Monday, November 10, 2008

R4 Open Country in Seasalter

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Seasalter, the village where my family live, is on the north Kent coast just west of Whitstable. As the name suggests, the area was an important salt production centre, making use of the marshes that have seen civilisation since at least the Iron Age, as well as Viking plundering, before being turned over, according to the Domesday Book to "the kitchen of the Archbishop [of Canterbury]". A recent episode of Open Country, a Radio 4 programme, examined the culinary history of the area.

They visit the beach, then the Sportsman, a local pub next to the marshes which tries as much as possible to use local ingredients, including making their own salt. Next they head to Blean forest near Canterbury to forage for mushrooms. This, coincidentally was where I took part in the Old Canterburians' Cross Country Run on Saturday!

It is still possible to listen to the programme on the website, though sadly it's not available as a podcast, so go here quick!

Old Canterburians' Cross-Country Run
Ahhh the memories. When the weather was too bad to do sport, instead, we would do Cross-Country, i.e. trudging through puddles and mud under wind and rain in a forest near my old school (Kent College, Canterbury). So in a sense the weather was true to the event on Saturday, when we braved heavy bursts of rain and strong gusty winds to sprint through Blean Forest in a demonstration of how (hopefully) old boys could still show the whippersnappers how it's done. Unfortunately.. one of the girls running for the school has run for England and is a Olympic 2012 potential. Oh dear!

James Taylor, along with yours truly, was not an Olympic hopeful

There were about 15 runners in total, stretching from youngsters who looked like they weren't long out of Lower School, through to a Septuagenarian! There were two clear groups of runners: those who thought they had a chance of winning, and those who had been blackmailed into turning up. I fell in with my group, the latter one. Heading off into the forest, trying not to slip or soak my trainers too early on, I was struck at how pretty the place was - most leaves still being on the trees, unusually for so late in the year.

Paul Smith - one of my old Physics teachers!

Settling into a routine, I was following Paul Smith, our old Physics teacher, who seems to run in a slightly strange way - which clearly is effective as he's run a marathon before! The advantage of following him was that I didn't have to worry about navigating the many forks in the route. I started fast (for me!) but slowed to a pace that I could manage to uphold. About 15 minutes in though, I have to say, I was in a lot of pain! To qualify - this was a run, not a jog. When I say I go running, I mean jogging. There's a big difference!

Anyway, towards the end, Paul had disappeared out of sight when I came to a junction. Looking at the arrows, I decided I should fork right. This turned out to be the wrong way. And worse, it was a shortcut, as I realised when (a) I appeared in the car park from the path we started on (not the one where Herrington's Dad was clocking arrivals in, and (b) Paul Smith ran in about 10 seconds later. I had clearly cheated.. and so immediately confessed to the race officials (Will's Dad). Given that this was to have little bearing on the podium positions, I believe they let my time stand. Sorry Paul!

Most of the runners, myself in the middle

The afternoon was rounded off by a nice cold underpowered shower in the Sports Hall, then tea in the Old Library, coming out of which we bumped into Sue Barnard preparing for the evening meal (which we skipped). She looked as lovely and cheerful as ever. Unfortunately I missed Gerald Colson, who was to be there for the dinner.

So, the trophy was presented to the young chap who won the race - having left KC last year he was one of us, hurrah!

In the evening we headed down to Canterbury for a birthday dinner for Will's 30th. I look forward to next year's run! Race photo will be uploaded to this blog entry as soon as Will sends it to me.

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