Weary Soles Relay – Winners!!
by Chris Dimmock
As the mist cleared and dawn broke I checked the clock and realised there was enough time to recce the key points of my leg before picking up Fred to roll up to Tiddenfoot for our start in the inaugural Weary Soles round Leighton relay hosted by Leighton Fun Runners. Having had multiple team changes over the previous weeks, days and hours I had ended up with a leg I was unfamiliar with and drove to the start, middle and end to check the lie of the land. Satisfied that I could get from Wing to Stoke Hammond along the prescribed route I picked Fred up and we set off to meet the rest of the team.
As we assembled and started the inevitable diagnosis of lingering injuries, poor training and general cluelessness of our routes it became increasingly clear we were also very alone. This was then confirmed by LFR. We were indeed the last to leave and would be playing catch for the rest of the day!
So it was at 10:30 Charlie set off in hot pursuit of the rest of the field which had at least a 45 minute head start on us. We scattered to swap and return cars and run errands and such. Fred and I made our way to Slapton to make sure Charlie got off the tow path at the right bridge and the race was on. Charlie ran well and we managed to get to Mentmore before him with Fred even having time for a warm up!
11:06 (ish) and Fred was on his way round the golf course, on to Wingrave where Charlie and I checked his progress and off through ploughed fields to hand the baton over to me at Wing playing fields at 12:30 (very ish I think!).
Fred had done most of the hard work catching two Gade Valley runners so I had a little to do to overtake them in the first few fields out of Wing heading towards the vaguely familiar territory of the bypass and Grasmere way. Once I had negotiated the near hands and knees climb through Soulbury it was plain sailing down the hill to hand over to Dave at the Dolphin pub in Stoke Hammond.
Dave was on his way at 13:04 and we were nicely and spookily on schedule. I caught my breath while Fred finished his rehydrating half and we set off in the car to pass Dave churning up the hill through Great Brickhill and on to greet him on Leighton Road where he would emerge after crossing the A5 and the fields as he traced part of the Greensands leg 2. We waited. We waited. We checked the map. We considered the possibility he had beaten us to the turn, and then he was there, blood stained, tousled and generally cursing map skills and bracken and then gone again off down the foot path in the direction of Job’s Farm.
We scuttled off to find Joe limbering up at Milton Bryan as two LFR teams set off from the last hand over. Dave raced in with baton in hand somewhere round the 14:20 mark and Joe was off like a Greyhound out of the trap. The support crew made its way to Stone Henge works and the now familiar calculations of time and distance were churned through and speculated upon. Then the two LFR teams broke cover from the hedge line and we waited for Joe to appear. Moments after LFR were out of sight Joe flew out of the hedgerow like a startled pheasant and was off down the road. It took Joe the length of Clipstone Lane to catch and pass his prey and we set off to the finish line in Stanbridge.
Joe thundered through the tape at the 5 Bells a little past our target finish of 15:00 to claim the win for LBAC and as the bar was open and hydration was required….!
The weather had held for us, the route was familiar but not stale, challenging but enjoyable and gave ample opportunity to support each other along the way. The event was on our doorstep and well organised with silverware to add to the trophy cabinet as a big bonus!
We all greatly enjoyed the day and look forward to improving our leg times next year. The only change we thought should be made is the booking of a taxi from the 5 Bells somewhere around 21:00 ish and perhaps a recovery jog out around lunch time the following day to collect cars!