Round Norfolk Relay Race Report
18 & 19 September 2010 written by the runners of each stage.
The Bungay Black Dog Running Club came 49th out of 54 clubs taking part, in a time of 27 hours, 58 minutes and 9 seconds. Just within the time estimate of 28 hours.
Stage 1 – Roland Shaw - Kings Lynn to Hunstanton – 16.32 miles
Friday evening 17th September was rather quiet. No usual trip to the Artichoke to quaff a few ales with Messrs Wharton, Gilham, Paul and Seary. A 3:00am rise the next day precluded such frivolity – highly focussed athlete and all that! By 3:40am Carol Maycock had arrived at WTB for the arranged lift to Kings Lynn. She was my rider, so it seemed a reasonable deal. The journey was uneventful apart from a roundabout somewhere in North West Norfolk which appeared from nowhere to test the ABS on the Volvo. Munching a breakfast bar, banana and an energy gel plus some energy juice I am thinking “Even triathlon doesn’t start this early!” Elaine agrees.
We arrive at the Leisure Centre in Kings Lynn just after 5:00am. It is almost deserted, but, in a few minutes competitors and their teams begin to arrive. The earliest start is 5:30am and we are off at 6:00am. The Black Dog crew arrive – Sue, Karen, Peter, Bobbie and Chris. It is still dark – hi vis vest is required. Issued with baton, I am ready to go.
Eight teams start together and I find myself chatting with “Jim from Yaxley” - by mile three I have converted him to Triathlonism! I had recced the route the weekend before with Elaine so was looking forward to passing the pub in Castle Rising and then on to Wolferton which has an amazing converted railway station – now residential. I could picture The Queen alighting there enroute to Sandringham pre Beeching. Did she? Ian Taylor will tell you! This must be about six miles.
By this time I have discarded the hi vis and gloves to Carol’s care and taken the mini bottle of juice which I need for the section across the Sandringham estate where bikes are not allowed. Carol has commented from behind that I am “steaming”. I think this is a reference to hot and sweaty rather than going fast! Jim is 10metres ahead and working hard to catch two runners in front. He calls me and I mutter something about being up with him soon, after taking on some juice. The section over Her Majesty’s garden is uncharted territory, but the RNR maps and photos are good. They are committed to memory and also in my food pouch. I have no problems and emerge on the coastal path at about 9 or 10 miles.
Jim has caught his new mates and is about 30 metres ahead. They often look back to see if I am still there. I wish I could pull them in, but fear the effort may do me in as there is still 6 or 7 miles to go. I settle for a steady pace and a gel. When it kicks in I feel I am catching them. It is short-lived as I soon reach the slow, sandy section they had obviously just run over! The morning is glorious, the tide is out though the north west wind is quite strong and pretty much in my face. It would have been a perfect run if I lived in one of those beach homes! I pass Snettisham Beach Sailing Club where I sailed with my brother last year. We dip down off the natural ridge that prevents Norfolk becoming The North Sea and gain some respite from the wind.
Past more holiday homes and back up onto the ridge, which by now is a promenade with proper sea defences. This is because we are nearing Hunstanton and Hunstanton is posh and the people who live there are posh so they are worth protecting from the ravages of the North Sea! Unfortunately, I am feeling anything but posh. My legs are drained – I realise I have still got some of a Half Iron man in them from 2 weeks ago. Silly boy! But hey – who cares, soon I can give this bloody baton to Bobbie! I do a mental check – will I make the 2:05 I predicted. At this pace, I suspect I will be 2/3 minutes late. I can’t go any faster. Jim has long gone. Final gel and tough it out.
I reach the end of the promenade at Hunstanton, past the sailing club – my second of the day! Happy memories, but not for today. I bound (generous use of the term) up the path to the cliff top and an old lady looks at me like I am stupid. She is probably right! On to the green at the top and some old bloke thinks it is funny to shout “They went “thata” way!” I hope they did or I have just spent 16 miles going the wrong way. I grunt an acknowledgement.
I can see the lighthouse where the changeover is. I am overcome with a desire to look good – people will be watching. My stride lengthens, my arms start to work harder, my cadence increases – everything that Lynn has taught us. The crew are in site and shout encouragement – “Whoo Whoo Roly” and “Looking Good Big Fella”. Ha Ha – I have fooled them all. Little do they know – I am actually completely and utterly knackered!
I hand the baton over with the customary relay cry “Go whoop ass, Bobbie!”
Stage 2 - Bobbie Sauerzapf - Hunstanton to Burnham Overy 14.06 miles
The best bits:-
- The peace and beauty of the North Norfolk Coast path on a late summer morning.
- All the geese on the marshes at Holkham and finding the track through the woods that I never knew existed.
- Realising that the dog was not attached to the dog lead when the lead was left at Burnham Over Priced.
- Watching Dave Gilbert and Ian Taylor shout tally-ho as they set off in pursuit of another team.
- Finding the dog lead still attached to the seat at Burnham Over Priced 24 hours after it was first abandoned.
- Breathing again once Bob Jack had crossed the finish line at Lynn.
- Standing on Chicken roundabout and saying “Follow That Car!”. I’ve always wanted to say that for real…
Bits to change or watch next year:-
- RNR people really need a portaloo at Thetford.
