One thing (among many) that is great about the Round Norfolk Relay is that it provides a weekend of contrasts: day and nighttime stages; sun, sand and coastal paths; narrow forest roads and fast, straight A roads (fortunately not too busy at night). There’s something for everyone, with varied distances so it isn’t just the mathathoners and ‘ultras’ who get to benefit from the wonderful feeling of togetherness that builds over the course of the 27 hours or so that the baton is on the move.
This year was no exception. A pre-dawn start for Darren Shepherd from King’s Lynn at 5.30am was the beginning of a roller-coaster weekend. We were ahead of time. Then, we were 30 minutes behind time. Neil Smith made up about half of that, then – disaster as the next stage runner has to cope with a migraine. How he got to the end of his 12-mile section was a massive achievement in itself. If anyone deserves a ‘virtual hug’ from everyone in the club, it’s Annabel Shiroi who, having got herself to Feltwell for a 5.00am takeover, found that the Police were dealing with a ram-raid incident in the village and closed everything down. Stage 14 was abandoned and Annabel was left with a feeling of what might have been. (We’ll have to make sure she gets first pick of the stages next year.) Still, Cesca Anderson soon got us underway from Wissington and the Flyers baton was back on the move.
The sun came up, bleary eyes became clearer, car-shuttle activity continued until a hardy core, including Phil Donlan, who spent the weekend compiling a brilliant photographic record of the event, was there to cheer Tim Cherrett across the line.
We were almost last (the fact that we set off so early was because we knew we’d be among the slower teams) but actually, given what we dealt with, we were all winners. We had a ‘mixed’ team: male and female; young and old (we had two runners aged 70+ as well as a 21-year-old); experienced racers and graduating-from-‘New to Running’ runners who now feel confident enough to put themselves forward. Couldn’t be better!
So, we didn’t come close to winning, but every runner has a lot to be proud of. Each was a vital link in the chain and we got the baton round over about 198 miles. Of course, the real winner was the club itself. Almost 30 people did their bit to make sure that everyone was supported and safe. Sarah Maidment and Neil Smith did a superb job organising everyone and everything, with ‘i’s dotted and ‘t’s crossed. Massive thanks to both. They, of course, will point to everyone else who helped out: drivers, cyclists, the runners themselves, all of whom did their bit over the weekend. Not least, huge thanks to our excellent timekeepers for keeping a close eye on our progress so expertly.
Can’t wait ‘til next year! Fancy getting involved?
For those interested, here’s the link to the 2023 results: https://rnr.totalracetiming.co.uk/result