Longfield Pegularity, July 17, 2005 - Report
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Pegged out – a novel way to spend a Sunday 
(from our Tudwick Correspondent)

Sunday 17 July dawned bright and sunny and no doubt the serious Pegularitists were already out calibrating their inbuilt speedometers, prior to assembling at Longfield, the Crowther household, at around 11.30 am, ready for the long awaited and much trumpeted debut of the Pegularity.

The initial entry list promised a line up of around 27 competitors, although some were qualified as “possible spectators.” In the end, there were quite a few non-starters, including Linda and Louise Towers, who had taken their horse out the day before and were having terrible trouble getting it back in the box. Linda eventually turned up in time for the finish and awards presentation. If she had known about Roger Dowgill’s technique (more of which later), she could have completed the event in the time left when she arrived. Nevertheless, the Towers family was ably represented by the inimitable “who put that hanging basket there” Chris.

On arrival, most people headed straight for the barn, where drinks, cakes and biscuits were amply available, while a few could be seen practising on the 75m calibration course. In fact, Robin Hernaman could be seen going in reverse. At this point, it dawned on Paul Carlier that the Pegularity entitled “Forwards/Backwards” probably did involve walking in reverse, as Andrea Weston had suggested, rather than just retracing ones steps in the opposite direction, while facing forwards, as he had previously insisted was more likely be the case. He then realised that his “thorough” preparation the previous day was in danger of being totally inadequate and immediately reversed into action to remedy the situation.

The word was soon out that the delightful Crowther daughters, Caroline and Rebecca, had already completed their Pegularity earlier in the morning, due to their need to leave the venue early and Ray’s desire to use them as guinea pigs to reduce the chances of embarrassing cock ups before a massed audience. Questions were raised as to whether the regs allowed this, but these were quickly forgotten as the duo in question were interrogated by all and sundry in an attempt to elicit clues about what the hell we were all expected to do. Those who were trampled in the scrum resorted to pumping Christine Crowther, who was competently tending to the food and drink, for inside information.

At noon the advertised competitors briefing took place, where Ray’s pronouncements resulted in confusion, panic or laughter among the audience. Great emphasis was placed on the importance of the correct use of the plastic glove handed to each competitor, the exact moment for the use of which, we were assured, would be obvious. For most people, it was then back to the barn for a last minute drink and panic, but soon afterwards Robin Hernaman confidently checked into the first time control to become the first pair of feet on the track! 

Pegularity 1 was set in Longish Field and Crow wood, which for the motor sport types, was a bit like a combination of Howfields Farm and Hockering Wood. The aim was to traverse the myriad paths in the sequence defined in the route instructions, noting the three letter words on miniature code boards (about the size of a commemorative stamp), whilst maintaining a nominated average speed (NAS) that you had declared before having any idea of what was involved. Fortunately, simultaneously cracking walnuts between your knees and juggling five oranges was optional. The route instructions consisted of a sequence of letters, which corresponded to the lettered sections of path on an accompanying map. Numbers followed some of the letters, which, as most people found out sooner or later (depending on whether they read to the bottom of the instructions before setting off) referred to the route checks, with footnotes providing helpful clues as to their location, such as “on a tree” or “on the 156th blade of grass on the left after the last tree on the right.” A few of the route checks departed from the standard format, one of the more unconventional consisting of a bowl of rice pudding and vinegar from which a miniature car had to be retrieved (hence the plastic glove). Some competitors ignored the check, thinking that a fellow competitor had suffered from travel sickness, while others complained that their gloves had split.

