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The Great Orbital Ultra Run

By: Veronique Chance

On Monday 5th March 2012 I will leave the Premier Inn, Thurrock West close to the M25 to begin The Great Orbital Ultra Run. Running anti-clockwise, close to the boundary, I hope to complete the circuit in 9 days. This will be relayed live to the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich for an exhibition taking place from 1st -31st March 2012 (PV Thursday1st March). Next post Sunday 4th March.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Premier Inn, Thurrock West'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Premier Inn, Thurrock West'.

# 1 [4 March 2012]

I'm adding this paragraph somewhat belatedly as I've realised that I have said very little about the project in the intro. other than that it consists of an extended run around the boundary of the M25 Orbital in 9 stages over 9 days. The live relay consists of a stream of still images and GPS tracking that are being streamed from my mobile phone to the Stephen Lawrence Gallery in Greenwich as I run. I am also attempting to record video footage with sound. Each day I will make my way from one identified prebooked motel located in the vicinty of the M25 to another as I make my way round. As well as providing much needed rest and sustenance, these stops are an opportunity to take stock of the project in progress and also to recharge equipment batteries and my own. 

As well as being an art project, I am also raising money for the mental-health charity 'Mind' as following this challenge I will be taking part in the London 2012 Marathon. Please support me by making a donation at: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/veroniquechance 

I'm writing this post on Sunday 4th March, from my room at the Premier Inn, Thurrock West, the night before I start the first leg of my run. Feeling somewhat apprehensive about the task I'm about to undertake and what I'm letting myself in for, but I'm also perversely excited at the same time, about the sense of the unknown and what I'll encounter and have to negotiate along the way.  

The launch event at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery last Thursday went very well, although not entirely stress-free due to the logistics of the live interface being ready for the start of the run tomorrow. Just as well that it didn't feature as part of the pv. A large map made from 9 pieced together 1: 25,000 Ordinance Survey maps with an overlaid drawing delinates the route. It fills the central wall of the left side of the gallery as you enter the room. This will serve as the projection screen onto which the  live GPS route and streamed photographs will be projected. No photographs yet, but you will be able to follow the run from the following link:

www.toomanylegs.com (click on ViewBlankMap)

This should show both the GPS tracking and the images as part of the same interface. I'm anticipating a few possible minor teething problems as we get things underway tomorrow for the first run, but all looks good so far. A test we ran on Saturday showed that everything was working as it should so I'm fairly confident that once we get things going it should be fine (bar a few natural technological hiccups along the way). Thanks so much to Matt Watkins and Robin Shackford without whom none of this would have been possible.

Tomorrow's run be from here to the Brentwood Holiday Inn, which works out at just over 10 miles. Not a bad distance to start (the others are all longer) and will give me a taste of things to come. 

Tomorrow's post will be able to speak more comprehensively from experience. What I'm most nervous about is negotiating the junctions- even though I'm running on the inside of the boundary (in the adjacent landscape; not on the moterway itself), I will still have to cross the junctions or approaches to them at some point. I start near Junction 31, running anti-clockwise and have two others to cross tomorrow (no's 30 and 29).

Meanwhile I'll say 'goodnight' from the Premier Inn Thurrock West (photo to be added tomorrow).

 

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Comments on this post

This is fascinating - how did we get to the point where it is harder to run around the place than it is to drive a car? Will be tuning in all week!

posted on 2012-03-08 by Julie Freeman

Veronique Chance, 'Underneath the M25'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Underneath the M25'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Boggy Stream That Nearly Drowned Me.'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Boggy Stream That Nearly Drowned Me.'.

Veronique Chance, 'Some Brambles'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Some Brambles'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Brentwood Holiday Inn'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Brentwood Holiday Inn'.

Veronique Chance, 'My Bramble-Scratched Legs'.

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Veronique Chance, 'My Bramble-Scratched Legs'.

# 2 [5 March 2012]

Leg1: Premier Inn Thurrock West to Brentwood Holiday Inn (10.5 miles approx.) 

