Mark Philo

Round Norfolk Relay 2023

Event : RNR

Always a weekend of drama, initiative, fortune, fate. This year did not disappoint.

First up, let’s have an honour role for us even being able to get our 17 runners going.

Stage 7 Handover

Tri-Anglia take charge of the handover at Mundesley Stage 7. This involves controlling the car parking  of arriving and departing teams and controlling the teams/spectators for the actual hand-over of the baton for the 56 teams passing through.  This all starts around 2 pm and continues to around 7 pm. Stan and Di Swanepoel are in charge of this (straight from sorting out our return to the lake swims I might add!) and enabled by a solid crew of Chris and Ruth Lynds, Nessa Smith, Olivia Turley, Jill Dawson and Mark Philo.  Mundesley is a good spot to marshal as it’s light, a nice spot and good supply of tea/cake from the Coronation Hall.

The Ground Team

Now to the superheroes.  Figurehead Sue Flute kicks this all off by arranging the runners well (months) before the day.  Everybody knows where and when they are supposed to be. Sue’s right-hand man is Paul Youngman.  Does a *#@$ load of driving and sorts out all sorts of on-the-day logistics. Then we have Ken Barcham-Bool who is reloading stuff between stages (mainly cars) and then the crew who are cycling or trail driving behind the runners.  Jason Corner, Laurence (Lozzi) Staegemann, Steve Pitman, Kevin Mace, Pat Mace, Jonathan Kemp.  Just not that these guys where essentially up for 36 hours surviving on fast food and microsleeps.  I cannot put into words how much this event relies on these guys to make this happen. They were there from the 5:30 am start on Saturday until the 10am finish on Sunday.

The race

Essentially it all worked and everything went to plan. But not without incident.  The most notable disruption was that in the small hours, some blighters decided to attempt a ram-raid in Feltwell. This “timely” intervention caused the police to close the road so that stage 14 could not be run.  So for us, this meant Paul Davies turns up at Feltwell for his 04:45 start to be told he can run and he informs Sue and team who (as all teams) have to then omit that stage and keep it going from stage 15 in Wissington (obviously using an alternative route from the closed road).

On a lighter note, we all enjoyed the moment Ken relocated Vernon’s car and took a kip in the back whist waiting only to find he was trapped courtesy of the child locks.  Vernon meanwhile was apparently using his 19-mile stage to “mark his territory” on a regular basis eventually calling for expletives from Sue in the trailing car once his cyclist decided to join in.

Finally a kudos to Rose Waterman who was first lady in her 10.6 mile stage 15 Wissington to Downham Market.

Anyway, net result is that Team Tri-Anglia completed the event in 27hours 46 min and 50 seconds, being 32 mins over budget, coming in 54th place.

The Runners

Stage : 1 Kings Lynn to Hunstanton 16.3 miles at 05:30 – Jane Hannah

So 17 of us running around Norfolk starting with Jane Hannah at 5:30 am. Jane had enough recovery to smash the North Norfolk triathlon the next day!

Stage 2 : Hunstanton to Burnham Overy Staithe 13.7 miles at 8 am – Darren Woodward

With a circa 8am start from Hunstanton and a half marathon distance run ahead it was an early start Saturday morning, but seeing the sun rise on the drive north west was the perfect motivation to get going

I connected with the superb TA support team of Sue, Paul & Jason, pinned on my number, donned my hi-viz and awaited Jane’s arrival.

Baton in hand and I was off, an of road section to begin looping around the coast to Thornham which was so beautiful. Once back on the road with Jason as my loyal cycle escort there was an opportunity to push on with a decent surface underfoot. Time seemed to fly by and all too soon we reached Brancaster Staithe for a solo final horseshoe shaped loop to Burnham Overy. This was perhaps the toughest bit as fatigue set in, along with a rougher surface and a cross headwind.

Jason was faithfully waiting at the windmill for the final push to the changeover and with his constant words of encouragement I successfully handed over to Glenn more or less on time target.

Another great experience at what is becoming one of my favourite events – till on 2024!

