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
The marshals here are snapping into position like a well-oiled
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"
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
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
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.
That one. Amanda (and I) are clear ahead of it, Natasha is right
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!
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
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?