Writing this from my room at the Brentwood Holiday Inn, which indicates that I have managed to complete the first leg of 'The Great Orbital Ultra Run' in one piece. Not without some rather arduous encounters and negotiations along the way including having to cross a very boggy stream to the point where I was submerged almost up to my waist and had to haul myself out of the water by grabbing onto some branches of an overhanging tree. And that was very near the beginning. It lost me alot of time and may have ruined one of my video recording devices, which got submerged (amazingly the footage was intact). It's drying out now and I'm hoping it will be okay.

The live image stream from my mobile phone however, worked a treat at both ends (mine and at the gallery's) apart from the fact that because the run took me longer than I had anticipated, I had to change batteries about half an hour before the end. GPS tracking worked too and shows my route as a strong black line right alongside the motorway- quite impressive. Thanks again to Matt and Isadora (the gallery attendant), who between them made sure it was working as it should be. Strange feeling that I can't actually see it for myself as I'm here, but I got a sense of it by going onto the www.toomanylegs.com website (no pun intended- it's the name of Matt's host website).

Feeling pretty tired and a bit sore-  not so much from the running but from the multiple scratches I received from ploughing my way through brambles and climbing fences with barbed wire. I am strangely excited and encouraged though by the fact that I've managed to get through the first day. It's certainly given me a taste of what's to come. What's for sure, is that it will take me longer than a normal run- what with the terrain I'm having to negotiate- this certainly ain't no road run, plus the fact that today was one of the windiest and I was running (half walking) against it quite alot of the way. Oh and I also crossed two railway lines- the junctions I was worried about weren't so bad after all.

Tomorrow, I make my way to the Bell Hotel, Best Western, near Epping- a distance I have predicted is 12.9 miles, but which will probably work out at least one more, if today's anything to go by. Even though today's junction crossings were pretty straight forward I AM worried about the huge one, Junction 27, which is where the M25 and the M11 cross paths! Am hoping that like today they may not be as bad as I think.

Will sign off now and leave you with a few photographs to mark the day.

Veronique Chance, 'Next to the M25'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Next to the M25'.

Veronique Chance, 'Boundary Fence'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Boundary Fence'.

Veronique Chance, 'Traversing a Golf Course'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Traversing a Golf Course'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Bell Hotel, Best Western, Epping'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Bell Hotel, Best Western, Epping'.

Veronique Chance, 'Screen Grab of 'The Great Orbital Ultra Run' Interface showing GPS tracking and image'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Screen Grab of 'The Great Orbital Ultra Run' Interface showing GPS tracking and image'.

# 3 [6 March 2012]

Leg 2: Brentwood Holiday Inn to The Bell Hotel, Great Western, Epping (12.9 miles, approx.)

I've survived day two and am writing this post from my executive suite room at the Bell Hotel near Epping. Got here shortly before 3pm, so managed the trek in about the same time as yesterday despite it being a couple of miles longer. This was mainly due to it being a much more straight forward journey (no boggy streams to cross this time) and the fact that the wind had dropped significantly.

Also much more straight forward territory overall- still a few brambles and thickets to negotiate but also alot of golf courses, which made things alot easier, despite a few mounds and hillocks to climb. Also had to negiotiate a few closed boundaries: fences, hedges and padlocked gates that were supposedly public access and that should have been accessible. I got over them anyway; there's no stopping me now.

I've decided by now that this won't be a full-on run and to preserve my energy and also myself my pace is pretty slow and also by necessity incorporates a bit of walking at times. After all, I am carrying a rucksack, which although small does carry some weight and will inevitably slow me down.

Started a bit later than I intended due my bank being stupid and blocking my debit card for no reason. Luckily I brought my credit card for safe measure, which is just as well as that would have stuffed me and the project, especially since I am not exactly near a bank round here. Of course when I 'phoned them they were not exactly helpful. I shall be onto them when I get back- maybe I can entice them to make a charitable donation and to sponsor me as compensation.