Stage 3 : B. Overy to Wells 5.75 miles at 9:45 – Glenn Masterson

Stage 4 : Wells to Cley 11.1 miles at 10:45 am– Nicole Beck

Baton handed over from Glenn and I set off into Wells town before heading along the coastal path to Stiffkey. I usually do a road section of the RNR so this was a beautiful difference. Although I was slightly worried about the 27 directions for this stage. Matt was at Morston to check I wasn’t lost and I continued on to Blakeney. I managed to take a little detour just before Wiverton Hall but soon realised and found the wonderful support team at the cafe. Onto the last section into Cley and I was feeling very relieved to see the changeover. After about 30m on the shingle beach, I was very happy to hand over to Kevin!

Stage 5 : Cley to Cromer 10.8 miles at 12:25 pm – Kevin Mace

Stage 5 AND IT DIDN’T DISAPPOINT…Handed the batten at Cley by Nicole Beck and off I go down to the shore line and the first 4 miles of shingle then into some of North Norfolks finest hills and views.. passing though beautiful busy sheringham then caravan parks down to the road and finish at Cromer passing the batten to my brother Patrick..not the longest leg but probably one of the most challenging ..

Then had the pleasure of support bike for Jon Kemp on stage 7 before the real fun started taking over stopwatch duties on 9 and 10 into the Night  giving super Sue and her team a well deserved break..cheers Tri anglia fantastic event and support as always


Stage 6 : Cromer to Mundesley 7.9 miles  at 2 pm– Pat Mace

Stage 7 : Mundesley to Lessingham 9.2 miles at 3.15 pm – Jonathan Kemp

Stage 8 : Lessingham to Horsey 7.5 miles at 4:20 pm = Al Clipsham

I love this event and have been honoured to be included for the past couple of years.  This year’s leg was a take it easy short one. It’s been Ironman training all season for my first full, so long steady sessions and this would be a nice run with nice company.

I checked the route details:    1. run 0.6miles, turn left.  2.Run to the hand over.  All seems pretty simple and a quick check of the route on Streetmap confirmed this should be pretty easy nav.

The usual bants over WhatsApp really makes this event and I love tracking the team’s progress.

It looked like a challenging time on course had preceded on one leg, and runners to come were ruing over optimistic time target choices. What’s the chance, I ask myself, of clawing some time back for the team??   Sure I could gain back a little time……. Who’s my bike escort??

Paul, nearly always Paul! …..Brilliant!!

We seem to do this dance well he and I; normally based around me trying to breathe and him in full on conversation mode whilst subtly encouraging the catch and overtake. I love all the support crew that make the logistics and safety of this race tick; but I especially love Paul. We have a laugh and he’s the manifestation of the chimp we all carry, just this one is overly enthusiastic not negative.

So that’s the tale of stage 8. From the handover, baton in hand, it takes me straight back to track at school. We set off way to fast before realising this was no longer a 100m dash. But by then the damage was done, Paul figured that was the pace for the day and with the baton mysteriously, disgustingly sticking to my hand – the mind boggles! – we were off.

Lessingham to Horsey. One road, small undulation, no coast in sight. Thankfully side wind not head wind. Somewhere between 10km and half m pace for the first faster run of the season. 4:02 km/hr pace not 5 km/h

11.55 mins clawed back and for a long time sitting in 2nd place for the stage, until some faster crews came through late on and bumped us back to 6th. But that’s not the point. It’s the team event and as always being part of it is an honour and a highlight.

I’m always amazed at how much Sue and Co put into this. The pre-logistics, the on the day logistics and mammoth endurance effort. And I’m not sure you guys even get a medal. I thank you guys whole heartedly, you are the stars and heroes of this event.

Stage 9 : Horsey to Belton 16.6 miles at 5:20 pm – Eve Dewsnapp

I hadn’t run this stage before and it’s a good’un!  The timing meant that I was running as the sun was setting and it was a beautiful evening.  I needn’t have worried about navigating my way through Great Yarmouth as I had Jon supporting me on the bike, who knew the route and was brilliant throughout the stage – keeping me motivated and hydrated, especially in the final 3 miles when I was finding it hard going!  We got some cheers (and some funny looks) from the locals – it must be odd seeing all these runners legging it through Great Yarmouth on a Saturday evening!  My family were out on the route too and their cheers and high fives made the miles go much quicker.


