Strangely, despite the severity of the run today, the reference to running stich is not passing comment on our dubious fitness levels, but rather on our poor needlework skills.
After a typically lengthy absence, it was an honour today to run with The BIG Man, fresh from his travels and travails.
The BIG man’s plan was somewhat crazy, especially bearing in mind that he was sporting something of a hangover and I was suffering from sleep deprivation… having gone to bed around 2am and gotten up again at 6am, on a Sunday, I ask you. We were to run along the Downs, taking each consecutive path between the top and the bottom… my expectation was that we probably wouldn’t get too far!
In order to run up the Tank Tracks, we started by running down the hill from Jack & Jill to Clayton and along the road… nice start, especially as we arrived at a mutually agreeable pace that is generally referred to as Slow. The pace suited us well on the inevitable first climb and we managed admirably… just as well as we had a spectator watching us towards the top in the form of a friendly competitor of mine, Paul Hopwood. Not that we could stop to chat for fear of breaking our resolve.
In retrospect we could have gone straight back down the adjacent bostal from there, but instead we ran along the top to the more vertical path that drops down to the bottom of the Ditchling Beacon road. Cliff ran up and down this steep track countless times (I think to emulate the height of Everest) in order to gain the sponsorship money to go on Operation Raleigh all those years ago.
We ran along Underhill Lane and back up my favourite Beacon track which wends its way up slightly further down the hill from the climbing road. Two hills didn’t seem quite enough, so we ran down the next bostal to Westmeston and back up through the top of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee V… I seem to vaguely recall that there had been plans to plant trees to form another letter next to it (R for Regina or A for Albert?), but she sadly died in the intervening period… although the validity of my source is forgotten so this may be totally spurious!
As every good needle-worker knows, what we had done to this point could be considered to be running-stitch and not the most stable of sewing styles. Bravado (or maybe memories of needlework class at Woodingdean Primary School) therefore made me suggest that we did cross-stitch, zagging our outbound zigs on the return leg and creating a much stronger, er… well, let’s not try to take the analogy too far, huh?
Thankfully the BIG man, he sayeth (words to the effect of) No, which let me off the hook from my rather stupid suggestion. Instead, we ran gently back along the top, via the trig point at Ditchling Beacon, to Jack and Jill again.
Back at the cars Daren made one tiny error, mentioning that we had completed 9.75 miles… too close for me not to want to complete the other quarter-mile. He gracefully agreed (quite frankly, this is blatant writer’s licence) and we ran back off up the hill, returning a few minutes later having completed the requisite distance… in some ways it was a neat knot to complete our needlework class.
So, ten pretty arduous miles in 2.10, an unsurprisingly slow 4.6mph, and one of the most enjoyable runs in ages… in between all our laughing and whooping, of course!