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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Clues, blues, booze - the risky business of the Greensand Way

We ran our first 2 day 55-miler on 10th-11th March 2012. Here’s the story of all the blood, sweat and tears from the first day…
Before I begin, may I remind you of our donations page? It’s just a click away….

With classic timing, we’d organised a training weekend after a hectic night gigging at the fabulous UkeJam’s first ever Friday Night Live at the Royal Oak in Guildford. Genevieve and the Zut Alors (critically endorsed by John-Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin) kicked off the night, followed by UkeJam sets led stunningly by Adam and Penny, with our percussive guest Al Murray keeping the beat. Charlie Khan and the Bullfrog Chorus also wowed the pub. It was a brilliant night and I was buzzing when I got home, which had implications on the amount of sleep I had…

Bright and early the next day, Lee and Dr G picked me up and we were smuggled over the border into Kent by the mystery machine, Genevieve.

Lee got excited about the border crossing out of Surrey and had to get a snapshot.

I don't think we're in Surrey any more, Toto...

At Limpsfield we picked up the trail and some conflicting clues as to which way to run…
Orienteering 101 - If in doubt, head West on the Greensand Way

After a couple of minutes we found the hallowed midway sign and passed undetected across the border into Surrey again.
It's like straddling the Greenwich Meridian, only classier

A mile or so further in and we happily ran down a beautiful grassy hill, pointed in that direction by a new wooden sign.  At the bottom of the hill things became less clear and so we looked to Science to check our positioning. Science indicated our positioning as being way off track. Swearing and cursing our stupidity so soon into the run, we slogged it back uphill to the last Greensand Way signpost.

It turns out that the signpost was somewhat “Directional-Accuracy” challenged, and requires some improvement. Of course this could have been a set-up to destroy our mission… it worked, albeit only briefly.

The overcast sky held promise of a breakthrough of sun later on, and we ran along some exposed hill ridges and across farmland in deliciously warm 16C weather.

Of course we’d not completed a Risk Assessment of this part of the Greensand Way so were careful to take notes of dangers as we passed them.
DANGER! HIGH VOLTAGE! on the Greensand Way

As you may be aware from the previous blog post, we have developed our own Greensand Way language or “secret code”. Some of these may be difficult to decipher (who would think “Nothing at all” or “Shatners” would refer to items of clothing?), which is why we’ve provided a guide. However when an opportunity to coin a new phrase arises, the quickest of thoughts is needed to find a fitting word or phrase. While running down a muddy, rocky and steep-sided bridleway, Lee was about 50m ahead of me taking a photo when I heard the urgent shouted call “GALLOPING HORSE!!!!”.

What could this mean, this new coinage?
Could it be rhyming slang, meaning mind the course?
Maybe Lee was playing make believe?

The clatter of hooves on rock aided the realisation at what Lee’s coded message meant; it turns out there was actually a galloping horse travelling at breakneck speed towards us, followed by an irate farmer.

The horse did eventually slow down, and the rider apologised and atoned for her sins towards the understandably narked farmer whose field she’d trespassed in, and the drama subsided enough for us to continue on – feeling a little bit like we’d been in a cliffhanger episode of The Archers.

What would happen next?!

Little Pecker happened across a Big (Pea)Cock..
Come on now dude, that's just showing off.

We ran near Redhill Aerodrome and saw loads of little planes. I was treated to a detailed description of each one:
“This one here, the Atari 150, was the first plane to be made entirely of marshmallow”
 “That’s a Zoolander 34B, it can only turn right”
“Oh that one they call the FlyMo, it’s basically a lawnmower with wings”

To which I paid avid attention, honest. This helped to pass the time. By that point the clouds had broken and we had gorgeous sunshine to keep us going.

After diligently stopping every 6 miles or so to ingest sugar, we made it under the M23 and found this fabulous bit of farming equipment that we immediately christened the DoodyMaster 3000 – spreads your doody 3 times faster than the DoodyMaster 1000!

All this new territory was very exciting and I nearly weed myself when we ran past South Nutfield Scout Hut – it was like a nod to what we were doing and why we were doing it. Seeing Guide and Scout related things everywhere you go is like being part of a (not very) secret society, where everyone will help you out. It’s a great feeling to run past a random hut and feel like you belong there.

We ventured hungrily through Redhill and towards Reigate. We were near on 18 miles by this point and the time had reached about 2.30pm, with no lunchtime meal as yet.
Our stages of hunger started looking like the stages of grief - there was denial ("we'll find somewhere soon, we don't need to eat just yet. Just a couple more miles...", followed by anger ("I can't believe there's NOWHERE for us to get food, what kind of town is this?!") followed by bargaining ("OK, if we don't find anywhere in the next 20 minutes then I'll call Dominos and we'll get a pizza delivered")...

Some dodgy decision making occurred (Lee got Boots-queue rage while buying talc – do NOT anger a chafing man!) and we ended up in the only place that would let us sit down, charge phones and eat while not being dressed smart-casually… Morrison’s café.

The food was school-dinner standard, the welcome was conflicting, the service was strange but we got some food in us! Lee had an impromptu shower while attempting to fill his Camelbak from a bottle of water and had to re-talc, and we restocked our sugar supplies. An email popped onto my phone to let me know that we'd received a fantastic £108 donation which lifted us no end. 

While digesting our burger and chips, we waddled across the lovely Reigate Heath towards the Windmill to start the last 10 miles of the day. The terrain got friendlier because we’d already run it twice before.

We tried to maintain our hydration levels as best we could going through Brockham:
Pump it up louder

It’s a funny thing to describe again where we’ve run before. The familiarity of running through an area is somewhat of a comfort, and knowing what’s around the corner can really help to spur you on.

Because it’s March, we were looking at a 6pm sunset and try as we did, our day had lagged by about an hour behind our estimations (the constant need to check whereabouts, eat jelly babies, talk to strangers and drink cans of Red Bull take their toll)
Red Bull - gives your blisters wings

But the positive spin on this is that we got to see the sun set while were at the top of Deepdene Terrace, which is a fabulous viewpoint just outside of Dorking:
Deepdene Terrace Sunset on the Greensand Way

Running through Dorking and up the Nower was a piece of cake in the dark (if you ignore the bit where we got slightly track-misaligned*) especially because we'd already had practice running that bit in the snow with Guildford H3. It also marked the completion of our first training marathon (and my FIRST EVER marathon!) which was pretty awesome.

We made it through Westcott and finally made it down to the Wotton Hatch pub for some much needed sports drink, where I believe Lee will pick up the story. It'll start off sounding like a bit of a joke "Two sweaty smelly runners walked into a pub, ordered some pizza, and started baby-wiping" but it was a brilliant evening and an... interesting night. 

We raised our total by £138 on Saturday March 10th and we received some much-needed support via Twitter, Facebook and text. Thank you everyone who donated and kept us going - and look out for the next blogs about the weekend, coming VERY SOON.


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