As far as I know the live image and GPS worked again (at least I managed to be able to get a sense of it by going to the website when I got here). Apart from having to change batteries again near the end, the stream of images have also been saved to my 'phone successfully, although I'm a bit annoyed by the fact that one of the gloves I took off managed to obscure part of the view finder for about 60 images. Will take more care next time. I also managed some video and sound footage of most of it too (before the batteries ran out), as I managed to salvage one of my recorders from its dip in the boggy stream; the other one is still out of action, at least for now until it dries out. The good thing was that wearing one recording device less on my body made it less of an encumbrance and easier to run. 

I think that's it for now. Will leave you with some images, including a screen-grab of the interface that's showing in the gallery so you can get an idea of how it looks there (minus my drawing of the map underneath). I also have to eat before the restaurant closes at 9.30pm.

Veronique Chance, 'The Shorts Tearing Culprit'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Shorts Tearing Culprit'.

Veronique Chance, 'Bridge Over the Lee Navigation Canal'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Bridge Over the Lee Navigation Canal'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Wall I had to Climb Over'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Wall I had to Climb Over'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Sign for South Mimms'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Sign for South Mimms'.

Veronique Chance, 'Days Inn Motel, South Mimms Services'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Days Inn Motel, South Mimms Services'.

# 4 [8 March 2012]

Leg 3: The Bell Hotel, Great Western, Epping to Days Inn, South Mimms Services, Potters Bar (16.6 miles approx.)

Feeling pretty exhausted- today was the most arduous (and longest) yet. On the good side I think I encountered everything I'll possibly encounter in terms of difficulty- I don't think it will get much harder than this. It also brought to home the problematics of land boundaries and public access (or not), most of which is so unnecessary and actually quite barbaric with over use of barbed wire fences and deliberately cultivated overgrown bramble hedges. Also very few public footpaths or footpaths suddenly appearing out of nowhere or equally suddenly disappearing. On top of that I knew that I was going to have to make a bit of a detour near to Waltham Abbey due to the Lee Navigation Waterway/Canal which I was going to have to cross, which meant heading south a bit and following the canal to find a crossing and then moving back up again to continue to follow the motorway.

The day was not without its challenges either starting with steady rain, which bar a couple of glimpses of sunshine later on was pretty steady. This meant getting quite wet quite early on and having to contend with running in fields of very soft, clingy mud- not an easy task and very heavy on the foot.

Other difficulties were mainly due to the boundary issue- very early on in order to be able to follow the motorway I entered some scrub/woodland only to find myself unable to go any further without clambering over a wire fence to get to a wooded area adjacent to the motorway.  There was no option but to climb over it. In the event my shorts got caught on a prong at the top and in order to enable myself to get unstuck I had to just pull away, ripping my shorts in the process. So relieved was I to get over, I didn't realise that the zip on my rucksack must have come undone and crossing into the next field I became suddenly aware that my things were falling out of my bag as I was running at an alarming rate!

Later after finally finding my way round the Lee Navigation Waterway and finding my way back to the edge of the motorway, I came to a dead end with some very high metal fencing and padlocked exit next to a warehouse building adjacent to a large Tesco store on the other side. Unable to go back as I had just intreppedly crossed over a bridge over a railway line on a walkway right next to the traffic, I found myself completely stuck. The fence was far too high and impossible to climb with no footholds to speak of. The only possibility seemed to be a concrete wall next to the gated exit, which gave onto the street on the other side but this also was fairly high and there was nothing there to use as a foothold to enable me to hauk myself up and over. After trying to knock on a couple of closed doors to no avail, I spotted a youngish Tesco employee who was making his way towards the gate. I called over to him and explained my dilemma. After some persuasion, he finally agreed to give me a hand or rather a foot up on his hand so that I could get onto the wall and he also helped me down the other side onto the street. Goodness knows what he must have thought but good on him for trusting me and 'thank-you' whoever you are!

All of this and also a longer distance inevitably slowed me down somewhat and I didn't make it to the motel until close to 5pm. Also, my anticipated distance had been 16.6miles, but in reality it was closer to 18 or 19 miles. Was I glad to see the motorway sign for South Mimms when I finally saw it!

