|Dave , Dan, Claire and Lee at Platform 2 in Hamstreet Train Station at the start of the Greensand Way|
Instead of finding ourselves at Gatwick Departures we found ourselves at Ham Street Station Thursday morning just after 9am on platform 2. It was a little bit surreal. This was it. We said goodbye to Claires parents.
We started off ahead of schedule, the weather was ok for June. No rain and not too hot, about 20 celcius but with high humidity and not a lot of wind. We handed over 'the con' to Tim at Greensand Way HQ who would run the Facebook and Twitter accounts and send out emails to radio and papers while we ran. He was looking at a 4 day marathon sprint of IT just like our running.
About a mile in we stopped to adjust our rucksacks and reconfigure a few things. It was then that I noticed that Dan was wearing 2 RUCKSACKS. His first rucksack had its own rucksack. He said he couldn't quite get all the gear in the first so he just brought 2.
I wear a lot of things to help me with my running, state of the art compression gear, the perfect trainers, KT Tape on my legs, the perfect running rucksack , whilst Dan has an attitude to the adventure which is staggeringly impressive. He was wearing board shorts, a KT Tape top they kindly sent us, a load of borrowed kit and 2 Rucksacks. In the whole weekend of running he never moaned once. NOT ONCE. I've only ever really come across this level of stiff upper lip from people from the armed services. He had trained in fashion trainers leading up to the run, not done a lot of training recently due to injuries he got and only really begrudginly bought some proper running trainers the week before the run because 'he felt he ought to'.
|Dan with 2 rucksacks on the greensand way near Ham Street|
Each days running was planned into stages of between 3 and 7 mile stints between villages or weypoints. Due to the distance we had to keep to a time schedule or risk getting into our evening/ over night stops far too late. Our first stop at Kingsnorth was on schedule and we stopped to recharge our phones on a bulk portable battery pack I brought and eat some food and I put on some sunblock that was very blue and made me look like a smurf. We also listened to heavy rock music on daves phone and posed for KT Tape pictures we tweeted to them.....all in church graveyard.
|Lee putting on blue sunscreen in Kingsnorth on the Greensand Way|
From Kingsnorth we stopped following the Greensand Way north and started heading north west towards Great Chart. When youve run the entire Kent stretch before a few months earlier you wonder whether the route will hold anything new for you. It did. With the change in season all the Oil Seed Rape was gone, the fields looked much more full of crops and the terrain had changed. As we an through Godinton Park we were amused to find the entire field scattered with unused and clean portaloos. Some members of our group took this as a welcome opportunity.
|Claire uses the outdoor facilities at Godinton on the Greensand Way|
We were then also amused to find out that it had been set up for a scout camping weekend so as usual Claire had managed to find scouts on our run.
From there it was a continued run to the Hothfield Bogs which are a nature reserve. Dave and Dan don't like running through livestock so I was amused to see lots of horses and cows wondering freely about while we took another quick 15 minute break for phone charging and a drink and some food.
|Horses in the Hothfield Bogs on the Greensand Way|
We now ran through Little Chart and our first few beautiful fruit orchards and on towards Pluckley. Having run the route before and with a better phone navigation app we found the navigating much easier than before. Especially as we now knew the Kent rule of 'no sign just follow anything stuck, glued or painted yellow'.
|Claire in an orchard near Pluckley on the Greensand Way|
Our plan was to have a 1 hour break for lunch in Pluckley at the fantastic Black Horse Pub. It is the most haunted pub in Kent and also a location where the Darling Buds of May was filmed.
Just before we got there claire took an opportunity for some quick posing in a 'salad bowl' on a playground in a Dita von Tease style
|Claire does her 'Dita von Tease salad bowl tribute' on the Greensand Way|
|Lunch at the Black Horse in Pluckley on the Greensand Way|
After Pluckley you run through an area called Shipland which has the most amazing viewpoint looking down across the landscape towards an Oast House hotel at Elvey Farm.
|Dan running along the Viewpoint just west of Pluckley near Elvey Farm on the Greensand Way|
With a nice lunch inside us and a refuel of our camelbacks with water and ice cubes we were in high spirits again as we ran towards Egerton. We also ran through Liverton Street and shortly after we came across a bench with an amazing view and with the shout 'you know the drill boys' Dave and Dan got topless for some 'Smacking'
|Dan and Dave do a 2 way 'smack' near East Sutton on the Greensand Way|
We ran past the young offenders Institute in East Sutton, through Sutton Valence at which point it was early evening and we were all finding it quite hard going.
We stopped for a quick '3 way smonebox' near East Sutton.
|Lee, Dave and Dan doing a 3 way 'Smonebox' or smiling with your phonebox.|
It wasn't much further to Boughton Monchelsea where we were stopping for the night. We said hi to the goats in the sancturary and then turned north off the Greensand Way at home farm and headed north into the village.
We were very tired and got to the village stores around 7pm and bought a load of food and drink for the evening meal and breakfast.
|Arriving at the Scout Hut at Boughton Monchelsea on the Greensand Way|
We then walked to the Scout Hut at Boughton Monchelsea where we were staying for the night.
|Sports Food on the Greensand Way|
We cooked up a massive pan of pasta and sat round the table and ate it. We handwashed our clothes in the sink and put them up to dry and rolled out our thermarests for bed around 10pm. Put the phones on charge for the night and fell asleep.
We had another days tiring running ahead of us and what we didn't know then was the next day was going to be one of the hardest and trying days running any of us had ever done.