I’d never been to the South Downs until earlier in this year when we went down there for a couple of days walking and then strip to Southsea for a birthday party. Good time had by all and the walking was great. We chose a day when there were a fair number of runners on the route. It was hard enough for us to walk it but to run it seemed to take it to another level.
It was a bright sunny day, but some of the runners looked anything but bright and sunny. Some had that look in their eyes ( they were all coming up the hills toward us ) that just said ” what possessed me to volunteer for this torture”. Reminded me a little of the cross country runs at school many years ago. Those three words filled me with dread. I have no idea quite how I managed to avoid doing it even once, but I did. I probably hid in the Art Room.
I recall on one particular day of a big race, when only the selected few would run, the rest of us non runners congregated at a small bridge across a small but quite deep little stream. Seeing our least favourite prefect huffing and puffing towards us in the distance, and knowing that he would be running without his very thick and necessary glasses, we made a funnel of spectators just 10 yards away from the bridge where the stream was a little deeper and muddy. We shouted encouragement to him as he approached and launched himself at the non existent bridge and ran straight into the mud and water.
He ran out of the other side soaked in stream and mud and shouting with the only words he had left, gurgling: “Bastards!”
A far cry from our gentle walk along the South Downs. Happy Days, with the addition that he could not only not see where he had gone wrong but he was also unable to identify any of us in any subsequent line up.