Tomorrow's run is thankfully potentially shorter at a mere 12.7 miles. Hopefully the journey will be easier than today's, but who knows?...

Veronique Chance, 'An Open Pathway'.

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Veronique Chance, 'An Open Pathway'.

Veronique Chance, 'A No Entry Notice'.

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Veronique Chance, 'A No Entry Notice'.

Veronique Chance, 'An Electric Fence'.

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Veronique Chance, 'An Electric Fence'.

Veronique Chance, 'The M25/M1/North-Circular Interchange'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The M25/M1/North-Circular Interchange'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Premier Inn, Kings Langley'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Premier Inn, Kings Langley'.

# 5 [8 March 2012]

Leg 4: Days Inn, South Mimms Services, Potters Bar to Premier Inn, Kings Langley (12.9 miles approx.)

Today couldn't have been more different than yesterday. Woke up to a dry and sunny day, which bode well for the rest of what was to come. Having worked out my exit point from South Mimms Services, I realised that I could get back on the footpath I'd come in on and continue along it round past the back of the complex, following it round to a road that would cross over the A1 approach to junction 23, leading me to a small B road that would take me back across to the otherside the M25 just beyond the junction. From this relatively straightforward start followed a relatively straight forward journey for at least half of the distance. Contrary to the difficulties experienced yesterday, I found an abundance of open pathways and accessible bridleways that seemed almost too good to be true- and one alternative 'orbital' path that partially went alongside the motorway- amazing! This is how it should be, I thought (although part of me can't help wanting to have the satisafaction of having to negotiate those boundaries and challenges). Unfortunately there was still the presence of land ownership with the very marked presence of aggressive no entry signs and electric fences alongside the open footpaths just to make sure one does not accidentally stray off path. The relative ease of the journey was a great relief as i was still recovering from the hardship of the previous day. It was good to have a bit of an opportunity to recouperate and I made sure that despite the easier route that I didn't go full pelt on running- more a mix of running and walking to preserve both my strength and my muscles for tomorrow, which is a longer run.

Having crossed Junction 22 with surprising ease, I approached Junction 21A and 21 with trepidation as I knew that this is where the M1 crosses the M25 and one of the biggest junctions. I had already figured out a way round by working out a route along a field following the M1 south to the North Circular where I could cross over to the other side. When it came to it it was quite confusing, and I began to think that I was heading North up the M1 rather than South. I should have trusted my better judgment as I eventually found that I was going the right way all along. Once i had crossed over and worked my way back up towards the M25 again, I found another public footpath to make my life easier for a bit. I knew that the rest of the journey would not be too long now.

Heading across the edge of a field between some small woods I thought I'd hit the path I would need to take to the other side to reach my destination, but I wasn't sure. I took a risk and headed through a short tunnel that went under the motorway only to realise shortly afterwards that I had come off too early. However, it wasn't too much of a disaster as I could see that a footpath was running parallel to the motorway onto a road that would take me back across to the other side. From then on I knew that it would only be a short distance through the next field to find the path I needed. Then it was just a case of following a small B road into Kings Langley and onto my destination at the top end of the town the Premier Inn. 

 

Veronique Chance, 'Another Electric Fence'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Another Electric Fence'.

Veronique Chance, 'On the Verge of the Motorway'.

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Veronique Chance, 'On the Verge of the Motorway'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Underside of the Motorway'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Underside of the Motorway'.

Veronique Chance, 'Some Difficult Terrain'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Some Difficult Terrain'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Tower Arms Hotel'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Tower Arms Hotel'.

# 6 [9 March 2012]

Leg 5: Premier Inn, Kings Langley to The Tower Arms Hotel, Iver. (17.9 miles approx.)

Today's leg was the second longest so really tested my endurance and boy did I feel it. I ended up coming in just as it was starting to get dark, tired, thirsty and hungry.

