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Come On Everybody Do The Vultra Stomp!

Jonathon King has, over the decades, committed many crimes against music. (Although if we're being picky, it must be said that the only crimes he's been convicted of have been against teenage boys.) This is certainly one of the most egregious of the former:

But the Vultra Stomp?! That has a certain ring to it...

Here, look at the M25 early in Covid-19 lockdown:

To be fair, the motorway was not utterly devoid of traffic, but you didn't have to wait long for a period with no vehicles as far as the eye could see. Apart from a few minor technical details of legality (as Mr King found problematical), you could have quite the socially distanced run there!

Well it seems that Rik of Phoenix Running had some kind of thoughts along the same lines, but if it couldn't be done for real, well hey why not do it as a virtual run? 117 miles round, that's a pretty decent ultramarathon...? A virtual ultramarathon...? BIngo! A VULTRA!

So the Phoenix M25 Vultra comes to pass: run 117 miles at a pace of your choice, for anything up two two months in August and September. If you're really hard, feel free to do it as a single stint, but mere mortal options are a better choice for most.

Sadly, there appears to be no accepted record for fastest circumnavigation. It's said that in the very early days, boy racers would meet to indulge in a bit of potentially very unhealthy rivalry at 3am, but nothing definitive exists in the World of Google. However, according to one more recent commentator, "Presumably, armed with a 250mph Bugatti Veyron you could circumnavigate the 117 miles in 28 minutes." That's if you don't have to stop for petrol, of course, and I'm not sure that a Veyron flat out has great MPG.

Amanda plans to tackle it in more like 5-10 miles a day chunks, so a couple of weeks or so.

Much of it will be made up of her normal everyday local runs, nothing special, so I won't be there to capture a photographic record, but they'd be boring urban street scenes anyway, so you'd soon get bored.

But August is upon us! Let us commence the Vultra! Get stomping!

Sat 1 Aug miles: 8.40 total distance: 8.4

Sun 2 Aug miles: 10.14 total distance: 18.54

Around Denbies, following the old ETL Denbies 10 Mile route.

Up above Denbies Vineyard, with Box Hill in the background.

Past St Barnabas Church, Ranmore.

If you think Amanda's a bit too dark in this picture, you should have seen it before I played about with it. Problem is that it was quite deep shade from the trees in the foreground with a partially cloudy but very bright background. That said, the software I'm using now is definitely less user-friendly (albeit more powerful) than the old version of Lightroom I used to use, and I definitely haven't mastered it yet.

Well there's a new one! Obviously a local initiative as we see a few more of these in the vicinity. I'm trying to think when cleaning up after your dog became a thing: I'm pretty sure that when I was the age of the kid who drew this picture, the idea of carrying disposable gloves and plastic bags to collect dog poo would have been seriously weird.

And while we're on signs, look closely at this frog crossing warning. It must be seasonal as it can clearly be folded over and locked when there are no crossing frogs to be warned about.

Hurrah, virtual Denbies 10 done!

Incidentally, we did a virtual Denbies 10 just as a day out a few years back, long before virtual became the new reality. You can read about it here if you like:

And funnily enough, earlier that same year, Amanda ran the real thing for real:

Oh, and in the Denbies car park...

Make your own mind up. I have no idea.

Tue 4 Aug miles: 5.61 total distance: 24.15

Wed 5 Aug miles: 5.58 total distance: 29.73

Thu 6 Aug miles: 5.64 total distance: 35.37

Fri 7 Aug miles: 6.11 total distance: 41.48

Sat 8 Aug miles: 11.30 total distance: 52.78

It's the weekend. I must accompany my true love once more on her continuing mission.

Titania is not joining us. She's sitting under a tree and considers that quite enough exercise for one day.

This is what we fondly refer to as the "mighty torrent", because its presence a quarter of a mile from our house meant that we needed to get a £2000 flood risk assessment done before we could rebuild our garage! Good job the insurance paid for it. Curiously, if we lived on the other side of the road, we'd be immune to the potential inundation, at least according to Elmbridge Council's map.