- Stowbridge changeover was manic and too many vehicles about.
- If you are going to get out of your car at Wissington, wear wellies!
- Bungay changeover could do with signs or a marshal at Chicken Roundabout so that vehicles know how to access the Maltings.
- Lights required at footpath where runners and cyclists leave the A143 at the Maltings. It’s very dark there and no vehicle behind.
- Cyclists for night sections ought to have lights on their bikes (for the times when the minibus stops and switches the headlights off).
- If you are doing an off-road section add a bit of time to your normal road time. You need to stop and think in places and the terrain can affect speed (and you might have to chase a sheet of the instructions if you drop it on a windy morning!)
- If you are doing anything at night a head torch comes in handy. you look like a dalek but it does give you two free hands.
Stage 3 – Sarah Connellan - Burnham Overy to Wells 5.39 miles
The Round Norfolk Relay was a great experience; the support from other team members was brilliant. I loved the whole day, and even though at times it was challenging, such as running over the exhausting sand dunes, I wouldn't hesitate in taking part in next year’s.
Stage 4 - Robbie James - Wells to Cley 11.14 miles
Another fantastic day being part of a great team event. Starting off from Wells harbour then off road all the way on the Norfolk coast path. The ground was very hard and uneven, but the tail wind was a bonus. There were lots of walkers and birdwatchers on the path, most of whom were very obliging and encouraging. I managed to overtake a few runners including one standing in Cley street scratching his head and looking at his map! Time seemed to whizz by with the beautiful scenery, bit of bird spotting (little egret, oyster catcher, marsh harrier etc) and the odd dog leaving their owner to join me for a while. Thanks Sue, Karen and gang, a great effort. Can't wait until next year.
Stage 5 – Sally Nicholls - Cley to Cromer 10.81 miles
I was very lucky to have warm, dry weather for my Stage. Having seen Robbie off on Stage 4, Charlotte and I made our way to Cley and waited for him to arrive.
John White noticed Robbie from the distance, coming in a little quicker than I had expected and so I set off with very few teams in front of me! The challenge was to maintain my position as I best as I could!
The first 2 miles were almost pure shingle. Having tested the route the previous fortnight, I knew to take things very steady and actually managed to reach Salthouse more quickly than I had before. The route was challenging but this was more than compensated for by the fact that the scenery is stunning. Everyone, both fellow runners and walkers, were pleasant and encouraging and although my legs were very tired by the time I reached Cromer I was met by the fantastic support team who made me feel great about completing the leg.
I would most certainly participate again because it is a phenomenal team achievement, with every leg demanding a unique challenge from the runner.
My thanks go to all those, whose efforts made the event possible.
Stage 6 – Steph Whyte - Cromer to Mundesley 7.90 miles
Leading up to the event I became very anxious due to mixed feelings of worrying that I would let the team down, if I didn't make my time, fear of the unknown and of taking the wrong route. However all them worries were set aside once I arrived at my stage. This was due to the kindness and and fantastic organising by BBDRC, that in no time I felt at ease and became excited about my forth-coming challenge.
I can truly say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite a few hard hills and the sun beaming down, however, I can honestly add that it was a pleasure to be involved. It was also great to be able to bring family along to support and help me throughout the day.
If anyone who is in two minds to take part in this event, I would recommend that next year they should put their name down. It's a fantastic experience and worth attending whether to help, support or compete.
Lastly I would like to say what a fantastic job all those did to be able to make that day happen.
Stage 7 – Karen Waters - Mundesley to Lessingham 9.24 miles
Bruce and I set off for Lessingham complete with 2 cycles. We left my cycle at the village hall in Lessingham which was so quiet, we wondered if we were in the right place. It looked a little different to the way we remembered it 2 years ago when Bruce also did stage 7. We then drove to Mundesley with the other cycle. It was a lovely day and the route looked very pleasant.
I received the baton from Steph who came running over the hill with her arms in the air, accompanied by cyclist Nat, a little earlier than scheduled (superb running Steph and the rest of the team!) and off I went with Bruce on his cycle. There were more hills than I remembered on the drive up and some of them were very long! The minibus passed me and somebody shouted from the window, I was then passed by a couple of cars with more encouragement. The first few miles seemed to drag and as I passed the gas terminal I was struggling. I asked Bruce to tell me a story but 5 minutes later I told him to stop!!! I passed an ice cream van along the sea front where there was a queue of people who asked me where I was running to, boy could I have stopped to join that queue.
I looked down at my GPS on 5.24 miles which meant I had exactly 4 miles to go. I imagined in my mind running to the end of our road and back 4 times which equated to those 4 miles and I told myself that I could do that easily! The rest is history, from this point it was a doddle and as I approached the last mile and a half I knew I could also save the team some time.
I was overtaken by somebody a few hundred yards from the finish and just before the final bend. I was glad to see this bend as I had clocked this on the journey to Mundesley as being the last bend from the finish. Nigel was waiting and keen to get going and I breathed a sigh of relief as I handed him the baton. I felt fantastic. The team were across the road cheering and Karen Gedge came over and offered me a banana and some water.
