An invitation to Bhundu to go on a Night Run was met with the Facebook response:
"Great! I'm spending my evening knee deep in mud with a lunatic. Why oh why can't I have normal friends?"
I know these comments are in jest such that when I turn up to his house he is bedecked in night trail kit with leggings and triple layers with me feeling somewhat under dressed in shorts and my trusty OMM smock, the whole point of the run was to see if we could see the International Space Station pass over...the more important point was to go for a nice night run.
Arriving in Knockholt, we jumped from the car, clipped on our race vests (holding spare head torch, compass, map, phone and first aid kit), tightened our Vibram Five Finger Monkey Feet and ran up to the North Downs Way (NDW) and turned East. Within metres, Duncan and I were hooting with laughter, the mud riding over our Monkey Feet and us slopping and sliding through the mud.
Never under-estimate the NDW, the wind was blustery, the sparkle of rain in the torches, the mud just ridiculous in places such that looking for a path ahead was useless leaving us to navigate by memory and reading the terrain.
It was pretty obvious by 4 miles that the chance of seeing the Space Station was zero as the cloud rolled over but being who we are Duncan I stopped in an unknown field, somewhere near the 0 Meridian and watched a cloud point West and our necks set at 54 degrees and saw.......NOTHING.
Unperturbed we carried on, dipped off the NDW to run road telling him we were looking for an aptly named Monkey Puzzle tree for this was the marker for our return.
As is with these runs topics drift in and out from serious to plain bizarre, from work to wigs and wheelchairs, there are hoots of laughter and dredging of sad old memories. Ever so often a stoical barefoot runner is allowed to curse a clinker, there are hand signals, calls for caution and yelps of "Clear" all this through the misty spotlight of a head torch.
This is a staid designation to an OS map path just off the NDW, one that we decided to run at whim and when we say run we took it at pace a drop of 32 metres over 570 metres, not much normally, but in the current conditions, the ground soft, slippery, the added issue of fallen branches and the rain and wind we howled down the path with me talking to myself repeating "On ya toes Jerry, On ya toes Jerry, On ya toes Jerry..." and raised up on my toes allowing the Monkey Feet to find the way and then a joyful call to reduce the speed slowly to allow us to duck around a fallen tree safely to the road.....exhilarating is not the word, just FANTASTIC.
We returned, strong of heart and sinew, still regaling tales of cartwheeling cats and wigs thrust aside by a careering wheelchair.
Why the frog?
This is the little chap we met at the end of our run, caught in my headtorch who called out to be admired.