Sunday 14 May 2017

Centurion NDW50 - Ghost Aid Station Oxted Steps

My first taste of Centurion events had come back in 2014 with the North Downs Way 50 ( It was the first race where I had done where I felt like I deserved the cheers of spectators. It sounds stupid but I had done triathlons and half marathons in the past which had been about chasing a time with no real doubts about getting round so the cheers didn't mean much. However when you have run further than in sensible and further than you have ever run before but still have miles to go, the "well done" cheers from strangers meant a lot.

This was my turn to pay things back. I have done some spectating here before ( which was great fun but we only had cheers to offer. I had collected by daughter from a dance class a mile or so away and we stocked up with supplies this time. I already had two packets of Percy pigs so we just needed Pepsi / Coke / generic cola flavoured drink. Pepsi was on offer so that was an easy decision and they also had jaffa cakes on offer so 24 of those came with us. 

I had packed a lunch for us so we sat down and waited for the first runners. The first runner past was fellow Wednesday night headtorch runner Headley who wasn't part of the race but had also come along to watch. We were joined by Jon Levis (sorry for stealing your spot and photobombing your photos) who was taking some great action shots. 

The front of the field was quite spread out with Jon Ellis (course record of 6:37) through first followed by Mark Innocenti and Ry Webb. Fourth place was Ian Hammett (Run Hammy Run!) and Fifth was Paul Russhard who ran the 2015 A100 dressed as a bear (Come on the Bear!!).

We managed to offload a few Percy Pigs but the Pepsi and Jaffa cakes were staying untouched. After the first 10 or so had come past, the first Pepsi request was made.  First lady was through before long and my daughter took particular pleasure cheering on the ladies. The Pepsi floodgates had opened and many of the runners took up our offers of Jaffa cakes. 

I saw a few familiar faces over the next few hours including fellow GS100er Calvin Hemmings, local lad Mark Bayliss, Mrs Bear (Gemma Russhard) and legend Ken Fancett. Fellow Fetchie, Janette Cross (  got a high five from daughter on her way to 5th place and another age category win.

Simon Best had the last of the Pepsi and with just a couple of cola glazed Percies left, it was time to take my daughter home for dinner. It would have been lovely to stay longer and see the whole field through but we were out of supplies and time....

Running a pirate aid station was a lot of fun and we were well placed on tricky section midway between aid stations. There was no rhyme or reason as to who would be quick or slow down the steps. Several of the top 10 really struggled in a lot of pain and many of the next 50 flew down them. We only had one faller and we were well placed to provide a reviving Pepsi and Percy pig. I can recommend using the handrail - this seemed to be the best technique. However the award for the fastest descent goes to a dog - a pug which benefitted from 4 leg drive.

We seemed to have a good menu of Pepsi, Jaffa Cakes and Percies. A lot of people had initially turned down offers until they heard the magic words "Percy Pig". Bringing a 2 litre bottle of Pepsi to a race is a great way to make friends and Jaffa cakes are one of your 5 a day right?

I would love to volunteer properly one day but it is tricky enough taking time away for races without volunteering too. However this way I could be a small part of the race and bring my daughter along for the fun. We had a great 4 hours or so on the Oxted Steps. However I'm not sure many runners will have described their experience of the Oxted Steps as fun though...

Allan Rumble might have the Bacon Barge but we have Pepsi & Percy [Fetch]Point.

Jon Levis's photos: (sorry for photobombing all of them in my red t-shirt!)

Come on the Bear! Paul Russhard on his way to 5th place

And don't forget to check out Stuart March's photos too (official photographer)

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