Stage 10 : Belton to Earsham 18.1miles at 7:50 pm – James Nice

Mea culpa. When I accepted stage 10 (18.13 miles along the A143 between Belton and Earsham, in the dark) I warned Sue that I was coming back from injury and wouldn’t be fast, but 3.13.41 Is a poor performance by any standard and placed me 56th out of 56 runners. Thankfully the injury began to resolve 2 weeks before the race, but although that wasn’t an issue, I simply wasn’t able to train properly for 18 miles at pace. Still, I didn’t want to let the team down, and also needed to run Stage 10 regardless because as a committee member (of RNR) we’re looking to resolve a few issues for next year, so I wanted firsthand experience. In fact the run down from the Belton changeover to the McD’s roundabout at Gillingham (nr Beccles) was fine and I thought I was on course for finishing in under 3 hours. Alas my right calf then kept on threatening to cramp so I had to drop my pace right down and focus on simply getting to Earsham. Tri-Anglia support crew were fantastic, and would have been well within their rights to pull me into the car if I’d gotten any slower that the 7.45 minutes per km I bottomed out on. However their great patience, and Lucozade, and the positive comments from all the runners who overtook me (and there were many…) got me through. Not received my medal yet – but maybe a wooden spoon is more appropriate. To sum up: leg fine, ego bruised…

Stage 11 : Earsham to Scole 12.4 miles at 11 pm – Mark Philo

I’m picking my way through the stages of the RNR and came up with a seemingly routine one this year.  Basically, a single road of the A143 running from Saturday into Sunday with Lozzie at my side.  The run went well but we couldn’t help but notice that almost the entire route was slightly uphill.  Anyway, I’m sure Vernon took advantage of my elevation gain for his next leg!


Stage 12 : Scole to Thetford 19.6 miles at 12:40 am – Vernon Anderson

My first opportunity to get involved in the RNR, as normally clashes with another event in my calendar.

The TA team are amazing and I literally had to turn up and run.

From the organisation, support during, goody bag….with personal message on banana….logistical support to move the car and not forgetting that this was done for all 17 runners over 30 hours or so!

Thanks to all, it was amazing and I will look to be crew next year!

Stage 13 : Thetford to Feltwell 13.2 miles at 2:50 am – Heidi Bacon

Stage 14 : Feltwell to Wissington 7.2 miles at 4:40 am – Paul Davies

The committee had to cancel this stage at no notice due to police closing the road through Feltwell following an attempted ram raid around 02.00. There’s always been a small risk of this leg falling over at a late stage (if defence/security issues blow up around the airbase), so a robbery dropping the hammer is rather bizarre. Rotten luck for 56 runners on the day, but it’s the first time in living memory RNR has had to cancel a stage and hopefully it won’t happen again anytime soon.

Stage 15 : Wissington to D Mkt 10.6 miles at 5:30am – Rose Waterman

Stage 16 : D Mkt to Stowbridge  5.5 miles at 6:45am – Kevin Burgess

After last year’s disaster where I pulled my calf and couldn’t complete the stage, I was nervous about the same thing happening again so I opted for the short stage 16.

As it happened it was fine. I took over the baton from Rose Waterman who came hurtling down the road at Downham Market and I trotted off on very pleasant roads to handover to Janice for the final leg. The sun was breaking on a beautiful morning on the Fen Rivers way. What a lovely way to start the day.

I then supported Janaroo on her leg and made my way to the finish to cheer her in.

A great day!

Stage 17 : Stowbridge to Kings Lynn 11.7 miles at 7:40am – Janice Coglin-Hibbert

Janice ran the team home after swimming the 2 mile Serpentine event earlier on Saturday to claim her London Classics medal.




Published on 21st September 2023

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