The fire crackled and spat. The children crouched around the flickering flames, holding a stick over the fire, on the end of which a solitary marshmallow slowly melted, becoming gooey and soft. ‘Do you think it’s just for kids?’ said a voice in my ear.
We were at the Killerton Night Run, and Mrs Running Buffet was very pleased to discover that, no, it wasn’t just for kids. ‘It’s pre-race fuel’, she claimed as she toasted her marshmallow over the fire. This was Mrs RB’s first ever race, as well as our first night run. Of course, we had both been out running at night (it is really the only way you can go running if you’re going to continue after the end of British Summer Time), but this was our first night event with other people. And torches, Lots of torches.
The start was timed for the setting of the sun and the pre-race twilight soon gave way to complete darkness. I thought I spotted Sharon from Shazruns ahead of us in the pack at the starting line (and, indeed, it turns out that I had), but everyone soon disappeared and we became a long string of bobbing headtorches in the darkness. After an initial canter across the fields in front of the house, we turned a corner and went up. Up a big, steep and muddy hill. With cows. Quite what the cows made of the scores of runners, slip-sliding their way slowly up their hill, I don’t know. From where we were, they appeared as bovine-shaped smudges in the gloom, watching us as we passed.
The run was good fun. It was also hilly, muddy and slightly disorientating. We went up, and then down, and then back up again. We climbed to the top of the hill behind the house and finished with a dizzying descent back down towards the starting line. The course was lined with marshalls to point us in the right direction and, at one point, as we were heading off towards the wrong corner of a field, to yell at us: ‘Over here! Run towards me! Hellooooo!’ At every corner we were pointed in the right direction and had encouragement yelled at us, and we were clapped home as we finished.
And best of all, the entry fee included a free mince pie and a glass of Killerton’s own mulled cider or apple juice. The first mince pie of the season.
That was the furthest that Mrs RB has run, as well as being her first race, and her first ‘proper’ night run, so it was a night of firsts for her. And that segues nicely into the other first that was celebrated that weekend, with the local New Lion Brewery celebrating their first birthday on the following day. You may remember that we visited their launch event a year ago and we were back at the Bay Horse in Totnes for a quick visit to try their new chesnut ale, made with local chestnuts. It was very nice, full of flavour and with a nutty edge to it. It was another tasty beer and that is probably as good a way as any to celebrate a year of brewing.
We missed the birthday cake though.