The perils of running both without a map, or at least a knowledge of an area, and when that area is breathtakingly beautiful is that a fairly quick/ short ‘explore-run’ can morph into a bit more of an epic. As it was when I ventured out from my picture-postcard countryside dwelling on the outskirts of Frome, Somerset on Saturday morning for a training run of a little over an hour, before getting ready for the wedding between friends Chris and Sarah that I was due to attend.
Such is the sheer natural vibrancy and beauty of this part of the UK, with it’s rolling hills, fields, grazing animals and houses straight out of Country Life magazine, coupled with the fact that the weather gods had clearly been in the best of moods, meant that every step was a feast for the senses. Living and training in a desert, for that is fundamentally what Dubai ultimately is, has it’s major advantages, from the pretty reliably awesome weather for most of the year making training outdoors an easy option, to the vibrant sporting scene and abundance of facilities, not to mention the holiday destination views and beaches, is great and the past year here has certainly taken my sporting abilities and enjoyment to a whole new level, but I don’t think anything can compete with the option of running or cycling through the English countryside at the pinnacle of Spring/ Summer when the whole world just seems to be so full of life, rich colours and the air so pure and easy to draw that it is like enjoying the finest of wines with each and every breath.
My run took me along tree and field lined roads through some of the smaller villages fringing Frome, including the utterly charming Mells, which had a village shop and cafe that is was incredibly hard to resist stopping at. The run into Frome itself was a beneficially undulating one, with some great hill training taking place, followed by a relaxed downhill stretch into the town centre before a long, steady climb out the other side. The next decision to make was whether to turn down the road I knew led back home but which I suspected was not going to take as long as I would have liked to meet my run time target, or opt for what appeared on the face of it a parallel road. I took the latter and was almost instantly rewarded for the choice with breathtaking views of the main town creamery, river and one of the most picturesque farms I think I have ever seen. If that wasn’t enough I then saw what I was convinced was a castle on the top of the hill to discover to my delight that it was indeed a classic little castle and that someone had made a modern home of it – as far as houses go that had to be one of the most epic I have seen. Imagine growing up in a bona fida castle!!!
As the country road continued to wind and stretch out it started to become apparent that it was significantly longer, with no real turns toward home, than I had expected. Thankfully, just as I was starting to contemplate my options, including turning around and retracing my steps, to calling a taxi (not really an option on account of there actually being no signal and the fact that at a fundamental level I was resistant to the idea of effectively being defeated by a run), I met a local out on his bike with his dog, who kindly informed me that I was probably about 6 miles from home and provided reliable directions. With this knowledge secured I was able to pick the pace up and battle through my, by now, fierce hunger and found my way back to Great Elms, my abode and one of the most delicious and welcomed breakfasts that I think I have ever tasted. In the end the short run had morphed into a full half marathon. Great preparation for a wedding.
Run stats: 1 hr 54mins, 21.5km at an average pace of 5.3min/km