Starting from the beginning what a massive effort from the Simmonds brothers to get us underway, both made the effort to come and run early before travelling significant distances (Aberdeen and Dorset) to make important prior commitments on the Saturday night, the very definition of the extra mile. Next up was Mr Hackett on leg 3, providing an exhibition in getting involved despite little preparation. The biggest kick I get from the event is seeing those who don’t often run with a smile on their face at the end of their leg saying they’ll be back for more – thank you James. Joe D battled with the heat of the day, some course marking shenanigans and more miles than he would have liked to hand over to Team Burke. Tim laid the ghosts to rest from 2011, where on the same leg he was crippled with a knee injury only a few miles in and bravely battled to the finish. This year no one made the shingle look so easy, even if he was wearing some highly questionable sunglasses. He then handed the baton to the missus who went about her business in the usual no nonsense fashion, i.e. not moaning nearly as much as her husband. Special mention to Pink & Blacks mascot Ralph, making his 3rd year supporting his parents out on the course.
I don’t know a whole lot about the next 3 legs as I wasn’t there, but the stats speak for themselves. Graham, Joe L and Fleur made a mockery of their debutant status, all averaging under 7 minute miles, Fleur by some distance on her way to recording the fastest female for the stage in the 26 year history if the race. I’m only sorry I wasn’t there to see it. Some rather poor time management from me meant a rather frantic drive to Great Yarmouth where Sarah was in position with a few seconds to spare to take the baton from her sister. Great Yarmouth is an interesting place, needs to be seen at 8pm on a Saturday night to be believed.
Flashing beacon and first gear engaged, we were into the night. Swan senior settled into a metronomic tempo, passing other runners like they were tied to a rock on her way to a senior ladies course record – darn, we’re going to have to start going to the prize giving if this behaviour continues. Next up was Jimmy K, missing from the team sheet last year whilst living in Kazakhstan, who apparently don’t have a similar event over there…weird. James covered the 14 miles considerably quicker than his mini would have done, putting in a characteristically dogged performance. Then after all the waiting it was my turn. Despite running this leg for the 4th time it never ceases to amaze me just how straight the roads are in this part of the world.
And to the Belgians. The better looking Jan was up first, upping his distance after an impressive performance the year before where he ran so fast his brother wasn’t in position to take baton from him. No such problems this year as big brother Tom took up the fight as the first signs of dawn began to emerge around 4.30am. Turns out this wasn’t such a good time for me to be behind the wheel as I nearly ran Tom over (twice) – sorry buddy! I also caught myself saying some really bizarre things in a sleep deprived haze, hopefully Jan can’t remember the details either.
Comedy moment of the race was around the corner as Jon thought a convertible Mazda MX2 was an appropriate support car for the RNR, and that’s with a set of golf clubs in what can only be described as a compact boot. Yet after some careful packing (i.e. Brompton on my lap in the passenger seat) Chuck and I were tailing Jon in his rugby kit as some seriously quick runners started fizzing past (could have happened to anyone Jon). Jon handed over to Chuck and I was back on the bike, much safer for everyone. Chuck made a mockery of his ‘non-runner’ tag, passing people at will and looking like he could have gone twice the distance. Then before you knew it the last changeover had been made, uniquely Brownie going back the way Chuck had just arrived from. A veteran of the RNR Brownie was quickly into his stride and displaying a steely focus. We waved him goodbye at the river tow path after Jon had fortunately found him a bottle of water, in his sodding golf bag no less.
Then it was a case of last men and woman standing to the finish line with a quick hello to Mum and Dad who were marshalling near the finish. Brownie hot footed it round the tartan breaking the tape in a time of 26:38:22, with the Pink & Blacks finishing a highly credible 37th from 58 teams.Thanks again to everyone for making it happen and making my life considerably easier by all taking responsibility for yourselves and helping others (seems those emails shitting you up a bit do work). I sincerely hope you’ll be back next year for another go in what is a fantastic event which has to be experienced to be fully understood.