norman Park and the Ted Pepper 10k [not] could all have just about happened at the same time, but we have no definitive proof. Damn, I must finish my time machine! (Infinitely long rapidly rotating massive cylinder, remember? Come on, don't tell me you've forgotten already!)

So enough about what did or did not happen forty years ago, what happened two days ago?!

Well, we were due to visit Amanda's mother in Chislehurst on the Bank Holiday Monday, and then Claire said she was doing a 10k nearby in the morning - the Ted Pepper 10k - so it seemed positively churlish not to sign up. Mind, both Amanda and Claire's spellcheckers seemed to want very badly to correct 'Ted' to 'Red', and Google kept asking "Did you mean Red Pepper?" But we figured it out.

And so here we are, at the athletics track where the race begins and ends. We allowed more time than we really needed to get here, but then it turns out that any later and we'd've struggled to find parking space.

Ah, here's Ola: Claire's told us that there will be a strong Dulwich contingent today.

And Yvette. No Claire though...

And Paul... He hasn't come with Claire today, but as far as he knows, she should be here. Where has she got to?

Ah, there - but only in the telephoto lens! Maybe she's rushing off to the loo or something, because by the time we get back down to the start from our present distant vantage, she's nowhere to be seen again.

Now, see this chap meditating in the front? Turns out he's Dulwich too, although we won't learn that till after the race. I can't remember why he's not wearing his Dulwich colours, or possibly I was never told: I can't remember. [I think I've said this before, but if I do get Alzheimers, nobody will ever notice the difference.]

As the race begins, we almost see Claire again!

The start comprises a circuit and a half of the track. Although they could send the field around past the start/finish timing mats, they instead let people register a 400m time as well as the full 10k! Curiously, the official results show a "0.25km" time, which is obviously nonsense because the fastest times are well over a minute. A world-class 400m time is around 45s, so when you think about it, 1:20-ish is still pretty bloody fast if you're planning to repeat it 25 times in a row!

After they come back round, I will jump on my bike and head off to about the 4km mark. As this is a new race and we know nothing about the logistical possibilities, I'm taking a conservative approach and it's easy to get to this point by road. Moreover, as a semi-out-and-back route, I can get the runners in both directions without any faff.

So here, already with quite a lead, is Andy-that-I-don't-realise-is-a-Dulwich-runner. It's often the case that the guys at the front are putting in too much effort to have anything left to wave for the camera, but not our Mr Bond!

Yvette is the first recognisable Dulwichian. Is that the right term? Dulwichitan? Dulwichite?

Old Boys of Dulwich College are "Old Alleynians", quite possibly because nobody has ever managed to come up with a good adjectival form for "Dulwich". [But if you went to Alleyn's School, you are an "Alleyn's Old Boy", which is completely different from an "Old Alleynian". It's "Men of Kent" and "Kentish Men"; or "Homoousian" vs "Homoiousian"; or something, anyway.]

Ola looking strong as second Dulwich lady.

And a Dulwich guy I don't recognise busy looking at his watch. It's tough sometimes, when you want to get a good result, but don't want to be in the pub so early that people start talking... Or maybe that's not what he's thinking at all.

Aha, here's Amanda. She entered before getting officially signed up as a Straggler, but if she had entered as one, she'd be the club champ! Perhaps surprisingly, there is not a single Straggler in the final results.

Hey, finally we get to see Claire!

It turns out that she had traffic problems. It would seem that you can get to this race far too early, or you can struggle to make it on time because of the parking problems. Simply arriving in comfortable time is somehow not possible.

Ok, after Paul comes through, I'm going to move a little bit. Not that far, just follow the path a short way to where the out and back loop rejoins, so with runners in both directions, it should be fairly lively.

As I'm on my way, Andy comes through on his return leg, way too fast for me to have time to stop and take a picture!

Hmm... people have been known to suggest that riding my bike instead of running is cheating; what then do you call this?!

The marshals are a bit annoyed: there isn't supposed to be any traffic on the trail during the course of the race, but apparently some people are just bloody-minded. Having no idea about the local politics, I merely note this observation: I'll stay well out of it myself!

Another Dulwichista(?) This point is a little over 4km on the way out, just under 7km on the return. Effectively two water stations on a 10k seems more than generous!

The back markers are particulary appreciative, but I can't help but worry slightly about anyone desperately in need of a drink after less than 5k. Well, a drink of water, anyway.

Amanda appears in a little bit of a gap. She won't stop for water!

Claire has brought the sunshine!

Sadly, she'll take it with her, then drop it somewhere by accident and we won't be able to find it again, but it's nice while it lasts.

Now I'd better head back to the finish. I should be in plenty of time for Amanda, but I don't want to take chances on an unknown route.

I've missed the front runners by miles, of course, but I get back in time to see Ola pop up out of the rabbit hole.

Amanda is pipped at the post again! But anyone who can put on that kind of sprint at the end just hasn't been trying hard enough during the rest of the event, so she retains the moral high ground, I think.

Claire's ok, with clear space ahead and behind her.

And likewise for Paul. He's so close behind Claire that I would have waited for him at the 7k-ish point if I'd known, but then Claire reckons that she slowed down towards the end, so maybe he wasn't that close at that earlier point after all.

You don't just get a medal, you get to rummage through a box of socks!

Ola says she only does this race for the socks, though I think she may be exaggerating slightly.

And what do you know? Andy has won the race! He's also won his category, and the local rules say you can't win too many prizes, not that you can only win one, so he'll get another bottle for that win too.

Well, we're mixing with the elites today! Yvette is second woman overall and also her category winner.

Now the shiny silver bottles for the lesser prizes are Cava, while the winners get Prosecco. We can't help thinking that's the wrong way round! We like Cava and aren't keen on Prosecco as a rule, but we seem to be in a minority. A little while ago, I was in our local independent wine shop and I asked them about Cava. They told me that they'd like to stock a good range but it's just really hard to sell. It's not as prestigious as Champagne and it costs more than Prosecco, and (although this wasn't quite how they phrased it) when you take out the pretentious and the penny-pinchers, there just aren't that many buyers left.

Obviously I'm way more tactful about Prosecco when in the presence of Italians.

[And TBF, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the vast majority of Prosecco sold in the UK was considered undrinkable rubbish back in Italy.]

The race route goes right past the end of the car park where our car is, so as we're packing up to go, we see what we think is the very last competitor. But checking the final results, she must have put on a finishing spurt because she's clocked just one second ahead of last place. So well done Shirley Wheeler and commiserations to Dave Sheppard! And as Vet 45 and Vet 60 respectively, you're both old enough that you could, in principle, remember Eddie Kidd here forty years ago!

Love to all,


¹ I originally wrote "Internet", not "Web". How could I?! As if I were some Millennial who didn't know the difference. One of the guys at my office has a T-shirt that says "I am older than the Internet" and he's younger than me! It's actually quite hard to say how old the Internet really is, but the earliest date that I think has any plausibility is 1969. The Internet in modern form (Internet Protocol version 4) dates from 1980, although it wasn't widely adopted until a few years later. The World Wide Web, which is what most people mean today when they say "The Internet", was only born in 1990, so it's a bit of a Millennial youngster itself!

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