As Ozzy gets older, I’m increasing gradually the distance that she comes running with me. She’s just gone eighteen months now, and we’ve worked our way up slowly to a little over three miles. Well, I run just over three miles, but she races around so much she probably runs about eight. But that’s not the problem. The problem is something a bit less Strava-friendly. The problem, as per usual at this time of year, is mud.
There are quite a few places we can go off-road running around here. It fact, we’re blessed with some amazing countryside, from the waymarked paths of Ashton Court and Leigh Woods to the rough tracks high up on Tickenham Ridge and around to Clevedon and Portishead. And we don’t even need to get in the car, as there are plenty of footpaths and field tracks right on our doorstep.
Except during the rainy season, which around these parts is from October to about April. Then, everything disappears under a sea of mud – or, in bad years, a sea of plain old floodwater.
At this point, our only halfway-decent running option that doesn’t involve a car journey becomes the ‘Drove’, which is a rough track on the edge of town that the farmers use to move their sheep and cattle around. It has a firm base, so doesn’t get too muddy, and drainage ditches on either side, so only floods when the water levels get really high. Here it is on a reasonably dry day.
This isn’t to say that it doesn’t get muddy at all, though, as featured in my post ‘The mudrunner and me‘ a few years back (Warning: Contains scenes of unadulterated filth).
Running parallel to the Drove is a footpath that meanders through the fields alongside a fairly sizeable stream-slash-drainage-ditch. In summer, there’s a really nice walk out along the Drove and back along this path, where you can run the gauntlet of confused sheep, inquisitive horses and psychotic cows.
At the moment, this path is still sort-of passable, as the mud only comes up to your knees. And when Ozzy and I ran along it this afternoon, only about 25 metres of it was completely flooded.
Our run also yielded some of the other delights that the Drove can offer. There was a family of swans, to which Ozzy was keen to introduce herself (the swans were less keen). There were other dogs to play with. And there was a flooded pool where the stream narrows to go under a bridge, into which Ozzy plunged with glee. (And out of which she clambered almost as quickly, as the water is, shall we say, not that warm.)
We wandered home, after our three-or-so miles, slightly damp, a bit muddy and somewhat disreputable-looking. But we’d had a great time. And I’m looking forward to doing a lot more running with my excitable young buddy. Though perhaps not always through quite so much mud.
For anyone worried about Molly, don’t panic. She didn’t come on today’s run, as she likes to take things at a slightly more sedate pace than Ozzy. But she does come on some of our runs. And I walk the two of them together at least once a day for an hour or so, in addition to whatever activities we get up to in the afternoon. Molly isn’t missing out on exercise. After I’d got back home with Ozzy and hosed her (and me) off, I took Molly out for a nice walk and a good play with her tennis ball. She’s lying by my feet as I type this and doesn’t look a bit put out.