Firstly this run was aptly renamed the "Not So Night Run" when it appeared that it was still very much day light at 8.00pm and the fact the majority of the runners were wearing sunglasses at the start!
I was really pleased to find that 10 intrepid runners, some veterans, but most welcome were some new faces who had heard about the events through the running grapevine. So at 8.00pm we started off but within 200 metres we had a short stop to tell the guys about the local history and that the farm we stood outside of was once a World War II listening post that intercepted radio traffic from the Germans.
We continued on, the pack was full of noise and laughter as we ran off down the road to pass a local pub that had a ghost of a highwayman that was hanged outside on the once well used gallows that have sadly long gone. The evening was a beautiful, bright one and the sun a golden orange that cast long shadows on the ground we were soon back on the road for a short period before we dropped down sharply into the North Downs and into the wealds. The photograph above was a short break to allow me tell the story of the the Norman Knight Vital who lived below in the valley who is shown in the Bayeaux Tapestry reporting back to William the Bastard of King Harold's army!
The run went on as we passed beautiful scenery and then dropped down into Shoreham and contined on along the Darenth Valley by the river to see the lavendar fields, tell a few stories and then, on reaching the Roman ruins we made a group decision to go a slightly longer route which would allow us to get to a nicer pub....beer is a good motivator :-)
By now the light was fading and almost unnoticed we were all had our torches on and were again going cross country along the edges of fields and onto the steepest climb of the night which left the lungs wheezing and the legs complaining. The humour within the pack was absolutely brilliant, there was some mild ribbing and teasing, jokes and chatter flowed as we began to get to a steep descent. I shouted to the pack "This is a 1 in 20 hill gentlemen" to which some wag shouted "Yeah, only 1 in 20 survive it" much to many a loud hoot from everyone. To say it was treacherous would be an understatement, suddenly the pack was quiet whilst concentrating the descent but barking out difficult areas...brilliant team work.
The next section was through an entangled wood, a much under used public path which is sadly going back to nature but it is my intention to get these paths used before they are lost. After getting out on to the road we had to negotiate a railway line and much to our surprise we were passed by a train and then saw one in the station some 500 yards away and we called for care crossing as we kept an eye on it in case it left the station. Then someone shouted "I wouldn't worry this is South Eastern trains it is probably cancelled anyway" :-)
From this point you could see the lights of the pub at the 10 mile mark and I could almost smell the beer. I just love the landlady's face as I stepped into the pub and asked if she would serve 11 sweaty but not smelly footweary travellers and we greeted with open arms with the locals all giving us bemused looks. Our sudden arrival caused an initial furore in the pub and we were all soon chatting and laughing with the residents of the village. I had a lovely pint of warm British ale that I knocked back in about 4 large gulps....gorgeous. Saying my farewells to Sally, the landlady, I asked if was OK to do this type of thing again with a few more people and she was well up for it, good business for her and good to find a runner friendly pub.
So for the last push home, for the next 1/2 mile all we could hear were burps and grunts from everyone as the various fizzy drinks made their escape and we were able to get back to the start to find the doors of the pub open. I put my head around the door and apologised for our lateness and was told they were having "a private party" and asked if we could be invited to the private party to which we were warmly welcomed. I left the boys to get to know the locals as I wanted to get back home as well as drop off Rob and Bhundu to their houses.
In all, a brilliant Not So Night Run with some absolutely fantastic friends who always make these events so special. The distance was a couple of miles over the published one but we did add some miles halfway through to fit in the pub stop. The stories, whilst not being all ghostly, had a little bit of local history in it which I hope didn't distract from a wonderful run.