Round Norfolk Relay 16th and 17th September 2017.
The 31st running of the Round Norfolk Relay saw Great Yarmouth Road Runners taking part for the 26th time and had 2 teams competing. The seasider's are one of the few teams to have competed in this prestigious Norfolk event so many times and this year’s event had 62 teams of 17 runners compared to the handful back in 1988 when the road runners first took part.
Those of you that knew Richard Blake, a stalwart of the club, will know that he had all the stats you would wish to know on hand. Here are just a few about some of our runners that have taken part over the years, receiving their 10 appearances medals or more. John Bone and Gary Stanley have 19 and 18. Jeff Helmore 15, Karen Peck 13, Nicos Symeou 12 and Neil Sibley and Mike Collins 11, John Hills and Carole Spong 10. There has been getting on for 200 runners who have proudly worn the red, white and blue vest each doing their unique part to take part in this event. Dozens more have supported the team in many ways whether it be baking and making provisions, riding, driving or marshalling.
This year’s event was special in many ways, one being we had a ladies team for the very first time. Team captains Andrew and Nicki Baker took on this year’s organisation of the teams and they did a sterling job not only with the running team but the logistics of having two teams and their bike, car and minibus support. It was a very busy time for them and they need to be congratulated for their efforts with Andrew being with the team from start to finish not only running a leg but cycling (quite often with a puncture) and driving the bus. Nicki also being with the ladies all night, running and cycling.
It's simple. So 17 runners pass a baton round Norfolk for 198 miles with the runners doing different distances, different terrains, some flat, some hilly at different times of the day is no mean feat and because we all work together like a slick well-oiled machine we all make it round in one piece. This year was no exception. Everyone was at their starting point in time (not like previous years) and everyone did their bit and gave their all for the team. Sometimes in a team event there are always a little bit more nerves as you want to do your very best and not let anyone down but everyone showed what strengths Yarmouth Road Runners have. Although everybody involved did fantastic the performance of the weekend had to go to Vicky Quantrill who was the fastest lady over her stage of 20 miles. Winning stages is difficult with such good runners in the County and beyond and the club hadn't won individual stages since 2005 when Martin Piggott and Karen Peck did it on their respective stages. Mark Peach summed up a lot of people's thoughts about our involvement in this years event and said something like ‘we all put the Great into Great Yarmouth Road Runners’. Our team is a great team, not just about individuals but about everyone and we should all be very proud to be part of Great Yarmouth Road Runners.
Andrew Baker wrote this on behalf of the mixed team:
Saturday started at 5am with Simon Bekker, Andrew Baker, Gary Pillar, Mark Peach and Gary Stanley heading up to Kings Lynn for the 198 mile, 17 stage, 31st Round Norfolk Relay race, with Great Yarmouth Road Runners taking part for the 26th time. Arriving later than anticipated it was a quick rush to get parked, registered, organised and bike ready for the 7am start. Gary Pillar started for The Seasiders and made good progress through Sandringham to Wolverton where Andrew Baker on the accompanying bike had to leave him. Running to Hunstanton along the coast, Gary completed his 16 mile leg bang on his target time before passing to Simon Bekker who had a great run, beating his estimated time on the mostly off road 14 mile leg to Burnham Overy. Andrew Baker had the relatively short 5.8 mile leg along the beach and through Holkham woods to Wells passing to Gary Stanley, an experienced hand at the RNR who followed the North Norfolk Coastal path 11 miles to Cley, enduring a couple of downpours on the way. Taking the baton, Mark Womack ran strongly for 11 miles on the pebbly beach, over Sheringham golf course and the Beeston Bump to Cromer. RNR novice Rob Bailey then took the 8 mile hilly leg to Mundesley, not letting the distraction of the following bike getting a double puncture slow him down. Passing to RNR veteran John Bone, photographer Ian Edwards from Norfolk Gazelles accompanied him until Mark Peach and Andrew Baker managed to do a Formula One style bike tyre swap and cycle the last four miles of John's 9 mile leg to Lessingham. Lisa Smith, the only female on the team, then ran with guide runner Carl Jessup on the pretty 7 mile route to Horsey, but alas the bike problems continued and required the leaky back tyre to be inflated every ten minutes. Passing to Mark Peach at Horsey wind pump, with the light fading the bike was retired from service for the night while Malcolm Holmes and co-pilot Mark Womack followed in the trail car. Mark ran strongly on his 17 mile stage to Belton before Dean Saunders took up the baton for the 18 miles to Earsham. Dean set off at such a pace, it took a while for the escort vehicle to catch him. Myles Duffield ran ahead of estimated pace on the 12 miles to Scole, surprising Andrew Dormer with his early arrival, who was busy stretching on the side of the minibus when Myles was trying to pass the baton. Andrew ran a solid 19 miles on the graveyard shift to Thetford passing to Mark Stone for his 13 mile stage past Grimes Graves to Feltwell. Nicos Symeou took the baton in the fog for the 7 miles to Wissington where Andy Clark had a quick 11 mile run as the sun was coming up Downham Market. Despite not firing on all cylinders, Joe Jermy ran the penultimate 5.5 mile stage to Stowbridge in good form before passing to last minute stand in, James Carass who had a great run along the river for 12 miles to Kings Lynn (with bike problems plaguing the team yet again) finishing in style on the running track at Lynnsport. The team finished in 29th place, (15th place out of the Open category teams) with a total time of 26 hours 46 minutes, 50 minutes ahead of their estimated time with the whole team earning a well-deserved beer.