Sunday, 15 July 2012

Impromptu Night Run

The were two purposes for this night run, the most important was to get a recce in on the Holly Hill to Medway section of the North Downs Way and secondly was to test out my new LED Lenser H7 head torch.

After a few calls on the running community on Facebook and Twitter two fine chaps in the form of Matt and Richard raised their torches above the parapet. Richard was a really short notice call as he had about an hour to get from Essex to the start, Matt and I a very short journey in comparison hampered by some rubbish road navigation by me (remember not to use an OS map in the car!) So arriving late at 8.25pm we quickly got the remainder of our kit on and got under way.

This started off as a tarmacked run for about 200 metres but soon ducked off onto rutted track, with the recent torrential rain this path proved to be very difficult to run on later on as the puddles were up to mid-shin, and a mixture of mud and chalky water, treacherous.

After this initial 2 mile section it opened out to typical North Downs across undulating, narrow paths through corn but what was pleasant about this section was there was very little exposed chalk which is dangerous in the wet but I was pleased I was wearing my Adidas Kanadia which just gave me sufficient confidence to take the route. This is not a section for speed but good, consistent running being mindful that the path had very bad signage.

The halfway mark
Richard was taken aback when I mentioned that we were stopping off at the pub and dropping off the North Downs Way  we took a wild run down the hill to The White Hart, Cuxton to be greeted by the strangest triplet of people, a drugged out dwarf, a hermaphrodite walnut and a Pinnochio look-alike who then quizzed me on my Union Flag shorts and passing the interview we were allowed to enter what was surprisingly pleasant pub which was sadly ruined by the strange locals. We were looked upon with suspicion but were accepted when they realised we were passing through although I was offered every single illegal drug on my way to the toilets!

Fearing we were getting too comfortable we guzzled our pints, I a lovely glass of scrumpy and we made off with headlights on, the journey now mostly up hill, in the pitch dark (no villages nearby) our drug dealing friend waving from the pub doorway.

Return to Holly Hill
Whilst this was not a tough run back, it was quite difficult to navigate  but my head torch was out of this world, on full power was just too bright as the fine mist in the air and low cloud caused white out and made it difficult to see, it even caused night blindness on even medium range so I made a point of keeping it on wide and found it a joy to run with. This kid in me decided to test it out on full, narrow beam....the range was amazing. A I need to do now is adjust the straps to be more firm as the battery pack tends to slip down causing the straps to hit your ears!

Richard was in fine fettle, I cautious, Matt solid and I took great joy watching Richard falling over in the odd puddle, means as I am. The final surreal sight to behold was seeing a white and red glow on the horizon and tree line and turning the corner found  a bunch of young men with 3 Land Rovers navigating the very wet and rutted path near the start of our run, these guys were doing off-roading at night, the only difference between them and us was we were doing it on foot!

Arriving back at the cars we quickly got some dry clothes on happy to know that we had thrown in  a good, consistent 20km, met some stranger people than ourselves, got experience of this section and had a good laugh along the way.

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