1 June 2016
June began with another RR10 in the New Forest, this time at Blackfield Common. Commando swore he knew how to get there. Stupidly, I believed him. By now I should know better. Of course, we ended up driving round in circles with no idea where to go and even Google Maps couldn’t help because I couldn’t get a phone signal. It began to look as if this would be the RR10 we didn’t make it to.
More in hope than anything, I kept trying to get the maps on my phone to work, knowing all the while I was using up precious battery power that I might need for photos if we ever found the place. Eventually I got a weak signal and thought I’d knew where to go. We went down a road that looked like it might lead to the recreation ground I could see on the satellite map but it turned out to be a dead end with a footpath but no access for cars. Time was ticking by and Commando was getting cross.
As we came back to the junction to the main road a child ran out in front of the car. It was one of those shut your eyes and wait for the bang moments but, luckily, Commando was quick on the brakes. The child and its mother, standing on the pavement chatting, didn’t even realise what had almost happened. Commando wound down the window. I thought he was going to give her a piece of his mind but instead he asked for directions. It seemed we had turned off two roads too soon.
Most of the runners were already gathered on the field when we got there and Kylie had just arrived with the tent everyone usually puts their bags in. This was not the normal small pop up tent though. There’d been a bit of a cock up on the tent front in fact and what we had was a very small child’s tent complete with a bundle of poles that had to somehow be connected up and threaded through. Suddenly all the clever men found something very important to do somewhere else.
Luckily the ladies are a resourceful lot and, after a bit of discussion and a lot of teamwork, the tent was up. It may have been a little small, slightly more colourful than expected and in grave danger of blowing away, but the ladies were justifiably proud of themselves. With a few bags inside to anchor it to the ground it did the job admirably.
The start turned out to be across the field and through a gap in the trees to a piece of heathland not dissimilar to Peartree Green but more New Foresty. On the way there we passed the footpath Commando and I found when we were lost. Had we known earlier we could have just parked in the first road and walked through to the recreation ground.
Moments later they were off, thundering across the field in a seemingly never ending stream of coloured Lycra. Photography of runners in action is a tricky business but I seem to have devised a system. It basically consists of pointing the phone at the action and pressing the shutter at regular intervals. I’m not saying it’s successful but, at the moment, it’s the best I can come up with.
Ok, so it doesn’t really work at all and I end up with hundreds of photos to delete afterwards and none of Commando. Once all the runners had disappeared behind the scrubby shrubs and trees those of us who were just there to watch and cheer made our way back to the original field. This was where the finish line was.
There was a fair bit of standing around chatting because even the fastest runners take a while to run four and a bit miles. Typically, when the runners did start to appear my phone decided to have a funny turn and refuse to work. Commando did a sterling job of sprinting for the finish and overtaking runners who’d been in front of him a few yards before. He was more than a little disappointed that all I’d managed to capture was one blurry picture of him after he’d slowed down. Maybe video is the way forward?
Then something happened that made photography problems seem trivial. We were standing near the finish line cheering when a runner fell. There was a fair bit of mud about so someone slipping and falling was half expected. This man didn’t get up again though. The cheering was replaced by horrified silence. Then people sprang into action. Beth, who’s a nurse, dashed over to help. Commando and a few others ran back along the course to warn approaching runners. An ambulance drove across the field, seemingly in slow motion.
After what felt like hours but was probably only minutes, the man sat up. Eventually he was helped to his feet and, to rousing cheers, helped to walk the few yards to cross the finish line. He looked groggy and confused and I don’t think the paramedics and finished with him by a long chalk but, apparently, he insisted he finish the race. I guess you have to be a runner to understand. Thankfully the man was fine after some more medical attention but it did give us all a scare for a while.
So that was RR10 number three. It was slightly more drama filled and muddy than most of us would have liked. It was also the first RR10 without a spectacular sunset or rainbow in sight. Still, we got there in time, the tent didn’t blow away, and everyone that started crossed the finish line eventually so all’s well that ends well I guess. Wonder what the next one will bring?
Please see my copyright information before you copy or use any of the above words or pictures.