We left the Scout Hut ahead of Schedule and ran the mile or so south back to meet up with the Greensand Way. Having run this stretch before I was very aware that this day could well be the toughest day running out of the four because the mileage was high at over 33 miles and we passed through the highest point in Kent right at the end of the day when we would be at our most tired.
|Little Lee waits for the 'little' bus at the little bus stop in Linton on the Greensand Way|
We reached Linton quicker than I thought it would take us and we got a picture of me next to a super small bus stop sign.
We ran on towards Yalding. This stretch is absolutely the most scenic of the Kent part. You are up on a ridge looking down across miles of flat countryside with oast houses and orchards and....yep...norman churches.
|The views between Linton and Yalding on the Greensand Way|
The terrain was different than when Claire and I last ran it as the crops had changed. More significantly the paths had become overgrown in places with stinging nettles. This was the day Claire was forced to wear shorts for running as her running leggings hadnt totally dried from their wash in the sink the night before. We therefore had 4 miles of 'Stingingnettlegeddon' with all of us ooh and aaah and ouching our way through the scenery. For the rest of the day our legs were all tingly and itchy.
|Strawberrys at Yalding on the Greensand Way|
|Taking a break by the River in Yalding on the Greensand Way|
We had 2 major road crossings to do which were nice and dangerous (it wouldnt hurt for Kent County Council to put a small footbridge or tunnel in here)
|A huge erection at the pub in West Peckham on the Greensand Way|
At West Peckham a landlord roped everyone except me into helping him put up and reposition a giant marquee that he had assembled the wrong way up and in the wrong place under an oak tree. Funny though it was I was quite tired and 'sugar grumpy' and found the whole thing a bit annoying when we were supposed to be getting 15 minutes of well needed rest. The other guys didnt mind and helped shift it into the right place with a smile while I videoed it and pointed out that the landlord could have just assembled it in the right place and the right way up in the first place and saved himself a load of hassle. I can be very diplomatic.
On through Dunks Green we ran and I had originally decided for us to have lunch there but we decided to push on and get more mileage done before our lunchbreak. This meant eating at the the legendary 'Salty Coke pub' The Chaser Inn at Shipbourne.
|Claire Lee Dave and Dan smiling with a mirror 'smirroring' near Shipbourne on the Greensand Way|
By the time we got to Shipbourne we were roughly at the 16 mile stage for the day and I think we all needed the rest except Dan who just keeps running without any sign of tiredness.
The Chaser Inn didn't dissapoint. Same old lacklustre service ina posh surrounding and two bowls of chips and two pints of coke for an earth shattering £15.50 (thats not a typo). It gave us a chance to charge our phones for an hour, Dave had some ear acupuncture to help his inner oonagie, and while Dan was in the toilet and popping his blisters outside we put a fake plastic dog poo inside his camelback water bladder so that he'd find it later that day.
|Dave comes to terms with the prices at the Chaser Inn in Shipbourne on the Greensand Way through meditation and Acupuncture|
We set off after lunch making unsubtle gags to an unwitty Dan about 'poo' and being 'dog tired' and hopefully not a 'shitty run'. Dan continued up ahead running like someone out on a 3 mile sprint.
|Igtham Mote on the Greensand Way|
This section of the Kent is where the scenery changes and things start getting more hilly. We ran past Igtham Mote and on towards our first proper ascent of the run at One tree hill. This didnt give us the best of views despite the height because of the trees.
|Our 'Horse race' on Carters Hill|
We had a brief horse race on Carters Hill as we crossed a showjumping training area before running through Knowle Park and on towards Ide Hill.
When Claire and I ran the Kent training weekend it was around Ide Hill where I began to find running really tough. My symptoms returned again in the same place. I was sweating hot and cold, confused and having trouble seeing properly with tunnelled vision and colours no longer being clear.
Having spoken to a few medical people I've now subsequently come to understand that my symptoms (which were not made better with lots of sugar intake) were a sign of low sodium from sweating so much. The sports drinks for runners have electrolytes but not nearly enough for ultra marathon runners and I've now learnt that ultra marathon runners need up to 800mg of salt per hour once they've gone beyond standard marathon distance.
The result of low sodium is crashing blood pressure and the symptoms I was experiencing.
So there I was at Ide Hill Car Park, rain coming in from the distance, light starting to fade and feeling very very weird. Using every ounce of concentration on navigating and running. Claire suggested I eat some chocolate pretzels she had and I while reaching in to get them from her bag we realised that her new Greensand Way Jacket had fallen off her rucksack at some point in the last hour or so. Her rucksack is the same capacity as mine but has a weird layout with its pouches and pockets which forces her to roll her jacket up and clip it on the outside. To make things worse this was the moment it started raining....a lot.
I would say this for me was probably the lowest point of the run mentally. Claire left her rucksack in the carpark and did a short speed run back to go look for the jacket in case it had been lost recently. She didnt find it.
You'll notice there aren't many pictures for this bit of the blog. That's because the run now over Ide Hill, over Toys Hill and through French Street were absolute hell. I had the energy but felt like I was very close to passing out. Claire kept shovelling snacks into me without any change and Dan and Dave crept ahead as I slowed down. I was dizzy, could only just run in a straight line and very very befuddled in my head.
|Toys Hill on the the Greensand Way|
I wanted to call it a day early and eat in the Fox and Hounds on Toys Hill around 7pm and tackle the other 5 miles the next day. Dave was keen to push on as was Dan. It turns out the decision to push on was the best one but it didnt feel like it at the time.
|the half way mark at Goodley Stock on the Greensand Way|
Finally we got over Mariners hill and past Sir Winston Churchills house where I lost Claire briefly in the woods and we ran through The High Chart and Goodley Stock looking for a suitable place to pitch our tents after our pub meal.
I got us lost again in the woods not far from the pub and was really angry with myself as it risked us missing food at the pub. As I cursed loudly the rain carried on and the darkness came.
|The Carpenters Arms in Limpsfield at the halfway point of the Greensand Way|
Our aim was to get to the border at Limpsfield and eat at the Carpenters Arms. They served food until 9pm and we got there with 5 minutes to spare. It was a busy Friday night full of 'normally' dressed people and in we walked looking like we had come off a thawing Everest.
We had a lovely welcome from the landlord. He was so helpful, Got us to a table where we could charge our phones and we sat down in shock to force down a meal which was great but none of us wanted to eat. Three of us felt nauseous and weird, Dan felt fine, just a bit tired. We also had pints of coke and some recovery chocolate shakes. We also shovelled 'walky pills'. We were so tired that Dan finding a plastic dog poo in his water pouch got a slight smile. Thats all we had energy for.
We were given donations from people in the pub who we got talking to and then Olly who looks after the cricket pitch and pavilion kindly offered to let us camp on the cricket green rather than track back a mile into the woods. It also meant he would be there in the morning to open up the pavilion for us for a wee and coffee. This was great news and really lifted our damp spirits.
|The legendary Vango Banshee 200 on the cricket green at Limpsfield on the Greensand Way|
Day 2 had been the longest days running. We had run through some beautiful scenery, left Kent behind and made it through some very testing physical and mental conditions. Secretly we all hoped day three wouldnt be as hard.
I slept like a log all night despite the rain.
I didnt know it yet but day three was going to be the real surprise of the whole run.