Friday 27th July 2012, and with the opening ceremony of the London Olympics only hours away, Mr D9 and I decided to honour our brave athletes with some endurance training of our own. Come 1:30pm we were under starters orders for some intense ferreting and pub sampling, hence the Wolverhampton Pintathlon was born...
Preliminary Rounds: we are out of the blocks with some immediate exploration, delving into the mosaic-lined subways around and about the markets. Mr D9 hoped in vain to find some abandoned closet remains but we did take a close look at the former Sunbeam Works at Pool Street and Jeddo Street, a historic industrial premises that is crying out for an imaginative regeneration scheme. The second heat takes us into Graiseley, noting the Eagle Works and the flats around Dale Street and Hallet Drive.
- Subway Style -
Penn Fields Pursuit: The backstreets beckon as we venture towards the terraces of Lime Street where the Stamford Arms looks very sad with its main entrance crudely boarded over. Our exertions pay off though with a visit to the Bruford Arms, clocking in with half a Carling in the basic beer garden where there's plenty of sunshine to give the bald spot a reddish tinge. Mr D9 recalls driving days on the old 512 route as we pass the shops on the roundabout before heading down to St Philip's Church.
- Good Cheer in the Bruford Beer Garden -
Boxing with Bradmore: our next event involves the Gunmakers Arms, although you need to be an orienteering expert to find your way through the corridors from the beer garden to the main bar. We score a solid jab here with a cracking pint of Banks's Bitter - later countback revealed that, at £2.15, I had actually landed the knockout blow to secure the Discount of the Day belt after it had spent a few trips in Andy's possession.
- Was D9 flagging after our efforts thus far? -
Fencing with Finchfield: scraping himself off the canvas, D9 then resorts to hi-vis attire so as not to get hit by low flying golf balls at Bantock Park. We hop aboard the 3 for a brief call at Castlecroft where the Firs always seems to feature during major sporting occasions (Rog and I had a pint here during the 2006 World Cup Finals). Having claimed the cheapest round of the day it's only fair that I cough up for the most expensive, hence the Westacres puts a dent in my wallet for the sake of Mary Jane, a blonde from Ilkley. Andy was then delighted that we walked down Finchfield Hill rather than up it, little did he know of the climb that would soon await him!
- With a cob on in the Swan -
Tettenhall Time Trial: the Swan at Compton is an established favourite where the Old Empire and crusty cobs go down a treat, setting us up well for the hike up The Holloway - I don't think Andy will be claiming the King of the Mountains title anytime soon. We face a race to get around Tettenhall but the Royal Oak (at Tettenhall Wood) and the Dog & Gun (in the main village) are duly noted and accounted for whilst the clock is still in credit. Tettenhall Pool meanwhile looked a honeytrap in the summer sunshine, but the temptation for a paddle had to be resisted in favour of checking out the Chindit where the number 4 bus beat us to the front door by barely a tyre's breadth.
- The Royal Oak, School Road, Tettenhall Wood -
Wolverhampton Weightlifting: it has been an afternoon full of daring feats but we require one last ounce of endurance to lift those final half glasses back in the City Centre. It was cheers to both the New Inn and the Plough & Harrow, neither pubs I would normally visit but the Olympic ideal instilled in us the need to go that extra mile. Sadly there weren't any medals to claim as we crossed the finishing line, but it had been a herculean afternoon in it's own right, and may I take this opportunity to wish all of the genuine British athletes the very best of luck in the London games. I'm absolutely certain they will make the entire country immensely proud.