It's only right and fitting that I begin this report by recording that this was the first hash following the departure of that extraordinary woman and natural leader we had all come to admire and respect enormously, someone whose indomitable spirit, courage and extraordinary sense of direction inspired us and who set a shining example of fortitude and resilience.
Still, never mind, Helen should be back in the next couple of weeks.
Anyway, it was an unseasonably balmy night as the usual gang of muppets gathered at Skirmett's The Frog (d'you see what I did there?) - yes, for once the mercury had edged above zero, and it was safe to break out the shorts. (Not the shorts, you understand, they've been there all through the winter snaffling the chips before the longs get back. Nor the shorts, the ones a few people have indulged in to keep out the chills. No, I mean the shorts - the running shorts. As opposed to the longs. Simple, really. Anyway, I digress...)
To the delight of all concerned, especially anyone fed up to the back teeth of Mike's constant whining "are we at the long/short split yet?", we arrived at said split without taking so much as a step. Yes, Andy in his wisdom had set two entirely separate routes, thus ensuring that never the twain shall meet, or something along those lines. Andy also explained that InterGalactic SuperHero Gerry had set lots of Helen-specific on-backs: which was mighty foolish given that Helen wasn't there. IGSH then attempted to nominate Jo as a surrogate for her bezzy, but Anthony "Speedbump" Dawson gallantly stepped up and took on the duties.
Off us longs set and BOOM! here's hill #1 of many, much engaging of four-wheel drive and general slowing to walking pace. Thanks to whoever it was spotted the herd of fallow deer on the edge of the wood, as that gave me time to pop Twist back on the lead before he set off in hot pursuit, £80 excess on the pet insurance saved there! Our virgin hasher managed a moose not half a mile out, so I'm told, but I wasn't there to witness it myself. Flour seemed in almost as short supply as the previous week - though on this occasion the hares didn't have the excuse of having set it three days previously. Still, we continued to wend our way uphill, downhill, uphill, uphill, uphill, and - well, you get the picture.
At one point we encountered the walkers, just before entering a field of bleating wooly-minded creatures wandering about like lost sheep - no, it wasn't the shorts, it was new-born lambs looking for their mothers. Quickly slipping Twist back on the lead once again, I turned to one of the lambs, pointed at its mother, and said, "See that? That's ewe, that is."
We also ran along parts of the Frieth Hilly 10K and the Marlow Half Marathon, giving Moose a chance to regale us with grim horror stories of "Mile 11 in the sleet, wind and ice, three hills down two more to go".
Eventually as always we found ourselves at the On Inn, and back at one of South Bucks's finest pubs we were fêted with chips galore, worthy pleas for sponsorship and a variety of t-shirts for (if memory serves) 50 runs for Kaivy, 750 for the GM Roger, and 850 for IGSH. A great run, thanks Andy (and IGSH!)