Run Report 1881: The Percy Arms, Chilworth

Scribed by Pistman Pat

When Hashers Percy Veer…

Marvin Gaye paid with his life when he intervened in a family argument – when they heard it on the grapevine some doubted the veracity of the news – well it was 1st April, (1984). I’m guessing that around that time our hare, Robin Hood, would still have been deciding upon his future career. Whatever the chronology, some of Marvin’s lyrics must have impregnated Robin Hood’s very being, because last Sunday found a mad February hare wandering the environs of St Martha’s singing in tribute to the Prince of Motown. “There ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no sodden footpath wide enough, to keep me from setting a god damn killer hash….”  And what a hash he set.  Those of you who were there will agree; Ginger Rogers, Ayrton Senna, Easily Overlooked, Quasimodo, Robic, Moondance, 3s&4p, Lady Chatterley, Scooby Doo, Tea Cosy, Virgil, Venus, Factor 30, Cynthia, Kelinchi with young pup, Tom; henceforth known as Hoagy, Sorry John and your scribe;  the hasher formally known as capable of running the full route.

We started in the Percy car park which we left to venture along Vera’s path.  My confidence was high, I had assumed a dominant position in the leading group and, armed with a fine understanding of Zeno’s paradox, which explains, in very convincing terms, how it is impossible for a man to overtake a tortoise, I was happy to believe I was set for an impressive run and podium finish. Eight hundred yards later we were on the steepest of the many climbs leading to St Martha.  Everyone had overtaken this particular tortoise and I came to realise Zeno knew jack shit.  About this time I remember having a choice between waddling on up or spending the rest of my life with a pack of llamas.  The severity of the climb and altitude suggested one of those long necked sheepy things might easily have merited a first name of “Dalai” but  I was saving my foray into Buddhism for another April 1st, (2020); yep it’s in the diary Cynthia. I therefore chose to continue with the crampons.

From time to time we probably all ask ourselves why we hash.  On that brutal climb I was certainly questioning the wisdom of my attendance, but then I noticed a hasher a little ahead who was checking his progress to precisely match my erratic and laboured ascent.  I am sure we hash for many reasons but the gentle comradeship of folk like Quasi is certainly a major factor.

Turning left before we reached the church we were soon on a downward slope; this led on to the main drag which dropped us to the road where we crossed using the obligatory dog leg over to the Chantries.  The woods were showing an early abundance of blue bell leaves, they were “Biggly green” as the current POTUS would likely say (whilst failing to register any climatic relevance and playing with the crayons in his pocket).

On the grassy shoulder of the Chantries overlooking the valley there was a regroup.  This  disbanded shortly before my arrival, but a swift dive to the right and into the woods allowed me fleeting glimpses of Virgil, Venus, Cynthia and Scooby as they battled a couple of uninviting ridges.  If Heisenberg had hashed, he would have understood my decision at this point.  It wasn’t so much that I left the trail, more that I enjoyed a certain uncertainty about my whereabouts.  The front runners surged off the hill and out towards Tyting Farm, whilst I gave a friendly wave to a few back markers and ran on a similar, but not identical, compass bearing.  At this point I have to insist (and  Schrodinger would totally agree),  I was only off trail when observed.

Despite, or possibly due to, the vagaries of quantum hashing, the short-trimmed grass to the west of the main St Martha car park gave me a platform to monitor the progress of Scooby and others way below on the left as they carved their way towards the groves of rhododendrons on the other side of the vale.  Taking the next path left I attempted to join these stragglers but our hare was screwing with Aesop’s paradigm and proving more cunning than any fox, fabled or otherwise.  Suffice to say I quickly found the trail coming back towards me and, not being one to flout hashing conventions (much), I dutifully turned and followed the sawdust up to the church; this time approaching from the opposite side.  Here AS, Madonna,TC, Robic, Moondance, Hoagy and Q were waiting patiently for those nearer the norm on the bell curve of physical capability.

As the regroup swelled Robic grew tired of resting and threw her energies into finding the next challenge this trail had in store. After a couple of false starts dust was found and almost everyone ran off to investigate some bench which somehow subsequently involved a need to ascend towards the church another two times. Eventually the trail dropped on down to the west entrances to the Gunpowder Mills.  Me, I’ve seen quite a few benches, and elected to forego that particular delight.  Had I known on Sunday that I’d be writing this report, I might have listened more carefully to the descriptions of the two loops I missed.  I can only say that I also ran in through the mills, and given that I was back and changed before the usual suspects cruised into the car park, it would seem likely there was at least a mile or two of hard running around that mysterious bench.  Easily Overlooked declared the run to be akin to a four leaf clover – I don’t think she felt any luckier for having done it, so I must assume she saw the route as having been draped around the church in four giant swirls, each with an arduous return to the top or nearby.  Judging by the tired faces on the returning runners I’m pretty sure it was something like this, but then again when you can use a puddle as part of your triathlon training, doesn’t everything look giant?

VERDICT:   This was a brilliant and devious run set with great craft.  I don’t know whether there will be a Garmin record of what Robin Hood put us through, but I really would not be surprised to see something well in excess of six hundred feet climbed.  The multiple ascents to the church of St Martha really confused the pack and made for a memorable Sunday morning work-out.  Many thanks for what was clearly a monumental feat Harry.

AT THE PUB:  Sorry I will rephrase that, “AT THE RESTAURANT:” Christmas in February – there was no room at the inn! (Not even a stable, so we sat in the garden.)  Having so said, the sun was shining and the picnic tables provided more than adequate room for us to quaff a couple of pints and indulge in some very good chips.  The hare saw everybody well cared for but then beat a hasty departure muttering something about a date with a twenty one year old.  Had the mercury been a couple of notches higher, the remaining hashers might have lingered longer but we are a busy bunch these days so the record can show, despite not excelling on the physical side of things, Quasi, 3s & 4p and your scribe had the last word when it came to true endurance.  Some might draw a scurrilous connection.

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