So I got into this running thing quite late, though from what I've heard I had the same experience as a lot of people - a misspent Youth, laden with the assorted physical baggage of mischief and the good type of bad fun, gets to 30 years of age and all of a sudden feels the unseen hand of years of abuse smack him upside his Punk-ass head. Maybe that was it. Or maybe it was Millenarian paranoia and the after glow of the New Years shenanigans - "I don't Believe It!"
What ever it was I was prompted to buy some trail running shoes, and engage in other, less life altering behavioural alterations - like saying 'I'm not smoking any more' and switching to a lighter brand. I began to explore the local countryside.
Wild Park, Moulscombe, Brighton. East Sussex.
The woods down there are great, as far as I recall. They were perfect for the sort of introduction that really benefits a new runner, who knows instinctively that running on the roads is a bad idea - varied, hilly but flat if you want, soft under foot and full of wildlife, colour and sound. I'm sure it's also full of much less salutary content too (like a weapons factory actually) but I don't recall ever having any bother in the couple of years that saw me regularly biking up there for an early AM or late evening run. The parkland is also a gateway to the broader South Downs and, once I'd built up my mileage and injury resistance, I'd regularly set out from there to the Downs for the day. And, as inclement weather only strikes East Sussex once every five or ten years, the days were long and filled with charm and fine views out over the English Channel - 'dyllic. An antidote to living on Western Road if ever one was needed.
And it certainly was
Where am I headed with this rambling? No need to list every run since the year 2000, so we'll fast forward, quickly past 9/11, past a long trip around South America, past the Cowley Club. Past Leeds and Bradford (though I am sure to return to those fine cities), past the suffering and the misery to one day last November. Sunday, 29th 11am - 163 mad people stand in front of the start line, on a cold and overcast morning, for the inaugural Beastly Feast; an off-road 10km 'adventure' type race on the other side of the river near the Wu. It's my first and I have no idea what to expect. 52 minutes (and 47 seconds) later I cross the finish line, after another ground level scramble net and a nipple high stream crossing, coming in 21st.
Hooked. Should have tried it years ago. Shouldn't have left the North. Have to rejoin the FRA. Have to move back to Leeds. *Where are the hills around here?* Why don't I have a job? Why is my car off the road? Train? Train! More training! And so on...
Until the next time.
*Thankfully we have a wonderful chain of hills, not 11 miles away by bicycle. One of the finest North to South ridges in the country, and for all it lacks in height it makes up for in most total excellence.*