mundane adventures in running
Last Friday, after much procrastination, I got down to attempting to finish the Capital Ring trail. I tried to walk the whole thing with a friend last Summer, but ended up stopping half way through (chronicled here).
This time it felt less of an event, and less of a challenge. Whereas before we’d looked at maps, planned equipment, worried about how far we could get, this time round we were relaxed. This time round it was just about walking, spending time connecting with the city and enjoying each other’s company rather than a feat, a lurch into epic.
It was more shambolic. I wore an old pair of Nike Free trainers and some battered Patagonia trousers. I had a crap Goretex coat I bought ten years ago which is barely waterproof. I made lunch, we forgot to bring it with us. We only started at 9, instead of the 6 o’clock we managed last time. This time, we had weed (the logic was that it would get us into a nice hazey groove if we started to get bored).
The approach worked. The walk still felt like a journey, but was just… fun. It doesn’t feel like it really warrants any great chronicle, it was enough of an event in itself.
Still, by way of a review, the remaining half of the Capital Ring is as intriguing as the rest. It similarly takes you through peculiar patches of green, famous parks, grim suburban streets. The high points were places I’d been before. Wimbledon Common was moody and atmospheric, especially as the heavens opened as we passed through one of the woods. Richmond Park was full of massive dear, which was amazing. We crossed the Thames at Richmond, which was overcrowded (full of rugby fans spilling over from Twickenham), and then knuckled down to a very long, tedious section along the Grand Union canal. Canals are not attractive places to walk. The horizon is so limited, they feel claustrophobic and monotonous. It wasn’t as pretty as the more dramatic bits of the South East bit of path or as interestingly shambolic as the post industrial North East.
By 6 pm, we were still a long way from Highgate, where we were aimed. We stopped, ate Macdonalds then tried to finish. The last section was pretty dull. There were a couple of hills, a couple of woods. We wound up at Harrow at sunset. The Hogwarts style buildings are pretty impressive, but would have been more so in daylight (we might have had an opportunity to see a future conservative prime minister fucking a pig).
Dark, and my friend was aching and out of puff. There was very little to see. It had stopped being fun, and had become attrition, which was pretty antithetical so we decided to call it a day.
I was amazed how little effort it was. Walking really is easy. Beyond slightly chaffed thighs, I was fine. I didn’t collapse when i got home, I ran 6km and swam 1 the next day.
Anyway, here should you want it. We will do the last 10 miles at some point, but probably run it.