Round Norfolk Relay Race – 17/18 September 2016

The most amazingly organised race of the year was upon us.  Fantastic planning by our RNR Committee of Sarah Letzer, Adele Bushell, Jackie Gooch, Sonya Wragg and Scott Shrubsall made this day all come together.

Ben Letzer started the day off at 8.30 am from Kings Lynn, with Clare Hicks following part of the way on the bike.  Weather was dry to start but the heavens opened after a few minutes of setting off! Some of Ben’s leg was off road, so the cyclist wasn’t needed, loading up in the minibus with Mel and Paul Emery, the support team including Sarah and Adele, the timekeepers, in the car headed up to the beach to cheer Ben along and supply with water and sponges!  The route was very windy along the coast, a tough terrain too.

Ben passed the baton over to Mel Porter at Hunstanton, he took off at good speed, in fact by the time we had got Ben the well deserved cuppa he needed the support team had to leg it to catch Mel up!  Meeting up again further down the road, Clare caught up with Mel on cycle for another part of the leg on the road.  Mel then turned back off road and along a coastal path all the way to Burnham Overy where Clare met up again with him just before the finish.  Cramp started to kick in for Mel but he managed to continue to the end where he passed the baton on to Paul Taylor for the third leg to Wells.  Great Support at Burnham Overy where Mark, Martin, Lou, Neil and Barbara were marshalling and cheering and great support from Jackie Gooch and that banner!

Paul took the baton from Burnham Overy through to Wells, leg 4, 5.76 miles.  Support team now consisting of Adele, Mel and Paul Emery in the mini bus, Sarah and Ben Letzer in the car, Clare and Jackie in a very small car with a bike!  We all stopped at the access point to cheer Paul along the way, then legged it to Wells to catch up with him and his handover to Ben Gaskins on the promenade.

Emma Blake followed as support cyclist, Ben’s support crew of Ellie and Jackie Bye were there to cheer him on.  Following down to the access point, Ben was absolutely flying round, so fast he managed to slip in the mud and get a little bit of mud on his leg!!  Unfortunately as he turned up so fast, the support crew were not ready and were queueing up for coffee when he came around the corner.  Mel ran after him with a bottle of water!!

Ben ran a fabulous leg of 11.14 miles, we caught up with him again at Cley where he handed the baton over to Alan Bushell on a very blustery sea front, off for leg 5 of 10.81 miles.

Paul, Jackie and Clare headed home, still in a tiny car with a bike!!

Emma continued to cycle round the coast and catch up with Alan on the road sections.  Mel, Paul Emery and Adele carried on following in the minibus, with Ben and Sarah in the car.  A difficult terrain this leg, Alan came through into Cromer to pass the baton on to Dean Blake and Emma Blake still continued on her bike!!

All change here as Mel and Ben Letzer headed home and Jeremy took the reins of the minibus with Adele and Sarah.  A 7.9 leg for Dean Blake through Cromer and along the coast road to Mundesley Village Hall where James Lambert was waiting to take over with Nicola Lambert-John as his cyclist, finally Emma Blake could finish, I think she biked around 60 miles in total!  A 9.24 mile leg for James taking the relay race on through Walcott (past the chippie) to Lessingham!

Paul Gerber took over in Lessingham, heading off with Heather Hollister as cyclist, on leg 8 completing 8.3 miles before handing over to Peter Nelson.  Jackie Gooch returning in her car, as she hadn’t done enough driving about already!! Nic Holden continued with Pete as his cyclist support with Jackie as car support with radio at full blast to keep them amused.  Pete had to race his leg through a residential part of Great Yarmouth at night!

This year saw a change to stage 10, now starting at Belton and covering 18 miles before finishing at Earsham. This is where Pete Nelson handed over to Scott Shrubsall. Darkness had already descended on the race as the night shift got into full swing. Following a pacey start Scott managed to hang in to claw back a few minutes against his predicted time, some wobbly legs after that! On to Stage 11 and Stewart Marden was on his way to Scole, the minibus got a brief glimpse of him a few miles in before heading to pick him up at the finish. Entry to the field at Scole was slightly chaotic but those who needed to get in or out were able to do so in good time. Stewart also managed to knock some time off his predicted finish and was in his ever cheerful mood, if slightly out of breath, at the changover.

The relay is non-stop though and it wasn’t long before the minibus was on the lookout for Nick Hudson who was running the longest stage of the event at 19.67 miles. As usual Nick was flying and put in a great run which he was obviously happy about. In Thetford both Tom and Graham Johnson were waiting to run their legs, Tom would be running first then handing over to the senior Johnson at Feltwell. Tom had one of the more difficult legs to navigate in the dark and was clearly distraught at missing one of his turnings, it didn’t make much difference to his time though and the effort he’d put in was evident.

Graham had a slightly shorter leg to complete and this meant a bit of a dash for the minibus to ensure it arrived before he got to the finish. There was a lot of overtaking to be done and Paul Taylor breathed an audible sigh of relief when he finally managed to overtake our runner. Graham arrived in Wissington ahead of schedule, unfortunately he had to wait until Downham Market to receive his medal as a late decision to provide a support vehicle for the next leg meant the minibus had to be deployed. Graham took it all in good humour though and seemed very happy with his medal.

Also receiving his medal at Downham was the ever impressive Jeremy Lawrence. ‘Jezza’ stormed his leg in 73 minutes, his time was good enough to take 41st position in the individual ratings as highest placed Jag. Hard earned it was too as we found him leaning over a fence trying to recover. Pete KC picked up the baton for the penultimate leg which at 5.49 miles is the shortest, so it was another dash to the changeover! Pete’s face told the story. He, like every runner, had given everything he could on his stage and was very close to his predicted time.

That left one runner to bring it home… Andy Mulligan was his usual energetic self when the now quite substantial Jaguars support party met up with him (queue obligatory selfies!). He beat the minibus to the offroad section but he was spotted along with a rapidly pedalling Vicky Tovell doing her best to keep up on the tricky single track. At the Lynnsport finish the gathering crowds were high in bith numbers and volumes as one by one each team came in. Andy had managed to overtake about 7 runners on his way to the finish and I’m sure got the biggest cheer of all!

A great team effort not only by the runners of course, as without the numerous helpers throughout the day and night we would not have a team in the relay. Thanks go out to everyone who took time out of their weekends to either cycle, drive or just come out and cheer on runners.

Name
Stage and Distance
Time
Cumulative Time
Pace
Ben Letzer1 16.81mile2:08:592:08:5907:54
Mel Porter2 14.06 mile1:47:433:56:427:40
Paul Taylor3 5.76 mile44:454:41:276:46
Ben Gaskin4 11.14 mile1:27:596:09:267:54
Alan Bushell5 10.81 mile1:28:067:37:328:09
Dean Blake6 7.90 mile53:008:30:326:43
James Lambert7 9.24 mile1:02:049:32:366:43
Paul Gerber8 8.30 mile1:05:0610:37:428:39
Peter Nelson9 16.60 mile 2:01:1912:39:017:18
Scott Shrubsell10 18.13 mile2:25:5415:04:558:03
Stewart Marden11 12.45 mile1:37:0416:41:597:48
Nick Hudson12 19.67 mile2:36:1719:18:167:57
Tom Johnson13 13.25 mile1:41:2620:59:427:39
Graham Johnson14 7.27 mile52:3621:52:427:14
Jeremy Lawrence15 10.59 mile 1:13:2823:05:466:56
Peter Kean-Cockburn16 5.49 mile42:4723:48:337:48
Andy Mulligan17 11.73 mile1:15:2125:03:546:25