Sunday, 1 April 2012
Having run in the morning with the beautiful Mrs UB and good running friend Lily, I was on course for a BIG day. I'm not sure how much the oysters, 2 glasses of dry fruity white and a big lunch at Borough Market helped the cause but at 6.30pm, I picked up the legendary Jerry from his country pile on the way to Knockholt.
After finding petrol at the third filling station we passed, the car refueled for our return journey and it was off for the run. Unfortunately for Jerry, I was not able to provide him with the ammunition he required for comments of a sartorial nature as I had come as lightly attired as he had, save for my ultra light Haglofs windproof.
Setting out from Knockholt for a stiff climb and then pummeling descent over the Downs set us off at a quick clip. Staring up at the sky in the twilight we made out Venus, but not yet Jupiter; whilst on the ground Jezza pointed out Saturn and Uranus (part of the scale model solar system near Shoreham)
I had run parts of the NDW but not for about 3 or 4 years. I had a habit of escaping for the day on a weekend, occasionally running with Sue or George but mostly on my own. I was surprised (as was Jerry) that I knew my way around Jerry's playground. I had forgotten that the early parts contained stretches of road although as soon as we crossed the M25 and past the Best Western Hotel, it was back to hard, compacted trail, so unusually dry for this time of year)
The time had come to don headtorches for technical twists from Otford to Kemsing, tree roots scheming to unseat us, whilst low branches equally indefatigable in their decapitation mode. Never without fear, we soldiered on and made the turn at the halfway point, down a tiny narrow path and out onto a small road. "There is the pub!" exclaimed Jerry. "Where?" "That's not a pub.....is it?"
As we entered what could only be described as Crow Crag, infamous pub of Withnail and I fame, we entered a world rarely seen by modern man. The first living thing that met us was a yappy dog, then a cat, then a parrot. Finally, as our eyes became accustomed to the light, a neanderthal witch rose from her slumber and hauled herself to the bar. To describe her as a witch sounds brutally unfair....but totally justified in my mind. She had the aroma of cat urine, a shock of white hair running through a jet black shoulder length nest. The teeth were like tombstones and her flattened but wizened face bore resemblance to Cor-Magnon man. Perhaps Mathhew Hopkins; Witchfinder General had not been able to find this watering hole to rid it of potential witchcraft.
In our rest period at 630ft above sea level in the Rising Sun, we noted the nicotine stained lung that we had entered......memories of a faded past adorned the walls whilst smells permeated our nostrils of an incontinent array of animalia.
Quaffing our Dark Star and Moonlight bitters, we bid goodnight to Goody herself and were bid adieu by the parrot in the fireplace who let out a grand "MIEOW!!" as we left the establishment. To state that we were laughing uncontrollably would be an understatement. Never in all my life had I heard a bird-cat!
Off we went, the cold wind biting into our sweaty skin, although soon to warm up. Tired legs were soon scuffling over loose debris and tree roots, partly at times at a good clip, often at an ultra-shuffle. The journey uphill on the return was a tough climb, but with 1800ft of ascent completed and 16 miles of night run, we arrived back at the car, living to tell tales of the day.
An excellent outing to top off a 30 mile day of training. 100km for the week which I am very pleased about. I'm tired as I write this on Sunday morning but am now happy to be part of the Downs NRG group and can't wait for the next installment.