Bruce and I then cycled back to Mundesley to collect the car ready to prepare for our night adventure. We joined the minibus at Bungay. It was a strange journey, I didn't appreciate just how hard it is to drive so slowly and for so long as we tagged runner after runner. I tried to imagine what it must be like to run with a minibus with glaring lights behind you and it was interesting observing people's running styles. The guys on the bus were brilliant and as the only female on board, I was glad of their respect with regard to comfort breaks and minibus doors!!! I cycled with Bruce on his stage from Feltwell to Wissington at about 4.30am which was a little eerie I have to say and I then cycled with speedy Marcus who I struggled to keep up with, just after 7.00am (I think!).
It was a brilliant 2 days and although when Bob Jack came bounding down the home straight at Kings Lynn, I couldn't quite work out what day it was, I was euphoric nonetheless. A fantastic team effort and well done and thank you to absolutely everybody.
Stage 8 – Nigel Gilham - Lessingham to Horsey 7.52 miles
As last year the weather was fine & dry, so after having a couple of hours in Gt Yarmouth people watching with Janice & Stella (mostly brownies with their yellow kitbags) we drove to Lessingham Village Hall for 1600hrs where the RNR people were already setting up for the early arrivals. With my set off time changing from 1708 to 1700 hrs I got into club kit & after chatting to the BBDRC support team, it was soon nearing my changeover with Karen Waters. Steph Whyte was my cyclist, but after I refused her 3 course meal she had packed up, she gave this to Janice to take to Horsey! Karen came storming in a couple of minutes after a tri runner so I set off with a runner in sight but forgetting to set my watch. After a couple of miles I had passed him & then it was a matter of concentrating on keeping a steady pace. Steph was doing a stirling job of ensuring that the cars gave me a wide berth & even in my running zone I was aware of a few expletives as one car tried to pass on a corner. Waxham Barn was passed which I knew was roughly halfway and I then had to knuckle down as I was slightly behind my intended time of 56 mins basing this on the assumption that Karen handed over at 1700 hrs. As we arrived at the Horsey Village sign Steph gave a whoop of joy but I knew there was still 1½ miles to go so I didn’t make the same mistake as last year of upping the pace until I reached the tea rooms. As we entered the village Mark Lowther appeared & then sped off to warn Karen that I was a couple of minutes away. As I approached the finish I remembered Karen moaning last year that the baton was all sweaty so as I went to hand it over I wiped it in an inappropriate place but Janice had warned Karen so she was wearing gloves! On recovering I checked my finish time with the ever present Chris & Bobbie. My time was 56:22 which I was quite happy with & even more so when I checked the results & found that I has usurped Ian Taylor as 1st Black Dog on age grading with 69%
(gauntlet is down for next year, Ian?) I then enjoyed fish n chips in California before passing Karen well on her way into Yarmouth, having a shower & then joining JW for marshalling duties at the Maltings Meadow. As the sweep vehicle passed at 0100hrs my thoughts were with the runners & support team who were still on the road as I made my way back to bed. The text from Sue confirming we had finished inside 28hours made the whole weekend worthwhile. Well done Sue, Karen & all the support team who made the running look easy in comparison.
Stage 9 – Karen Gedge - Horsey to Great Yarmouth 11.30 miles
Having taken on and successfully completed the same stage in the race as last year, I was ready and so looking forward to my leg again this year.
It had been a really tiring but very exciting day thus far and as the time for me to get ready to take my place at the start drew ever nearer, the more nervous I became. I knew we had no time for anyone to take their time as we were right up against our limit of a total of 28 hours and everyone had been doing so well. No pressure then?! What time would I do? Could I keep running all the way? Could I come in ahead of the time I had declared for this race, knowing I had left myself no margin for error as it was last years race time. But I wasn’t as fast this year so what would happen if I did have to slow down or my worst fear, stop and walk? All these questions were going round and round in my head.
All too soon, the minibus arrived at Horsey and I knew it was almost my turn. Nerves began to overtake me but I had just one mantra “Make them work for you, make them work for you”. I met Mark, my cyclist and his family and agreed with Mark that I would probably not speak, needing to save all my breath for the job in hand! He was fine with that and rode off back up the road to see how far away Nigel was from the end of stage 8. Meanwhile I chatted with Janice Gilham and we laughed at how I had specifically told Nigel that I didn’t want to receive a wet and sweaty baton from him as I had done last year. He had already told (and shown me) what he was going to do to make sure I got a wiped baton from him this year but you don’t want to know the details! Suffice it to say that my gloves which I had put on ready for the cold night air as I got to the seafront at Yarmouth were going to come in very handy…!
All too soon, Nigel came steaming round the bend and with a very bold gesture, wiped the baton before handing it to me. Lots of people clapped and cheered as I took off at a rather sedate pace.
Several support cars overtook Mark and I and then we were into the peace and quiet of the Norfolk Countryside, with only my heavy breathing and the light click of Marks cycle gears for company.
There I was, actually running a leg of the RNR again. All the worrying from earlier began to ease away as I concentrated on the job in hand, desperate to keep my pace and not lose any time.
Before I knew it we were overtaken by another runner who came past me so suddenly but we wished each other “Good Luck” and that was all we had time to say before he carried on at a great rate of knots.
