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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

NDW and Darent Valley run with Jezza

Yesterday @ultraKent or as is more commonly known under his Latin nomenclature Jezza ultraKenticus (var. necrohepatosis this morning) planned a small run as both of us happened to be on annual leave. Without hesitation over the telephone Jerry concocted a loose 20 miler that would likely be my last long run before the Thames Gateway 60 next weekend. As regular readers will know, I have had an indifferent mid-year so far with the following:

1 x 4th place at an XC marathon
1x 2nd place podium at the Norman Conquest 50
1 x DNF at the SDW100
1x DNF at the Croydon 30 (both through A&E, one for putting one's foot in a pothole talking about the A&E trip but not being fully recovered to participate)
2 x marathons in the heat since.

This run was not about the miles, more of a good old catch up with an old friend. Jerry and I ran our first ultra together in 2008. I think we need to celebrate in December with a 5 year anniversary which, correct me if I am wrong, is wood. Perhaps we shall celebrate by going for a run, in the wood? We have not hooked up for a while as usually our summer meet up is more of an inebriated affair with out good buddy David Hegarty (Ultra Immune) at the athletics. What I like about running with Jezza is that we think we are going to have a run and discuss running but we do everything but discuss running. I hope he will not be offended about the similarities (not in looks, but in the discussion of pure and utter bollocks and loose ends and perhaps in stature) to the gentile Deptford-born radio presenter Danny Baker. In actual fact, it was within a mile of home that we discussed running and albeit briefly.

I dropped down to Fortress Chislehurst at 7.45am and after some faffage, we cruised down tho Elmstead Woods station to get a coffee and a train to Sevenoaks via Orpington for another coffee, allowing Jezza to unroll his hepatic misreancy from the previous evening. Once at Sevenoaks it was quickly onto the Darent Valley Path (DVP) through a series of ponds and lakes.

Dropping from suburban to rural and then back to suburban it was then off road proper to the DVP where within 15 minutes, Jezza needed to sort out a race admin issue. Once deposited, we were back en-route and within a few miles of fields, paths with nettles and brambles and some great vistas, we were on the North Downs Way. It was clear that some ruffians from an unmentioned ultra running organisation had illicitly sprayed graffiti upon the pavements of Kent. I shall pen a stern letter to my Member of Parliament about these hooligans! Clearly the handwriting of a UK-vest  ultra runner who shall remain unnamed! It is highly likely that flashing and public urination was witnessed too over this weekend on said race!

Onward and back onto the DVP and the winding path along the river to Lullingstone Castle led us to stop for a cup of tea. How quaint. With a short stop we were once again on the way and the route took us up some big hills back over the North Downs and then continual undulation, first on trail, then on a 3 mile section of roads. We paused more than occasionally for fluids as it was a hot morning, race-walking the steeper of the hills and bimbling through the "forgotten triangle" between the M20, M25 and M26. As we were approaching the end of Bermuda as the bridge over the M25 appeared, a photo opportunity arose that had us tittering at its stupidity. Then it happened.

The moment of oddness that could only happen in the "forgotten triangle" with the approaching of the elderly gentleman in the photo. "Errrr, where does that lane get you to?" Asked Jerry. As the pensioner with the dog replied, I struggled to stifle guffaws and Jerry did a double-take, then stared at the chap intently, focusing on his spectacles, also now stifling laughter. The gent was walking his dog wearing 3-D glasses. Outrageous! It only happens in the "forgotten triangle"

So it was off onto some gypsy path for the next few miles and a tour of what block-paving money is spent on with Southfork to our left and Beckingham Place to our right, the green lush countryside punctuated by the whiteness of large caravanalia. Jerry wasn't feeling so great so we stopped for food and also a hidden water tap to refuel and off again we went. We could have run all day but a mini-bonk by Jerry and it was the quick route home via a can of coke at the Homebase car park in somewhere that started with Cray. After much protestation we shuffled along until the caffeine kicked in and for me it was a nice opportunity to observe the cameo of a chap on his own running turf. Fleet of foot and happy as Larry, he scurried through the loose soft path of Petts Wood and Hawk Wood, along the train line and back to chez Smallwood. This nimble effort showed me that he did not need to scent mark his patch. He owned it. Great! It was good to see him running at his speed and not trying to blast it as I was around.

As we approached the road after the station, I knew the way home and let loose (probably the Coke's caffeine now in my veins) and it was a cameo 7 min miler up the last half mile and back to base. Wonderful to catch up with the most colourful and genuine runners on the ultra scene and a good friend. Perhaps it was fitting that we didn't go to the pub and ruin the rest of our day by misappropriating copious quantities of cider so that we would be able to remember and reminisce our 20 mile jaunt. Cheers Jezza.

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