Run the gauntlet, To. To be attacked on all sides, to be severely criticised. The word came into English at the time of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) as ‘gantlope’, meaning the passage between two files of soldiers. It is from Swedish gatlopp, literally ‘passageway’, from gata, ‘way’, and lop, ‘course’. The reference is to a former punishment among soldiers and sailors. The company or crew, provided with rope ends, were drawn up in two rows facing each other, and the delinquent had to run between them, while every man dealt him as severe a blow as he could. The spelling ‘gauntlet’ is due to confusion with gauntlet, ‘glove’ (Old French gantelet, a diminutive of gant, ‘glove’).
I ran the gauntlet today. The rope-end swingers were my fitness and my ankles. POW! from one as I heaved for breath up the hill, on the first run I have attempted in twenty years. BIFF! from the ankles as they creaked along the road in embarrassingly elderly trainers. I was the same colour as Father Christmas’s bottom by the time I had finished. It wasn’t even very far. I’m proud that I made it all the way to the top of the hill before collapsing in the nearest hedge. This was an unexpected bonus.
What is this madness? A promise made to my running husband. The light of joy is in his eyes that I might be accompanying him on a regular basis. I shall go into conference with my muscles tomorrow morning on the subject. Assuming I can get out of bed.