I eventually settled down and got into my “zone” and before I knew it, I was heading towards Caister village where my friend had come out of her house to wait and cheer me on. I offered the baton to her to let her carry on for me but she shot back into her drive, giggling and calling out to her family who also gave me a cheer. Next came my parents at the Centurion pub car park. They clapped and cheered and shouted at me to “keep going, you’re doing so well”. It certainly didn’t feel like it. By this stage I was huffing and puffing so Mark pulled up alongside me and told me it was true that I was doing so well and that I was very consistent, especially with the hills. Of course, I couldn’t answer but in my head I thanked him for his support.
It was now well over half way and I felt good. I was lovely and warm and was only now beginning to enjoy my leg. It was tough but I felt good and strong and knew I was on time in accordance with my predicted time. I just had to keep going and get to the end where I knew Ian Taylor would be anxiously waiting for me to hand over the baton to him. I felt so special and privileged to be able to take part in such an event and have a real expert cyclist with me, who seemed to know exactly the right thing to say at exactly the right time.
I turned into Jellicoe Rd to see the minibus waiting for me, following a successful and smooth transition to the night team who would take over from Peter in the minibus once I had finished.
Then I saw it – the Jellicoe Bridge. How on earth was I going to get over it with any sort of pace? Everything was beginning to hurt and it was getting dark and I was getting tired. “Just go for it” I told myself, thinking of the others who were waiting for me and not wanting to let anyone down, never mind poor Mark who had now been in the saddle at this pace for over an hour and a half. How I did it, I don’t really know but I did and got on to the seafront which seemed to go on for ever. Mark was encouraging me to keep going so I picked up the pace and gave it one last sprint to the finish. I could see the marshal guiding me down the finish funnel with his torch but where was Ian? He had to be there somewhere but there were so many people. I just decided to keep on going and then, there he was in his red and white outfit, large as life and waiting for me. I even managed a smile as I shoved the baton into his hand and shouted “Good Luck, do us proud” after him. I doubt whether he heard me, he was off and the people seemed everywhere.
What an experience yet again. Mark and everyone who had supported me through that leg did such a great job and I was pleased to have come in just under my last years time which meant that overall we were still ahead and we still has some of our fastest runners to go! What wonderful news and such a relief.
I felt very proud of the Bungay Black Dogs, who may not have been the fastest team around that course but we certainly were one of, if not the best teams you could ever wish to be part of.
Here’s to next year….!!
Stage 10 - Ian Taylor - Great Yarmouth to Bungay 20.06 miles
Having ran six marathons/ultras in the eight weeks prior to this event I was more than ready to do battle with the A143, so as soon as I received the baton from Karen I was away. Thanks to the staging of a large event, it seemed that every Cub Scout and Girl Guide in Norfolk was on Great Yarmouth's Marine Parade that evening but despite having to weave through the crowds alighting from coaches near the Britannia Pier my faithful cyclist, Dave Gilbert, informed me that I had covered my first mile in 6 minutes 10 seconds. Traffic fumes made the route along South Quay rather unpleasant and I was glad to head out of town over the Haven Bridge.
At this point in the race there were about fourteen teams ahead of us but they were really spaced out. The team which left a few minutes ahead of us were predicting three hours for Stage 10 so it came as no surprise to see their runner approaching the traffic lights near Matalan and as soon as I had turned into Southtown Road he was given the Taylor Treatment. It took me until the Haddiscoe Bends to hunt down the next team but sure enough they "went for a Burton" as well. (Sorry Roy, but I could not resist that one!) There were a number of busy junctions and roundabouts to negotiate as we left Yarmouth and Dave and I had to keep a sharp look out. Once clear of Bradwell we left the urban area behind and were now out into open countryside. Last year I had given Dave a running commentary (no pun intended!) on the villages we were passing through but this year as time was so tight I could not afford any reduction in speed due to me nattering. To ensure that I stayed silent I asked Dave to tell me about his life and not to worry if the story lasted for ten miles. Some of his tales were really funny and it was difficult not to laugh. These stories were interspersed with information relating to my performance, mileage completed, elapsed time and words of encouragement whilst tackling hills. We had worked well together on Stage 12 last year so I was really pleased that he could support me again. As a result the road from Fritton to the McDonalds Roundabout just seemed to fly by. I had predicted a 1 hour 50 split time at McDonalds and I actually passed at 1 hour 46. I was pleased to receive some words of encouragement from a couple of fellow Black Dog members but I could not make out who they were as I was totally focused and concentrating on "reading the road" which seemed very dark at this point. I had overtaken a couple of teams near Toft Monks, one of which, Dave had informed me was the mighty CONAC. However my euphoria was short lived as I was soon overtaken by Mark from the Tri Anglia team. Oh well, not even I'm inflammable! The long drag from McDonalds up to the Stockton Roundabout may have reduced my pace from 9mph to 7mph but it appeared to sap the energy of two more teams ahead which I caught east of Kirby Cane. On home ground now, I seemed to reach Wardley Hill Road in no time but the Broome By Pass was deceptively long especially as I had no other teams in my sights. Once I had crossed the vehicle prohibited bridge into Pirnhow Street I was plunged into almost total darkness as I had lost the minibus headlights and it took me a moment or two re-adjust to cycle light only. One hundred yards later I delivered the baton to Richard Dye for onward transmission by Special Delivery to Scole, safe in the knowledge that it was still in Royal Mail hands. As time was critical I was delighted that I had arrived three or four minutes early.
