Sunday, 30 October 2011

Night Run - A Saucerful of Secrets Report

What a fun filled evening with great company, good humour throughout with good running to boot. Whilst organising a night run I try to keep the route as secret as possible so that the runners will have no idea as to the outcome of the run until the start. In fact last night I don't think a good number actually knew where they were at the halfway mark such that we were so far off the beaten track.

I often leave a few clues for the attendees, the first being a Kamikaze pilot putting on his hachimaki , numerous references to planets and suns. I know they were all a little subtle but I had fun adding them to Facebook event pages and my blog and I have a feeling that one of the runners had actually worked out what was happening last night apart from the pub.

It just so happens in the Otford area of Kent there are two pubs about 5 miles apart called Rising Sun and The Rising Sun, between the two of them is the Otford land based Solar System that I am depicting in the image on the left, the "planets" are posts with the names on them and are positioned in such a way that they are the exact same locations as they would have been at 00:01 on 1st January 2000...which midnight on that date we do not know but we assume England. This was the purpose of the run that night, to run to The Rising Sun about 500 yards off the North Downs Way by Kemsing.

The group of 8 started from the car park at just gone 8.00pm with view of meeting another runner who wished to run the 5 mile option so met him equidistant between our start and the pub. It soon came apparent that the group was only really interested in getting to pub for beer so my planned visit to the centre of the solar system was postponed to concentrate on beer drinking.
We soon picked up the North Downs Way and found we had a massive, back breaking climb that just seemed to be that little harder in the dark and I soon found the group strung out as few preferred to walk whilst I  along with Brian attempted to run half way up until the steps got us and we decided power walking was the preferred method.

Limousin Bull
It is here that things took a different turn when we arrived at the field that was marked up to inform us a bull was in the field. So picture the scene, 9 runners, with headtorches decide to traverse a field, in the dark where somewhere in it was a bull and about 10 cows. It was so dark that you couldn't see the outline of the trees, I stated in a mad moment "Stay here and I will go ahead to see if there is a bull" and then scuttled off into the dark and when two thirds of the way through it could see 20 yellow dots staring back at me, I had found the herd and just 50 yards away two solitary yellow/green eyes watching me....the bull. I shouted "All clear, you can come across safely now" to watch 8 sets of torches bounce towards me and the gate I was fast running to.

Carrying on we eventually arrived at the pub, an oasis in the middle of nowhere, on the outside it is a beautiful, idyllic flint faced inn house, with high hedges, a beer garden and the St George flag aloft from the pole in the front....on entering it was a completely different matter!

The Rising Sun
I had read reviews of this pub and had got a very different mental picture, the first thing I was met with was this rather unsavoury smell, the bar area was dark, dank with cats scampering to various corners and tables, dogs yelping and scratching from behind an unknown door and a parrot whistling from a cage in the fireplace (unlit). I called out to see if anyone was there and to check if they were open for business. Then a wizened old lady appeared from a doorway and went to behind the bar which comprised two bar taps and a few dusty old spirits bottles. I had a distinct feeling that the others were both bemused and amused as was I at what we had discovered. I was later to find that Liz had ventured off to find the toilets and had to use a headtorch to find her way around, even having to walk past a strange old man sitting in a crusty sofa watching a black and white television...we had found the pub that time forgot.

Guzzling our pints we soon left as we wanted to get back to Shoreham before last orders laughing and joking about the pub we had just left. Was it a figment of our collective imaginations, will we find it in the morning? Was it the witches house from the famous Hansel and Gretel story for we had indeed climbed a path to find it.

The journey back
The journey back went quicker than the way up, I have a feeling the pint of Kentish Ale helped to subdue the fatigue but also I felt a distinct rise in speed through the bull field after I told the guys that the bull actually was in there. A small detour off the planned route to take us a slightly shorter one to ensure the earliest arrival at the destination hampered by a small mishap when someone took a low speed tumble in which their pride was hurt more but he was soon up and we were sprinting to the pub for a well deserved cold drink or warm ale. Another successful Night Run which are always such fun with fantastic people to share such a great experience and enjoy running for runnings sake.


  1. Jerry

    That was an excellent night run. The 10 mile distance worked well and The Rising Sun was pretty amazing it would be interesting to go there on halloween but don't think anyone would be in.

  2. Thanks Clive, I am really glad everyone enjoyed it and I agree the distance was just about right. As for the pub, what can I say, an absolute gem :-)