Round Norfolk Relay 2018
The course of the Round Norfolk Relay mirrors the county boundary over a distance of 198 miles, divided into 17 unequal stages. Norfolk's enormous skies, vast sandy beaches, open spaces and picturesque towns and villages, with their attractive cottages and medieval churches, all contribute to making the race a unique running experience. In its 32nd year the 2018 relay was blessed with beautiful weather throughout the weekend.
A staggered start for the 60 teams, based on anticipated finishing times, ensures that teams of similar ability start together, with faster teams chasing. If the stagger works, all teams should finish the race by 9:15am to 10:00am on the Sunday. With the first teams starting at 5:30 am on Saturday this allows for teams running an average of 8mins 40secs per mile throughout the course.
For the two Great Yarmouth Road Runner (GYRR) teams the race started at Lynnsport in Kings Lynn at 6.30a.m. The first leg finished at Hunstanton, following the stunning coastline through 5 multi terrain stages taking the Norfolk Coastal path as far as Cromer. The 40 miles (4 stages) from Cromer through to Horsey Mill and on to Belton were on the road. By the time the teams reached Belton it was dark. It was good to see lots of club members marshalling at this point and it was also the point at which the day support teams stood down for the night teams to take over.
From Belton, the course turns south-west following main roads for 62 miles (4 stages), all run in darkness. These mostly stages are mainly flat through Breckland. From Feltwell (Stage 14) the four remaining stages covering the last 33 miles are run across the flat Fens through the early morning mist. Finally, following the Great Ouse River into historic King's Lynn runners passed by the old Custom house, through the famous Tuesday Market Place and then on to the Finish at Lynnsport.
Unique in character and concept, the race presents not only a tough physical challenge, but also a test of the organisational prowess of a club. Run over 24 hours, without a break (and carrying a baton), the event is much more than just a normal relay for it requires special preparation, planning and support. It is not an event for a club without a spirit of adventure. But the sense of satisfaction and achievement after completing the race is simply 'Second to None'.
Special thanks must go to club coach and chairman Andrew Baker, who co-ordinated the event for GYRR and with the help of countless club members to support him, made it another safe and successful event. Running the 17 stages is one small part of being part of the team. Equally valued are the drivers of the minibuses and night cars, cyclists, marshals, time-keepers and everyone who supported in their own way.
A staggered start, based on anticipated finishing times, ensures that teams of similar ability start together, with faster teams chasing. If the stagger works, all teams should finish the race by 9:15am to 10:00am on the Sunday. With the first teams starting at 5:30 am on Saturday this allows for teams running an average of 8mins 40secs per mile throughout the course.
The GYRR teams finished in times of 26 hours, 35 minutes and 11 seconds and 27 hours, 31 minutes and 11 seconds respectively. Some of the club members involved are pictured wearing their freshly presented Round Norfolk relay t-shirts.
Report by Penny Studley with contributions from the RNR website.