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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Clingfilm , Martha , Smacking, Another World War 2 Bunker, Agatha Christie and Why Splashing in Puddles will Always End in Tears on The North Downs Way

By completing the Kent training weekend (blog to follow!) we had then also run all of the Greensand Way in separate stages. With a month left to go we wanted to keep things fresh so we thought a few training runs on the North Downs Way would keep things exciting for us (and this blog).

We have also had more lovely donations from people on our website . thanks so much !

North Downs Way Sign near St Marthas Hill

We set off on sunday having had a week of torrential rain. We had also had the wettest April on record.  I had wisely spent the night before spraying all my clothing and rucksack and hat in waterproof spray. I like running with the built in waterproof covers on our bags because I think it makes us look like the Jelly Babies we eat. Claire is a zesty yellow (officially called Baby Brilliant) and I'm a nice red (officially called Baby Bubbles) .

Claire acquiants herself with a new set of signange on the North Downs Way
I was trying out my new smart phone to see how its GPS and battery lasted so with this amount of rain I took advice from Eddie Izzards long distance running experience and wrapped it in clingfilm (fnar).

clingfilm for waterproofing on my smart phone
Claire was aware that her feet were going to get wet so luckily her Walsh trainers had spilt open with a big hole on both shoes after only a few weeks of running in them. This 'sunroof' system meant the water and mud would drain out quickly after each puddle.

Walsh trainers- british made sub standard running shoes complete with massive 'drain holes'

We ran through The Chantries and eventually climbed the sandy St Marthas Hill and found St Marthas Church at the peak. It was still raining at the summit so we didnt spend much time there to enjoy the fantastic views.

Claire at the Peak of St Marthas Hill on the North Downs Way
As we ran off the hill just past the church we spotted a bench overlooking a great view and so we took the oportunity to bring a Greensand Way tradition to the North Downs Way 'Smacking' smiling with your back.

Lee 'Smacking' smiling with his back on St Marthas Hill on the North Downs Way

We had found a church , done some bench 'Smacking' and then to complete the trilogy of all that makes the Greensand Way what it is we then ran past a GHQ world war 2 bunker. It was starting to look like the Big Brother of The Greensand Way was going to be everything like its little younger brother.

A Type 22 Bunker on St Marthas Hill on the North Downs Way

As we got to Newlands Corner  the rain stopped and the sun finally came out. The views from there are stunning and as good as some of the best views from The Greensand Way. We stopped for a bit to watch a bird of prey riding the ridge wave and seemingly hoover perfectly still in the air without moving its wings. I was convinced it might be another 'fake bird' like a scarecrow type kite we saw on the Kent Greensand Way run (blog to follow...promise !)

Claire does some 'smeeing' on Newlands Corner
We ran on through the Clandon Downs (also called the Netherlands although they arent flat!) and towards Coombe Bottom where we went hashing with the Hash House Harriers a few weeks ago. This also marks the mysterious site where Agatha Christies car was found when she dissapeared near Silent Pool.

Lee feels at home in a small wooden dwelling in Combe Bottom

We loved finding small hand painted yellow signs marking the North Downs Way , but felt that the path always seemed to be about 25 metres away from the obviously fantastic views we could have had. It became mile after mile of flat woodland (we were up on the ridge) and the amount of shiggy (mud and water) was tremendous.

A helpful handpainted NDW North Downs Way sign on a tree in Netley Heath

You start any run trying to avoid wetness and mud by prancing or mincing round each puddle. As time goes on and you get a bit wet and tired you give up and eventually find yourself blasting straight through the middle of even the deepest shiggy because you dont care anymore.

Lee the Red Jelly Baby blasting through the shiggy

After about 1 hr and 45 minutes of running we turned round in Netley Heath (just north of Gomshall) and started the run back.

Out of boredom we started deliberately stomping hard in puddles just to get each other wet. Sensible ramblers looked on in horror as two crazed runners laughed uncontrollably as they deliberately went out of the way to splash the other one with mud and water. We laughed and stomped and it naturally escalated and got more elaborate before I attempted the final big mega stomp to cause the mother of all mud soakings....and I nearly did it .........perfectly....except I didnt. I slipped sideways past Claire and skidded in a big jelly baby mess in the mud right in front of two horrified walkers who burst out laughing with Claire (and me eventually) as I laid in the mud.

Lee loses the mud stomping competition in style on Netley Heath on the North Downs Way

Heading back towards Newlands Corner the weather continued to improve and the sky got blue and the sun came out  and I cleaned myself up by wiping the mud all over Claire.

Claire enjoys running with Blue Skies along Newlands Corner on the North Downs Way

The views were just breathtaking and made even more impressive by the dark grey line of clouds in the sky in the far distance.

Claire running along Newlands Corner towards St Marthas Hill

We got back to St Marthas Hill and the Church to find the sky much more favourable for photos and we could also truly enjoy the view in all directions.We also found an offering from the running gods in the form of 2 ibuprofen tablets still in their blister packs. Mild Walky Pills from heaven.

St Marthas Church looking all fierce and high fashion

We ran on back down St Marthas hill and across the Chantries quickly
and back to the car park where we started. The total distance was a bit under 15 miles. It was great to run some new trails and following the signs makes it even easier. We expect to run a bit more of the North Downs Way in the last few weeks of our training before THE BIG RUN. Our only real gripe was once we got up on the downs we stayed up there (with the Greensand Way there is a lot of up and down) so there wasnt a lot of hill climbing and it all felt a bit 'flat'.

acorns instead of oast houses marking the North Downs Way

Little were we to know that a only a day later Popeye was going to treat us to the most scenic and steepest hash we've done on Box Hill on the North Downs Way..........A run which nearly drowned him.

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