Lost and found

February 18, 2010 at 12:38 am | Posted in Run | Leave a comment

from Hameldown

Strange to relate, I’ve found I can still run.

Not very fast, and not very gracefully, but at the first Dartmoor Runners event of the year there were several occasions when I really did break into a trot.

One of the things I love about Dartmoor Runners is the nicely-named “summer series”. Well, the winter series ends in December, so what else would spring to mind for the next set of races?

And on this particular January summer’s day, I was getting ready to race in a carpark near Widecombe, on a day too cold for even the ghost of Tom Pearce’s old grey mare to be out. Fingers too cold to tie laces, but a face too happy to frown.

As I’d driven up onto the moor, I’d heard my heart quickening at the gorse and what was left of the bracken; I hadn’t realised how much I’d been missing it. Maybe Joni Mitchell also meant that you don’t know what’s gone until it comes back again.

Up the hill from the start, and taking a different line from a pair ahead, just for the sheer bloody-mindedness of it. Passed them by the barrow at the second CP, then a lovely solitary tumult down through frozen bogs and falling-over-tussocks to the medieval village at Challacombe (depending on who you listen to, it was abandoned because of either plague or just being too bloody cold).

I took the big-girl’s-blouse route round the back of Challacombe Down (because it’s actually very Up), past the wonderfully-named Golden Dagger Mine, where I rather fancied a break for a mystery story and some ginger ale. As it was, I thought about bell-ringers.

A quick flurry of looking to find CP3 where it should have been instead of where I first looked, and then up past Grimspound and Grims Lake, continuing the sort of history field trip that really every Dartmoor run turns into.

At Shapley Tor I met my first rivals for a while, passing one while being soundly passed by another; both were good ways to remind myself I was racing.

A plunge down the valley to CP5, held to the grass by grippy shoes and faith, and then I was pulling myself up the almost-vertical hill, hands-on-wet-moor, fuelled by jelly babies and the knowledge of someone behind me.

Some iffy navigation (make your mind up, stop dithering) took me to CP6 at Old House Hill, and catching up (or being caught by) some more kindred spirits meant I raced towards the finish with a bit of passion and a bigger bit of cramp.

As I ate cake and swapped stories, the snow began to come in. A little time before, I hadn’t wanted to get out of bed. How silly that would have been.

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