The Round Norfolk Relay is a 17-stage race around the perimeter of Norfolk. This year with 53 teams, Tri-Anglia fielded a mixed team in the open class. The backbone of the team was an intrepid crew of 3 who saw the first runner off from Kings Lynn at 05:30 on Saturday and there to see our last runner cross the line back at Kings Lynn after 10 am on the following Sunday morning. So that’s 30+ hours of service. To this, those below giving a ditty about their experience offer their thanks to Sue Flute, Paul Youngman and Nick Askham.
While the 3 amigos were catching a rest in over night stages, the support crew of Hannah and Kate stepped in to be ever vigil. And somehow persuading a teenager to experience the small hours of the morning to ride support in the dark for 40-odd miles at around 6 mph. Well done Angus Doleman.
Meanwhile, in Mundesley, we had another team from the club to organise the stage 7 start handover at Coronation Hall in Mundesley. Starting around 1:30 pm, it was stationed until the last team went through at around 8 pm. So huge thanks there to Stan and Di Swanepoel, Ali and Glen Masterson, Russell Clarke, Stefan Rider, Sue Brockhouse, Mark Philo, Kitty Rosser, John Lee and Tony Hatton-Gore. Only casualty of this crew was a traffic cone that Sue ran over.
Stage 1: Darren Woodward, 16.3 miles
Early to bed, early to rise, why not run 16 miles for my daily exercise?!
An RNR newbie but definitely bitten by the bug – the absent stage recce would have only ruined the surprise of the all terrain surface, but a beautiful sunrise kept me smiling, and the post stage conversation left me claiming stage 2 for next year, which means only 15 more years thereafter to fully complete!
Stage 2 : John Burton, 13.75 miles
This leg starts on a nice easy grassy downhill slope before going through a gap in the hedge and onto a really hard going, 2 mile stretch of overgrown sandy path. RNR had put diversions in place along here as the path was impassable. The signs were not easy to see running into the early morning sunrise. I went off course for a bit, but managed to dyke jump back to the path. It was fairly straightforward after this. Going onto the road between Thornham and Brancaster was a chance to catch up a bit of time and to refuel, before hitting the footpath again. Brancaster Staithe and Burnham Deepdale both have catchy twists and turns between fishing sheds. Deepdale to the finish is along an exposed sea wall where if the weather is favourable, you can make up time. The finish is compact and friendly and there’s the added bonus of a dip in the river/harbour afterwards to cool down and clean up. Having done this leg twice now, I would recommend it.
Stage 3 : Liz Clues, 5.76 miles
As you can see from the first photo John could not wait to pass me the baton 😆 I wondered if his arm had been outstretched for a while, then it was my turn. Gosh this baton is sweaty and goodness isn’t it hot ! is what I thought as I headed off towards the beach…….I never found the boardwalk but I did find the beach and the naturist sign, perhaps it was still a bit early as not one of those in sight either ! Finally shade along the path towards Wells and yes , I did recognise Mark who I was passing the still sweaty baton and he recognised me 😅.
Thanks to Sue for immediately handing me a bottle of water as I finished and Nick and Paul for their super support.
Stage 4 : Mark Clues, 11.14 miles
Baton nicely handed over on schedule from Mrs Clues much to the relief of 2 grumpy Children who’d been dragged out of bed early and promised cake once mum arrived. I’ve done this leg a couple of times, mainly off road along the North Norfolk coastal path and non-supported apart from the last bit from Wiveton hall cafe where Captain Sue joined me on her bike through to the hand over on Cley beach. I had my eye on the Darryl Davis memorial trophy this year awarded to best AG male master but in the end just missed out to fellow club member Phil Hurr running for Bure valley, congratulations to him. Very happy to see Hazel waiting at the changeover as by then it was getting a bit warm. One of my favourite events of the year and a privilege to be part of the team.
Stage 5 : Hazel Brain, 10.81 miles
A smooth handover from Mark Clues at Cley and straight on to shingle hell on a hot beach in the midday sun. After 4 miles, what I thought was a mirage in the distance on the shoreline turned out to be our amazing support crew directing me off the beach (I had to use my hands to climb up the shingle!) However, my joy was short-lived when I realised the next 4 miles were all off road hills. Sheringham with its smooth flat pavement was a lovely respite and our support team were there to rehydrate me and prepare me mentally for the Beeston Bump. Once I was past that it was “easy” – Cromer beckoned!
Stage 6 : Al Clipsham, 7.9 miles
Nice easy one she said. That’ll be lovely I said, then I can still race Sunday.