At least one competitor, Tricia Edwards, remained blissfully (and successfully, as it turned out) ignorant of the route checks, pacing confidently around the route to post the closest to NAS and, due to an anomaly in the scoring of penalties for missed route checks, became the winner of Pegularity 1. Meanwhile most of the other competitors were still wandering around the course. Robin Hernaman was later heard saying that he couldn’t believe that he was in there for 40 minutes and Dee Rampling Lee was wondering if she kissed the correct bear. The distinction of under performing an NAS by the biggest margin went to Roger Dowgill, with 27 minutes of penalty. It came as no surprise that nobody exceeded their NAS, but it was highly suspicious that Crowthers Caroline and Rebecca completed the course at actual speeds of around 2.5 mph, to finish the test second and third, whereas Tricia “what route checks” Edwards was the only other competitor to exceed 2 mph. One other record of note was set by Chris Towers, who averaged 1.76 miles and 46.7 cigars per hour.

The second test, Wind/Unwind, which immediately followed the first, was our first taste of that daunting genre known as the memory pegularity. In this case, the route instructions were available to each competitor to memorise for a maximum of 45 seconds and could not be taken on the course. They consisted of a series of diagrams giving the route around a set of cones laid out on the “Memage.” Conversations between competitors who had completed the test went along the lines “you mean you went round twice”, “anticlockwise?” or “it said red lines meant clockwise.” Really, the name gave it away, but most people missed the fact that the four route diagrams were to be followed first in a clockwise direction and then anticlockwise. The possibility that he had “over wound it” dawned on Paul Carlier, who displayed an otherwise exemplary performance, when the approach to the finish seemed rather awkward. Robin Hernaman, who was on the course at the same time, was heard muttering that he had done something in the wrong order, while most people set improbably high actual average speeds by completing just the clockwise circuit! Sandra Beckerleg (good name for an entrant on a walking event) was a case in point, exceeding even her power walking NAS of 3.9 mph by a considerable margin to post the fastest actual speed of 6.12 mph. Everyone picked up the 60 penalty points for an incorrect route and thus this test came down to accuracy of speed. Richard Edwards took the honours, on 52 seconds fast, closely followed by Paul Carlier on 53, while furthest adrift was Pam Rymill, who completed the test at twice her NAS. 

Sighs of relief were heard as competitors headed for the refreshment barn, where Christine’s scrumptious buffet, which leant heavily on home grown courgette (which was just as well as the signs said “don’t lean on the tables”) and a cool, refreshing soft drink (for those who thought they were still in with a chance) or beer (for the realistic) awaited. Just as we were lulled into a state of tranquillity, someone suggested we looked at the advance details of the second memory pegularity on the notice board. Various strange conversations soon permeated the barn and no doubt an outsider would have thought that the discussion topic was Scrabble. The involvement was such that the arrival of yummy cakes, courtesy of Cathy Logan, and fruit meringue with indecently thick cream, initially went unnoticed, but word soon spread, as did the waistlines.

The third Pegularity, W9/6M, was soon upon us and Robin Hernaman was once again running (well, walking) at number 1. This test was entirely on the tarmac public road, hence the maximum permitted NAS of 60 mph. Some were unduly influenced by the epic overruns on the first pegularity and set a low NAS. Initially thinking this to be a bad mistake, Paul Carlier was seen strolling along at a funereal pace, but having missed one route check hydrant and the mysterious W9, was seen heading off in the direction of Tolleshunt Major at an escalating speed. It was interesting that many people who missed the W9 commented that they found an M6 on the way back! 

Meanwhile, Sandra Beckerleg was power walking the return leg (pun unintended), Roger Dowgill and Ken Larking were no doubt looking for a pub (they were gone long enough for a few pints) and Paul Hernaman used his atomic clock to turn in the overall best performance on any pegularity with just two penalty points. The hydrant signs caused some confusion, not more so than when Alan Lee found a previously undiscovered fourth sign (albeit broken and lying flat under 5 feet of impenetrable undergrowth), whilst those missing the W9 benefited from the fact that a subsequent hydrant bore the same numbers as one of those on the actual route. Alan obviously factored his expedition to the fourth sign of the hydrant into his speed calculations, finishing second on the test with a creditable 14 points, closely followed by Sandra Beckerleg on 20. Unfortunately, having set a very respectable performance before lunch, Tricia Edwards was forced to sit out the third test due to damaged undercarriage.