My favourite type of run is point to point on road so this stage really suited me. As I "have previous" for running on A class roads I am used to mingling with vehicles and having them hurtle past me at speed. The one thing which did surprise me however was how little traffic there was on the A143 on a Saturday mid evening. I had envisaged mile long traffic tail backs, horns being blown, abuse shouted by delayed drivers, but thankfully there was none of this. It is still a very surreal experience to run for 20 miles on main roads after dark accompanied by a cyclist and tailed by a minibus and I can't wait to do it again next year!
David Gilbert Cycling with Ian Taylor
The 7:45 from Great Yarmouth to Bungay left pretty much on time. With a full head of steam, while waiting at the buffers, it was only seconds before we were approaching full speed. However, there was a red flag indicating danger. Up ahead we soon saw the source of danger as there were flip flops on the line. With no steam to spare we had to rely on the continuous ringing of the bell rather than the whistle. This did not clear the route. Obviously the chips had made them a bit sluggish and so the route became a long chicane right through to the first corner. Green light, here we go. Ian was off like a man with boiled eggs for tea but only likes them soft boiled.
Running through the town, as cyclist, I was busy keeping myself between the traffic and the runner particularly at junctions and roundabouts so not a lot was said. Street lights soon gave way to fields. Darkness had set in. Although we had left the comfort of the street lights I had not commenced the strange one way conversation of the cyclist which avoids questions or any need for response from the runner. All of a sudden there was a little voice through the darkness. Will you tell me a story? Why do you play the sousaphone? It doesn't matter if it takes ten miles. My son is now eighteen, it has been a long, long time since someone has asked me to tell them a story at bedtime!. If you have run one of the long night stages you realise that it is not what is said but the fact that you are not alone and you can hear someone talking in the background. The conversation then continued all the way to Bungay. John is always a welcome sight but he certainly was that night as the Ditchingham bypass seems to get a lot longer when it is dark. Oh, why do I play the sousaphone - money. It took two hours to tell that to Ian that night.
My wife, as instructed, was at Ditchingham to collect my road bike as it was only being used with Ian's stage. During the course of the ride from Great Yarmouth the left hand toe clip had decided to grasp my foot like a vice. At the change over point Ian handed the baton over to Richard Dye who was off like a rabbit keenly chased by Mark Lowther who assumed the wheeled position. As I threw my bike at the wife she received not only the bike but my foot as well. As the left foot was fighting with the vice like grasp the right foot was commencing the high speed sprint to catch up with Richard and the minibus. The extra support within the night cycling team meant that I could then stay on the minibus until I was leapfrogged to Thetford for my stage.
Due to the number of people required to run this race it is inevitable that there will some old hands and some new. I have been involved in the three runs. As such, everything is not new so you have a chance to reflect on other matters. Sue has a strange job. She makes sure that the runners are ready at the beginning of their stages. What dawned on me was that she is able to see how the anticipation of the run affects us in different ways. Beware! if you have any strange pre race rituals
Stage 11 – Richard Dye - Bungay to Scole 14.60 miles
My first attempt at this epic race. A nice mild, dry evening, some cloud cover, expected start time-22.15.
Not concerned about the distance, confident about the pace. It’s just that I've never ran on a main road in the dark at this time of night before, so maybe feeling a little apprehensive.
Just after 10pm. Ian appeared with the baton right on cue, so accompanied by Mark Lowther on the bicycle and Roy in the minibus, off we went. Even with the lights of the bike and the van, it felt like I was running into a void. It also felt like I was going too fast. I kept saying 'calm down, settle down' out loud to myself, even as far as Needham roundabout. Thankfully, Mark kept me talking, which made the time and the distance pass quickly. Round about the Denton Area, I was paced by a mouse running along the hard shoulder. I thought about handing him the baton, but as he wasn't wearing club kit, or a high-vis the race referee might have had a problem with that.
Before long, Billingford Horseshoes was in sight. Starting to feel tired now. Just over the hill, Mark said, is the changeover point. Sure enough, there it was, and there was Chris ready to go. Hand over went perfectly.(disappointed with time, but was assured it was ok 0k)
After a nice cup of coffee, Sue drove me to Garboldisham where we caught up with the minibus and I stayed, watching Chris, then David Gilbert, Bruce, David Cook, Marcus and finally Bob Jack all run brilliantly to complete a successful qualified run. No sleep at all but not entirely surprising
My enduring memories of the weekend? I'm emerging from the dark shadows to hand the baton, Marcus sprinting over the bridge at Downham Market like Usain Bolt on Angel Dust and Bob Jack coming into the finish area at Kings Lynn with time to spare.
Would I do it all again tomorrow? Absolutely.
Stage 12 – Chris Chorley - Scole to Thetford 19.67 miles
Both runs were enjoyable, unfortunately lost a minute or two on the Scole to Thetford stage. Photos not quite as good as normal (rain and tired).
