I started to write this blog as a standard race review and then ground to a halt. Yup I had hit that terrible affliction, writers block. I cured it with that universal panacea, a run. It occurred to me that in a peculiar way last weekends Bacchus Festival showed me that in some ways I had returned to my halcyon university days. Much of what happened was similar to things that I remembered from days spent avoiding studying. There was one major difference though and, ironically without that major difference I would never have been there reliving elements of my youth.
I should explain. Bacchus is a race around the Denbies vineyard in Surrey, you can either run a marathon or a Half Marathon. Last year I was on my mission to run as many marathons as I could possibly get away with and consequently ran the marathon. At the final stop I ran into a whole bunch of friends who had been steadily drinking their way round the course and who by that time were very drunk. You see instead of water stations Bacchus has wine stations. I mean the name gives it away, hardly likely to get the approval of the Greek god of frivolity and wine without distilled grape juice being involved. Needless to say last year although I loved it there was a twinge of jealousy and this year I swore I would go for a personal worst myself and run the Half.
There we have the first similarity to my days as a student. Basically spent most of the day drinking, starting at about 11am. The Half marathon started out at 10:30 and it was fairly crowded, in fact the first drinks station was absolutely solid everyone apart from the foolish few who ran from the front ground to a halt. At this point I was running with 2 delightful young ladies who are very good friends of mine and I love to bits. They were driving and so not on the Vino, I however was. We did by pass the first station, it was just too unpleasantly crowded so I had my first tipple or three at the second drinks station somewhere between mile 3 and 4. These girls were on a mission and consequently I was forced to neck down my drink in one shot. Not really the way to drink wine I think, especially a rather pleasant dry white but, it did remind me of evenings slamming aftershock chasers in ‘The Charles’. By the time we reached the next stop I had decided that keeping up the rapid pace, of drinking not running, was impossible and the girls moved on without me leaving me to consume wine at a more leisurely rate while waiting for other friends to arrive.
Here we have the second similarity to my days at the Alma Mater, if I went out for the evening to any one of a number of bars or events there would be somebody that I knew. I could be assured of having a good evening. I didn’t necessarily know everyone very well but, I could always find someone to while away a couple of hours with. There was a community at University that I was part of. Nowadays of course the community to which I belong is not built around cerebral pursuits but a rather more physical activity. While waiting at the second stop swilling down glasses of a rather fine Rose there was an endless stream of familiar faces greeting me. All friends and companions from my running club and then, the drunken bunch of fools who had so inspired me the year before arrived. OK they were slightly more sober but still as foolish and it was with them that I left to head on to sample the next drink.
There we have it really, 13 miles of alternating between standing around drinking and occasionally running to get to a stop before the rumours of wine running out proved to be true. There were costumes and frivolity, new friends and old, with a dash of banter and drunkenness thrown in. It could easily have been like a night out from my youth. It’s just that it was daylight, and the scenery was nicer and, oh yes there was running involved. In a way my interest in running which drove me into the arms of a wonderful community that I had no idea existed gave me back an experience from almost 20 years ago and I loved it. Running has bought me full circle to what I had way back. When I had a social life with friends and the occasional night out and I love it. I had no idea how much I missed it until a drunken stumble occurred round the Surrey Hills last weekend.
Running you have a lot to answer for!