Greensand Ridge Relay 2015

The Greensand Ridge Relay 2015 – crusted ports, old Madeiras and shandy drinkers.

I was standing next to one of LBAC’s more cerebral runners at the start of leg 4, waiting for Warren to appear. Chris Williams and I were having a conversation about murder. It’s true that previously Fiona and Chris had had a disagreement about pick up times for the GSRR, but Fi’s life was safe. No, the murder in question occurred in 1962 at the end of my leg 4 in the layby. Chris mentioned the case of James Hanratty who murdered a scientist and his wife and was subsequently hanged by the state for his crimes. Recently, Chris recalled, Hanratty was shown to be justly convicted of his crimes based on the exhumation of his body for DNA tests. Now, this is all too close for comfort. I’m a scientist and I’m running leg 4 and looking up at the start of leg 4, I was going to be murdered early on if I pushed too hard. DNA evidence might not be needed to show that I had run a bad leg, but I know my peers would scrutinise in a courtly fashion via Strava any cock-ups that may occur.

Previously I had written about my disappointment of not running with a baton – it being a relay and all. I would like to extend my observations further before I roundly praise the organisers for another fab event. I have been recceing various legs for the last few years following the Greensand logo – a Muntjac deer. This conspicuous sign features an introduced species and I wonder why the founding quango did not instead feature the nightjar or the white-clawed crayfish, two locally important species.  “Enough” I hear you say, “what about the runners?”. Well, here’s my extended point. It could have been an elephant on the logo, but Strava reports were coming in about an intrepid team so challenged by map reading that they ended up in Houghton Conquest, far away from Maulden on a recce of leg 4. This cock up is classified and doesn’t involve Adam, Amy or Fiona.

Onto the race then. About 115 million years ago the sea flooded across parts of southern England and created the Greensand we so love running on. Soon after, LBAC entered its first team that included Andy, Tim, Tom and Richard Inchley who were to also be running in this year’s event. How times fly and how these runners flew on race day – more on them later. Back to an overview before we get into the nitty-gritty of who did what. Do you know what I like about this race? Whilst waiting to run your leg, you mix with rhinos, antelopes, gazelles and if you are lucky old gits and flying angels. Of course I am merely recapitulating the names of the teams that were running, I am not having a ‘moment’. In addition, what I like is that it’s really is everyone’s race – did you know that there were two M80s running and they get a cracking handicap too. We of course have own special veterans that we treasure and they were encased in a box of fine wines for immediately delivery.

Andy has in recent past taken to naming the LBAC teams and this year we were to be drinks related; The ‘Fine Wines’ were clearly an allusion to lots of laying down and maturing, featuring LBAC vintage runners with a fine young Beaujolais by the name of Coralie Anderson who should not to be confused with some of the crusted ports and old Madeiras. Our elite team are probably a bunch of shandy drinkers but Andy thought better and referred to ‘Pints of Mild’, a marginal improvement.  ‘Gin & Tonics’ were a hardcore mix of gents and ladies who had a good chance of some hardware on the day as there wasn’t a lemon amongst them. I can’t help but feel that the ‘Fruity Cocktails’, my team, might either be a reference to drinks such as Greyhounds or Incredible Hulks but we might all be Porchcrawlers or Zombies – I know not. And so to the final team, ‘Aperitifs’ a nice mixed team that alludes to a drink that is first in order – well there’s nothing like ambition!

The race began in sunshine. This was promising but it wasn’t to last all day. The Pints of Mild (Andy Inchley, Chris Norman, Simon Coombes, Adam Haylock, Glandy Inchley and Pete Mackrell) delivered in spades and over the whole team the worst position they achieved was 4th on any leg. That 4th position was run by Glen, who didn’t look much different to Andy on the day – a great body suit double Glen, where did you get it and those shorts too, inspired! I am delighted to report that Andy ran a good leg 1 and Chris and Pete were pleased that they could get round with some speed, albeit not yet their full throttle speeds. Simon and Adam scooped wins for their legs but no records were broken – it will come I am sure chaps.


