Running buddy and a wolfhound intrusion
The Bayliss’s had been incredible hosts, so generous with their time and assistance to The Great Rugger Run. They also taught me a new saying – ‘Sit soft’ – used after dinner when suggesting a relocation from the dining table to the lounge. I will be using that in future. They also sent me on my way with a running partner, Suzi’s brother Luke.
Luke, a local ultra runner, was the ideal companion. We shared stories of running pains, nutritional favourites (watermelon at rest stations was a joint winner) and training achievements. Luke was brilliant company, ran the perfect pace and also took on the role of chief navigator for the leg to Liskeard. This was a welcome relief for me, having one less thing to do whilst running allowed me to relax and thoroughly enjoy the journey.
The rugby clubs en route were my prime focus but I was also keen to see other local points of interest. And for Liskeard that was the Pink Pub. That’s right, a pub that had been painted pink. Quite a statement, so we had to stop for a photo.
Luke had volunteered to do some filming (there may be a video out at some point) so we decided to record the last section into the Liskeard-Looe Rugby Club. Little did I know that the driveway was really quite steep. Not wanting to look like a lumbering mess on camera I pushed pretty hard up the slope and arrived by the pitch a gasping wreck.
Fortunately, one of my gifts is being able to recover quite quickly, which was especially useful in this instance as Phil Mutton and Tony Knightsbridge arrived to show me around their club. I waved goodbye to Luke, the perfect running companion, then Phil, Tony and I recorded this cracking video:
Phil sent me on my way with an amazing chocolate brownie from Mrs Mutton; I was starting to feel quite spoilt. However, the extra calories were really beneficial, especially when they tasted that good!
The small lanes I chose for the run to Saltash were punctuated with colourful place names, such as Quethiock, Blunts and Cuttivet. My legs felt free and my chocolate brownie assisted energy levels soared. I flew along the path down into Notter and had genuine concerns I was running so fast that my legs might come off. The back lanes, sadly, made way for a nasty stretch on the A38 where I did plenty of lorry dodging. The dual-carriageway nightmare was mercifully brief and I was soon ploughing up the hill to Saltash Rugby Club.
Waiting for me there was the amazing Nellie Bayliss with my bag and another incredible packed lunch! The run could not function without the kindness of all the people who put me up or drove my bag from stop to stop and the Bayliss’ did so much for me over the space of three days – thanks so much, hugely appreciated.
The logistical challenges of organising the run had come to a head by the time I reached Saltash. I was finding it ever more difficult to make contact with people along the route with sufficient notice. I became very aware that my already unusual requests for help were now arriving with little, if any, time for clubs to organise assistance.
It was with this backdrop that I was incredibly grateful to Noel Hill and Sophie Bennett from Saltash RFC who helped me out at short notice. Sophie agreed to put me up for not one, but two nights and Chairman Noel took the time to show me around the club and tell me loads of interesting stories about the clubhouse and Saltash’s incredible touring record.
Sophie was an exceptional host and I was delighted to shout her an evening meal of Fish & Chips which we devoured whilst watching an episode of Friends. There were some drinks going on that evening but the fatigue of the first week was kicking in hard, so I declined Sophie’s offer to go with her.
I would have the house to myself for the evening. Before leaving, Sophie mentioned what a rarity that was as usually the house has people coming and going all day long. Even with that knowledge, what happened next was a bit of a shock!
I heard the front door swing open and I assumed Sophie must have forgotten something. I glanced out to the corridor from my spot in the lounge to see a gigantic wolfhound stroll down the corridor towards the kitchen! What the?! What was I supposed to do now?
Fortunately, the gigantic wolfhound was followed by a lady who shouted hello in my general direction as she passed the door. I said hello back then waited nervously. The lady reappeared (with the wolfhound close behind) and after a brief moment of “Who are you?”, and “Who are YOU?” we settled down for a nice chat.
It turns out this was Sophie’s Aunt who had just popped in. We had a cup of tea and told each other about our lives before she (and the gigantic wolfhound who stared at me throughout) wandered off home. This bizarre encounter brought to a conclusion what had been a remarkable first week on The Great Rugger Run.