And so the evening arrived when we were to meet outside the Queen's Head public house in Downe, Kent. There is always that slight doubt that anyone will turn up to it as people who say they will come have change in plans.
So as Duncan and I pulled up in my car we saw three people bedecked in running kit approach the pub and then two others scuttle from different directions to join us all.
As we stood there waiting for the church bell to strike 8 we chatted and laughed we were approached by a colourful local gent (read as the village drunk) who was attracted to our gathering. It was here I interrogated the poor soul on his local knowledge which was pretty impressive but it became a little uncertain when he mentioned that the pub we were running too was hit once by a jet and that 747 jumbo jets could land at the local airport. Luckily the bells chimed and we jogged off into the hot and humid evening.
We were aware that there was loud music being played from some far away place and assumed that it was a local farm who once had demolition derby's and concerts but as we dipped away from Charles Darwin's house into the local valley the music was muted by the trees. Everyone was chatting and laughing about things and it was turning out that the pack was beginning to enjoy it even as we took the sharp ascent to Bigging Hill Airport. As the route for night runs is a closely guarded secret until the day a few of the experienced trail runners in the group were not aware of the path that runs around the perimeter of the airport which was so pivotal in WWII as a first line defense against the invading armies, around it are remnants of buildings rotting away in the woods which now hide the scars of many a bomb. In fact little did the pack know but we ran past 5 locations within 100 metres of us where a HE bomb exploded between Oct. 7, 1940 and June 6, 1941
Now the music got louder and as we ran around the border and into a waist high corn field it slowly dawned on me that is was the pub we were going to that was the source, we joked that it was almost a good reason not to wear headphones.
As we got to the pub the band had just one more track to do before it too had a break and we were able to tuck into our ales of choice, I decided to go for a very cold cider as the evening was hot and humid such that I was dripping wet. So, with the sun setting over the pub we got up to leave but not before one of the other colourful characters (read as the other village drunk) told me "To look out for the wild boar in the woods" I smiled and replied "I think I have just met it" and left through the door sharpish.
So the run went on but not before Duncan and I made a detour and ran up to a 10 bar gate to the bemoans of Karien who has fell victim to some of my "detours" but Duncan soothed her furrowed brow by telling her this was part of the original recce and without question we all clambered over it to continue our run along the tractor tracks. I got lost in the moment and enjoyed running my hands through the ears of the wheat whilst the others laughed and chatted behind me with their bellies full of beer.
As the dark began to fall, running under the trees was becoming more difficult such that a torch was needed for parts of it but in open arrears you could still navigate. After a quick break to look at a bomb damaged derelict building we continued on running through a golf course and up the valley to retrace our steps to the pub we stood outside a few hours before to take in one more ale or cider pleased with our run together.
Great times, great run, great company.