The day started well- I found a good route out of Kings Langley at Junction 20, avoiding an otherwise unpassable (without a great detour) stretch of water. The terrain was fairly stable and I was running slowly but steadily, first through some fields and a stretch of grass just inside from the motorway and then finding some good stretches of public footpaths and bridleways. Relatively straight forward I thought- the first half of the journey went pretty smoothly bar an electrified fence shock and some guy stopping on the hard shoulder to ask me what I was doing on the grassway on the other side. Either he was being nosey or he was a plain-clothes policeman, but I decided to get out of the way and managed to climb over a fence into some woodland to continue. The rest went pretty smoothly and I thought I was making good time- I passed through Junctions 19, 18 and 17 it seemed in no time and I rather naiively thought I might get here early.

Things started to slow down significantly on the approach to the big Junction 16 (not too far, I thought from my destination). I had anticipated this as it's the M25/M40 interchange and a huge scary junction. I had figured out that I would have to work my way alongside the M40 going south briefly to find a road crossing that would take me to the other side, where I could get back to the M25 again.

I initially found some footpaths and bridleways that seem to partially go in the right direction, then I found myself on a heathland and semi-enclosed in a filed next to the road I needed to get onto. After finally crossing over 2 barbed wire fences I was on my way. I can't remember if it was just before that or just following that I lost track of a footpath and was going to continue alongside the grass verge of the motorway when I saw I traffic police car approach the verge and stop. I figured it was for me and I calmly let two policemen approach me. I explained that I had lost my path. They laughed and actually told me a good tip about a route to get onto.

Unfortunately this didn't last long and I spend much of the rest of the journey negotiating private farm land and scrubland and climbing over alot of small barbed wire fences to keep alongside the motorway. I had thought that I would be crossing public park land and nature reserves- it was all rather disappointing and much further than I had thought. In the middle of all of this I nearly got attacked by a rotweiler that was loose inside an open gateway. As soon as I tried to pass it began barking aggressively and bounded over towards me. I froze thinking that was it- that I was going to be mauled, but luckily he went back, but I was completely stuck, he was not going to let me pass. My only way out was to climb over  a wire fence behind me. I was petrified and almost in tears, but relieved I managed to get out of the situation. I was very angry too at such irresponsible owners.

After all that and some more trudging through overgrown heathland I managed to locate the road I needed to turn off- quite a long stretch down to the hotel, but a welcome respite of a warm cosy country pub greeted me when I finally arrived.

I will sleep well tonight- tomorrow a shorter run but another tricky junction: the M25/M4 interchange.

The good news in the midst of all of this is that all is well its seems at the gallery and everything tracking and images are working and getting through. So all of this must be worthwhile and I'm now over halfway- Hooray!

 

Veronique Chance, 'The Nice Ladies Who Showed Me The Way.'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Nice Ladies Who Showed Me The Way.'.

Veronique Chance, 'Near Heathrow'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Near Heathrow'.

Veronique Chance, 'Private Property Sign (The bit before the crossing of the Brook).'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Private Property Sign (The bit before the crossing of the Brook).'.

Veronique Chance, 'Using My Branch to Test the Depth of the Brook'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Using My Branch to Test the Depth of the Brook'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Brooklands Hotel'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Brooklands Hotel'.

# 7 [11 March 2012]

Leg 6: Tower Arms Hotel, Iver to Brooklands Hotel, Weybridge (15.5 miles approx., or should have been).

Wrting this from my plush room at the Brooklands Hotel, which is next door to the Mercedes Benz Museum and a far cry from last night's cosy down to earth accommodation at the pub in Iver. A bit too corporate and ostentatious for my liking really but very comfortable and good to indulge in what I wouldn't normally. All done in a very chic 'art deco' style to reflect the founding of the Brooklands car racing track (the world's first purpose-built car racing track) on which this hotel stands. 

Started off quite early, around 10.30, knowing that the 15.5 miles I'd estimated was a bit ambitious as I had 5 junctions to get through, the first being a major one, the M25/M4 interchange at Junction 15. After a bit of a false start (a dead end in a riding school's field, I managed to get some good directions from the owners and was on my way across a heath that is apparently popular with runners (didn't see any but saw several walkers). This took me round the interchange no problem and also through to the next junction (no.14) at Heathrow, most of which was quite straight forward- again some public heathland with several footpaths and bridleways. Running was not too bad, but I went steadily to preserve my energy.

