When I checked the website to see where we were running from this week, I was surprised to see we were back at The Crown in Radnage – it didn’t feel that long since we were last there. Still, it’s not that far out of town, the chips are good, and there’s plenty of parking, so it could be worse. I tried not to think too much about the reputation held by the local terrain, or the fact that it had rained torrentially that afternoon...
I got to the pub a few minutes early to find the car park already filling up, and a badly parked Volvo making the final space unusable. No-one owned up to being responsible for this, though I did catch a certain Mr Sooper Cooper sneaking off to re-park it while he thought no-one was looking. In the meantime, a few of the more enterprising hashers had abandoned their cars on a patch of grass that I assume was part of the pub beer garden.
Having ummed and ahhed about whether or not I’d need a torch, I thought best play it safe. The hare, seeing my indecision, commented that I wouldn’t need a torch, and he wasn’t taking one. In an uncharacteristic show of credulity, I put my torch back in the boot, but left the hare in no doubt as to the scathing reviews I’d leave him if his optimism turned out to be misplaced.
I found myself questioning the hare’s judgement shortly afterwards, as he stated he was sure there’d be plenty of flour left, despite the afternoon’s downpour. We set off up a road bereft of flour, and I found myself getting increasingly nervous about the failing light…
We ran through “The City” (presumably named ironically), and down into the valley that runs parallel to the A40 down into Piddington. As we got closer and closer to the main road, I started to get an idea of the ascent waiting for us during the second half of the route. On the plus side, I was increasingly glad I’d opted for trail shoes, as the going was rather muddy after the earlier rain. It wasn’t slowing Audrey down though – at one point I saw her sprinting along at the front of the pack.
This was a rare and magnificent sight, not unlike a solar eclipse. Unfortunately, also like an eclipse, it was all over in a moment as she got caught on the inevitable On Back, and turned back to go and find Roger chatting at the back, at which point her enthusiasm seemed to ebb away (coincidence I’m sure Roger).
Just before we reached a potential beer stop at the Dashwood Arms, we sadly turned away from the pub, straight up the side of the hill. After a gruelling ascent, and a couple of fields, we came across the hare sitting on the grass having a breather. Turns out the reason we’d suddenly been able to find the route wasn’t that his optimism had been well-founded, but that, on finding no flour left, Ian had taken it upon himself to turn his run into a Live Hash.
After the Long-Short split, and an obvious attempt by the hare to slow the long runners down with the judicious application of a fast moving Vauxhall Insignia, we arrived at Bottom Road. This name turned out to be less ironic (though far more amusing to those of us with a finely developed sense of humour), as we then had to slog up a very long hill. This was only punctuated by a few hastily drawn on-backs by the hare who was live setting again, and a couple of false trails that led to some angry talk of “lynching” and “b*stards”, as well as some unprintably bad language from Scribbler.
Before any more detailed revenge plans could be made for the hare though, he took us back across the fields up the hill to City Road (still no city in sight), and back to the pub just before it got dark, where we were greeted by the obligatory chips and beer. Thanks to the hare for the food, as well as for helping me tick 9 miles off my total for the year, clock up 842ft of ascent, and four top-10 segment times on Strava. All in all, a very productive and enjoyable evening!