8 January 2017
The first CC6 of the year was at Badger Farm, near Winchester. Despite a thick fog as we headed towards Winchester, there was no getting lost. This could be considered as something of a miracle given our track record. We both remembered walking through Badger Farm during the Winchester Half Marathon and the map told us the event was almost in sight of St Cross Hospital, divided from it by the railway line. Even so, finding the Sainsbury’s car park which also acted as the official race car park, was touch and go. When we did, I was delighted to see an open Starbucks.
The resulting takeaway coffee was a bonus and I centrainly needed it when I saw the steep, muddy steps leading up to the race start. Even without swirling fog they’d have been a challenge. Somehow I made it to the top without slipping, tripping or spilling a single drop of coffee. I couldn’t help thinking coming down was going to be harder though.
The start along with all the running club flags was set up on a small strip of field with rough grass surrounded by trees and scrub. As the name suggests, this area was once farmland but, during the 1970’s and 1980’s it was developed as a suburb of Winchester. The name also conjures up images of short legged furry animals with white stripes lined up in cages but there are no actual badgers at Badger Farm, as far as I can tell. In fact, the new parish was named after the original tennant farmer William Badger.
After a team photo of the seven intrepid Spitfires who had braved the fog to run in the mud and the normal amount of standing around chatting, the briefing started. I was too busy trying to find a good spot to take photographs without being trampled to hear it, but then I wasn’t running so didn’t really need to.
Shortly, with a thunder of feet on damp grass, they were off. Just in time I saw Jamie and Luis and managed to snap a photo. Not far behind were Adam, Darren and Commando. Then, bringing up the rear, Lucy and Rob. My work was now done, at least for a while and with a couple of last snaps of the group disappearing into the fog, I could relax.
What I’d like to have done next was wander off and explore but the fog, rather than clearing, seemed to be getting worse. Perhaps if this had been somewhere familiar, where I knew the trails, I’d still have gone for a wander but here, with the rough, uneven grass muddy and slippery in places and visibility just a few yards, it didn’t seem like a good idea. After all, I hadn’t even been able to find the pond at Janesmoor last time and I knew that area fairly well. In the end I stood around chatting to other spectators, hopping from foot to foot trying to keep warm and wishing they’d finish soon.
Most of the spectators were crowded around the finish line, meaning my photo opportunities there would be poor to none. A few others were hanging around a little way off looking in the opposite direction. After speaking to one I found out the course ran past this spot before looping back to the finish. It looked like the best place to stand to get some action shots. After an interminable wait, the first of the runners came past. Jamie was the first Spitfire to appear, followed by Luis, who seemed to be having the same problem with his fogged up glasses as I was.
Next, in almost the same formation as when they’d set off, were Adam, Darren and Commando.
Finally Rob and Lucy appeared. Lucy, of course, had the distinction of being both first and last Spitfire lady to cross the line. We shall gloss over the latter and call her first though.
By this time Jamie, Luis, Adam, Darren and Commando had crossed the finish line and, by the time I picked my way across the slippery grass to join them, Rob and Lucy were in sight. Now I just had two more jobs to do. The first was writing down names and finish numbers for Kylie, who was busy Race Directing at Junior parkrun back in Southampton. Finally, there was one last group shot of tired and muddy runners and it was time to tackle the muddy steps back to the car park.
As Commando is training for the Southampton Half Marathon and the Vancouver Marathon, this wasn’t quite the end of his running for the morning. He had a cunning plan up his sleeve. As we drove back through the fog towards Eastleigh he explained it to me. At Lakeside, we parked up and he left me to drive the car home while he ran back. If that’s not dedication then I don’t know what is?
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