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How much is a Tad Worth?

Those of you who were paying attention last week¹ will be aware that we missed the 2019 Knacker Cracker because we were in India at the time. When preparing for the 2020 Tadworth 10, I referred back to my blog archives and found nothing for 2019 so thought that must have been the case too.

But no! We got back just in time and (well almost...) ran straight from the plane to Epsom Downs. And I have a folder of prepared pictures as if I had written a blog for it!

We can only conclude that the well-nigh-inconceivable occurred and I got distracted and forgot. It's hard to believe that, yes, I know, but as Sherlock Holmes was fond of saying, "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth".

Of course, that "impossible" bit is subject to interpretation. If, for the sake of example, you believe it impossible that a young girl could tell a lie about premarital sex, then the Virgin Birth has to be the truth.

Am I wandering from the point again? Sorry. Ok, we have this year's Tadworth 10 to cover!

I'm going to try to do things a little differently this year, and find some locations I've not been to before. First off, I'm not going to take a position at the end of the starting straight, but go up to the top of the hill they then turn towards.

Down there, I think it's a lot busier than it looks from up here.

The race begins. Traditionally I take some closeups, but today it's all a bit of a long way off. Even, "is that a 400mm lens in your pocket or are you just extremely pleased to see me?" has its limits.

The marshals here are snapping into position like a well-oiled machine!

And up the hill they come. If you look carefully, you can see the SSP guy or girl at the outside of the turn, which as I said earlier, is where I've started in previous years.

But now I have this different perspective, metaphorically as well as photographically, I find myself a bit bemused. [Flash forward in time.] There are no pictures of Amanda at the start indexed under her race number. This almost certainly doesn't mean there are no pictures of her, only that none showed her number clearly enough in the melée. However, there are very few start pictures indexed '000' - meaning unidentified - because naturally there will be loads of people who were identified in most of them.

I have a theory about at least a partial solution to this problem, which I will describe later.

[Flash back to the [historical] present.]

Fortunately, I know this is Amanda without having to see her number.

Now for the next new spot. Everything from here on is a bit hypothetical, because I'm planning on a mixture of cross-country and road, and even Google Satellite View isn't always sufficiently clear about off-road routes.

But the first stop works out well.

This is a little patch of well-paved woodland between suburban streets. I suppose it's almost an 'average' bit of the T10, except that almost none of the T10 is 'average' in that sense. It's a bit like saying that Jeremy Corbyn and Jacob Rees-Mogg are "on average" quite moderate.

And as I walk back to get my bike after the previous pic, I see Natasha not far behind. I knew she was in the race because (a) we'd seen her name in the lists; and (b) I'd been chatting to her earlier because her car was parked directly opposite ours; but then hadn't seen her in the earlier stages.

They'll be back on the road in a moment, then down to the woods again and come out at the edge of the race course. I've been there before, so this time I'm heading a bit further along  to where the route goes along the edge of some farmland.

Well, Anthony's decided it's a good spot, so my plan is obvously a good one!

Note all that brown vegetation behind him. It's actually seriously spiky brambly stuff, so isn't it good of me to clamber through it rather than spoil his shot! I confess I'm a bit surprised when he tells me about some of the things that other so-called professionals do, let alone members of the public. Of course, Amanda has to deal with the 'public' too, although I use quotes because we're not exactly talking about your average man or woman on the street here. I myself rejoice in the fact that, these days at least, I only have to interact professionally with fellow techies. Mind, I fear it may be worse for the ordinary member of the public who has to deal with us than vice versa...

A couple of seconds before, I was chatting with Anthony and not paying much attention to anyone not in Straggler's yellow. "Hi Steve", cries Nigel. I just manage to grab the camera in time.

Now there's an interesting thing. Amanda poses far more for him than me!

Natasha is still close behind.

As I'm packing up to move on, somebody else passes by calling out "Hi Steve". It's Trionium stalwart Peter Costello, last seen running the Knacker Cracker in his pink grass skirt. I've seen several KC T-shirts on runners here - and there are almost certainly other stealth types like Peter and Amanda - so there's clearly a fair few of these not-quite-right-in-the-head types who think running the toughest 10k in Britain makes a nice warmup for a far-from-flat 10m just a few days later.

[Is the KC the toughest 10k in Britain? I gather that next year Rob's going to make it tougher, just in case... He'll probably sell out even sooner!]

And so to lap 2.

Why is Amanda looking a bit quizzical? Because she's afraid the tractor is going to run over my bike.

What tractor?

That one. Amanda (and I) are clear ahead of it, Natasha is right behind.

I turn and watch as Amanda and Natasha pass here, but then I'm a bit struck by the way that people seem to be milling around just a little further on.

Ah, there's a really big puddle!

Now I understand something Ant was talking about earlier. If I'd known, I'd definitely have found a spot here to get some entertaining pictures before.

And like I said, Peter's a Trionium stalwart, so he's not going to be phased by a little mud!

[Another flash-forward]

So again, SSP has (lap 1) pictures of this running experience zone, but nothing tagged with Amanda's number.

But remember I said I had a theory?

It's like this. Pretty much every serious runner - and a fair few dilettantes - has a GPS watch. Many modern cameras have GPS, and those that don't can be associated by software with a standalone GPS unit. Combine runner GPS and photographer GPS and bingo! We can automagically show you all the pictures that were taken close to the time and place you were there!

This will happen on FatSlowCow, though I don't promise when. The major issue is not the raw functionality, but integrating with Garmin Connect/Strava/MapMyRun/whatever, so as to make it easy for mere mortals to use. I could do it in a day for anybody who wasn't put off by the idea of writing some Python code using proj4, but yeah, that's not normal people, is it...

Back to the race!

It's <expletive deleted> Simon again. I mean, it's not just 30-minute-parkrun-is-an-aspiration folks like me who can't run that fast, it's proper bloody runners who can't run that fast! How does he do it?!

[Err, yeah, in case it's not obvious, respect, man!]

Ah, this time I'm ready for Nigel. Not the prettiest part of the route, but I've tried to present it at its best.

Amanda appears at the top of the hill.

Amanda and Natasha are actually quite close in this shot, but you could be forgiven for not identifying either of them in the picture.

Back at the top of the Downs, Amanda's pulled ahead again.

[You know the saying, "Strike while the iron's hot"?  So it got a bit cold and needed re-heating, hence we have had a slight delay in the completion of this opus, but now that we're pretty much packed for Ethiopia, I feel morally obliged to squeeze this back in before departure!]

Across the line for the finish.

It's too cold to hang around - Amanda doesn't even wait for me! - but as we head rapidly back to the car, I turn around at just the right time to see Natasha finish too.

Oh. Seems she had a problem in that mud trap and spent half the race running with a shoe full of mud and stones. Ouch.

Despite everything, it will later turn out that she's beaten last year's time.

So a bit of a disjointed effort on my part, but if I don't do it now, events will overtake it and then who knows what might happen?

And now we head for the Danakil Depression, which is one of the lowest and hottest places on the planet. We do not expect to see Haile Gebrselassie, or take part in the local parkrun, and I will at least try to keep Amanda from getting lost in the desert like she did in Oman. Running will resume in February.

Love to all,


¹ Look, it was 'last week' when I wrote that, ok?

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