Saturday, 4 February 2012
My Very Surreal Encounter
Yesterday I did a 22 kilometres run with my backpack weighing about 6 kilogramme. It was cloudy, very foggy and freezing. Due to time constraint because of work, I usually only run around the area where we live, in a little village called Barkisland in West Yorkshire. Barkisland is nestled in a valley surrounded by sprawling hills. There are many farms around and we get our free-range eggs and milk from a quaint little post office-cum-general store up a very steep hill from where we live. For me, this area is the epitome of the quintessential English countryside.
I love running here because the terrain consists of rough and slippery trails, hills, steep and muddy slopes and some mind-blowing landscape views. However, I often have to run cautiously and this, I feel, disrupts the total enjoyment of my training. You see, there are many dog lovers in Barkisland. Many of them walk their dogs along the route which I run, which I have no problem with. However, some of them do not put their dogs on leashes. There were a few occasions where I have been chased by these overly excited dogs which somehow prefer me to their owners! When this happened, I can always hear their owners calling after them to stop to no avail. I have tolerated this crazy charade until an incident which happened to me recently.
Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, we were in Athens to celebrate the festive season with my family and close friends. Almost all my friends are runners like me. Hence, it is very usual for us to meet and catch up with one another not through a cup of coffee, but through running. While running with them one day, I was bitten by a stray dog, quite viciously, I must say, because it left me bleeding from the tooth marks which were deeply embedded in my “juicy” calf! This unpleasant incident has left me very paranoid and weary of the Barkisland dogs these days. Just a few days ago, I was arguing with an owner of some unleashed dogs which were again, chasing me (surprise! surprise!). He very adamantly told me that his dogs will not bite when I confronted him. I mean, how would he know that his dogs WILL NOT bite? How can he be so sure??
So, you see, this is the reason why I had to run cautiously nowadays in Barkisland. Well, while I was doing exactly that yesterday, with my ‘alert’ radar fully switched on to monitor whatever movement which is coming from the back of my head, I suddenly sensed movement. In fact, I not only sensed it this time, I even heard it, which is quite unusual. Not the small quick steps of some barking dogs, but the heavy, confident gallops of horses!!! Not just one, but it sounded like there were many. The hair on the back of my neck began to stand and I panicked. I froze. I told myself : “That’s it! I am going to be run over them. I am going to be injured or maybe dead. Bye-bye Atacama!!” The horses were by now getting closer to me, I could see their shadow fast approaching. I stood where I was and said a little prayer and closed my eyes.
They galloped past me but suddenly stopped about 50 metres in front of me. When I realised that I was untouched (and still alive), I mustered enough courage to open my eyes s-l-o-w-l-y. There, right in front of me, were these magnificent, handsome creatures – 1 brownish-black and the other, brown. They turned their heads slowly towards me and gazed intensely into my eyes. For awhile, I was there, staring at them and they, at me. After about 2 long minutes, both of them decided to turn around and started galloping back towards the direction they had come from.
I gathered myself and started trotting, er, I mean, running again...That was so amazingly surreal !! Of all the time I have been running around Barkisland, I have been chased by dogs and one time, cows (!!!) but never horses. Through the remaining of my run, I kept on re-playing the sequence of the encounter in my head and asking myself – why did they stop to look at me? Did they think I am one of them and then realised that I am not when they looked at me from the front? Why? Why? Why???
That night, I dreamed of Pegasus :-) I was actually flying......
P/S: I managed to find some photos which my wife had taken of these 2 horses last Spring. I recognise them as they belong to a neighbour not far from where we live and also from the distinctive white marks on the bridge of their noses...Here are the magnificent creatures :