So, to the spiritual home (and for all I know, the actual home!) of Phoenix Running, The Weir Hotel on the banks of the Thames at Walton. Many of the Phoenix races begin and end here.

They've smartened up the sign since we were here last, though. Indeed, in 2019 I even made mention of how decrepit it was in a race blog!

Conversely, I'm sure this boathouse was in better nick last time we passed this way!

Sun 9 Aug miles: 8.20 total distance: 60.98

Today Amanda will run to Chatley Heath, while I'll take the car, but I'll perform mobile water station duty on the way too.

First location, as the Portsmouth Road crosses over the A3 just before Cobham.

The River Mole from Downside Bridge. Recall I mentioned our mighty torrent? This is somewhere that has seen proper flooding many times. The reason I'm here is that I'm waiting to direct Amanda along a footpath she's never used before, partly because it's often been underwater!

Looks dry now, doesn't it. That's a heatwave for you...

There's a bridleway over the M25; Amanda mimes running along the central reservation (obviously dodging the lampposts).

Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower is being transformed into a Landmark Trust cottage. We're somewhat bemused that we only found out about the fact when we saw that the building had been fenced off and an explanatory sign installed a year or so back, as despite being LT clients and on their mailing list, we'd heard absolutely nothing about it. They often ask for donations for specific projects, and we'd certainly have bunged a few quid at this one if we'd known. It's further surprising because Merilyn works for the LT, but it just never happened to come up in conversation. In fact, we mistakenly thought she hadn't known about it either.

It's a pity it's only half an hour from home, because it is so our kind of place, and there's little doubt we'd be signing up for a stay if it was somewhere else in the country. What we must do is persuade some of our non-local friends to stay there and then we'll visit them :-)

And we're particularly glad that we did get to see it in its previous format as a semi-restored museum piece.

Mon 10 Aug miles: 5.22 total distance: 66.2

Tue 11 Aug miles: 5.62 total distance: 71.82

Wed 12 Aug miles: 5.71 total distance: 77.53

Thu 13 Aug miles: 6.10 total distance: 83.63

Oh dear. Amanda has had some kind of insect bite on her toe that's become infected and she's unable to run for the next few days. She's not happy. I will say no more...

Tue 18 Aug miles: 5.66 total distance: 89.29

Probably shouldn't really have started running again quite yet, but I would never say such a silly thing.

Wed 19 Aug miles: 5.67 total distance: 94.96

Thu 20 Aug miles: 5.69 total distance: 100.65

Thu 20 Aug miles: 5.69 total distance: 100.65

Fri 21 Aug miles: 5.75 total distance: 106.4

Sat 22 Aug miles: 6.47 total distance: 112.87

Amanda goes out running. She asks me to make the bed while she's out.

Oberon seems to think that would disturb him and so isn't a good idea.

Sun 23 Aug miles: 4.52 total distance: 117.39

Pre-Toegate, Amanda had hoped to complete the distance last weekend, but we've not got much left now to finish. A few miles along the Wey Navigation towpath will be particularly appropriate, as the canal passes right under the M25 itself.

We start at The Anchor, Pyrford.

"M" is for "Motorway", and that is the very M25 right above our heads!

And a rare example of me blending into the background!

Mind, the other week I was wearing what to the casual glance was an even brighter T-shirt, with a green and black lightning pattern. Unmissable? But Amanda and Pat both said I was invisible against trees where the foliage was an all but identical mix of bright sun and deep shade!

Not quite the Dartford Tunnel, I guess. But that's where we're metaphorically heading.

According to our calculations, this is the Dartford Tunnel! That means we're done! Yay!

Somewhere on the metaphorical hard shoulder, but non-metaphorical grass by Pyrford Lock, we have our lunch and watch the boats.

And how different the M25 is today, as we head round to see Amanda's mother. Nobody's going to want to try running on it now.

The M25 Vultra is done.

But wait, there's a medal...

OMG, that's a bit huge! It pretty much exactly fits over the route on Amanda's virtual bib number when printed on A4.

Phoenix do heavier medals, but that's down to thickness, not area. I don't think we've seen a bigger one than this yet!

How's Rik gonna top that? I'm sure he's working on it.

Love to all,


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