|Longfield Pegularities, July 2
& July 16, 2006
July 2 - Report & Results
July 2: Report & Results | Ray's Photos
July 16: Short Report & Results | Paul's Photos | Ray's Photos | Chris's Photos
I’ve started this report at 6:22 on Monday morning heading for Heathrow airport. I’m not driving and it’s not to take a holiday after organising the Pegularity, but to see my youngest daughter depart to Los Angeles for two months.
My body doesn’t know what’s going on – I was up at the unearthly hour (for me) of 7:00 on Sunday morning too, to make final preparations for Pegularity day (Part 1).
I’m building to a report about the event – from an organiser’s point of view - since the competitor nominated to act as journalist excused himself because of a bricklaying backlog!?
So, unfortunately you won’t have the anecdotes of competitors’ daring-do’s (some of which I caught fragments of during the breaks), instead a boring tale of the host’s preparations and observations during the day. Bear with me.
In total, 29 mini sausage rolls were consumed, 3 pizzas, 15 cans of lager ... hang on, too boring already … start again.
Preparations started at 7:30 – Christine laying out the carport for cuisine extraordinaire and Ray in the woods with a broom. Always overnight debris falls from the trees and the rabbit colony do their best to dig holes in my carefully-crafted paths, so a last minute sweeping is required to restore them to their visual beauty. This brought the first scare of the day when in the middle of one of the paths there was a sodding great snake trying to consume a toad in a single gulp. Well, medium-sized grass snake, actually – the first I had ever seen at Longfield – which had presumably been attracted to the sweltering 30 degree temperature that was to descend upon us for the rest of the day. A quick whack with a stick (the snake, not me) and the toad limped to freedom and the wriggly thing was sent to reptile heaven. Next, a few holes needed filling in the field paths – courtesy of the mole population; some mini soft toys hung from branches and finally an England flag at half-mast was planted in Longfield mountain (actually a pile of sand in the field) to commemorate the demise of our national football team.
Interestingly, the soft toys were merely for decoration, not as clues to the location of route check codewords as some competitors attributed as the reason for arriving late at timing points.
A visit to Tesco was the next male duty and brought strange looks as a dust-covered, sweaty old man queued to checkout a trolley burdened with bags of ice cubes to cool down the trug loads of cans and bottles Christine was creating at Longfield.
Back home, there was just time enough for passing on moral support to the harassed wife, a quick shower, and then off to one of the ex-stables – commandeered as Pegularity office for the day – to fiddle with paperwork and await arrivals.
Two weeks before the event, we potentially had an oversubscribed entry list, but last minute withdrawals due to illness, family problems and non-arrivals, saw 13 Pegularitists present themselves for a day of sun and fun.
Heading the entry list was the 2005 Pegularity World Champion, Alan Lee accompanied by wife, Dee with dodgy knee, so this reporter was momentarily distracted from organisational panics while details of our respective keyhole surgeries were exchanged.
Paul Carlier and Andrea Weston were clearly intent on acquiring victors' medals at the end of the day, and were seen making exaggerated use of the 70 metre average speed calibration course set out in the field.
Paul Hernaman (3rd last year) was there with Heather, who declined participation and for a while swapped the outside heat for the heat of the kitchen. Thanks for your help, Heather.
Last year's runner-up, Chris Towers, was masquerading again as a casual competitor, more interested in scoring lagers than points, but the truth was out later as he employed devious tactics to get the better of the organisers.
Ken Larking arrived late, seemingly preoccupied with thoughts of a potential storage area for his buses that he had encountered on his way.
The rest were newbies.
Ron Levy, our regular handyman, arrived with house maintenance in mind, and left with sore feet rather than hands.
Len and Wendy Graves came for a rest after travels afar and a London to Brighton cycle run.
Rob Gimes, male model for the cover of my novel Panglossian, had his leg in the air with an Achilles tendon injury and was tempted to compete with crutches, but discomfort and frustration overtook him. Despite that, wife Suzanne still came and brought her striding parents along – Jim and Maggie Welton.
Jim Mullarkey joined in the fun as timekeeper and the chickens watched, imprisoned in their chicken house for the day.
Pegularity 1 was a half-miler familiarisation walk through all the grounds at Longfield. Set at a leisurely one mile per hour, the 30 minutes to complete the test was regarded as ample time. Navigation was by a simple marked map, but there were twenty-four codewords to find on the way, the search for which sidetracked some into arriving late at the finish. Nobody found all the codewords. The codewords were coloured a convenient forest brown on a forest green background, so some were only visible under close scrutiny.
One codeword (ZEN) defeated all and another (YES) was only found by Chris and Paul H, no doubt helped by forwards lager-induced staggering and backwards route following.
Pegularity 2 concentrated on the paths of Torchard and Chick Wood using three different tours defined by sections of paths to be used, plus a couple of laps of Longish Field totalling just over 0.79 miles. This time competitors had to choose their own average speed (NAS – Nominated Average Speed), and having already sampled the terrain on Peg 1 many chose the lowest possible of 1.5 mph.
