WACers – Going the Distance on the Ridgeway – 17 May 2009
Report from Stewart Little
What do I and Sir Alex
Ferguson have in common?
We are both Scottish, we
had a great squad to choose from, and we were in the winning team.
Running two legs of the
Wessex Ridgeway was the easy part, getting the administration right was
the difficult bit. We started with Plan A (all meet up at QE get in the
one car and travel together as a team), due to car problems moved to
Plan B (still all meet up at QE and go in two cars), and ended up with
Plan C (last minute get most of the team to the start in one car, get
help from the other teams to get the other runners to the start, then
all jump into the one car).
In 1999 I had been part of
the Blandford Striders team that set a new course record of 8 hrs 15
minutes for the relay. I still had the split timings for each leg when
we set the record and therefore brought this along to use as a
comparison against this year’s times.
Check watches at the start –
On the first leg Jerry
kept up his present form and put the team into almost a one minute lead
over the Dorset Doddlers and Axe Valley Runners to hand the baton over
to the legendary Tim Harris.
Another challenge of the
Relay is ensuring you get the next runner to the start of the leg before
the other runner finishes without making a map reading error. I had
come up with a cunning plan to put the start of all legs into the SatNav
which would take the pressure off map reading. As we made our way to
the start of Leg 3 doubt starting creeping in after we had been going
for some 12 miles and appeared to be heading towards Leg 4! Fortunately
this was just the ‘quickest’ route that the SatNav had selected (not the
shortest!) and we made it to the correct handover point.
Dorset Doddlers and Axe
Valley Runners had put their strongest runners on Leg 2 and we found
ourselves back to 3rd place; to start with Tim was slightly
disappointed but on checking his leg time against the 1999 record time
it raised his spirit to see he had done almost the same time (I had run
this leg in my prime).
Tim hands over to Graham – Okeford
Graham Whiffen put in a great Leg 3 and held onto 3rd
position handing over to the ‘bionic’ Graeme Furley. Graeme set off at
the speed of a cheetah with his sight set on the two runners in front of
him. As I waited anxiously at the start of Leg 5 to see which team
would appear over the hill first I was about to find out why Graeme gets
called ‘the bionic man’ – he came into the handover point in first place
with a good gap (which I found out later was three minutes!) over the
other two runners who had set off before him.
Graham hands over to 'the Bionic
Man' – Breach Wood Barn
For the rest of the event
we held onto the lead with Anthony Clark managing not to get lost (well
almost – he still went slightly wrong on the last leg) and came into the
finish a good few minutes in front of a strong Doddlers team.
Unfortunately having used all of his energy into the run Anthony did not
have the strength to break through the winning tape and needed help to
cross the line.
Anthony fast approaching the finish
line - Uplyme
Our recorded time was 8
hrs 15 minutes and 15 seconds, what I had not told Jerry was that the
1999 record time of 8 hrs 15 minutes was a rounded down time that the
race organiser John Gregory had recorded; in fact the exact time was 8
hrs 15 minutes and 28 seconds – so we had managed to better the time.
Unfortunately Chris Cussen did not have the current record time that I
believe was set by Poole Runners after 1999 to hand, but that time can
wait for another day.
The benefit of being first
team allowed us to get to the showers first and have hot water (as long
as you knew which shower had the hot water Graeme) but the downside was
that as we had had to keep moving on before the other teams arrived at
each leg therefore we did not get the chance to see much of our other
teams – I can now understand Ian’s logic of fielding teams close in
With the strength of
Wimborne AC at the moment and the improvement we are seeing coming
throughout the club I expect next year to be putting myself forward as B
Graham flies the flag at the finish