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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Snakes, Ladders, The Statue of Libertree and 'Cows' with no Udders on the Sussex Border Path

Last Saturday was to be the final 'big' run before the main event in less than a week. To keep things fresh and interesting we planned an off road marathon linking the end of the Greensand Way in Haslemere with where Dan and Dave live in Portsmouth (just in case they wanted to run home after running the whole Greensand Way).

The Sussex Border Path sign near Marley Combe

Dave and I spent weeks planning our off road  routes ( I was to get us from Haslemere to Petersfield and Dave from there to Portsmouth). We looked at Ordnance Survey maps, scratched our heads, used google and conversed by email.

Whilst we planned a meticulous and highly complex route involving various trails we then noticed the day before  that the Sussex Border Path ran continuously from Haslemere all the way to Rowlands Castle. did that.

The night before in true Greensand Way style  we took the opportunity to 'carb load' with multiple 'sports drinks' at the Royal Oak pub in Guildford. As well as it being a Ukejam night we had the amazing T34 s playing and our band Genevieve and The Zut Alors were supporting.

'Lorraine Quiche' and 'Alain Gateaux' playing with Genevieve and the Zut  Alors at the Royal Oak Guildford
The above photo is courtesy of Paul Tansy the Photographer. Check out his website at 

Al Murray and the mighty T 34s rock the Royal Oak in Guildford

We had an absolute blast and everyone had a great time.

 I woke up at a shocking 6.30 am because Dave and Dan suggested we meet at Haslemere at 8 am to set off. While Claire and I waited just inside the train station at Haslemere at 8am impatiently waiting for Dan and Dave they were sat just outside Haslemere station waitinf for Claire and me. We ran through the streets of Haslemere until we got to Marley Combe. Here we could use the serpent trail to link us up with the Sussex Border path.  This was a day when all of us were doing a final road test with all the kit we would use on the main Greensand Way run. Claire had a new Osprey rucksack and Dave and Dan were running with their full kit too. (well nearly).

Dan and Dave meet up with the Sussex Border Path near linchmere

Having followed the Serpent Trail for a while we met up with the Sussex Border Path and very quickly came across a bench overlooking a scenic pond. We took this opportunity to do some 'Smacking' - Smiling with our Back.

Dan does some 'smacking' - smiling with your back  on the Sussex Border Path

We ran on through the paths shaded by the woods running through Linchmere and Stanley Common and eventually got to Liphook. This was on the border with West Sussex and Hampshire so we had managed to run in 3 counties in one day.
Dan Dave and Claire at the border on the Sussex Border Path

Lee Dave and Dan at the border on the Sussex Border Path

I was very pleased to see from 'Science' that the Sussex Border Path took us straight through the middle of another Golf Course. We took this opportunity to improve our golf swings while running. We did notice that we were at the end of the driving range so we didnt stick around for too long. 

Practicing our golf swings whilst running through Liphook on the Sussex Border Path

The run was great, the sun was out and there were very few hills. The woodland was quite dense so with the lack of hills we rarely got any impressive views. We also found that the serpent trail merged with the Sussex Border Path a lot and also weaved through it making navigation a bit confusing at times. ( I got us lost a total of 4 times on this run!). This did also lead to us looking at the map and taking a short cut at Langley which we were very pleased with ourselves at because it made us feel naughty.

Claire Dave and Dan looking out at the South Downs near Durford Wood on the Sussex Border Path

Having spent most of the morning running through relatively flat woodland the scenery opened up as we ran out of Durford Wood and we got our first glimpse of the South Downs in the distance which we would be crossing over in the afternoon. It was fantastic. 

Dan goes up a ladder on the Sussex Border Path

Dan took the opportunity to climb a ladder and get a better view. It was nice for him to see how the world looks from Daves point of view for a change.

The 'urban' part of our team - Dave and Dan - like to point out strips of tarmac and roads and proclaim 'this is the portsmouth way' . They also sport more 'urban' interpretations of running gear like white trainers. The stretch we ran before lunch got more and more 'shiggy' until the mud was very deep and all over the place. Claire and I laughed a lot as Dan and Dave did everything they could to avoid getting muddy including climbing along a barbed wire fence rather than running through the mud.

Dan and Dave 'urban runners' avoid shiggy by climbing along a barb wire fence.