Simon departing Woburn on route to the fastest leg 3 of the day

The fruity cocktails (Charlie Mead, Jamie Thomas, Warren Rose, James Bell, Ben Corfield, Andrew Hallworth) did well to hang on to the coat tails of the fast teams, although we did have an exceptional effort from Ben who won his leg. Winning legs was hard on 1 and 3 as these were loaded with talent and so Charlie did well to come 8th, shy of 36 mins and just behind Tim in the G&Ts who ran a blinder. I have been watching Andrew improve recently and whilst he didn’t win his leg, he did well to make an impact – I prescribe a summer’s dose of speed training for you Andrew. And, so to Jamie, who ran for LBAC recently at Teardrop XC and also has a handful of PBs that would complement any team. He did well on the day, coming nearly 4 minutes ahead of his handicap.

Last year we got absolutely soaked early on; this year we got absolutely soaked by mid-afternoon.  The humidity built up as the day went on and for some, a good soaking was well received. During such weather, most people would welcome a G&T –  enter Tim Inchley, Katie Haylock, Tom Inchley, Amy Inchley, Lynn Boddy and Billy Mead who were so refreshing. There were no winning legs in this team but there were some super-cracking times for their age/gender and all of them were ahead of their handicap. Both the fruity cocktails and the G&Ts were the only two LBAC teams to interact in terms of race position, which swapped positions on legs 5 and 6. Clearly, the G&Ts had a good effort as they were only 3 minutes behind the cocktails in terms of total time run.


Overdressed, clutching a number but still promoting the Leighton 10!


The aperitifs (David Killick, Richard Towell, Chris Dimmock, Chris Williams, Chris Large, Kate Johnson) began at the same time as the G&Ts – I am not sure why. However, the speed protégé, David, decided to nail the ambitions of the team with a run 3 minutes 30 ahead of his handicap and passed the baton to Richard. Richard was bought out of his shell on the day by his wife, Fiona, but I heard reports that he’d have rather preferred to remain within it, saying that he wouldn’t do this again. Sorry Richard, but you put a run good enough to qualify for next year, er well done I think. And so to a trinity of Chris’. Chris D has been nursing a few injuries recently but was back on form as he showed his pedigree and put in a really strong run a minute ahead of handicap in an extremely competitive leg 3. Chris W. was rather fired up when I spoke to him and carried that through to his leg four, again with a run faster than his handicap. I met Chris L. taking deep breaths to calm himself before he ran leg 5. He need not have worried as he managed to squeeze a good 29th position. Kate ran the last leg presumably in hot pursuit of the promised BBQ and refreshments. She managed to bring the team home in a position of 21st and did well in what must have been quite challenging conditions.

Saving the best till last is something that the fine wines (Richard Inchley, Liz Miller, Roger Seldon, Fiona Towell, Fred Watt, Coralie Anderson) are probably familiar. In Strava world Richard has been running well recently, especially at the 5 miles distance. He was four minutes ahead of handicap which accumulated to about 8 minutes by the time Liz had run her leg. Things were only to get better for the team as Roger added another 8 minutes to his leg 3 showing that with age there’s no loss of relative speed if you are wearing an LBAC vest. Fiona, worried that perhaps she may get lost or meet an angry field of cows, kept the pressure up adding 2 minutes to the handicap time. A regular to speed training, Fred added three more and the team looked in great condition to challenge a high-rank based on their handicap. Coralie took the baton to the line to take the team just over the 5 hour finishing mark – impressive.

Ok, they might be shandy drinkers, but the Pints of Mild took no prisoners and won the fastest team trophy. The G&Ts came third in the mixed team challenge and although the fine wines, fruity cocktails and aperitifs came away without any hardware, we definitely performed on the day across the whole age and gender spectrum and for that we should come away with an alcoholic warm glow. Bottoms up!


Beers and burgers make it all worthwhile…..


Full results and an extensive archive can be found on the Greensand Ridge Relay pages of the SMOC website.