Carry on Cleo!


Ok, Amanda tells me she lost count of the number of times she heard that comment, but sometimes one has to accept that a cliché becomes so because it perfectly sums up an idea...

But we'll leave the significance of that remark for a bit; those who weren't there will just have to wait!

So.

"The Prologue", as Frankie Howerd used to say, and I'm inclined to think that there's an episode of "Up Pompeii" to be had here if one looks carefully... For it is the first day of the New Year, and that means only one thing to a vast throng of not-quite-right-in-the-head people: Knacker Cracker! Yes, 10k (for large values of 10) up and down Box Hill, mostly wearing entirely inappropriate running gear.

It's a bit dull and slightly drizzly, and the National Trust anaerobic digester is belching its usual miasma (which every year Rob vainly insists is nothing to do with him), and our company assemble:


"Yes, I am cold in my Hawaiian grass skirt!"


Will the real Rob please stand up? Yes, there's a whole team entered as him!


"Hands up all those who think Care In The Community isn't working for them."

If you look closely, you'll see that somebody has even come as Steve Winder.

Now at this point, and not before, Rob informs everyone that the start will be split into two groups taking slightly different initial routes. This will reduce some of the traditional problem with a bottleneck at the start, but it means that I have to rapidly change my plan. I was going to take a couple of quick shots of the start, then get ahead of the runners by taking my bike on a different route to them and set up shop at the bottom of the Burford Slope. But half of them are now going to be taking that same route, and I just won't have time to get back to the bike, put my camera away and get going before they're on top of me.

Something has to give, and it's pictures of the start. I therefore leave well in advance and hit the road with a good lead. But blimey! That descent is treacherous by bike: this is for teenage adrenalin junkies, not gentlemen of mature years and sober mien such as myself. (Stop sniggering. This is not a Frankie Howerd sketch, I told you.)

I only just have time to get to the bottom and set up my equipment before the first runner is upon us. I'm pretty sure that he's actually gained on me since the start. How is that possible?!

But we won't have a picture of him here. You cull mercilessly and still end up with far too many pictures, so you start channelling great mass murderers of history and still you are being too lenient...


So I'll just have a man in a dress as representative here.


Oh and we'll have some kids too, because they're showing themselves faster than a lot of the adults!


And then, well, is he a real escaped mental patient? He'd not be out of place here if he was!


And finally, we explain the title: Amanda is dressed as an Egyptian queen, and there are some subtle clues to indicate that she's Cleopatra, not Nefertiti (bonus points if you can name any other Egyptian queen without Google's help).


See this elf? He's only way ahead of everyone else (including the man dressed as Steve Winder), and far too quick for me to get him where I want to be next, which is the bottom of another steep descent.


Right, here we are. I've not been to this spot on previous KCs, so I don't know what to expect, but the light and sightlines are excellent here. I put down my little video camera on its tripod and (slowly) start walking up. I've got one of Amanda's trekking poles to give her at the top, and it's quite useful for my own ascent.


First lady, as opposed to first man dressed as a lady. There's a lot of cross-dressing going on today.


Ah, now this chap is about to scientifically prove that the fastest method of descent is sliding on your arse. Others accept that it may technically be the case,  but worry about the potential effect of tree stumps in one's path.


After all, it's a long way down...


"Gawd bless yer, yer Majesty!"


Although Queen Cleopatra has her subjects kneeling before her.


A quick few shots in the woods, as my shortcut path intercepts the race route again, but they go thataway and I go thisaway.


A one-man Mexican Wave doesn't quite have the full effect. Still, at least no Donald Trump this year; he's probably forgotten Mexico exists by now.


Robs and Wallies dot the landscape.


And a whole bunch in highly realistic Belted Galloway costumes.


Oops, somehow while I was looking down, Amanda has got up without me spotting her until she's on her way down again.


Uh-oh... Police brutality at the finish!


What's this? Robin has a wife and children?! I think we all know that's not entirely likely...


Ah, how sweet. Blood-drenched cannibal butchers hand-in-hand and smiling at the finish.


Ooh, and a bit of argy-bargy amongst the elves!


And here's Cleopatra herself, tastefully accessorised with a carbon-fibre trekking pole that's only about two thousand years ahead of its time. Great on the muddy slopes though, and apparently inspired some envious glances from those around her.


Real Wally leads his troop of imitation Wallies despite a last-minute fall in the mud.

We're almost done...


I had heard there was a bit of a lake to cross just before the Smith and Western, but hadn't been that way myself. Afterwards, Amanda says that I need to see it and we should have a selfie there. The passing adults try to pretend they haven't seen the crazy people, but the young lad can't help staring. And do note my Tutankhamun hat. Almost as anachronistic in the other direction as the trekking pole, but what's a millennium or two among friends?!

Now just use your imagination and pretend it's the Blue Nile.

Happy New Year everyone!

Love,

Steve.