The runsite was south beyond the known limits of humankind! I woke up thinking I probably wouldn’t bother, but when Sloppy offered me a ride, I figured I may as well go – it was Chuckie’s 400th run afterall! We set off early, dropping Sloppy’s shoes off and picking CW up before heading south. In a year, when the road is complete, it won’t be so bad, but it took a good hour and a half to get there!
The songthaew was of course late, just a little, and we were off just after the usual start. I jogged off and promptly went wrong at the first check. I checked too far, but by the time I got back to check we were no closer to solving it. WTH? All the pack were milling around – surely everything had been checked? I spotted Sheep Shagger in the field, just past some “scary” cows, pointing at something on the ground – JC headed towards him, and so did I. Sure enough he’d forgotten the words “ONON”, and finally we were off. I caught them up at the next check, and there was the hare on his bike. Hmmmm… I checked towards the hare, and spotted a road the arced around – I wasn’t on, but had a feeling I would be soon! Sure enough I ran into another circle, called it, and then tried to find the right way to get to it. From here the obvious way was over a concrete bridge? weir? I went over, and poked around for a bit, but found nothing. Going back the pack was converging, and the hare came along and hinted that maybe I hadn’t quite looked hard enough – I was back over the water, and this time got it, with Spitz Spunk hot on my tail.
We had a stretch through some dried out rice fields, which was quite tough going – it wasn’t easy to find the right pace as with every step your ankles got turned in different directions – walking was fine, but any kind of jog wasn’t easy. Sloppy got a lead, but it only lasted for 1 circle, before HRA took the front. The checks came quick and fast, and several times we went from circle to circle with the pack rotating nicely through a little village. Sheep Shagger egging me on with some short sprints. Clearly we were rotating right, and at some point we would have to cross the water again. Sloppy was leading again for a bit, and then HRA back at the front. Chuckie seemed to be constantly just off the front. I was working hard and finally got my break through an orchard. Finally I put together a sequence of checks and was trotting down a lane with CW not far behind.
The trail turned back into the uneven dried up rice fields, and with my knee / ankle history, I had to slow down. CW caught me up and we discussed the “obstacle” mentioned in the harebrief – clearly it was something to get us back across the water – if it was a balance obstacle, then I was fucked… if it was a wet feet obstacle, then CW was fucked! He slipped past, and after a longer stretch without checks, Sloppy appeared on my shoulder apparently with little regard for his ankles – he was in it to win it! He passed me at the beer stop. CW grabbed a beer and kept going, I grabbed a beer, and Sloppy just ran off – seriously? since when has Sloppy turned down free beer?!? It was a V check, but Shagless made it easy for me as CW & Sloppy were already heading in the right direction. I followed as other hashers were arriving and got to another circle by a rickety bridge.
CW had crossed the bridge and turned left. Sloppy had stayed this side of the water. I didn’t like the look of the bridge, but I knew home was the other side of the water and it looked as good an option as any. I gingerly edged my way across clinging to the metal handrails. As I got to the other side, CW was coming back from the left, but there was another fork, and he tried that one instead. He’d found a hash sign for the ONONON and was convinced. I made it across the bridge and headed to the right. Sheep Shagger almost caught me up as I finally hit paper…! I’d been going steady for a while, so I still had something in my legs. I made the call and ran!
One more check…. a V check… and when I hit it, it really was a 50/50. Damnit! I didn’t have enough time to be wrong. The mud trail to the left looked tempting – I took 2 steps that way, and then stuck with the road. Around a corner and I could see paper into the distance. Run Forest Run! Poor Sheep Shagger had no choice but to take care of my discarded trail, and so when it straightened out, and when I looked over my shoulder it was Chuckie trudging along behind. A final corner and there was the ONIN. Sorry Sloppy you didn’t get your “triple win”!