Job done…. Days out, look at the route profile, where the hell did that V-gully graphic for the first mile come from?? Lesson soon to be learned by all willing runners at RNR, check the stage details before putting your hand up. (or some time soon after!) – wouldn’t you agree Hazel??
Turns out leg 6 was a treat. Cromer to Mundesley. Taking over from a rather broken looking Hazel the early question was Team or Self… which should I prioritise? Claw a bit of time back or hold some in the tank for Strad tomorrow. The early run through the car park down the zig zag to the prom and along past the pier made that decision. We had TA to represent to the coastal public.
So that was the drop of the V, once past beach hut 54 the climb started. Modest at first then into open parkland and a dry soil scree 80m scramble through blackberry bushes up to the light house. First runner (walker) passed and I had spotted another ahead. HR pounding it was road from here on in. Profile said pretty much downhill to the finish. Excellent and only 6 to go (although head is tuned to KM not miles, turns out miles are longer… who knew?)
Just past the golf course and onto the main road I joined the ever cheerful Paul Youngman as my bike escort and devils advocate #1. So a steady easy pace run I’d planned with Sue turned into a faster pace run, with the smiling encouraging devil on the bike next to me. “If you get them that’s 3 passed”… “oh look you could make it 4 .. and 5”. “wonder if there’s an award for how many people you pass?” “You could have them too, couldn’t you?” he knew just what buttons to press. So despite the rolling coastal road we kept apace, ticking off targeted runners. With my smiling devil telling me how easy he was finding it and my head telling me I should calm it a little or just sack off tomorrow.
Coming into Mundesley we caught one or 2 more teams. I’m sure someone had moved Coronation hall further down the road than it used to be. And then eventually there it was, a sea of high vis, lots of excited faces, and cake. Huge slices of delicious cake and tea. I recon we took 8 other teams in the end, Paul tells me its 9. I’ll trust him, it sounds better! Average leg pace 4:25 a smidge quicker than my intended 5:15.
And I have to shout out to just how awesome the whole experience is, from the days leading in to the event, tracking progress on the Whatsapp group, the sterling work of Sue and her crew of logistic engineers and motivators And a huge shout out to my family who brought cattle bells, hugs and water all the way round. As we drove back to Cromer after for fish and chips, we had great pleasure ringing bells at all the inbound runners and riders on course, getting laughs, thumbs up and smiles. Great event.
Stage 7 : Nicole Beck, 9.24 miles
This leg certainly has the best start. The changeover is marshalled by the wonderful Tri-Anglians as well as a lovely downhill to begin with. My brother, Danny, supported me on the bike and kept me positive which was much needed as I struggled from a very early point! The run took me from Mundesley through Bacton, Keswick, Walcott and Happisburgh; finishing at Lessingham. It was great to be a part of team Tri-Anglia, supported by the fantastic Sue, Paul and Nick and all the other runners. I was very relieved to see the changeover and hand the baton over to Kitty.
Stage 8 : Kitty Rosser, 7.52 miles
This is possibly the perfect RNR stage for me. It is all on road so no gnarly trails, sand or shingle to content with. It is largely flat. You start running and just keep going on the same road for 7.52 miles so it is nice and short and there is literally no chance of getting lost. It has a very sensible mid-afternoon start time so no need to miss out on any sleep. Oh, and there are proper toilets with plenty of space to get changed post-run AND a café selling proper coffee at the end. Basically it is the all-inclusive luxury cruise leg of the race. This stage isn’t going to hold much appeal for any trail-loving ultra runners but for anyone who wants to get involved but is worried about distance, pace, navigation or managing tricky terrain it is a real gem. I almost felt I hadn’t earned the fish and chips on the way home!
Stage 9 : Hannah Rees, 16.6 miles
This was my longest run of the year and people had warned me that it gets a bit hectic going though Great Yarmouth so I was a bit nervous before setting out. “Try not to get mugged!” Nick called before I left. Joking aside, I had a really enjoyable run and even the hectic bit that loops around before the bridge was really well marshalled and I got through ok. The other runners and support teams were super friendly, and I even got cheered by a line of people queuing outside a chip shop. As a bonus, I got to see the sun set, saw a beautiful harvest moon and got an inspirational banana at the end that said: “that’s a long way to run for a free banana!” how very true….!
Stage 10 : Mark Philo, 18.13 miles
I don’t think I can pretty this stage up at all. Start from Belton after 8pm so it’s dark. One of the weird changeovers where the runner comes at you and you set off in the direction they’ve just come! Kitty following me in the car with the orange flashy and we head out for virtually the whole run on the A143. First few miles I could imagine poor Kitty being harassed in the car with the Yarmouth idiots roaring past when there was (or wasn’t) a safe place to overtake. All seemed to calm down on the section past A146 thankfully. Finally peel off the A143 at Earsham and I miss the bloody final turn down to the changeover adding a few hundred yards and a few minutes – not what you want after 18 miles. Still, knowing that we were a bit behind, I had kicked the pace a bit and won us some minutes.