Timekeeping: maybe we should record using the split/lap functionality of stopwatches instead of reading a running watch. I got interrogated by a timekeeper at Bungay about this when I handed our times in. Means taking them out the box but then we have the evidence to show them (reading a running watch is ok, but he was concerned how we were doing it).
Bikes: Some teams let the bike overtake the runner approaching the changeover so that the cyclist could change to a waiting cyclist, and continue behind the new runner. We could do this if we had the replacement cyclist go ahead in the backup car. Cuts down the time the runner is alone in the dark.
Bungay changeover: points have been made about lighting the way from the bridge to the actual changeover. There were no signs at the Chicken Roundabout for cars/vans (the fault of the RNR organisers). Joe Mower said he got kicked out of the changing room he was using as an office at 1am (provided by Jon), also that runners came in there to use the shower (they could have used a different room).
We need to get one or two faster runners interested, so that things aren’t quite so close to 28 hours (before anyone gets the wrong idea, we only needed to replace any one of the runners with a faster one to save 10 minutes. I’m happy not to run if we have a sub-2.30 20 miler in the club, other than Ian (there are now two legs of about 20 miles)).
Well worth doing again ! (and on Sunday morning, the dog lead was exactly where he left it 24 hours before)
Stage 13 – David Gilbert - Thetford to Feltwell 13.25 miles
My stage was number thirteen, a 13.25mile run between 2:30am and 4:30am. I had cycled the first half of this stage with Bobby last year. Last year I had been amazed that Bobby had gone off from the start like a rocket. As instructed I had dragged the wife over to Thetford the week before to cycle the route. After an hours running at 3:30am orienteering is not a good idea, so I learnt the route. More importantly I found out why Bobby had run so fast at the start as the hills were all in the first half and in the runners favour. Now I do not know whether I am different from other people, probably not. Do you have a little voice in your head when you read or mull over decisions? I do. The little voice knows how fast I run because he always comes with me. On this occasion he was not happy. We are starting a half marathon at 5k pace. You're mad. You will not last the distance. Slow down. I do not remember much of my stage. I remember that I always knew where I was on the route. I remember that it was dark and it started to rain. The battle with the little voice, hampered by tiredness, was all encompassing. Although my time was two and a half minutes less than that stated to Sue it was seven and a half minutes longer than I thought I could do it in. When you submit times to Sue next year remember that tiredness is more powerful than kryptonite.
Before leaving the minibus I had asked Roy to collect me back, at the end of my run. Being an old hand at this Roy obviously knew what runners are like at the end of a long run. As I reached Feltwell and passed the baton to Bruce I had this weird ghostly feeling to one side. As I looked round the open side door of the minibus sucked me inside. Unfortunately the door did not do the same for Nigel Edge, my cyclist, who got left behind. Following Bruce within the comfort of the minibus was a welcome break as I was then out again on the cycle with David Cook from Wissington to Downham Market
Unfortunately David had underestimated how cold it can get at dawn especially when you are tired. Running in shorts allowed the cold to get into his legs and cause cramp. On a couple of occasions he said that he would have to walk the cramp off. On both occasions David slowed to a walk but only for about three steps and was then back to running pace. That caught me out. For anyone who sponsored David he went past another church that morning.
On to Kings Lynn
Bob. Never, in the course of club running, has so much depended, for so many, on the legs of so few. Bob, you got in with time to spare. I am very sorry if, as you ran up the access road to Kings Lynn sport centre and the finish line, you got the impression that there was no time to spare at all.
Stage 14 – Bruce Rayner - Feltwell to Wissington 8.80 miles
It is well known that all runners are required to prepare a list of excuses for possible poor performance in advance of any organized event: be it too little training, too hilly, too windy, too hot, too far or, my personal favourite, too much wine the night before. Preparations for the 2010 Round Norfolk Relay were however exemplary and, with a perfectly flat course, with the wind to my rear and without the help of any wine the night before (since it was indeed within the hitherto unknown depths of the night that I was to run), it was fortunate for me that I had carefully concealed my excuse down my trousers since, not 5 days prior to the event, I had poured a pan of boiling water containing pasta over my legs. Fiendishly clever!
The two days were a bit of a blur since Karen and I had left home at 11am on the Saturday with a view to competing stage (sorry leg) 7 (Mundesley to Lessingham) prior to going home for a sleep and then continuing on the van from Bungay at 10pm. I’m not sure whether it was Karen or I who had worked out the timings, (I think it was me but that can be our secret) since we barely had time for a pizza at home and only just managed to catch the van, which was running a little in advance of the published timetable at this stage. Many thanks to John White who helped us carry our night provisions from the Maltings all the way to the main road. I’m sure that we had more stuff than one would normally take for a week’s holiday so John’s help was much appreciated.
It was fun on the van, with plenty of room to stretch my legs, but I eventually got off at Garboldisham to cycle for 10 miles with Chris. It was around midnight, which is clearly bonkers, but it did not seem so at the time. I was amazed that Chris was able to hold a conversation at that pace although it may not have helped to point out that we have established over the years that a conversation slows one down by exactly 12% in such circumstances. The open all hours style basket on the front of the bike was superb for handing drink bottles to Chris although in pitch darkness his request for the ‘yellow one’ was slightly superfluous.
