Early one morning, just as the sun was rising


We have an even earlier start than normal for the Midsummer Munro this year. Claire's marshalling as she can't run, and we're giving her a lift, so we need to be in time for the marshalls' briefing at 7am. Now that's not strictly possible given that the first train of the day arrives into Surbiton at 6:45, but once past the speed cameras between Tolworth and Chessington, we only have one Sunday driver to get around and can make good time.


Unsurprisingly, there aren't too many runners here for registration yet.


Looking a bit more lively now. Claire introduces us to her Dulwich clubmate, Ed, who ran the MM for the first time last year and came third!


Rob announces, "This is Steve, who'll be taking photographs, so remember to smile!" and I tell them not to do that, I want pictures of them looking completely knackered :-)


So after singing the National Anthem, no big formalities for the start. Rob just kind of shouts out, "Ok, go!" and runs off ahead of them.


This is what happens if you're not at the front of the pack as everyone funnels through a tiny gap onto a narrow track. There's really no good way out of this area; a previous route involved a rather disconcerting steeplechase jump if you were unlucky with your position in the pack.


Back out in the open, Gaz and Amanda arrive at the Burford slope.


The leaders are already well on the way back when others haven't even begun their descent yet.

I wait until I've got pictures of just about everybody coming back up before jumping on the bike and heading down to the stepping stones. Just as I arrive, I see Dulwich Ed crossing, so I know I've missed a few of the front runners, but it shouldn't be too many.


I'm in time for the first lady though.


It can get pretty crowded at times.


And quieter at others. This is about the only person in the entire field with sufficient confidence to take her eyes off the next stone and wave to the camera!


When most people have passed, I pop across the river myself to say hello to Nicky and Grant manning the water station.


Almost time to move on, but these three want to pose for a formal portrait first!


At Juniper Bottom, here's our leader (and eventual winner) pretty much in a race of his own. He's on his way back, loads of people aren't even on their way out yet.


Aha, Amanda and Ed cross on the Eiger Steps.


At the top of the steep slope down to the turnaround point. Note the two in front of Amanda: they'll be swapping places back and forth throughout the race as Amanda overtakes them going up and they get the lead back going down.


I take Amanda's hand to help her down, but I still have one hand left for the camera. Some people seem suspiciously happy...


Others look kind of amazed that they're still alive!


About to start the climb up to Juniper Top, I catch a couple of the back markers, also still remarkably cheerful. I manage to cycle almost all the way up, but I'm pretty back-heavy and one slight error loses me momentum and that's it. Well, I needed to get off the bike to take pictures anyway.


Anyone would think he was on the finishing straight, but there are several steep miles to go yet.


Jeanne, who was ahead of Amanda on the turnaround descent, exclaims that she just rocketed past her afterwards!


Back into the woods again.


Remember how Gaz and Amanda were side-by-side at the Burford slope? He's dropped back to a rather more leisurely pace now and is only just up from Juniper Bottom.

As a random aside, the chap next to him is called "Michael Glazebrook" according to his race bib; I wonder if he's related to the Four Glazebrooks. Who are the Four Glazebrooks? I can't actually remember, but at school I won second prize in a maths competition named after them. Google is no help here: school maths competitions in the mid-Seventies are clearly beyond its ken. The first prize winner was my friend Paul, who went on to do a PhD in knot theory. Even a Scout badge for knots isn't as impressive as that.

Oops, back to the race: to the top of the Box Hill steps...


This is the point that Claire is marshalling.


Some are almost broken by the final ascent.


Some are – well, I'm not quite sure...


And some are clearly demonstrating that the drugs do work!


Here comes Amanda. She wouldn't mind if it wasn't for the stepping stones crossing again, which she really doesn't like. She's always happiest when the river is too deep and the route can only use the bridge. She's not the only one, though. It was noticeable when I was down there earlier that overall race speed bore almost no relationship to stepping-stones crossing speed.


Now pay attention: there's a lot going on here. The lady coming up is Claire's friend Louise, and that's Gaz's rear view going down. The couple with the trekking poles are practicing their hill technique and will simply turn around and repeat the steps something like a dozen times before they move on!


Perhaps I shouldn't have waited until Amanda reached the top again, because I don't quite manage to get to the finish before her. That's Jeanne crossing the line, and when I look for Amanda behind her, somebody tells me she's actually just finished. I'd probably have made it if I'd been sitting astride my bike ready to leave the instant she came up the steps, but the few moments faffing with bike and camera was just enough of a delay.


"We're doing the Mobot." "No we aren't, we're doing the Bolt." Err... who's in charge here?

One of these guys nearly died of Legionnaires' Disease earlier this year, so what's the obvious thing to do when you're convalescing after a potentially fatal illness? And one of the others has no cartilage at all (like Amanda but far worse) so started at 2am to get round in time for the finish. Yeah, runners, eh?!


I wonder about the job description for this role: "A hundred and eighty sweaty runners invade your personal space".


Congrats to the last two finishers, and we can all go for our picnic now. Well, obviously not Rob, who's still got to clear up, collate the results, update the website and fondly imagine that one day he might get some sleep again.

But we can have our picnic now :-)

Love to all,

Steve.