…long, narrow, secretive passages…
Scribed by Spark(l)y
Arriving before the appointed hour only to find the pub car park closed off to us and thus necessitating a squeeze in to the layby opposite were Robic and Moondance, who brought along New Steve (henceforth known as Black Cat, – ‘e’s a Mackem, you know), Groper, Nat the Hat, and Wally & Sparkly. Uphill Gill and Paul Newman arrived on their bikes, and by the skin of their teeth, Pis’t’man Pat, and Cinderella, Prince Charming and Jonno Groans timed it perfectly to park in the now opened car park. 13 runners – a great turn-out for this time of year.
The hare huffed and puffed into view and it seemed churlish not to let him get his breath back only for him to utter the advisory that it would be about 7 or 8 miles ‘as it was not a hilly run’. Since when did a lack of vertical challenge mean it was okay to make the run quite a bit longer than usual?
Appreciating that this was going to be new territory for most of us we set off at a pace and soon found ourselves exploring the nooks and crannies of the area. These were long, narrow, secretive passages that the hare must have had to beat his way through as there was little evidence of recent usage. The first outrageously long falsie caught a few of us out and put us a long way behind the new leaders; it was all the more disheartening when we realised that had we turned right at the cross instead of retracing our steps we could have re-joined them much sooner. The sawdust was very sparse and difficult to see, blending in as it did with the baked earth. The hare had set off with us ostensibly to assist those who needed the short-cuts, but ended up running it all with us. There was such little visible marking of the trail that he frequently had to point us in the right direction. He – and we – suffered from mistrust of him for a while after we returned from a falsie but which he assured us it was the correct way and that the cross belonged to another hash. When we found ourselves once again at the same cross he promptly had us do an about turn to go back to the previous circle! Certainly there was one section of at least a mile long where we spent almost as much time looking behind us for assurance from the hare as facing forwards searching for the sawdust blobs. It was just after this that the newbie, Black Cat, got carried away by his legs, wanting to ‘stretch them out’, only he didn’t realise/remember that he should have been looking for way markers. Classic! Consequently the hare found himself betwixt and between, alternately herding the short-cutters and the rookie who had to be reined in.
The hare certainly incorporated lots of variety in this run for us from an ‘electrifrying’ experience for Paul Newman to cool shady forest trails, then wide open baking hot sections, ankle turning terrain, attacking nettles and brambles, or rash-inducing thigh-high grass. The ‘Knees up, Mother Brown’ style needed to traverse one particularly lush field was really hard work and, to conserve energy, I was forced to let a few runners overtake me to flatten the long grass so I wouldn’t have to lift my knees so much. It was also impossible to see the running surface here but proved to be rutted and hole-laden causing some to pick their way carefully over that particular path to avoid injury. We had romping calves, and those of the bovine variety….and at least one heifer! Some cow-o-phobes amongst us were intimidated by the frolicking herd, but being a country lass born and bred I could tell it was all bravado so picked on the cheekiest one and shouted BOO!, which had the desired and satisfying effect of scaring them sufficiently to turn away from the gate behind which everyone else was safely ensconced – only to send them off back towards Nat the Hat who was still bravely trying to cir-cow-ambulate them!
At 1225 when I not unreasonably thought the end must be near the hare was kindly on hand again to offer an ‘alternative route’ along with the encouraging words that it was only a few minutes more – which turned out to be at least 10 minutes (and the rest)! What is it about men and their inability to reasonably assess how far/how many more minutes to go?
I don’t know who took line honours but it would have been between Robic, Moondance and Jonno Groans with the remainder staggering in sporadically in their own time.
Verdict: Moondance phrased it succinctly: ‘Long and murderous!’ It was certainly an act of endurance. Our hare had some sort of excuse – a fence that popped up over-night by a caravan park meant he had to divert from his reccied route which added yet more distance over-all. As for the sawdust – wrong type (where have we heard THAT excuse before?) and the wind blew it away. Hmmmm. But, strange as it may seem, it was an enjoyable experience, somewhere different, and encouraging for anyone training for a half-marathon – with almost 9 miles gone only another ‘normal’ length hash and we would have done the distance!
At the pub: From afar Billy Graham ensured we re-loaded on carbs with 7 bowls of chips, including cheesy ones, almost a bowl a mile! Scooby Doo, late due to domestic water problems, estimated he had run 11 miles and deservedly tucked in to a full roast after describing his run, which was almost entirely different to ours, so we didn’t go there! Some drank Surrey Hills Ranmore Ale; I have no idea what others had but allegedly this pub has a great selection of beer, whilst at least one A. N. Other imbibed Scrumpy. PP (currently in one of his anorexic phases and fast disappearing before our very eyes) confessed to engaging in ‘Lookism’ in a previous life, where he would only surround himself with attractive people, particularly females, and described how that led him into some predicaments with them and as a direct consequence, their male partners. Fortunately for him he has mended his ways and now chooses a posse of hashers to keep him company. Good move PP – surround yourself with ‘non-lookers’ (as in not stunningly beautiful) and keep taking the carrots so you can see better (and for your liver) to ensure your well-being. Still it brought to mind the so-called ‘Ugly Law’ that once existed in some US (where else?) states. PP also regaled us with his recent ‘burnt fruit cage’ incident which prompted concerned enquiries about his roasted plums or his singed gooseberries! Always one to keep us guessing, our friendly neighbourhood postman!