The excitement was real
I would like to say that I slept well, but I really didn’t. I think the excitement of starting the run alongside general fatigue meant for a restless night. I had been put up by the wonderfully kind and incredibly helpful Joel Ninnes, from St Ives RFC.
The previous evening was spent with Joel and a few of his 20-something mates who tore into each other with relentless banter and, quite frankly, character assassinations. I sat, listened and enjoyed the brutal conversations that only really good mates can have. It transported me back into my mid-twenties when rugby and mates were pretty much all there was!
Alas, the lads were gathering under sad circumstances. A club legend had recently passed away in sudden and tragic circumstances and the funeral was today. RIP.
Walking back to St Ives RFC to start my run I was acutely aware of every fibre in my being. The pain in my feet from the previous day was still there and it was causing concern. I decided to take it very cautiously, employing a ‘shuffle running’ technique designed to minimise impact.
It was during this leg that I started to get a feel for one of the major challenges I would be facing. Not only was I doing all the running, but I was doing all the logistics, planning and communications too. I was spending a lot of time on my phone, whether it was social media, talking to contacts at clubs or trying to arrange accommodation and bag transport. I was used to running long distances, I wasn’t used to organising something like this which had a huge number of moving parts.
It was due to this that I sadly missed my contact at Hayle RFC. The available time window for us to meet was tight and with all the other planning and logistics going on, I had taken my eye off the ball in regards to one of the basics – route planning. I found myself on a fly-over looking down at Hayle RFC which meant a lengthy diversion. Sadly this meant that Hayle would be the first club where I didn’t meet any of the members.
The ‘shuffle run’ from Hayle to Camborne was memorable for one reason – the Roseworthy Dip. I was starting to understand that my preferred terrain of off-road wasn’t always going to be possible without huge additions to the mileage.
The road narrowed. The verges disappeared to be replaced with tall thick hedgerows. The traffic was fast and voluminous with plenty of large trucks to add terror. There weren’t many sections when I was constantly aware of my mortality, but this was one.
I started developing tactics to make sure that I was seen. When the traffic was still in the distance I would run in the middle of the road to hopefully catch the drivers eye and give them plenty of time to slow down. This worked well, but if I saw that the approaching vehicle wasn’t slowing then I would immediately begin eyeing the hedgerow for a place to launch myself.
It was hell-raising, but it only lasted a short while and eventually I was through and out the other side.
At this point, I was starting to become hugely impressed with the quality and courtesy of drivers on the Cornish roads. Although I ran along some sketchy sections I never experienced a close call.
Arriving in Camborne early afternoon, I wasn’t due at the club until the evening so I settled into a town centre pub, ate another pasty and tried to catch up with my social media and logistics. One of the benefits of crushing the number of calories I was every day is that you can pretty much eat whatever you want. I also had cake and coffee!
My bag arrived shortly afterwards thanks to Zachariah from St Ives who I’d only met briefly that morning – the rugby family coming up trumps once more. And then I was wandering off to Camborne RFC to meet my host for that night – Malcolm Tonkin.
The Camborne club was so welcoming with Kevin Oates and Andy Gill also coming along to meet me and tell me all about their club, its history and their ambitions. I’ve played at Camborne a couple of times, to hear some stories from those games plus chats with all the above-mentioned folk, check out this video.
Malcolm was a fabulous host, we had fish and chips and he even invited over one of his neighbours, Scott Lake, who is Chairman of local side Veor RFC – a club I wasn’t previously aware existed. We had a good old chin-wag about everything rugby and he offered to show me around his club the following morning – wonderful!