I then got in the support vehicle with Sue at Thetford and we travelled to Feltwell. I’d have to say that at this stage of the event I had never felt better. It was around 3.00am now so, having made vague ablutions in a pitch black portaloo which I’m glad I could not see, we tried to get some sleep. I’m not really that good at sleeping in such circumstances and, not being 100% sure what constitutes sleeping with another woman anyway (and with Karen fast approaching in the van) I thought it wise to just have a doze. At around 4.30am, far beyond bonkers, I took over the baton from David Gilbert, who had made sterling efforts to keep us on track. It was lovely when Karen caught me up on the bike, the nicest part of the weekend for me. The exit from Feltwell was a bit strange since the instructions are not that clear however we were lucky to have two other vans to follow. I managed to get a bit up on the required 7:40 minute miles but I knew I would fade (what with the legs and all that) and I did towards the end as I was overtaken by a very quick lady who almost took a wrong turn in to the sugar beat factory, which made me chuckle.
There was some confusion at Wissington as Karen got on to the van and I forgot and somehow we lost Nigel however we were soon at Downham Market to see Marcus’s insane bolt as he took over the baton from David Cook. It also made me chuckle to see a car with two bikes on top skid to a halt and narrowly avoid the height restrictor bars at the entrance to the field. It was total panda at that time.
It was great to get in the van again to watch Karen and Marcus speed to the next stop and hand over to Bob and we knew that it would be pretty touch and go to get to Kings Lyn on time. It is however history that he made it and it certainly was a bit of a tear jerker to see Bob come over the line with just a couple of minutes to spare. I felt privileged to have been part of such an event with such incredible people.
Did I mention the legs?
Stage 15 - David Cook - Wissington to Downham Market 7.2 miles
Pleased to join Roy's support vehicle at the Maltings, and so to follow runners Richard, Chris and Dave G through the night to Feltwell. Then decanted to be taken to Wissington to receive the baton bang on time (well run, Bruce, particularly following your nasty injury!)
Wissington Sugar factory is not an inspiring place in the damp dark early hours. So very glad to be on our way. I soon realised that I was having a struggle to run the leg- even with the cheerful encouragement of cyclist Dave G. This culminated in his trying to get me to study the shapely rears of 3 female runners who had passed me when I was on the rising ground between miles 4 and 5, but I was more concerned that I should by this time have been closer to D.Mkt. so that Marcus could have a race with said females' successors! (Perhaps I should get out more- if only to do some training!)
When I finally passed the baton, I had lost 4mins. 20secs. over predicted time, and I really thought that I had blown it for the team's chance of beating the 28 hr. cut off. However I had reckoned without Marcus's brilliant run which more than got it all back! It was both a great relief and pleasure to see him come storming in at Stowbridge to send Bob Jack on his way with a bit of time in hand, and also to be on the finishing line at K. Lynn to finally see Bob come in well inside the 28 hours. It was also a privilege to be with Cap'n Karen and Richard Dye to represent the Club at the prize-giving.
Warmest thanks to all who organised the event for us in so many ways, particularly to Sue and Karen. Their organisational skills and hard work motivated the whole team, and without all of this such a brilliant weekend for us all could not have happened. Very well Done!
P.S. The other evening Grace and I were sharing a table with a pleasant man who was clearly involved in farming. When I asked him where his land was he replied "do you know where Wissington Sugar factory is?" - I thought he must be a RNR participant who was having a laugh!, but he actually does live just close by on the RNR route! Small world or what?
Stage 16 - Marcus Sladden - Downham Market to Stowbridge 5.39 miles
One of my favourite runs I have ever done, despite getting up fairly early, I was ready to tackle this stage and run to the best of my ability.
As soon as I saw David running down the straight to pass the baton to me I knew I had to forget about everything and just run my socks off (!) to Stowbridge where Bob would be waiting for me.
As soon as I set off the weather was perfect for running until about five minutes into the run. It rained on us (TYPICAL) but it was fairly flat run so I wasn't too stroppy! Accompanied by Karen on her bike - who I just wanted to say was a very good help to me - she spurred me on all the way plus we managed to overtake one or two other runners!
We managed a time of 39:16 about five minutes quicker than I predicted so I'm very pleased with that. Well done to every Black Dog who took part - runners and non-runners. An overall amazing experience and I am very proud and honoured to be part of such an amazing team!
Stage 17 – Bob Jack - Stowbridge to Kings Lynn 11.73 miles
I was down to run the final leg on the Sunday morning. For serious preparation, on the Saturday night, I reduced my pre-race alcohol to just a litre of red wine. There was a 5am start to ensure getting to the stage start an hour before my estimated start time of 7.45am. I had put down 2hrs 10 min for the 12 mile stage which it turned out, was half off road. I was passed the baton at 7.45am by Marcus Sladden who had run a storming stage and picked up 5 minutes which was to save our race.
