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Well Frolic Me!

As some of you will know, I filmed and co-starred in two prize-winning music videos last year.

The full story of the first can be found here, or (if you are not of a delicate disposition) you could jump straight to the video itself on YouTube. It is, however, only indirectly relevant to our tale today in that the prize that we won was a really nice package of hoodies, T-shirts, etc, and so we were eager to repeat that success.

The second story is here, or again, go straight to YouTube.

But this time, the prize was a free race entry!

Well that's all fine and dandy for Amanda and Merilyn, they love that sort of thing, but what about me, the very architect of our success?! It was made subtly clear to me that wimping out would cause serious damage to my reputation as a macho superman, and so it came to pass that the three of us signed up for the WSR (White Star Running) Cranborne Frolic.

A 'frolic', in the White Star sense, is as many laps of a course as you care to do in a 12-hour period. The length of the lap is dependent on venue, but basically whatever fits the local trails: this one will be about 5.6km. And "not too hilly by WSR standards".

Hmm... There's a fair bit of leeway in that description!

Anyway, in for a penny, in for a pound, eh? Actually, quite a lot of pounds, because Amanda and I are going to stay at a B&B for a couple of nights, and I'm getting some custom running shirts made for the three of us, and it's most of a tank of petrol there and back. Funny how much a freebie costs.

So here we begin...

The Fleur de Lys Inn in Cranborne, a little under a mile from the race start.

Hardier souls than Amanda and me (such as Merilyn) are camping there, but we like our creature comforts. That said, we've been known to rough it when necessary, like when the nearest B&B is several hundred miles away along roads which are passable only by 4WDs and camels, but even WSR aren't quite that far back to nature.

We walk down to the race area to pick up our numbers, say hi to Merilyn and present her with her surprise team strip.

Here it is, my first ever real live race number!

Oh, that's not Dutch courage for the ordeal ahead, it's the exercise of a veritable moral duty! Badger beer is brewed just a few miles down the road, so it's a contribution to the restoration of the local economy. So there.

It's curious, though: I think I first heard of them when they used to sponsor the Surrey Badger race, organised by our friend Nicky. Why is that curious? Well, because they're a Dorset company with no immediately obvious connection to Surrey, plus the race used to be based at Denbies Vineyard, and in the same building at the back was (and is) the Surrey Hills Brewery. I can't help thinking the latter missed a marketing trick, but it's all history now anyway.

So to bed, ready for the big day...

The Voyeuristic Intentions are ready!

Baby Cow, Daddy (transgender?) Cow and Mummy Cow.

Ok, A&M want to do a half-marathon-ish, which is four laps. As the distance per lap is just over a parkrun (although we don't know the terrain at all) my plan is to run one lap, then grab my camera and walk another lap taking pictures, after which I'll just see how I feel.

As this is a White Star event, there's no formal professional photographic coverage, but there are always several volunteers and spectators posting albums on Facebook, so many of the forthcoming pictures are not my own (see credits at end).

Here it is, then, the very first: you have never seen me quite like this before!

This is about half-way around. Overall it seems to be on a par with some of the less flat parkruns I've done, so while I can't say I've not walked a bit, I've certainly mostly been running.

And here I am just about to finish my first lap. The smile is entirely for the camera, of course! The chap behind, though I don't know it a this time, is Merilyn's mate Tony.

Amanda and Merilyn were actually a few minutes ahead of me, but that would have interrupted my narrative flow, so think of this as a flashback.

So now, as I said, I'm going to get my camera and walk the second lap. A&M are well off ahead of me, so I expect them to catch and lap me later, but I've no idea exactly when or where that's likely to be. In the meantime, I'll just have to take pictures of other people.

So here is the first and steepest hilly bit. I did make a point of running up it the first time, but I had to stop when I got to the top. I'm not going to do it a second time.

At the top, looking out over some of the farmland.

And this is a particularly good downhill section. Even though I'm taking it easy now, running downhill is taking it easy for me. I like it when gravity is my friend! I need a route from an Escher print, where it's downhill all the way round the loop.

Back in the woods again, uphill again, although not too steep.

They're mad! Mad, I tell you!

Guess what she's just taken a picture of?

Yep, a strange man taking her picture!

Amanda and Merilyn are somewhere behind me, but I don't actually know how far at this stage. Merilyn does seem to get her tutu caught on the brambles a lot.

Another long descent through an open field. A the bottom, we run alongside a hedge leading off to the right, then come back along the other side.

This is the other side. Not much further now.

Ah, but look who I can see through the hedge! There's no way they're going to catch me on this lap after all.

Back at the start/finish line, I've done my second lap and I'm feeling ok. Shall I do a third? Might well do, but let's see if I can see my girls.

And here they are emerging from the hedgerow passage. Would I like to do another lap with them? Well so long as it's at my speed, not theirs, I'm up for it. That's ok, neither of them want to push too hard right now, so a walking lap is fine.

Reunited! Well, Merilyn's gone to get her phone from her bag so she can take a few pictures too, but Amanda says she'll catch us up in a minute.

This is probably not the fastest way to cross the stile, but we're no longer in a hurry.

And a less active action shot of me too.

We seem to be positively loitering now, perhaps we should start walking again.

Well we all have to run down that hill!

This muddy slope is a bit different. I run down it, Merilyn rather diffidently walks down it, and Amanda you can just see avoiding it altogether on the slower but safer route.

That slope leads to the Lovestation, where the sun is now over the yardarm or something, because schnapps and cider are added to the earlier offerings of water or juice. We're only incidentally in this picture, and Amanda is entirely out of shot except for a tiny scrap of tutu.

Said tutu is festooned with glowing multicolour LEDs, but they're hard to see in daylight unless you can find a dark corner of the woods. But this isn't the right time to find a dark corner of the woods, we've got a race to finish.

TADA!!! (We've given my camera to the previously mentioned Tony before making our final run for the line.)

And now we can have our picnic.

Many people are still running, some looking strong, some less so, though some are in teams and taking it in turns to run a lap or two. When we get the results, we will find that one man and one woman have both done 16 laps, nearly 56 miles, taking pretty much the entire twelve hours to do it. Even Merilyn's not that crazy these days!

The race goody bag includes a voucher for a drink at the Sixpenny Brewery tap room, a short walk away, so that's our next port of call.

It's back the way we came, so we'll wave goodbye to some runners still hard at it.

We even have custom glasses (which are plastic, but let's not quibble).


So there we have it: my racing virginity has gone.

Will I do it again?

Not impossible. I still can't say I 'enjoy' running, but a nice day out in the country with friends and food and drink...

I kind of feel like I want a metaphorical inverse of St Augustine's prayer: that the Lord grant him chastity, but not just yet. The next few blogs will be back to pure voyeurism, anyway.

Love to all,


Additional photo credits, with thanks:

360 Photography -
Nina Watts Kearton -
Merilyn's mate Tony.
The girl at the baggage tent, sorry, don't know your name.
Random guy at Sixpenny Brewery.
Apologies if I've missed anyone.

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