The fourth pegularity was similar in format to the first, this time with the inclusion of the well-known naturist reserve, Chick Wood. Most people seemed to learn from the first test and set an NAS close to the minimum 2 mph, except for Sandra (it can’t be as bad second time round) and Dave Beckerleg, who set blistering NASs of 3.8 and 3.2 respectively. By now, a combination of the heat and overuse meant that many competitors were suffering from brain fade, which led Robin Hernaman to think that making a noise like an old hen obviated the need to record the code board on the old chicken shed and prompted several individuals to record FISH as the one of the three letter codes (although admittedly the genuine article was well concealed). Seemingly unaffected were Ken Larking, who set the pace on this test, with a penalty of 440, closely followed by Chris Towers on 475. Neither of the Beckerlegs (or are there four?) managed to maintain their respective NAS’s and both shared the lowest NAS of 1.2. Only the Crowther sisters managed an NAS above 1.5, achieving 1.93 and 2.2 for Rebecca and Caroline respectively.

The fifth and final pegularity was the dreaded Forwards/Backwards. This was rather like dressage, but minus the horses (which was fortunate, as the Towers’ horse was still miles away, stuck half in the box). The aim was to spell out a six-letter word chosen from a deviously contrived list, by tracing the outline of each letter around the cones in the Memage. The tricky bit was that any necessary backtracking along a leg of a letter had to be walked with one’s derriere facing the direction of travel. To ensure timely running of the test, Ray announced that the recovery of any collapsed competitors would not be permitted until the stage closed. 

Robin Hernaman HACKED off round the course while brother Paul explored the JUNGLE of cones and Ken Larking accurately paced the BRANCHes of each letter. Chris Towers SAMPLEd the route with a beer in hand, as did Pam and Pete Rymill, without the beer and in Pete’s case, without error. Andrea Weston, Paul Carlier demonstrated that concentration EQUALS success while minor errors from Dee Rampling Lee and Sandra Beckerleg showed they were not quite their EQUALS on this test. Alan Lee, Richard Edwards and Dave Beckerleg should have laid low in the VESTRY (all right, you think of a better one) and finally, Roger Dowgill demonstrated the WONDER of relativity. Although appearing to sit on a fold-up chair in the middle of the Memage drinking a beer, the official results are testament to the fact that Roger successfully exploited the relativistic phenomenon of the localised curvature of space-time around a dense object to achieve an actual average speed of 13.98 mph. It is a shame he didn’t think of this before he set his NAS of 4 mph!

Suddenly, at around 4.45 pm, the world’s very first Pegularity was all over, and competitors could be found slumped in the bar(n). Ray, notable by his absence, was poring over the results in the tack room, eventually emerging to announce the results and present the awards. First place went to Alan “I’ll find that hydrant” Lee, whose remarkably consistent performance on all the tests paid off. Chris “That’s the fourth time I’ve hit my head on that ***** hanging basket” Towers took second overall plus the supplementary award for the highest fpm (fags per mile) of the day. In third place was Paul “I’m sure I was only 1.3 seconds under on Pegularity 3” Hernaman, thanks to his determination to show his regular navigator how it should be done!

Teams were in short supply, due to the organiser’s unconventional ruling that only mixed teams were allowed and the reluctance of some of the minority of ladies, to partner two men at once. However, the winning team was Silkcut Peugeot, consisting of Alan Lee and Pam Rymill while 2nd Time Round(ers) Robin Hernaman and Andrea Weston were runners up.

At the conclusion of the Awards Presentation, the competitors showed their warm appreciation to the organiser and caterer for providing us all with such an enjoyable day. Many thanks to Ray and Christine for their hard work and the use of their estate, to Cathy and Sandra for their support in the catering department and to all the competitors for being such good sports.

We look forward to another Pegularity next year and who knows, perhaps Pegularity at the 2012 Olympics?