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Monday 21 May 2012

Green Belt Relay day 2

It is hard to start a story when you know what the finish already is......but if you could believe that a small kernel of optimism could grow inside your belly and make you feel like you can achieve something special, then that is one big adrenaline kick.

Last year we fielded 2 teams and came in at something like 29th and 34th......This year we had 3 teams and 2 get a top 10 finish and not to finish last with our mixed teams. (note.....Chris thought we could top 10 and I seriously did not think that we would have done badly if we came top 15!)

A cold start to day 2 after the humidity of day 1. Perhaps the least inspiring start at the Dartford Bridge at a skanky old bowls club was just the tonic to wake us up from a muscle fatigued slumber. Coffee at the ready, Eric was ready to go with Susie and Lily for the mixed teams. Luckily stage 1 was not hampered by the closure of the Dartford tunnel. Stage 2 was under way with Susie and Lily shooting off and leaving Eric scrabbling around on the floor with a dropped mobile phone. No bother though as JP and I scooted down to Farningham to watch the team through at an unscheduled flash mob supporters stop. We hadn't even pulled in when the Serpie had gone through (course record!) and then Eric came through in 12th. We were worried as he looked rough, but not as rough as we heard at the finish. They don't call him Ambulance Man for nothing! Luckily at the finish, he was fine and not in need of an ambulance.

Something else happened....the mixed teams had opened up a gap between themselves and the last team. Amazing work! Sterling efforts!

Smiffy had done well to come in 14th on the tough tough Lullingstone to Tatsfield leg and then it was my turn. time to exorcise the demons of last year. I started off sitting on the back of about 18th place. There were some wiley runners on this leg and I didn't want to blow it for the team. I came in 30th last year with 1.31 but this was a red course, hilly and easy to get lost......and off I went up the hill and onto the North Downs. I was 7.15s for the first 2 miles and then a couple of undulations saw a 6.52 and a 6.40. I overtook a couple of chaps and picked a Ranelagh runner to hang onto. Then it got really hilly. I could barely breath going up the Downs at 6 miles, the hill was steep enough to have me slipping back down as it was muddy. I had run this part of the Downs about 2 months ago so I didn;t think there was much chance of getting lost. Then, I went for it.......On the top of the Downs from 7.5-8 I hammered it, missing the place where I went wrong last year and hoofed it down the chalk hill towards Merstham. A couple more miles and I would be home. A glance round behind confirmed to me that the Ranelagh, Sussex and the ultra running Golden were not behind. Bang! And the last mile, all downhill, from the top of the downs to the bottom was run in 4.39s.....

I had to have a sit down at the finish....I was bombed. But 21 mins faster than last year and sub 7s for the leg. Not bad!

But, the end goal was the more important! It was no rest for the wicked and onto the next stage. I wanted to wait for Linda but we needed to get JP to the next point and see Richard. 

We missed Paul on the NDW as he was so F'in fast...running in 2nd place,we scooted to Westhanger to see out Rich and Paul in.....Rich had a downhill 5.6 with Rachelle and Natalie V. Rich had 6 ciders in the car for later so I knew he would be quick!

No sooner had Rich gone but Paul came in........The photo does him no justice but our club record marathoner's (who has "just got back into running") ghostlike appearance swooshed over the line in 2nd place, 2 days in a row. The kernel of optimism was now becoming something larger (perhaps water melon sized!)

Then came Rich.....5th place and only 3 mins behind the winner of the stage.......amazing as he must have been buzzing after 7 places higher than his run yesterday!

Then it all started to fall into place.....Walton Bridge and Steve B came in 4th place......and didn't throw up at the end like yesterday. He looked so smooth and there are a few things he can teach us as the club about going fast!

Bring home the bacon.......the roar from my hoarse gob as the final leg ensued.....

Tappo was ready for this last leg, with JP in tow, and Sue and Glen bringing in Taidgh...who was now 2nd claim Golden Joggers!

JP overtook a nun from Olsgobosco Runners and did himself justice on the glory leg. Here he is flying along for DPR!

Tappo, the legend......coming into the finish at the Hawker doubt as fast as he could to get hold of a good bottle of cider, but with 5th place for the stage he did not hold back at all and we were hoping......just hoping that we had done enough to secure a top 10 spot with 26.2, Stragglers and Clapham all breathing down our necks!

 JP cruised in and then.......

 Glenn mistakenly pushed a bin.......

 Oh, no, it was a buggy, with a salute from the Golden's as his 2nd claim passenger upheld the Chariot of Fire and the team came in to bring up 33rd place....

And so to the finale, inside a hot and sweaty Hawker Centre, beer and cider flowing to the max.......DPR had not only done better than last year....not only had we come inside the top 15.........the top 10

6th place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And so the party started! Amazing...........and thanks to Linda and Di and Chris and Tom P for organising, all the runners and supporters and marshals and drivers..........


The irony is that my legs hurt more than they did 2 weeks ago when I ran the double marathon weekend! Obviously I need to run harder!

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