Last year I didn’t run the 20 ponds run, not that I can remember exactly why, so this was to be my debut. Before my group set off, there was a bit of umm’ing and ahh’ing about how many we would aim to do and exactly what the route was. Emma - who I often run with - seemed in control and we had a plan that took in about 15 of the 20 ponds. Seemed good to us - there was quite a mix of running speeds in the group and it seemed a viable number. I estimate that we started off with about 20 runners.
Off we set. It had been a boiling hot day and was consequently a pretty stifling evening, especially when you’re running! We found our first pond and were harangued by the fast group for not touching the water. So Emma and I decided we would. That became the order of the evening, every pond we met we dipped our finger in except for one which entirely surrounded by nettles, one which was full of the slimiest water you have seen in all your life and one which had a warning sign next to it about the dangers of the blue-green algae which was to be found there! Every time we stopped at a pond to wait for the group, or to have a look at the map, I stopped the Garmin as I wanted an accurate distance and time.
We ventured into parts of the park I have never seen before, as well as some parts we know quite well. I think my favourite was the pond we accessed via the stile, through a wood and out of another stile. That pond was particularly pesky to find I have to say. By this point, we were down to 7 runners and we had gone through the infamous Spankers Hill Wood which was the worst bit and were kind of on the home straight. As we studied the map (well, as Emma studied it!) we realised that if we went on our original short-cut we would have taken in 17 ponds. It became all too tempting to run all 20. The others wanted to go back, so off Emma and I went, asking them to let those at the clubhouse know we had carried on.
We pootled off, with a vague plan to get back to the clubhouse before sunset!! Seriously, we weren’t joking. It’s quite a slow process running through 6 foot high bracken, doing tick checks, dipping your fingers in ponds and not being overly fast in the first place you know. Before we knew it we had only one pond to find, one which we know well as it’s on the usual route around the park which we often run. When we saw it we literally were jumping for joy! Pond number 20! Hurray!
I stopped the Garmin as we got to the gate, before running down the hill back to “home”. It showed 8.6 miles, in a time of 1:35:46. By the time we got back (we had just about made it before sunset) there was only Anna and John left at the bus stop, who gave us a clap, David and Danny who had very kindly waited and Clive (who had to lock up!)…
It had been a bit of an adventure and I am very proud of our accomplishment. I will certainly aim to be doing this run next year - hopefully a bit faster! Perhaps with more planning beforehand too…
For info, David’s notes from the same run can be read here.