• Sunday, November 21, 2010
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I am standing outside a warm country pub on a freezing and foggy November night. i should be inside, i really should. with me are nine other men. we should all be inside sharing the craic and eyeing the barmaid with the locals. instead i am with these other nutters, seven of whom I've only just met and we are wearing lots of reflective running gear, Lycra  tights and head torches. it is possible that we look like a third world police roadblock, we mill around on the roadside shouting incomprehensible words to nobody in particular, our lights stabbing the darkness in random arcs. the plan is a simple one, run five miles across muddy fields and trails by the light of head torches to another countryside pub, down a swift pint and continue in a loop for a further five miles to our starting point. down another pint and drive home. some of us have taken this seriously and prepared by googling night running and head torches, others are a bit more laissez faire, one has not tested his torch beforehand and has flat batteries, he would better off with a candle. another hasn't actually got a head torch, he has brought what resembles a small UFO, a handheld gizmo with many led lights around it's edge. yet another has the hangover from hell. he is fuelled by tequila and tequila does not make a decent running fuel. as usual Jerry is in his ghastly union jack shorts, i think that he sleeps in them. he is the organiser of this jaunt, it bears all his hallmarks, huge optimism, fun and a bit of Monty Python silliness.
we set off into the blackness and fog of Kent and within a mile the rest of the pack disappears leaving me alone at a three way split in the trail. the night closes in on me, my breath pluming and swirling in my torchlight. the undergrowth cracks and rustles while i dither and fumble for my phone. i ring Jerry, he is surprised to get my call, nobody has noticed my disappearance. it's nice to be missed. reunited we establish a system of numbering off, we try it a few times before discarding it, some idiot always forgets what number he is - and it is a different idiot every time. pressing on we slither over ruts and roots, hillocks and horse shit, all the while enveloped by the thick kentish mist, we clamber under barbed wire and over stiles, sometimes the mud is ankle deep, other times the ground is frozen rock hard. at one stile i allow the guy in front to climb over first, he is slow and cautious in the slick mud, and as I'm about to follow him he shouts fuck in a loud voice and springs back over like a teenager, looming out of the mist are three huge and silent horses, their eyes a creepy luminous green in the torchlight. we bypass them without any casualties on either side and descend to a narrow lane, the halfway point pub is at the end of it. we enter, men in tights and dayglo, with mud up to our knee's but this is rural England, nobody turns a hair, they stare into their beers with fanatical intensity while we occupy a corner of their bar.
drinking up we go back out into the night, i check my GPS and Jerry leads us up a long, steep hill, at the summit the trail turns back on itself and we freefall down the long slippery descent, it would be a challenge during the day, in the dark it requires faith and a gung ho attitude. i begin to hear the odd mutter of dissent and one or two grunts of pain as guys fall, the memory of the pub is still strong. for myself i focus on the small patch of light bobbing in front of me and try to relax, I'm having fun and there is nothing i would rather be doing tonight. 

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