Stage 11 : Karen Rix, 12.45 miles
I arrived just in time. Having spent most of the day watching the teams’ progress and getting nervous about being too early. I actually drove past Mark on Stage 10. I had just enough time to hand over my car keys to Nick (and told him he didn’t need to know anything special about how to drive it, I lied). I put on my hiviz and waited at the hand over point trying to spot Mark amongst all the chaos of headlights and runners.
Team 27 stage 10 to 11 handed over and I’m happy with my pace and feeling good. But I hadn’t anticipated that running in the dark would be so disorientating, I actually felt queasy. As the elevation kicked in and the lack of visible landmarks meant I was checking my watch too often, I asked Sue to talk to me, and so she did, for a whole hour!
Sue encouraged me the whole way, telling me how great we RNR runners are, how amazing that we turn out in the middle of the night and that all I needed to do was put one foot in front of the other and get the baton to Russell and so I did.
Fortunately Nick had managed to work out how to start my car and had woken from his power nap to time keep the handover. My goodie bag was the best ever with a medal and a personalised banana.
RNR is an amazing experience, anyone not done it before please think about it. It was a great day and although tough each stage has its own challenges, there is always a story to tell.
Stage 12 : Russell Clarke, 19.67 miles
Now running 20 miles in the middle of the night, I know it not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s something that in a strange kind of way I enjoy! So an early evening pizza and a glass of wine, and then in the car to head to the start. Arrived in good time, met up with Hannah my car support for the night.
Got the baton from Karen and set off. The first couple of miles you have street lighting,
but then it’s 17 miles on the A1066 in the dark, so I just slip into that kind of long runner’s state of mind when you just switch off. I settled into my pace, which was much slower than the 10 + runners that came past me. All was good until about 15 miles when the combination of a Dodgy Knee and stomach cramps, had me struggling for a couple of miles, but the light of Thetford there in the distance, a right turn at the roundabout and on to the finish line.
I felt happy with my run. I did underestimate how hilly the stage was and I think I was the oldest runner to take it on !! (and live being part of a fabulous team)
Stage 13 : Oli Rix, 13.25 miles
Stage 14 : Kevin Mace, 7.27 miles
Nice early Sunday morning start at Feltwell seeing familiar face from other running clubs. Started my run 5.50 in the dark and soon out into the countryside and the rolling hills chasing orange flashing lights (to me this is round Norfolk) settling into my stride. Watching the sun rise over the fields .Soon through halfway and just holding my pace closing in on the changeover thinking I still had a couple of miles to go and the finish is there in front of me. Great to be part of a great team.
Stage 15 : Ben Dean, 10.59 miles
Up at 04:30am for my debut on the RNR, 10.59 miles (Wissington to Downham Market). Baton collected from Kevin at 06:46 and I was up and running. The sun had made an appearance and it was a beautiful warm September morning. The roads were straight, surprisingly well surfaced and flat! By leg 15 the teams were well spread out, so I was grateful of the company from Angus on the bike (and the two sleeping swans).
An unremarkable stage in some respects bar dodging numerous green beans from overloaded HGV’s on the A10 but so grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in my first RNR and be part of an incredible team.
Stage 16 : Jack Tate, 5.49 miles
After a smooth hand over with Ben in the shadow of Heygates Mill I headed over the bridge, leaving Downham Market I overtook team no. 21. After the second bridge we turned into the countryside, a nice flat road through farmland. I reeled in the Bedford Harriers runner and passed him about 4 miles in. I was glad to see the bridge over the River Ouse knowing the hand over with Ken was just the other side!
Sue was great on the support bike chatting about the events of the past 24 hours all the way. 5k was my longest competitive run prior to this so I was pleased to finish the 5.5 miles with a pace just slightly slower than my recent Parkruns.
Stage 17 : Ken Barcham-Bool, 11.73 miles
It’s tough mentally but it’s a great route along the river. You’re running on grass for about 6 miles of the leg and for the rest, you’re running on flat roads through some lovely countryside or King’s Lynn. Being the last leg, you get a finish line to cross rather than someone to give a baton too so it’s great fun. Also, having Sue on a cycle for the first few miles and the last few miles was brilliant! Also, my legs hurt.
We came 46/53 in overall time and 29 mins over our predicted time. For out club it’s about doing your best and supporting your club. It’s a day out. It’s a long day out.