Nigel Edge was good company on the bike, chatting away. With no distance markers, the secret of the RNR is judging and trusting your own pace and not starting off too quickly – rather easing yourself into the stage. I did the first 3 miles along a road at a good pace, before joining a grassy footpath by the side of a river for the next 5 miles or so. It was drizzling and slippery and not kind to Nigel’s bum on the bike as he bounced along. In the rain, the grass seemed to sap the legs and it seemed to take an age to cover, but I just kept up a steady pace without killing myself. Nigel could tell me how much time I had left, but not the distance. Other teams were passing me along this section.
It was a relief to move onto a tarmac footpath. Having kept something in reserve, I put in a really fast mile (for me) to try and make up some time but Kings Lynn still failed to appear and the signs were few and far between. Nigel would cycle ahead to find the signs and cycle back. I hadn’t realised how much pressure there would be on the ‘glory leg’. 16 other runners had done their part over the previous 25 odd hours and if I blew it, we would be disqualified and no-one would get a memento. This was one time, when I really had to go for broke. When Nigel said I had 26 minutes left until the cut off and we didn’t have a clue where we were in Kings Lynn, I knew it was going to be really close. Near the Port building, a woman pulled out in front of me in a car without looking and I only just managed to avoid it. But my legs felt good and there was some reserve.
With 15 minutes left, I was told I had a mile and a half to go. Apparently, the rest of the team were at the stadium thinking, there’s no way he’s going to make that and were apparently running around in total panic. I just belted through the virtually deserted streets, trying to cut corners and approached the stadium car park where Capt Karen and David Gilbert were screaming support and running with me through the car park, telling me I had 5 minutes left. I had to run around the outside of the stadium and down the finish stretch. I could hear everyone yelling for me. Head down. Final sprint.
I crossed the line with 2 and a half minutes to spare. Great relief all around. I had taken 2 hrs 13 to do my leg so Marcus had saved us. I don’t think I could have run 1 ½ miles in 13 minutes – so it must have been less – but it did the trick and I was well chuffed. We were the last team to cross the line within the 28 hour deadline. 5 teams failed to make it in time. Sue Potter said it was a ‘tearful’ moment. She’d already had one watching David Cooke handing the baton over to Marcus. It was so nice to see the support crew – Roy, Peter, Sue and so many of the runners – Capt Karen, David Gilbert, David Cook, Karen Waters, Bobbie, Chris, Bruce and Richard Dye.. I couldn’t have done it without Nigel who was great and found the route through Kings Lynn. Thanks for having faith in my ability to bring us home. I know what Chris C means when he says we need faster runners to give us some breathing room – but this year, I think everyone enjoyed the suspense!
Roy Burton - Minibus Driver night stages
As far as my report goes, I feel that everything worked like clockwork! The atmosphere was tremendous, I really enjoyed bring part of the team. The flashing torch worked well as a marker, so I am led to believe. There appeared not to be as much traffic as other years, not sure if this was down to having fast runners on the second half. There was at one point a problem where a black car without a beacon came up behind us, it was a support vehicle, not just road traffic then a cyclist appeared on the outside and Karen spotted the runner on the inside.
I would be happy to help again next year.
Sue Potter - Team Co-ordinator
It’s a really cold morning in Kings Lynn. We all meet up at 5.15am for final preparations and seeing Roly and Carol off at 6am. It’s the first glove and woolly hat moment of this end of the year. It is even colder on top of the cliffs by the lighthouse at Hunstanton at 7am, and the first of a number of RNR car park chaotic situations, this one resulting from the car park not being open - it won’t be until 8am!
Carol was helping me in the support car and cycling with the runners (on Bobbie’s ex National Trust hire bike) on some parts of the route where a bike was permitted. When loading this quality machine at Wolferton in the early hours of Saturday morning, the car alarm system decided to go off all by itself – and this is on the Sandringham Estate! Needless to say we beat a hasty retreat from Wolferton. Fortunately we soon mastered the technique for loading/unloading the bike without the alarm going off, and all too soon we were saying goodbye to Carol at Mundesley. Having seen Nigel at Lessingham preparing to run Stage 8, I then headed for home where I had a bowl of soup, two hours sleep and strong coffee (in that order!) I rejoined the race feeling thoroughly refreshed at the Maltings where Roly and Elaine were managing the car park brilliantly. There was no sign of an RNR chaotic car park situation going on here! I tried to get to see John and his crew who were manning the route off the A143 over the bridge at Pirnhow church, but RNR officials were not letting pedestrian traffic up to that point for fear of someone getting squished.
I had three “crying with emotion” moments on the 2010 Round Norfolk Relay:
1) Seeing Sally storming up the hill to the changeover point in Cromer at the end of a very courageous 10.81 miles, much of it on heavy shingle.
2) Seeing David Cook sprinting into the changeover point at Downham Market and handing the baton to Marcus - one of our more senior members handing over to one of our juniors. For me, it summed up our club in a chunk.
3) Seeing Bob Jack enter the stadium at Lynnsport at the end of the final leg with minutes to spare. I was so aware that every Bungay Black Dog had run their heart out to bring our team home inside the 28 hour limit.
Thanks Carol for being my companion in the support car, thanks Karen for being such a brilliant co-co-ordinator. Thanks everyone who took part in whichever way you took part. It was a fantastic weekend and you did our club proud.