A long time ago (actually my first office job) I had a manager who used swearing as punctuation. She did a presentation to our IT contractors when they were doing design work to replace a key system, and was unsurprisingly asked not to swear by senior managers. She made it all the way to the end and then said “This screen is a right fucking cúñt". That’s essentially how I feel about NDW100, I’ve had three goes now and DNF’d them all. The sorry story is:
2019: Thought finishing SDW100 a couple of months before meant I was ready for the hills on the North Downs Way. I wasn’t. Timed out at Detling.
2020: The heatwave. Timed out at Wrotham and was glad to stop because every hill was making my heart feel like it was trying to escape my chest. The hill out of Otford is the only time I’ve been able to feel my heart beating so fast I couldn’t distinguish individual beats.
Left Knockholt earlier with 8 minutes to spare, and the only reason I didn’t stop there is because I was dealing with some chafing. Didn’t want to have to say I timed out in the toilets while putting antiseptic on my ringpiece.
2021: Well, the Premier Inn let me in a couple of hours early so that was a good start. And registration was almost normal, the only thing missing really was the in-person run brief (I like rolling starts). However, the first stage to Puttenham was not, in fact, normal. The “showers” forecast in the week had softened all the ground up and then turned into “non-stop fucking rain” for five hours at the start of the race. The short climbs in that first section turned into running up and down rivers. I quite like running next to rivers. Note: Next to rivers. Not in them.
Box Hill wasn’t that bad. The large group going down the hill were enjoying themselves, but only a few of them seemed to know they were going back up it later on. Someone mentioned the poles they were using still had the tags on, so I guess they were about to learn how to use them very very quickly. I would also have killed for poles later on. Maybe GBH.
Box Hill to Reigate was a living nightmare from hell. The combination of rain and the entire field on the course in front of me turned the narrower bits of the trail into either slippery mud, exposed tree roots, or both. Muddy as fuck, basically. Sometimes with overgrown undergrowth in the face.
Dragged myself to Reigate somehow and at this point, I had about half an hour to spare, so I was obviously Friar Tucked. As I recall the BBRC van was here, but the horror of it all was merging into one by this point.
At Caterham I have no idea how long I had inside the cutoff, but my chances of finishing were on a level with shoving my hand up my arse and expecting to pull out a twelve piece dinner service. I wasn’t so much flirting with disaster as getting married in a big church wedding, moving to a house in suburbia, having a couple of kids, getting into a rut and ten years later having kinky sex with strangers in car parks because the spark has gone from our relationship.
One of the volunteers here told me she’d see me at the finish, and she was right because that’s where the minibus drops you.
The really narrow section about a mile or two before Botley Hill was fucking horrible. Both the sweeper and the three runners I meet (we’re the last people in the race) make it bearable. Being alone for hours while it’s obvious I’m going to fail my third attempt at this, in ground conditions I can’t cope with, would have been a bit tedious otherwise.
After that, it was a long time on the bus via stops at Knockholt, Wrotham and Holly Hill. This was probably more fun than the race because I can talk to people, I was so far behind I hardly saw anyone in the actual event outside the checkpoints. The finish was good too, it was nice watching people finish and, again, having someone to talk to. One day I might actually get there on foot.