The junction I'd been fearing the most was number 13 after the Staines turn off, because of a stretch of water, which it seemed from my 'Google earth' research, would necessitate a big detour to get across. In the event, it was amazingly simple as the main bridge had a footpath along it. Unfortunately, this did not reflect in what followed and I found myself in the second half of my journey increasingly frustrated by dead-ends, false turns and inaccessible barriers that even I in my dogged resilience was unable to negotiate. This invitably took up alot of time and energy, especially since it was quite a warm day. The 15.5 miles I thought I was going to do soon turned into 18, 19, probably 20 miles in the end.

Not too many life-threatening adventures this time- apart from having to cross a small brook after having partially tresspassed on private land (so I could not go back). Luckily for me, this time it was not boggy- quick-sinking mud, but it was unpredictably deep in places, so I was rather nervous about venturing across. Too wide to jump, I eventually noticed a small island of solid mud/rock in the middle, which I would be able to reach and with the aid of a branch to guage the depth I managed to jump onto it. But I was only half way- I still had to jump to the other side. I reached for the branch I'd used and tentatively tested the depth with it and also with my own feet. Initially it seemed impossibly deep- my feet reached into a void- however, to my right I could see some solid rocks below the surface, which meant that at that point the water was more shallow. So I was able to step on that (as it was the depth was up to my knees), and get across to the other side- phew! 

Following that I knew it wasn't too far to my destination- just a treck through a heathway and some small housing estates before reaching the Byfleet road that would take me into Byfleet and to Brooklands. A very frustrating route though- which emphasised an over reliance and emphasis on cars as the route to the hotel, basically was a circular bypass surrounding the town. Maybe this is deliberate given the homage to the Mercedes Benz that Brooklands basically is. It felt quite strange as a runner approaching this environment and as I entered this newly-built corporate glass building in my muddy clothes and shoes, there was something quite satisfying about the fact that I did not really fit in.

 

Veronique Chance, 'A Promising Path Through the Woods'.

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Veronique Chance, 'A Promising Path Through the Woods'.

Veronique Chance, 'A Tricky Fence'.

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Veronique Chance, 'A Tricky Fence'.

Veronique Chance, 'Just Before Wading Through Some Brambles'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Just Before Wading Through Some Brambles'.

Veronique Chance, 'Last Image At Dusk'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Last Image At Dusk'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Bridge House Hotel the Next Morning'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Bridge House Hotel the Next Morning'.

# 8 [12 March 2012]

Leg 7: Brooklands Hotel, Weybridge to The Bridge House Hotel, Reigate (17.2 miles approx.)

Starting this post just before Midnight after a very long day- the longest yet. I didn't get in until about 7 and it was already dark. I don't know if it was long because of the difficulties I had to encounter (several false turns and detours and a really long encounter with some brambles), or whether at day 7 I'm starting to slow down, or a combination of both-I'm really starting to feel it now. Also struggling at times to keep up my morale as I'm pretty tired (I also didn't sleep too well last night- my limbs, particularly my calves felt really stiff and tight and I couldn't get comfortable). Although I'm really pleased with the way the project has been going, it's getting tedious now and I'm losing my momentum and enthusiasm that I had at the beginning. I just want to finish now and I will- only two more runs left to go! 

The day started well enough, although I knew there would be several junctions, some of them particularly tricky or envolving some lengthy detours. The worst was at Junction 9 outside Leatherhead, an extended dual junction where although the approaches were A roads there were no crossings or paths to speak of. Generally the whole day was quite difficult with very few accessible pathways through (designated or not) and several dead-ends. The warm weather was not helpful either as I need to keep layers on to protect myself from sharp encounters with thorns and barbed wire. (having already ripped my shorts and my jacket sleeve and made a hole in my leggings- I need to preserve what I have left).

