June 2014, Commando had finished the Gosport Golden mile and we were sitting on the shingle at Stokes Bay relaxing. It was a warm day and even a mile, when run at top speed, is a huge effort. Of course this wasn’t the end of the running for the morning, there was still a 5K race to be run…
1 June 2014
We’d been sitting on the shingle staring out to sea way too long. All of a sudden Commando jumped up.
“I’ve got to get ready for the second race, it’ll be starting in a minute,” he said, stripping off one t-shirt and race number and slipping on another. “Why don’t you start off on your walk now, then you’ll be back in plenty of time to see me finish.”
“But then I won’t see you start,” I said.
“You never see me in the crowd anyway and I’ll feel bad if you don’t get a walk.”
So I left him there waiting to line up and set off along the shore. It wasn’t the bluest sky or the warmest sun but there were people swimming in the freezing sea and it felt good to be walking. Just before the sailing club I spotted a yellow sign warning people of the runners who’d soon be passing by. I looked back but couldn’t really tell if the race had started or not so I pressed on.
There were yellow horned poppies all along the shore by the sailing club and I stopped for a closer look. It made me wonder if the poppies I’ve seen along the board walk may be the same. I’d automatically assumed they were garden escapees and would be red. Time will tell I suppose. In the bay beyond them I could make out a ship through the haze and I wondered if it belonged to the swimmers.
At the sailing club there was a lot of activity with boats lined up on the shore preparing to go out to sea. There was no sense of urgency about it though and it didn’t seem as if anyone was going to be sailing any time soon. Looking through the palm trees I could almost imagine I was somewhere warm and exotic, even though I had my coat on and a fleece underneath.
All too soon I’d reached the lifeboat station, my turning point. Much as I’d have liked to walk on, maybe to fort Gilkicker, I knew I had to turn back if I wanted to see Commando cross his second finish line of the day. A few people were sitting around on the benches along the foreshore, whether they were waiting for the runners or just relaxing in the middle of their Sunday stroll I couldn’t tell. Up in one of the windows a lifeguard was looking out to sea, ever vigilant.
Turning back I passed the lifeboat and tractor on the slipway in the same old place and in the sea behind it I thought I saw one of the diving contraptions I’d seen earlier at the museum. Obviously, it can’t have actually been of the the museum ones but it was big and yellow and in the water. There were people on the shore filming it. What was that all about?
Whatever it was I didn’t have time to hang around and look so I carried on back towards the sailing club keeping my eyes out for runners coming towards me. Nothing much had changed since I passed the sailing club on my way out. There was no time to ponder this though because runners were coming towards me. Now my attention was all on them, watching for Commando. It wasn’t long before I spotted him waving.
Once he’d passed me I knew I had to get a move on if I was going to make it back before he did. Of course the 5k route was longer than my little two mile walk but he was running and I still had quite a way to go, not to mention finding a vantage point.
By the time I reached the finish line I was hot and gasping for a drink. The coat and the fleece didn’t seem such a good idea any more. A few of the really fast runners were already coming through and I quickly found a spot to keep watch. I didn’t have long to wait before I saw him in the distance. Then there was a thumbs up and I was the one running, trying to get to the other side of the finish arch to meet him.
We went back to our spot on the shingle. Commando stripped off his sweaty t-shirt and put on a clean one from his bag and we both drank a well earned bottle of chocolate milk while the rest of the runners came in behind us. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning.
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