On a balmy day in March, a number of random runners from Jersey set out from St Catherines Pier in search of Corbiere Lighthouse to answer a question: What’s the quickest route from A to B? Or in this case C to C.
We were all free to pick our own route, without researching in advance and although we all headed in roughly the same direction, most of the routes differed slightly.
The idea was fun and captured the imagination, a welcome change from the normal race formats. So like all good franchises, a sequel was quickly planned. The interest soared and organiser Simon soon had over 50 people keen to get involved.
Fast forward to a rainy Sunday morning in August waiting for a pub to open and let the four people that had turned up for the second race of the series in for a pre-race coffee. Devil’s Hole to Dolphin (the pub in Gorey) was going to be different.
Returning champion Rosie, perennial parkrun winner Josh, all-round action man George and me sat looking out at the rain, trying to get our heads around Simon’s latest creation – selfie time bonuses.
“Notable” Jersey landmarks could be snapped and the relevant time taken off your total – 7 minutes for a picture with pigs for example. For me this was a blessing in that I could actually see a way to beat the faster runners but at the same time I hadn’t a clue where any of the landmarks were.
Once again, a staggered start based on (dubious) previous bests meant that I headed out second and headed straight towards the main road. First mistake and I was only 30 seconds in.
There was another road to the left which was quicker but in my eagerness I just ran towards the first road that looked like it led anywhere.
As I got close to the main road, I realised that I was in St Mary’s and there was a bonus for a picture with the church. So instead of turning left I headed right and immediately saw a spire. I was running towards it when I realised that the challenge required a selfie with the church, it didn’t say how close you had to be. Hence this beaut…
Feeling more than a little smug, I headed off along the main road which I want to say was called Rue de St John. The other selfie locations included a pub called Les Fontaines, a millennium cross, a cenotaph, pigs, a fort, a monkey and post boxes.
I inspected every single bit of sculpture that I came across but nothing looked like a cross. I did almost run past three post boxes though so quickly got the phone out while onlookers wondered what I was doing.
The weather was windy and wet but without lashing it down. It would’ve been much better if it hadn’t been for the oversized 4x4s flying past me, spraying puddles on my feet and legs. Or otherwise giving me so little space that I had to angle my body to avoid wing mirrors. Jersey is a bit…sporadic with pavements so it was a fun game of chicken between and the cars. Not.
Unsurprisingly, Josh overtook me within what felt like minutes but that was to be expected. At least I was on the same track as him. I thought he was looked on fine form but turns out from his selfies that maybe that wasn’t the case…
At Trinity, there seemed to be a disagreement between the people leaving the church as to what constituted a cenotaph so I lost precious seconds running around in circles in the graveyard while politely questioning those exiting Sunday service. No cenotaph found.
My Garmin said I was going east so at least I was going in the right direction. No signs for Gorey yet but I could see signs for Durrell which was on the way and was also a selfie spot.
Straight in and straight up to the statue outside the main entrance, this time Simon was filming me taking the selfie which felt weird. Papped taking a selfie next to an orangutan in rural Jersey on a rainy Sunday morning…
By this time the rain was getting a bit ridiculous but with headphones in and tunes on I was firing. So much so that I missed my turn and ended up heading back towards St Helier. It wasn’t a massive mistake but when I was probably only five minutes or so behind, it cost me.
It also made me adamant that I would need more selfies to have a chance of not being last. My final gamble was a selfie with Archirondel, a distinctive red and white fort just North of our final destination.
It wouldn’t be on the normal route you would take but there was a chance that if I got to the top of a hill I could spy it in the distance and get the all important picture. And as you can see, I was right.
However, I then headed down what looked like a path to try and meet up with the road below, only to find that I was at in someone’s back garden, wondering whether to vault the beehive. Deciding against it, I foraged further, this time thwarted by a shed. Giving up, I headed back up the hill and down the dirt road I’d bet my success on.
But what a finish. I could happily have been last in any race that ended with a descent into a harbour overlooked by a castle. Even if the downhill was stupidly slippery, steep and mean, it meant that there was a pub at the end with warm clothes and beer.
Josh, Rosie, George and Simon were sat down waiting to order when I rocked up, basking in their post-finish warmth. I actually had no idea how long I’d been or how long they might have beaten me by. But that’s not the point.
The point is that we got out and ran around a cool, quirky little island on a morning when we didn’t have to. We tried and in most cases failed, to take pictures of things we’d never seen or heard of. And I for one had a lot of fun doing it.
For the record, Rosie won (again), George was unhappy about the definition of a selfie, Josh managed to take no correct pictures and I was just happy to have a pint.
Next time on The Alphabet Series…P to P.