The long and unwinding road to Ashtead...
Now that's a new toy! Medical cover is from a new company this year, and as well as the conventional ambulance in the background, they have this really cool 4x4 buggy too. It makes brilliant sense for a trail race where most of the course has no road access. It's almost worth taking a dive just to get a ride on the rear stretcher carrier!
Rob gets everybody ready. Slightly surprisingly, I can't hear the National Anthem being sung. I could hear Jerusalem from further away at the Leith Hill Half earlier in the year, but obviously the accoustics of Dorking are better.
He's fast! He's pulled out a noticeable lead before they've even reached the end of the field!
They're probably not going to go powersliding through the mud in full-on rally mode, but it must surely be tempting...
Blink and you'll miss him - he's very fast!
Ok, the sign is for the return leg, he's not turned back in disgust at the lack of hornets! (They still buzz in the Ashtead old lags' folk memory, but TTBOMK, they've not been seen since their 2010 appearance.)
Oops - he'd better not stand next to Dr Rob wearing his Union Jack shorts or I don't even want to speculate on the possible consequences...
Amanda runs past one of the posts which we had always thought were some kind of milestone or similar. Later this very day, thanks to an information board in Claygate, we will discover that these are Coal and Wine Tax Posts, dating back to 1861 when duty on imported coal and wine was paid to the City of London. YLSNED!
Ah, that's where Nigel had got to. Not running but marshalling.
It's funny, but nobody ever seems to stop to read the Corporation of London Byelaws for Ashtead Common on the board behind. Don't they care or something?
At the finish, this guy is clearly struggling...
...badly! But he's >this< close to the finish line, so...
...by hook or by crook, Rob's not going to let him DNF! And the two who would otherwise have passed him do the decent thing and hold back. Next we see of him, he's on the ground being attended to by the medical team. We trust he's ok now.
The previous chap may be given drugs by the medics; this guy has obviously already taken them and they've just kicked in!
Amanda crosses the line with no such excitements, I'm glad to say.
She's made a new friend! He's thanking her for being his pacemaker, and apparently they swapped positions several times through the race. I never knew Amanda was that kind of girl! (Actually, well, we won't go into that...)
The race T-shirt is a vest. Rob said that he thought it would make a bit of a change, as he'd never seen an event where they gave out vests before. In all honesty, the sun will need to explode before it gets warm enough for Amanda to wear it on its own, but over a red sweatshirt it looks very fetching.
Still plenty more action! She may not be first but she's going to enjoy the moment anyway.
Back at the Scout Hut, our winner seems a very nice and unassuming chap. He's not actually broken the course record, but considering the mud in places, that probably wasn't on the cards today (barring another Julia Bleasdale moment). Still managed to be in a race of his own, though.
This is what everyone's really come for, the raffle! Given that Rob isn't actually drawing random numbers from a hat, but just calling them out as the whim takes him, the lack of furious accusations of favouritism and bias is surprising.
The star prize - a keg of Hobgoblin beer ("The Unofficial Beer of Halloween", it says). She looks like she's going to enjoy it.
As always, Rob's entire family are keen to help out.
And today's closing animal (why have I taken to closing race reports with completely irrelevant pictures, frequently of wholly irrelevant animals? Oh well, if you're zoophobic, I'll refund your subscription in full) - as we cycle back through Prince's Coverts, this fox is showing no signs of concern that we are about to run head-on into each other. She (I think it's a she, but could be wrong: I will defer to more expert foxologists) will accept our force majeure and detour to one side, but ultimately gives little indication of respecting us as the dominant species... You never know, she may be right...
Well, Ashtead's an eco-race, so I guess a bit of eco-stuff fits the bill after all. And we started with a photo from Prince's Coverts, so finishing with one is closing the circle. Kind of deep really? No, ok, just the third glass of the evening :-)
Love to all,