Saturday, 1 December 2012

Lost and found

On Tuesday evening, having put “Little Adventures” to bed, my wife pointed out I’d spent much of the day pacing like a caged tiger, and insisted I go for a long run. I told her I’d be back in three hours. She said make it two. I said two and a half, and she said if I was five minutes late, she’d call the police.

So off I went, strict instructions in place. As I stepped out the front door, I added that I’d be heading east on the North Downs Way, and within three miles I’d got lost.

Lost is an overstatement, but my unimaginative plan took an unexpected turn, and I decided to run with it (ho ho). In the rare instances I find myself bumbling along with only a rough idea of where I’m going, I do my best to make the most of it. On this occasion I enjoyed discovering some new footpaths and bridleways, a bit of cheeky fairway across Farnham golf club, and an introduction to the greater delights of Crooksbury Common, all unseasonally dry underfoot, and mostly great running.

Route Profile, showing NOT LOST, LOST, NOT LOST and WET
Leaving a small corner of my brain to worry about my general heading, I kept one eye on the time and pace while the rest of me simply enjoyed the new trails. When I finally arrived somewhere familiar, I pointed myself over Puttenham Common to pick up the North Downs Way, and headed towards home. Though it meant a thigh-deep wade through freezing flood-water in its later stages, I reached the front step in exactly two and a half hours, with a satisfying sixteen off-road miles on the clock, and no heat from the rozzers.

*Inov-8 Roclite 315 - in this neck of the woods,
you'd need a good reason not to own a pair.

The following night, an email from Javed mentioned a small group were planning an out-and-back bimble across Caesar’s Camp and onto the North Downs Way. With my 315’s* still damp from a section of their intended route, I considered an alternative, mapped it out, emailed it back, decided it was too good to miss, and set the alarm to join them next morning.

With a light frost underfoot, and acres of blue sky above, I ran the couple of miles across Caesar’s Camp to meet the group, consisting of both two, and four legged ultra-runners. Setting off over Folly Hill, we followed sneaky footpaths across Farnham town centre, and picked up the start of the North Downs Way. Two miles later, we jinked off the National Trail, and up the shady north side of Crooksbury Hill, where we defined new bounds of breathlessness, both from the painfully steep ascent, and the beautiful view from the top. It really was the perfect destination, and some solid running back home rounded off another first class trailrun.

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