As you may be aware from previous posts, I love a good run and also a good meal (or few) and therefore anything that combines the two is always going to be a winner. Last weekend was the Delicious Dart trail; an off-road, gloriously picturesque and bloody (muddy) hilly trail run from Dartington Hall all the way to Dartmouth, snaking through food stalls set up by local producers along the way. It’s basically an elaborate pub crawl for the discerning food orientated runner. And I ought to mention, that it’s also compulsory fancy dress.
As the giant troop of aliens squashed, squoze and scrumbled through the mud and into the refreshment queues, stile queues and toilet queues, passersby showed a mixture of appreciation, alarm and fear. It was most enjoyable. Less so, were the hills. Having trained in a rather flat area of the country and on firm ground, it was quite a challenge to keep any downhill momentum when tackling the near vertical (only a slight exaggeration) slopes of mud. It is especially difficult when you have to keep two extra pairs of arms elevated above the mire. But then again, things could have been worse. Behind the giant green eye who was attempting to run with his dog, and the people in the regrettably furry dinosaur onesies, were a few fellows in full face rubberised masks, a sharp suited man in black, and a giant cockroach.
Had we had all the time in the world to enjoy the scenery, it would have been an absolute delight to marvel at the rolling hills culminating in tree crowned pinnacles and peppered with sheep. We would have stopped every now and then, perhaps with a picnic basket and a thermos of tea and finding a well placed bench we would have marvelled at the little trail of steam puffing up through the trees in the valley bottom as it chuffed its merry way out of the beautiful little harbour town, awash with tinkling boats and painted cottages. But the sweeper was getting closer… And then he passed us and was eventually out of sight: the imminent threat of reaching the next food stall to find it bare was always upon us. We ploughed on through the mud and tried not to obtain groin injuries.
Alas, it turned out that we were too late already for the sausages. As the non-drivers amongst us filled up on ale and dreamed of the hot sausages that they had just missed (or possibly missed by miles), the vegetarian designated driver (me) shrugged nonchalantly and sipped on some sparkling water. Then on we went, delving deep into the valleys, and stopping to admire such delights as miniature donkeys in florescent jackets being pulled along on leads (maybe that’s normal for this area of the country?).
Cheese, wine, fruit, sorbet and scones later, (that’s not an exhaustive list but I’d rather forget about such stops as the venison burger stall where being a vegetarian downwind of a long line of recently fed carnivorous joggling aliens was actually quite traumatic), we were nearing the end. We had covered over 15 miles of difficult terrain, journeyed across water in little boats, and some of us had suffered some acid reflux and assorted muscle strains, but we were nearly there.
As we piled onto the boat that would take us into the sprint finish to the chip shop, I took a look around at my companions. There was the giant cockroach, a little more bedraggled and limp in the antennae than before, but still with us nonetheless. There was Darth Vadar and the Avatar and the morph suit people who’d lost the rubberised faces some time previous. There was the party of pirates to my left, who perhaps hadn’t quite grasped the theme, but had been jolly good sports all the same. The boat moored, we piled off and made a dash for it. Some of us may have been full, a few hung over, but one vegetarian designated driver was happier than any other alien in that crowd as she shouted, ‘no fish on mine please!’.