'Cowmaggedon' came next . This happened at Down Park Farm. We had a difficult field to navigate where the next stage of the path wasn't clear. i used 'Science' to 'fly by instruments' across the field watching the blip on the screen and making sure it stayed on the green line. As I did this a herd of 'cows' came over to us and starting coralling Claire and I. The 'urban team' were having none of it and backed off to leave Claire and I in the middle of a large field. 

Normally 'Cows' just ignore you as you go by but these guys were much more 'frisky'. Everytime we turned our back they were almost charging us. Eye contact was mainly enough to see them off and they would stop mid charge and rejoin the group. 

We eventually got across the field with me commenting that it reminded me of a time I had been surrounded underwater by a school of barracuda.  Whilst all the drama unfolded the 'urban team' had slipped across the field unnoticed as Claire and I had been the distraction.

It was only in the evening after the run that closer inspection of our photos by Dr G my wife that she pointed out that 'Cows' with no udders......were called BULLS.

Cowmaggedon - look at the posture of the brown Bull with white head to the right of Claire

We took another shortcut using about 1.5 mile of road to get to lunch in The White Hart Pub in South Harting. We took the shortcut as the terrain had been very  muddy and had severely slowed us down and we were long past the half way mark of the run and needed to eat. 

This was a great opportunity for me to realise I had spent the entire morning running with my compression top on back to front....and change it round in the toilets. It was also a chance for Dan to smack his head really hard on a low beam and leave a bruise the size of a kinder egg right on top of his head. This would be the first of many minor injuries for him on this run.

Crossing the South Downs Way on the Sussex Border Path near South Harting

After Lunch we crossed the South Downs Way on the South Harting Down at a point called Forty Acre Lane. We then ran on and I began to make a series of increasingly more stupid navigational errors which got us off track a number of times. The first time in the afternoon I missed a split in the track and we had to go up a very steep hill off track to rejoin the Sussex Border Path. This led to 'Bramblegeddon' and Dan got his bare 'urban' legs scraped to bits.

The 'Statue of Libertree' on the Sussex Border Path  (well actually just off it) 

The next time was even worse and we were so off track it was easier to navigate a whole new route past a farm called Eckensfield. Claire and I noticed that it had a tree we thought looked like the statue of Liberty so we named it the Statue of Libertree. 

We rejoined the Sussex Border Path (again) and ran along until we got to Chalton. Here it was simply a matter of turning south and running over the Chalton Down. It was much more scenic and we could see Ditcham Park School in the distance.

Dan and Dave running up Chalton Down on the Sussex Border Path

We took a quick break on the railway bridge that crossed at Chalton and then ran towards the Staunton Way . This would take us down to Rowlands Castle about 4 miles away. 

Taking a rest at Chalton on the Sussex Border Path

Claire joins the Staunton Way on our run

As we ran over the Idsworth Down it occured to me that as we got to the top of the rolling hill we might be able to see the coast. As we got to the crest of the hill not only could we see the coast but we saw 5 deer run across in the distance in front of Dave and Dan. This was magic.

Dan and Dave running along Idsworth Down on the Sussex Border Path 

As we ran through The folly Dan became a tumbling tosser and fell over brilliantly cutting his hands and getting himself dirty. We laughed while Claire patched him up with our first aid kit.

Dan with - Bruise on head, cut hand and scraped legs

We got into Rowlands Castle about 4pm and enjoyed a nice cool pint and some free sandwiches at the pub by the train station.  We were all surprised at how good we felt. This is probably a sign of the training we have done.

Lee Claire and Dave at the finish

We got on the train in separate directions. Dan and Dave heading back to Portsmouth and Claire and I back to Godalming. The train journey back was a great chance to whizz past all the bits we had run that day in a 45 min high speed review.

Rucksacks getting a well earned rest on the way home

So thats it. The next time the 'urban crew' and ' hashers' meet will be THE BIG RUN. It is hard to believe we are a week away now at time of writing this. 

We've done the training, chosen our kit, practiced our navigation... There is little more to do. We are now in a 'wind down' stage where we rest more and more and train less as the days go on.

We've got a few more blogs yet , A hash Claire and I are leading with the Guildford Hash House Harriers and as well as the main run, we have an amazing after run party booked at the Royal Oak in Guildford on the 9th June.

Dont forget that we have a charity  donation page here 

The Greensand Way 4 

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