Run no; 911 IRON LADY’S AMAZING UTELLE MOUNTAIN RUN
Hare: Iron Lady
Location; Utelle, still over the hills and far away….
“Welcome to run nine / eleven,” said the hare, startling the assembled hashers.
Nine / eleven?? Did Iron Lady realize what she was saying?
It sounded kind of unlucky – disastrous even.
Or what if she had called it run “nine /one /one”? That too has associations of disaster.
Too many bad omens. We believe that hash # 911 was jinxed.
After weeks of stifling heat, a gigantic rainstorm the day before the run brought the temperatures down, much to the relief of the hashers. When we set out early on Sunday morning, it was still raining lightly.
First we took the route de Digne. Then we turned onto the route de Roquebilière, which went along a beautiful gorge but was quite narrow, with tunnels and some rather scary cliffs.
Then we turned onto the road up to Utelle. This road was narrower still, and consisted of miles and miles of hairpin bends. We went up and up and up.
Finally we arrived at Utelle. All around us were mountain peaks. The beer-meister, Farty Bum, was a little worried about the next section – up to the beerstop. Surely the road would be even more twisty and narrow.
Iron Lady informed Farty Bum that she would not have to take the beer car up to the beer stop before the run, as is usually done, because the trail was so steep and long that only the runners were going to go up it. The walkers would be driven to the beer stop (up at La Madonne de la Utelle) and then, after the beer, they would get to walk back down to Utelle.
Now there were only seven hashers present at this run – three runners and four walkers – but there were a lot of complications. Iron Lady informed us that three vehicles would be required to get the beer and the four walkers up to La Madonne.
Because Farty Bum did not have the usual large green beer car, but only the small grey one, her back seat was piled up with extra cartons of beer and water, plus the chips and some jackets. So she would only be able to transport one walker – in the front seat. Therefore, Iron Lady would have to drive her car up too, in order transport the other walker. And Padre would also have to drive up because his car had the gin.
This meant that only two people (the other two runners) would actually go up the trail.
It also meant that only the same two runners (Supermarket Trolley and Wetpatch, that is) would go down the trail, plus only two of the walkers (Sadist and Duchess), because the three that drove their cars up (Farty Bum, Iron Lady and Padre) would have to drive them back down again.
(Unless Padre allowed one of the other runners to drive his car down so that he could get a turn at the trail. But Padre doesn’t like other people driving his car because it’s “temperamental”.)
(But at least his new car is not British this time, so has the steering wheel on the correct side, thereby reducing the risk of it being driven over a cliff if someone unfamiliar with it, such as Supermarket Trolley or Wetpatch (or Padre) should happen to be driving it.)
(And there were other complications, but I’m not putting them all in) (Boo! that story was just getting going – ed)
Something didn’t seem to be quite right.
Farty Bum suggested that it might make more sense to remove the excess beer and water from the back seat of her car (since there were only seven hashers, we wouldn’t need the forty surplus beers and eighteen extra bottles of water anyway), and store them in Iron Lady’s car, thus allowing the four walkers to go up together in one car. And we could save the gin for the circle so that nobody would get tipsy before the run and walk off a cliff on the way up. And Padre would be freed up to run the trail.
This proposal made sense, so the excess beer and water were transferred to Iron Lady’s car.
We then crossed the road and Iron Lady sent the three runners up the runners’ trail, which started there (across from the mulberry tree), telling them to be sure to follow the signs for La Madonne de la Utelle (which would be yellow, I believe).
The sun was now shining, by the way. The rain was over and gone.
Then the four walkers got into the beer car and drove up by the road. It was an awful long way. We wondered how the runners could possibly cover the distance in under a week. But of course, their trail was more direct since it didn’t have all the hairpin bends in it.
About three-quarters of the way up we stopped, and Sadist and Duchess got out to walk the final bit to the top. Iron lady and Farty Bum continued up by car, and they had barely parked in the La Madonne de la Utelle parking lot when Sadist arrived. He had followed the runner’s trail overland, which shows that the runner’s trail (cutting across the hairpin bends) was indeed much more direct than the road.
Duchess arrived about twenty minutes later, having come up by the road. He was in a glorious mood, overcome by the beauty of the scenery and the purity of the air.
(The air certainly was pure and lovely up there.)
At 12 o’clock Iron Lady said that the runners would be arriving very soon now. We sat there enjoying the sunshine, drinking beer, eating chips, and chatting about Darth Vador and how Iron Lady’s husband cheats at crossword puzzles. And expecting the runners at any moment.
But the runners failed to arrive.
Iron Lady said she had instructed them so carefully that she had not even translated “Madonne” to “Madonna”, in case they should seek the wrong sign.
After about an hour (towards one o’clock), Iron Lady’s phone rang and it was Supermarket Trolley, calling to say the runners seemed to be lost. They had climbed the wrong mountain !! They were way up on a peak on the other side of the valley.
It seems they hadn’t been paying attention and had followed the red trail markers….
Thanks to Wetpatch’s telescope, they could see La Madonne de la Utelle far below on the right, and it looked so far away that they didn’t want to try coming over. They said they would just go back down to Utelle.
The walkers quickly jumped into the beer car and started down, knowing that the runners would be in dire need of a drink by the time they arrived back at the bottom. Where the trees started, Sadist and Duchess got out to walk – I forget how many kilometers this means they walked.
Back down in Utelle, FB and Iron Lady picked and ate a lot of mulberries from the mulberry tree, staining their hands deeply red. FB sent a message to Contessa (who was dog-sitting in Peyminade) telling her the exciting news about the lost runners. Sadist and Duchess arrived back from their long trek down the road, glowing with health. Iron Lady walked up the first part of the trail several times to see if the runners were in sight yet, but they weren’t. We ate more chips and drank more beer. We waited and waited and waited.
Suddenly, about two o’clock, Wetpatch came bursting out of the bush and raced full speed to the beer car, looking cool and fresh. We gave her a bottle of water and she gulped it down, then jogged off to the car to change her t-shirt ( was this the “beauty of the scenery” Duchess was talking about – ed?)
Five or ten minutes later Padre and Supermarket Trolley came staggering from the trail and we poured water down their throats and over their heads. They soon recovered.
None of the runners were annoyed. They raved about the beautiful sights they had seen and the wonderful air they had breathed and the glorious time they had had. But they did say it was lucky Prestressed wasn’t with them, as he would have been angry about missing the beer stop.
I won’t tell you about the circle because Padre already has. But he forgot to say that Farty Bum was awarded a “Get Out of Jail” free card to use next time she gets voted shit of the week — officially signed by Padre, Sadist and Supermarket Trolley (but not the GM or the RA…. ) And maybe Wetpatch should have got a down-down for that bit of competitive running she did at the end of the trail.
The restaurant was good, although there were a few flies and wasps buzzing around. We saw one wasp carry off a piece of chicken as big as himself from Supermarket Trolley’s plate.
So that’s the story of “run nine / eleven”. We realize now – too late – that we should have skipped the number 911 altogether and gone directly from run # 910 to run # 912. That would have averted the disaster of going up the wrong mountain, but would we have had as much fun ???
Thank-you, Iron Lady, for having the gumption to go all the way up to Utelle to prepare a trail for us. It was a very enjoyable and memorable hash !