T’was a Brighton sunny morning and I was really looking forward to adding some more photos to these pages like the ones on the 12th December. Alas, the second time I remembered that I had forgotten to retrieve my Blackberry from the charger, I was already driving through Ditchling.
At least I had realised earlier, even if I had forgotten to act on it.
I sat at Falmer and waited, hoping that the guys hadn’t changed the venue or the time and watching something I’ve not seen before… a vapour trail that was moving as quickly sideways across the sky as the aircraft making it was moving forwards. Windy up there then!
Andy arrived first, having cycled from the other side of Brighton and then Cliff pitched up with newbie ‘Leigh, no really a guy (male)’ [strange name huh?].
The guys got their excuses in early. In addition to running most of the way to work and back one day in the week, Cliff had been swimming (racing?) yesterday with King Mandy (the circuits teacher) and had a bad back this morning. Andy reiterated that he had cycled rather than driven to Falmer and would be doing likewise on the return leg. Leigh had never run for more than an hour. I have no time for excuses.
We ran up alongside the Falmer Road, pausing at the top to wait for Cliff and his excuses to catch up, and then went left across to Newmarket Copse. From here we ran up to the ridge and out to Kingston on the Juggs Road. Having run down the Downs, I tested my colleagues mettle by suggesting that we ran back up to the top and come down again. Leigh said yes without hesitating, Cliff demurred but said he would do press-ups for the duration, which seemed fair enough, but Andy outright refused… sensible man that he is.
We ran onward past the new windmill, past a myriad of potentially beautiful photographs and down into Lewes, before running up to the Prison. Andy was conspicuously absent as we ascended the hill as he had gone the wrong way at the bottom, or some such excuse… they were all out today.
He moved to the front as we ran up towards Lewes Racecourse, but he disappeared again to stop for a pee and we had to wait for him again a little further up.
As we ran up towards Blackcap we had a little blast of the wind that had been blowing the vapour trail, although my attention was drawn from it by a lithe horse galloping past us into the distance… not one of the normal pony plodders, this.
As I was working out my tactics for beating Andy to the top (a rare trick, if you can manage it), we became aware of some runners sneaking up behind us. Testosterone to the four, we picked up the pace a little, so I was then surprised when the first two guys slid past me barely ten paces later… one greeting me heartily as he did.
It was the inimitable Kurt from the Run Shop and in order to catch up on news I increased my pace to match his. Alas, I couldn’t hold it to the top, having used every ounce of my reserves in a ridiculously short distance! I wished him well and slowed to a crawl, whereupon Andy slid past and effortlessly beat me to the top.
Here I stood, immobilised for several minutes, trying to catch my breath before I did my best to walk after the other guys as they ran off, Kurt and his friends by now having vanished into the middle distance.
I can report that it took me about a mile to get rid of the stitch and another mile to properly get my breath back and catch the others up again… and all after just a sub-50m dash trying to match Kurt’s pace… man, that guy is FAST! I had no energy left for excuses.
The rest of the run down to Falmer was straightforward bar the occasional and fortunately only vague desire to upchuck.
The observant amongst you might have realised that the only person not left behind during our run, despite never having run for more than an hour, was Leigh… he had just kept on smiling and kept up. Mind you, he is almost 20 years younger than us… ouch, that hurts!
As the cars swung into view, so Andy picked up his skirts and started sprinting, with Cliff hot on his tail… and when my brain finally registered what was happening, me too. Thus we finally left Leigh behind, probably shaking his head in disbelief at the display of old testosterone he was witnessing!
So 11.1 miles in 1.50, just over 6mph, no photos and,in my case, a lightly bruised ego! Kim always knows when I run hard as I fall asleep on the sofa afterwards… having not fallen asleep afterwards for months, I collapsed in a heap in the sun and dozed straight off.
If you’re interested to see where we ran, you can find a record, with photos, of a very similar day on the 17th January 2010.