After running on Friday morning and the torrential rain of Saturday night, I didn’t feel a burning desire to go out running yesterday morning. Which has made me feel slightly guilty, as part of the reason for running is so that I have something to write about. No run: no blog.
But I had a cunning plan. This morning I called up Cliff to see if he wanted to run… maybe do a re-run of the route we ran a week or so back. Now, if you know Cliff you’ll probably be somewhat amazed at the fact that he wasn’t really keen to run today, no thank-you.
Over the last ten or twelve years I have employed thousands of freelance staff and one of the things that you quickly get used to is the excuses as to why they cannot turn up on time. Or at all. Or even why it is that you can’t see them with your own eyes at the place where they say they are. People often call me cynical, but I’m rarely surprised by excuses.
Which makes Cliff’s excuse of, and I quote, ‘windswept eyes’ all the more amazing: I’ve just not heard it before: it’s an original.
Sadly, Cliff is not prone to exaggeration, so if he has windswept eyes, there are probably salt stains extending past his ears and onto to the expanse of his shoulders. Saxo is probably considering sponsorship, or negotiating extraction rights. As the reason for the windblown eyes begins to unfold in front of you, I should like you to ponder what Cliff, the man who has climbed the tallest mountains (yes, including Everest) on each of the seven continents, means when he says the weather was ‘so bad’.
The Jurassic Coast Challengeis held on the Dorset coast path and consists of a marathon on Friday, a marathon on Saturday and a marathon on Sunday. I still remember how I felt after my one flat Berlin marathon, so you’ll excuse me if the prospect of running one the following day and one the day after that does not fill me with desire. Let alone on a path that is as steep at the path across Beachy Head but twice the height and never-ending.
But for people like Cliff and Pete, numbers one and two on Daren’s fit list, there is no challenge in that. Oh no! Fortunately Votwo, the organisers, also cater for crazy people like this by holding a race called the Oner… essentially the opportunity to run all three marathons back to back, through Saturday night and into Sunday morning.
Cliff, Pete and their friend Kevin duly started the Oner at 7pm on Saturday night. But they had only managed to reach the first checkpoint, some 8 or 9 miles, before the organisers pulled the race. Cliff said that they were out in the worst part of the storm and that the weather was ‘so bad’ that they were just slipping everywhere in the mud while being inundated with sheets of water. In the pitch dark.
Not that that had daunted them. This is a training run for a serious race (it has it’s own Wikipedia entry!) later in the year and I have no doubt whatsoever that they would have continued, given the chance. But after a night in the backroom (beer cellar?) of a pub (beer seller?) the race was restarted at 5.30am. In all, 20 of the original 35 starters decided to continue and whilst the race was shortened to make account for the missing hours, the day was still some 50 miles.
The race last year had 20 entrants in total and the word used by the organisers to denote people who retired is ‘broke’. Starting a race at half past six in the evening, one can only imagine what ‘breaking’ at 1am or 3am the following morning feels like. You’ve put six or nine hours into a race and you have to give up. Gutted! Only five runners finished.
But this weekend, with Kevin’s wife Lydia in support, our three intrepids (should that be extra-peds?) made surprisingly short work of the serious hills, glorious sunshine and stiff wind, coming in joint 8th or 9th (results not yet available) in 11 hours.
So if Cliff is not keen to run because of windblown eyes, I understand.