Eridge 10, Tunbridge Wells, 2015
If you have missed the previous missives from Eridge (why?),Eridge is organised by Tunbridge Wells Harriers set in an historic deer park near Tunbridge Wells,Kent. Billed as run on ancient woodland on country estate former carriageways, with three beautiful lakes,a Saxon hill fort topped with a Victorian folly and natural springs. It is 10 miles on tracks,grass and woodland trails – they say delightfully muddy in many places and some sections are steep,rutted and narrow. To give you the quotes from the site – “It’s muddy hard and deeply steep!”….”A great run cakes and ale” …”Proper cross country”. Oh yes, did I mention the free beer? Larkins bitter on this occasion. This year would it be ecstatic of Hyndland or disgusted of Tunbridge Wells?
Now then (“Now then”…what d’ya mean by that then…….this was the greeting years ago at the summit of Helvellyn from a couple of guys. A North-East English greeting, instead of the hi, hello, alright, nod,smile, etc. that is normally given. I paused momentarily waiting for the Board Meeting to start and then recollected the phrase. Semple …..Dazed & Confused , Rambled On, to give a Whole Lotta Love in his next greeting. Oh……you could’nt make it up?
Torrential rain overnight and a chilly start on race morning (Sunday,13th Sept.) and I was heard to complain……”You’re just trying to make me feel at home with this rain and low temperatures”. They(Kent) have had a very wet August and early September. Of course the organisers must have been thinking – great, this will make the course even more muddy than usual. Usually it’s about 10 degrees warmer there…….so that’s the first excuse. Eh, but it was not, so no excuse. Goodness sake will we ever hear what happened?” Oh now if I was you, I would’nt be starting from here”. Better not get into that one – be no readers left, if indeed there are any. Come back,come back.
We were there in plenty of time for the off and were informed that a drone with camera attached would be in evidence. There’s no escape. Started near the front,for once, trying to take it not too fast for a few miles. ‘Course that went out the window on the first down,perhaps ¾ mile in, warned of the extremely rutted ,ankle breaking hill. Could not resist crashing past the bushes getting past runners. There are about 6 seriously large bogs to negotiate, one of which is an elevated take –off over a ravine,one or two having a branch that you can aim for. If not it’s possibly up to your knees or worse to struggle out……(if you want a laugh,just go on to the Tunbridge Well Harriers site and play the slideshow to see one after another trying to extricate themselves from the mud). If that’s the mud, what about the hills? Constant throughout really. Also, some great downs to complement. A serious hill at mile 8/9, actually it was two: short one then a long hill. Then glorious relief, an excellent just slight downhill fairly muddy section, before turning onto the last section and it’s………………..tarmac. Ahhhhh, it’s a killer blow, before going into another wood uphill and to the finish to hear your name and club broadcast to the throng .
Just a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning. Huge thanks to TW Harriers for putting on the race. Cakes and ale, they say. Huge amount of cakes and yes we did bypass the water and went straight for a couple of pints. Those of a certain age may just be wondering – time? Well, training sessions,e.g. 17.5mls. 5,740 ft.in the Lakes with Steven , that will do it. No,work to do.Much work to do. V60 guy was 1.24 – 10 min. faster than my time. The equivalent of that great quote from Sam Torrance when the golfer was putting – “That put was looking so good – until he hit it”. As recommended before………..if you are in Kent, second Sunday in September – give it a go –you’ll love it.
1. Ben Cole Tonbridge AC 1.03
First Woman (7)
Lucy Reid Tonbridge AC 1.11
57. Bryan Tapsell V60 1.24
62 Gary Neighbour V50 1.25
144. Hamilton Semple V60 1.34