Contrary to previously however, the last part of the day was alot better and I managed to find a way through some interconnecting woodland for the last few miles. Slow, but at least there was a way through- that is, right up until the last half mile when I had to clamber over some fencing. Because of all the detours I'd had to do in the earlier part of the day and also the long fight with the brambles, which also wasted a significant amount of time, it was getting dark as I made my way through the last wood. I wasn't scared, just concerned about my visibility if it got too dark. By then all my equipment had started to pack in with the batteries running very low or not at all. It seemed like I was never going to get there.

I was so relieved when I finally caught a glimpse of the motorway sign for Junction 8 and for Reigate indicating the turn off a mile away.

Tomorrow thank-goodness is a shorter run at an estimated 13.5 miles- I really hope it's not much longer (most runs thus far have been at least 2 or 3 miles more). At least I only have 2 junctions to negotiate- a major one at the M25/M23 interchange (junction 7) and relatively minor one with an A Road at Junction 6.

Right now, i'm going to have a second bath just to ease my poor aching body before I go to bed. Goodnight.

Veronique Chance, 'Morning Mist Over the Woods'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Morning Mist Over the Woods'.

Veronique Chance, 'Another Naughty No Tresspass Sign'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Another Naughty No Tresspass Sign'.

Veronique Chance, 'Shadow of Artist Clambering Over a Fence'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Shadow of Artist Clambering Over a Fence'.

Veronique Chance, 'Motorway Bridge from Adjacent Field'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Motorway Bridge from Adjacent Field'.

Veronique Chance, 'Days Inn Motel, Clacket Lane Motorway Services'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Days Inn Motel, Clacket Lane Motorway Services'.

# 9 [12 March 2012]

Leg 8: The Bridge House Hotel, Reigate to Days Inn, Clacket Lane Motorway Services, Nr. Sevenoaks (13.2 miles approx.)

A much better day today. I ended last night feeling pretty low mainly due to tiredness after a particularly long day. Thankfully I knew today was going to be a much shorter and more straightforward run with only 2 junctions to negotiate (or 3 if you count the one I was coming off at the start). I think the knowledge that this run was going to be alot shorter helped my morale and I decided not to wear my jacket as it looked like it was going to be a very warm day (a good decision as it turned out). A few minor fights with barbed wire fences near the beginning (including one where a branch sprang back at me unexpectedly and whacked me in the face on my nose quite painfully), and one minor detour around some very aggressive no entry signs. Otherwise a pretty straight forward journey, mainly through farmland and woodland- a few electric fences to negotiate near paddocks, but found a way to get through the gaps without touching the electrified ribbons. 

At one point I thought I would have to cross a small railway line, which I don't like to do but have done if there is no other way round. I was about to cross this one when I spotted a couple of guys with orange fluorescent jackets on on the other side of the line. I'm not sure if they saw me but I retreated back into the woods hastily to try and think of another way across. The last thing I want is a hefty fine for trespassing on the railway. Luckily as I followed the line up through the wood I noticed that it went through a tunnel underneath, so I could get across relatively easily after all. It was worth the slight detour. 

Although I was going over much easier ground, I found it very difficult to do much running as my limbs are starting to feel very heavy now. I did my best to try intermittently to keep things moving and to try and quicken my journey, but I was also preserving some energy for my last and final run tomorrow, which is the longest and up hill by all accounts. I doubt I will be really running that much of it , although I will try at least in parts. On another note, I'm a little concerned about my camera relay as it was playing up and kept stopping intermittently today. Just as well I kept checking or there would have been no images to the gallery or to the 'phone.

It was good to see the sign for the next services even at 4miles away- at that point it didn't seem so far- some interweaving through some woodland and more fields mainly and the 1 mile sign for Clacket Lane Services came up very quickly.

My parents decided to pay me a visit to wish me well on my last day and have booked a room here too. It was good to see them and to spend a relaxing evening with them. It also made a huge difference getting here earlier (before 4pm)- I was able to completely wind down and relax for a few hours before they got here.   

