Friday, 8 September 2017

The Dawn Raid

The getting out of bed is the hardest part.

With a brain still foggy, you mash the screen of your phone until the alarm stops chirping incessantly at you. With a sigh, you leave the warmth of the bed and a loving mate still fast asleep and, rubbing the sleep from your eyes, you shuffle with creaking joints out of the room and across the landing to the bathroom, there to take care of the morning's necessities and retrieve the running kit you stashed the night before.

Downstairs. Coffee on. Coffee drunk. Do you need a mid-layer, or is a base-layer going to be enough? Hard to know at this time of year. Decision made, you click the headtorch on, press start on the watch, and set off into the pre-dawn.

A short stretch of road before picking up a footpath over some fields. Lumpy. Hard to find a rhythm. Sheep flee as something looking like it's dressed up as a Borg for Halloween comes loping towards them. Resistance is futile. Where does the footpath go now? Activate forward sensors and sweep the area. Contact. Full impulse. Make it so.

Another short stretch of road and then onto a rocky trail that drops down to a couple of fords. Hard to tell what's mud and what's solid. Foot slips, but the grip of your shoe holds. Back up the other side of the valley. It's more technical here. Short strides and careful foot placement are the name of the game.

As you emerge from the trees, the sky is sullen and overcast. No spectacular sunrise to greet you this morning, but that's ok; you're not often at your best at this time of day either. You pick up a trod across a moorland that's purple with heather, with a vague intention of tagging a trig point you've not been to yet.


As you crest the ridge, you spot the trig point some way off to the right. A quick check of the watch shows that there's no time to double back but no matter; it will be there another day. You turn towards the forest and, as you do, you spot a trail that you didn't know was there. Fuck it, why not go exploring? Work can wait. As you duck into the trees it quickly becomes apparent that it's too overgrown for this morning's sortie, but it's noted and you'll be back another time. As you turn to retrace your steps, the sun has broken through the clouds for the briefest moment of time, and the fells are bathed in gold.


With gratitude in your heart, you carry on, cutting back through the forest slightly further along the trod in order to close a loop that brings you back to the techy trail you came up. Leaping over rocks and puddles, you pay no mind to paces, or heart rate zones. There's a time and a place for all of that, but this is not it. This is a time for running free. A time to be primal. This is, after all, what it's all about. Why you do it. Soul running.

The dawn raid.

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