This was their downfall, since the all went round much quicker and thereby arrived too early at the finish. At the other extreme, novices Len and Wendy were overambitious with their speed estimate and arrived much too late. Ron (Pegularity medal winner) and Ken took the middle course and were first and second best respectively despite both missing two codewords. There were only five on this Pegularity, now four-letter words in a more distinctive blue, but everyone seemed to miss the message they spelt – HAVE YOUR BEST TIME HERE.
On Pegularity 2, Chris devised a scheme to avoid having to do two laps of the course through Longish Field. He walked the tricky bit through the woods to get the codewords and then spent ages attempting to work out the distance he should have walked in Longish Field using the rough scale on the map, and then calculated the time this should have taken at his NAS. Now he had to add this time to the time it had taken in the woods … doh, he had forgotten to time himself and had to guess! He was over 4 minutes out. Justice prevailed for unsporting behaviour.
I missed your stories at lunch, waiting for stragglers to arrive and calculating results. However, by the sound of laughter, munching and slurping, everyone was having a happy and well-deserved lunch halt. I caught one remark, a compliment for Christine's sausage rolls presumably for having the foresight to buy them at Tesco. That sounds unkind; Mrs Organiser put on a truly grand spread and much was home made or home-produce.
After two Pegularities, Ken was in a clear lead on 179 penalties, followed by Paul C on 275 and Andrea on 295.
The longest Pegularity of the day followed – a 1.8 mile hike in the searing heat along Tudwick Road and a footpath to the local water tower and back. Wendy was wilting in the sun and decided to lie this one out in the shade, so husband Len set off to start the afternoon proceedings. Being a straightforward test on a hard surface, everyone was encouraged to increase their NAS to their best walking pace and several chose 3.0 mph or more. Yet, still everyone walked quicker than forecast, and arrived early at the finish. The extremes were Chris (Pegularity medal winner), with just 24 seconds early down to Dee – fearful of knee problems and setting a low target – who came back over 25 minutes early! Ken was the mad dog and Englishman who blistered round too quickly at 4.17 mph and dropped to third place, behind Paul C and Andrea, who now had a lead of 82 seconds. Paul C complained that he was unfairly delayed because his trainers had stuck to the melting road.
At this point Len and Wendy had to depart to attend to a family matter, but promised to come back next year for a full event.
Pegularity 4 was delayed a little, as competitors took on liquid before heading for a revisit of Crow Wood. Similar in style to Pegularity 2, three difficult laps were required, this time having to avoid sections of paths.
Now gaining confidence in what was required, competitors were clearly deliberating on their NAS before setting off. Yet, times were still awry for this
0.78 miles through narrow woods and field, particularly from Ken who disappeared from the top three by arriving almost nine minutes early. Dee showed what she could really achieve after a good leg stretching on the previous Pegularity, and went from zero to hero(ine) with a medal-winning best time of 134 seconds adrift. At the sharp end, the battle for first place was on between Paul C and Andrea, Paul taking the lead by 25 seconds. Third place was definitely up for grabs; Maggie took over from Ken, one second in front of Chris with defending champion, Alan, 43 seconds later. Like Peg 2, the significance of the ordered codewords –
HELP CROW MAKE LOTS CASH – went unremarked.
After a hot, tense day, there was reluctance to be first onto the beach. Performing in full view of the audience was pressure so Chris, with lager in hand, was sacrificed to lead the way. He drew the numbers 9 and 6, and had failed the test within a dozen strides. We had to wait until Ken to see an accurate tracing of 7 and 9; he had however mastered the sand pit last year and had been seen practising mental run-throughs in a quiet area away from the noisy Memage. Dee this time returned to zero by getting completely lost, taking longer than anyone else and incurred over seven minutes of penalties. Alan, in a last gasp at retaining his title, traced correctly and was timely enough to secure 3rd place overall.
I dashed away to confirm results and soon we were assembled in the carport for the medals presentation. Three award winners other than those mentioned above remain to be honoured. The Spirit of the Event medal went to Maggie who performed consistently well through the day and was highest placed novice in 5th place. The mixed team award went to “The AA” partnership of Andrea and Alan.
Who will be Pegularity World Champion for 2006? Andrea must be a favourite, but there are 20 keen challengers arriving for July 16th who will be trying to better 583 penalties. Andrea may be attending as a spectator.
Sadly, no one was free to take photos during the day, but Christine digitally captured the award winners and ushered all for a group photo.
I don’t know what happened to the reporters that were hoping to record this novel event for their national running and walking magazines. They missed what turned out to be an amusing and interesting day. Perhaps they’ll turn out in two weeks’ time.
Best news of all was that we raised £125 for the Alzheimer’s Society and this has already been transferred to the charity (Donation reference D2919409). Thanks.
See you next year?
Time penalties in blue indicate early, otherwise late.