Day 13: Winchester to Bursledon, Southampton
Wednesday morning arrived, signalling the last day of the run from Darlington to Southampton. The sun was out, the support crew were ready, and the route was set. The Jolly Sailor Pub on the banks of the Hamble River in Bursledon was calling!
Everyone was up early in anticipation of the final day on the road. I hadn’t slept particularly well, but a strong cup of tea followed by a coffee provided the much needed caffeine boost. Sticking to the usual routine of preparing for the day ahead I tried not to think about it as the last day of the run, but just another day of running. My knees seemed to have another idea however and were feeling pretty stiff – just not really cooperating. It was going to be a mind-game!
We drove to Winchester station, to the starting point of the day’s run and as I soon discovered, the path out of the city was downhill all the way – not the best start for wonky knees! I tried taking a short cut through the University campus – but the steep tarmac path leading down to the main road proved to be a bad choice, and I almost had to tiptoe down – maybe going backwards would have been better!! I hobbled on and found the long straight road that led out of town. A quick rendezvous with the support car ensured I was on the right path, and all was well. I followed a bike route where I saw quite a few people out for their morning run. How breezy they all looked!! Thankfully it was a bright and sunny day, and a few folks even had bare arms so uncommon was the temperature for February.
The route we had planned was a direct southerly line from Winchester to the coast, which took in a number of villages. At one point, when I reached Colden Common I spotted a group of people standing outside a wooden building that looked like a church hall. By this point I was really ready for a bathroom break and jogged over to ask if I could use the facilities. The friendly gentleman I spoke to said it was no problem to use the loo so I rushed inside! Stepping outside to hit the road again I thanked the man profusely and jogged on.
The day was now seriously warm and as I ran past another local in short sleeves I felt very over-dressed in lots of layers. But I was comfortable and kept trucking along – the knees were now behaving. The progress felt slow to me that morning, which must have been something to do with the fact that it was the ‘last-day’. Knowing the end was in sight was quite emotionally draining, and to think of everything that had happened over the last two weeks was almost too much. Instead I just tried to soak up everything on view along the route whilst also concentrating on the task in hand. It’s not all over til the fat lady sings, as the saying goes.
After a morning of steady progress I started spotting road signs to Bursledon – the village on the outskirts of Southampton that we were aiming to reach! Then at a road crossing I spotted a ‘brown sign’ for the Jolly Sailor ‘P.H.’ In the UK road signs with a brown background are synonymous with historical and locally interesting places – and usually are an indicator of good things to come. My parents had stopped on the road-side to grab the photo opportunity as I passed the brown sign. Not wanting to stop for long, I followed the arrows, almost literally, and continued along a narrow and winding lane. A smiling runner then appeared coming towards me, who apparently lived right next to the pub and had met Pip (who had driven especially to meet us at the finish). We did brief introductions and I was super glad for Aisling’s company up the last steep little path to Lands End Lane, where the Jolly Sailor sign hung above footsteps down to the waterside pub.
Pip was waiting for us on the lane, the end of the run, and as I crossed the invisible finishing line the relief yet amazement that I had made it was quite overwhelming. Mum and Dad appeared around the corner the next minute and hugs were shared all round. Finishing the run was similar to the day I first crossed a marathon finish line – everything you have put into preparing for and accomplishing the ‘dream’ are suddenly a reality and you can’t quite believe it happened. But it did – and my knees reminded me of that very fact!
The final challenge of the day were the steps down to the pub! The Jolly Sailor is literally on the banks of the Hamble estuary and the water can lap at the doors of the pub during a spring tide. Everything about the pub oozed character: the aged wooden beams in the low ceiling; the sunken stone floor tiles; the pictures of yachting regattas; the ale on offer and the presentation of our pub lunches (on wooden chopping boards with French fries in enamel mugs). Heck even the toilets were memorable, shiny and smart beyond belief, accommodating enough for me to be able to change in a cubicle into non-stinky, non-running clothes (such as my cosy Oiselle hoody)!
But maybe I was high on endorphins because the rest of the day seems like a blur. We had to be at the BBC South studios in the afternoon for an interview with the World Service, which you can listen to online via their website, or download from itunes: Click here for info.
After the interview Mum, Dad & I said a final goodbye to Pip and then drove back to the river, on a hunt for the cottage where Katherine and William Scoresby Routledge had lived whilst the Mana was being built. We knew it was called Ewers – but where was it? Eventually Dad spotted the name of the cottage on a tiny wooden gate, almost right next to the pub sign! We found a set of steps leading down the riverbank to the waters edge from where we could see the cottage. From the shoreline it was evident how such a setting must have been inspiring to the Routledges as they prepared for their journey to Rapa Nui. Katherine Routledge’s brother Wilson wrote a diary, which is now stored in the Durham County Council Archives – available for public viewing by appointment. I visited the archive this January and was enthralled to read an entry in Wilson’s diary dedicated especially to the visit he paid to Ewers in October 1912, titled: “My day with Katherine and her yacht.” Wilson and Katherine were close and his diary seems to indicate how he felt that Katherine thrived on living in the cottage, being so close to the sea and the sailing community. Katherine and William learnt what they could about sailing in the years before 1914 but did hire a captain and an experienced crew to sail to the Pacific!
I’m currently working on a blog post titled: ‘The 13 things I learnt about running during 13 days of running’ – watch this space. My knees are finally recovering but I wouldn’t say they feel back to normal yet. It may take a week or so of TLC, and lots of yoga.
The run could not have happened without many people to whom I owe a great thanks! Mum, for driving the support car. Dad, for supporting the run and the support car. Pip, for taking great photos. Si, Georgina and Jamie for just being great. Andrew & Helen, Al & Anna for being so accommodating. Hummersknott Academy for the excellent send off. Darlington Harriers for the advice, belief and road-side assistance. All my friends in Darlington, Arizona and Hawaii – and elsewhere in the world. The Oiselle team. All the people who gave me long-distance running advice. Nuun and BioAstin. Zensah Compression. And last but not least the Indiegogo Supporters and the sponsors who enabled this project to finally get underway: Emerald BioGas and Creative Darlington. THANK YOU!
But it’s not all over yet! During the next few weeks and months Retracing Routledge will continue onwards to Rapa Nui. As we go the aim is still to continue fundraising for the BioMax (which is going extremely well) and visit the places that Katherine Routledge did 100 years go! We do still have a long way to go towards our fundraising target for the BioMax – but there are many miles yet to cover.
And finally I’d just like to say thanks for reading these blog posts – and being a fan of Retracing Routledge!
Next up – Buenos Aires to Santiago.