TG looked at who was be her tyre for the marathon tomorrow. Brother Rec was still recovering from hot tarmac burns from the Hatfield McCoy marathon. Big Landy put himself forward, but TG was warned about high fencing and narrow kissing gates, thus I was the natural choice. I was looking rather shoddy and requested a touch up. TG said she'd sort me out. Big Landy, bless, gave me his bucket to wear. However TG, in her usual mad rush the day before an event, put me at the bottom of her "to do" list and went out to enjoy a wedding for the whole evening.
It's okay for TG, to get up 1/2 an hour before leaving, throw on some clothes and hide behind a pair of sunglasses. I, on the otherhand, like to look good before I go out. So I was not pleased about leaving the house looking like I'd just been taken off an axle. As Uncle was driving, TG jumped into the back seat with me and assured me she would sort me out. She took out some cheap thin raffia string to secure bucket on and apologised that it was all she had, but that it should hold out for a day. As she focused sewing the string into tyre and myself, Uncle missed his turn off the motorway. He now needed TG's attention to get him back on route. The raffia string felt flimsy but TG assured me it would be okay and took out some marker pens to touch me up whilst navigating Uncle to our final destination.
We were now 1/2 an hour late for the start of the event and I was rushed out of the car before I could voice my concerns about my "touch up". Again TG reassured me I looked fine.....but TG is not a morning person - everything looks fine in the morning to her! OK I admit I was feeling a little irritated at not looking my best but as we got out of the car, the "car parking marshal" called HQ "The tyre girl has arrived". Oooh how exciting, we've been announced!
09:01, TG waved the route instructions at me, attached rope to her backpack and we were off. Eric took lots of photos of me :-) Waving Eric goodbye; he called out saying he'd see us at checkpoint 4. I felt uncomfortable as he said that but dismissed the thought from my rim.
TG is not at her best in the morning and shortly into paragraph 2 of the route description, she slowed up. "Red, am a little confused here. There are some crate things here but the route instructions don't seem to align. Am going to explore a little." So we walked around for about 15-20 minutes and found another pair of crate thingies. I saw a couple of other runners behind us and tugged TG to look back so that she would see them and observe the route they took. TG soon followed their path. "Nice one Red the route description is now following perfectly"
We finally got to checkpoint 1 at 11:30. That was 7 miles in 2.5 hours! The slowest TG has gone for a long while and none of that was my fault! My tyre flirt only lasted minutes as TG pulled me away!
However as TG was moving faster she made me slide over cow poo. She chuckled but I was very unhappy about that. As she ran down a hill, her banana flipped out of the backpack’s side pocket and “opps” - I accidently slid right over it. I now had poo and banana mash! Thankfully we headed down a muddy hill with pools of water so rather than follow TG on the higher dry path ground; I decided to take a swim, several times.
Getting lost by oneself is soul destroying, getting lost with a group at least was company. We were confounded and thankfully we found a cluster of houses. Julie boldly knocked on someone’s door. A lady answered and Julie first begged her to fill her bottle with water. She soon asked her how to get to Bedgebury Cross (our fourth checkpoint!). The lady kindly showed us where we were on TG’s map and how we could get to our fourth checkpoint. We were way off route at the bottom of Bedgebury Forest. It was now 17:15 and the checkpoint was supposed to close at 16:45. We all knew we could be pulled off the course and thus would be our first DNF (Did Not Finish). At 17:30 Eric called to find out where we were. TG responded and gave him a grid reference.
We arrived at checkpoint 4 at nearly 18:00. None of us expected to be allowed to finish the event as it was supposed to finish at 17:30. Eric phoned back one more time, and Neil responded that he would be at the finish until 19:00 so if we thought we could make it before then, we could finish the route. Surprised and delighted at the opportunity, we set off on the last 3.8 miles with energy. Uncle had now joined us and decided to complete the rest of the route with us. About less than a kilometer before the end we had to head down a narrow footpath. As I was too wide, TG carried me through and I heard the sounds of “squish squish squish”. There was no getting round it, no higher dry grounds – just a 75 meter footpath of pure mud.
Completed the event in 9 hours 58 minutes and found that had done 30 miles rather than 26.2.
Although I got lost, from my own mis-reading of the instructions, would recommend "the High Weald Challenge" from a scenery point of view. Kent is really a beautiful area to visit. But be warned give this event plenty of time and bring a map in case.
Want to thank the organisers and the volunteers for their support through out and for their patience to allow us to complete the event. :-) xxx