Or "Running in the Time of Covid" as Gabriel García Márquez might
I must confess I've not actually read that particular work, although
I really enjoyed "100 Years of Solitude", as recommended by my
girlfriend at the time (a long time ago in a galaxy far away) who
was studying for a Spanish degree. She was reading "Cien
Años de Soledad" as a set book, but that was a bit too
non-English for me.
Then, when she was due to graduate, the University careers advisor
basically asked whether she wanted to be an accountant or a computer
programmer, these being essentially the only jobs universities
considered open to arts graduates at the beginning of the 80s.
And young people today think that it's hard to find a job.
To be fair, that's partly the fault of the arts graduates in
government who didn't quite realise that: "University graduates are
the top 10% of earners, so if we send half of all young people to
university, then 50% of people will be in the top 10%!" was (to put
it kindly) utterly stupid.
But maybe I'll hold off ranting (for the moment at least!) and get
onto some running...
So we've had virtual runs and Garden Parkies and whatnot for so
long, it's hard to believe a few actual races are back on the
calendar. This weekend we know of the Farnham Pilgrim, which Amanda
has run once but it isn't quite her thing, and the Ashtead 10k,
which most definitely is!
It's not going to be business as usual in every respect, but
hopefully it'll still be a fun day.
As with all of the relatively few permitted events, we have to be
socially distanced and everything, and so we don't have quite the
usual buzz at the start line.
Mask up to collect your number from the masked up number-wallahs.
You have to bring your own safety-pins this year, which is no
problem for us, because Amanda always does anyway. Eco, y'see?! Or
she just doesn't trust some race organisers...
But there's a guy just behind her in the queue who drops his in the
long grass! There's really little to no chance of finding them,
which he soon realises, so Amanda offers him her spare set. OMG! I
touch them and then give them to him with bare hands! He's going to
die! We're all going to die!!!
It remains the fact that we don't know anybody close who's had
COVID-19, and we really need to stretch to acquaintances of
acquaintances before we need two hands to count them. The atmosphere
is very clearly, "Let's not be silly, but let's not worry too much
about something that really isn't affecting us".
[The latest Scientific American magazine arrived in
my post this morning, and the front cover article is about how
people are having COVID nightmares and it's affecting their sleep
patterns. Not round here!]
11am, the elite wave set off. For social distancing purposes,
everyone who didn't achieve a certain minimum 10k time - or for
whatever reason didn't want to join them - is then grouped by
surname into separate waves of up to 25 people starting five minutes
Top three starters will be top three finishers, although their final
order will be slightly different. More detail would, I suppose, be
getting ahead of myself, but I won't be getting ahead of any of them
by the finish!
A standard wave sets off. As they're grouped by surname
alphabetically, it's just totally random whether you are with fast
or slow people.
Amanda, being an 'R', is a late wave, so rather than hang around at
the start, I move up to a more interesting vantage point.
Don't know who she is, but her leggings would go well with some of
Near the top of the first hill, or at least, of the first elevated
section. The ground is really rough and rock-hard, so it's much more
difficult than the relatively mild gradient would imply. Not that
"relatively mild" means that it's nearly flat, though. No! Don't
make that mistake!
Goodness! We haven't had any pictures of Amanda running yet!
She's in a late wave - last but one or two - so there will be many
ahead of her on the ground but behind her in the virtual race. It
must be a bit tricky when you don't know whether somebody near you
is a genuine rival, a really slow person from the previous wave or a
really fast person from the next wave. But in the end everyone seems
to manage, at least any time when I'm looking.
And well before the final wave reach the top of the first slope, the
race winner is on his way back! That's <expletive deleted>
fast, the speed he's running!
Steve, in second place, is a long way behind! Yeah, sure,
posing for the photograph may take half a second off his time, but
half a second isn't the margin we're talking about...
If your name begins with 'W' and you're not going to claim elite
status, you're in the last wave, meaning if you're Jess Winder, your
dad may well be crossing the line before you've even started!
Sister Georgina is not far behind, then all the slow people. Still,
I've plenty of time to take their photos before I have to get on
down to the halfwway point.
Obviously, the halfway point of a 10k is 5k from the start. But
that's only if you don't take the short cut. Then it's maybe 0.5k if
you want to stretch a point, so it's easy to get there before
Hmm.... the ground isn't really that purple, I still need to do some
I suppose some readers may be wondering, "Why does Steve seem to
have so much trouble with his pictures? My phone pics are fine, and
he seems to be so much more professional, so what's his problem?"
Well, it's basically down to the fact that most of our perceptions
are imaginary! Machines, such as cameras, see what is, while
humans see what they know they should be seeing. This can somtimes
be quite mind-blowing! I may have linked to this before, but I make
no apologies if so:
[If you just skimmed past that, FOLLOW THE LINK: IT WILL BLOW YOUR
So your phone or other camera tries to make its best guess at what a
human would think they're seeing, based on what the machine is
actually seeing, and by and large modern cameras make a reasonably
good job of it. The problem for me is twofold: a) sometimes they
just get it completely wrong; and b) most camera processing tends
towards a 'punchy' rather than a realistic effect. It may be
superficially impressive, but it'll seem strained and overprocessed
with further consideration.
So I'm gonna DIY.... And I have a new camera... And given that the
number of parameters to adjust is approximately seven gazillion, I'm
still working on it!
Which is why the ground is a bit more purple than it should be. I
will fix this in future, but this is now.
This would benefit from a bit of a zoom: basically, Georgina is being
splashed with water by the marshal; hopefully to cool her down
rather than just beause the she likes throwing water over
people! To be fair, Jess got the same treatment shortly earlier. I
don't think I know the particular marshal in question but I think
she's a friend of theirs! [Update: she's their mum! Hi Mum!]
This isn't a closed route: families, dogs, you-name-it can get in
And that's the first race since lockdown done!
Weird, but somehow it seems to have worked.
Prizegiving is going to be in the open, not the Scout Hall, but I
can't see anybody having a problem with that in this beautiful
Ah. She's too young to officially receive the prize of a bottle of
I suppose there are two possibilities: a) her parents will happily
enjoy the fruits of their daughter's hard work; or b) she and some
of her friends will have a good time without burdening the older
folks with unnecessary details.
I offer no comment as to which I'd have done at her age in her
place, but I fear my regular readers won't find it too difficult to
work it out.
Phew! Female number one is old enough!
And Steve and Rob are not too old for an elbow bump!
Steve did a good time, but this guy George has smashed the
course record. In the heat, too. It's been in many ways a better day
for spectators than runners, and I got pretty hot on my bike at
And I believe I ended last year's Ashtead 10k with a dragonfly pic,
so here's another one.
God! The buggers are hard to photograph!
Love to all,
[Yes, yes, I know, I should have got this out sooner. I'm hoping
that if I treat you mean I'll keep you keen. Ok?]