It's exciting to think that I'm finally reaching the end and that although it's not over yet I feel very close to the end and that is a great feeling. The whole thing has been quite strange and I've gone through some very mixed emotions, but I would have been without doing it in the way that I have with dogged determination. Next post will be when it's all over.

Veronique Chance, 'Still Following the Motorway'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Still Following the Motorway'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Steep Climb of the Ridgeway'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Steep Climb of the Ridgeway'.

Veronique Chance, 'Public Footpath Signs'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Public Footpath Signs'.

Veronique Chance, 'The Infamous Junction 2'.

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Veronique Chance, 'The Infamous Junction 2'.

Veronique Chance, 'Final Destination: The Holiday Inn Express, Dartford'.

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Veronique Chance, 'Final Destination: The Holiday Inn Express, Dartford'.

# 10 [13 March 2012]

Leg 9: Days Inn, Clacket Lane Services, Nr. Sevenoaks to the Holiday Inn Express, Dartford.

I'm adding to this 24hrs later, after having had a day of much needed rest. I arrived at the hotel yesterday pretty exhausted but relieved to have made it. The day started off pretty well- it helped to have had an easier and shorter run the previous day and meeting up with my parents did wonders for my morale. I started off the day feeling resfreshed, eager to start and to get the whole thing over and done with.

The weather was coolish and the conditions felt good for what I knew would be a long day. I waved my parents 'goodbye' and found a bridge to cross back to the other side of the motorway to continue my run. The first 6 miles until Junction 5 were relatively easy - no major obstacles and some fairly easy ground through woodland and easily accessible open fields, some of which were also public footpaths. I also took advantage of some small roads that ran parrallel to the motorway and would give me easier running ground and quicken the pace. I had a bit of disorientation around some woodland getting round Junction 5, but nothing I had not already experienced. One thing that has been invaluable in all of this has been my reserve mobile 'phone, which I've used to navigate my way round using the GPS. I couldn't have done without it and it saved me a huge amount of time.

I can't remember whether it was at this junction or the next that I saw a public footpath going through some woodland that seemed to be going parallel to a road adjacent to the motorway, where there was no walkway to speak of. I took the footpath and found myself walking further and further upward until I reached a steep ridge. I was concerned that I was going off track and about the energy and time I was taking up walking up a walkway that seemed to be getting more and more steep. I decided to keep going and eventually the path levelled out and rejoined the road I need to be on, which was welcome respite and helped me gain some time. 

Moving through Junctions 3 and 4 was not too bad- by then I was just focussed on getting on nearer to my destination. I had some difficulty getting around a plethora of paddocks that were quite small and where I had to negotiate several electric fences. Luckily I found that I could pass under them without touching the current. However after passing through a few I came to a dead end with a riding school in progress but luckily found a small pathway instead that ran alongside and actually saved me more time. 

The rest was a mix of accessible pathways, more barbed wire fences and some small roads. I was making steady progress until I hit Junction 2 at the intersection of the M25 with the M2. Coming up out from a wooded area, I found myself face to face with a huge crossway of different impassable and uncrossable roads with no means of crossing and several lanes at rush-hour. I could see where I needed to be over the other side and I contemplated crossing, but after hestating I chickened out. This meant backtracking and a detour of at least a mile. This was so frustrating and disheartening as by then I was only about 2 or 3miles away. However, following the road through I found it was a direct route to Dartford and my eventual destination of the Holiday Inn Express. The final route up through a council estate as it got dark seemed to be the longest road ever and eventually I caught the neon lights of the hotel on my horizon. After trying to find the entrance I was finally in. I can't tell you how good it felt to have finally completed the run and to think that after 9 days running I would not be doing it the next day.

Please check for next post in another couple of days for images from the gallery.

 

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Veronique Chance

My art practice is mainly photography and video based, but also maintains strong links with sculpture and performance practices. My interests lie in the relationship between the physical presence of the body and its presence as a screen image, through which I examine the impact of visual media technologies on our perceptions of the body as a physical presence. In recent work I have used mobile camera technologies to transmit and record my (dual) eyeviews, whilst performing long distance runs in the outside environment.