Everybody’s favourite ‘Dad’ (aka Peter Kennedy) reports from last weekend’s Master’s Relay race.
The day started bright and early, with a 7o’clock pick up at headquarters. Blue skies and sunshine, were the order of the day.
The multi talented Dave Daniels was driving, with Captain Hilton riding shotgun in the front..the rest of the troops settled in the back for what the ever optimistic Dave Appleby predicted would be a long journey…
There seemed to be a distinct lack of bodies on the bus, which was explained by the fact that having lost Keith Smith to a severe bout of injuryitis we no longer had a viable V45 team, so we morphed into a single V35 team. It didn’t auger well for our chances that only one member of the team was a true V35, but hey, winning isn’t everything….
The craic was good, and after slaughtering our esteemed team mates who couldn’t make it, we began our preparations for race day…..eating sweeties, ripping the p**s out of each other, swearing like adolescent schoolboys, reading the sports pages, discussing the footy (runners knaa nowt about football!!) and snoozing against the windows of the bus….
The journey flew over and we arrived atSuttonPark, the venue for the big race!!!
Despite being very close to the centre ofBirmingham, it’s a beautiful sprawling park, made more attractive by the sunshine. As we had plenty of time we pitched the TBH tent before doing a recce of the route.
The tent is a tremendous bit of kit, it almost puts itself up….and it was erected in seconds….a feat which normally involves blue pills and a footpump for some of the old fella’s present!!
As we were doing our warm up and recce of the course we bumped into the team from Kenny’s Scottish club, Cambuslang, and exchanged a few warm greetings and friendly banter. Ultimately, we had to ask the burning question….”will you take him back?”…. Fortunately for us they said no….so we get to keep our Scottish Talisman a little longer!!!
Talking of things Scottish, Mal Steele took on the role of Scottish Psychopath, normally embodied by Kenny “MacAdder” Mac, and was a brilliant stand in. Obviously none of us could understand a word he said, but he delivered the right amount of snarling guttural encouragement to inspire all around him, and have us hating the Sassenachs we were racing….Kenny would have been proud!!!
The course was an interesting one…a downhill start to get you up to speed, followed by a 500m uphill section between the trees, coming out to a flat, open area, where the wind hit you in the face. The course then dropped down to a coned turn, where you almost had to stop, so you had to build up your pace up-hill, Luckily the wind was on your back at this point so the hill wasn’t too bad. The route then split off from the outward part of the course, and dropped through a pleasant wooded section to a pond. This was the quick section of the lap. From the pond the track undulated through another wooded section before a sharp turn and an uphill sprint to the finish….
The race itself started at about 1 o’clock, and our strong man, Captain Hilton led from the front as ever, and posted a fantastic 16:43 for the 3 mile lap, which not surprisingly, proved to be the fastest time a Tyne Bridger would post! This put us in a very strong 22nd place…..
Next up was the only genuine V35 in our team Dave Daniels…. As Dave set off on his lap, we all received a briefing from Paul, giving us sound advice as to where to settle in and where to push… After what looked like a tough lap for Dave, resulting in a time of 17:57 we were in 24th place. I know it must have been tough for Dave as it’s the only time I’ve ever seen him actually breathe while he’s running!!
Next up the fast improving Dave Embleton, who took off like a scalded cat, and must have continued to run like the wind, as he romped home in 20th place in a time of 17:31… The gloss was taken off Dave’s performance as there were suspicions of a “wind assisted” lap, and an inquiry was launched. However, we managed to convince the officials that this was purely natural by locking them in the tent with Dave for 5 minutes…..case dismissed!!!
Leg 4 was tackled by Dave Appleby, resplendent in his bright orange trainers (some would say the only bright thing about him, but not me obviously…), who put the disappointment of his recent London Marathon run behind him by running a tremendous lap in a time of 17:40, moving Tyne Bridge up to 18th place. This is where the wheels started to come off, and it was yours truly to blame….
Shocked that Dave hadn’t stopped to walk at the 2 mile point to ensure he could handle the distance, I was still in the holding pen as both Dave and 6th leg man John Tollit were shouting and waving at me to get going…even the man on the mic seemed to find it funny…..oops!
In order to try to redeem myself I went off like a madman, and forgetting all of the Captains advice, wasted a load of energy on the early uphill section, so was blowing by the turn…. I don’t know whether it was fear or embarrassment, but I picked up again, and managed to post negative splits, and spurred on by a massive cheer from the team at the final turn, I posted 17:54 and kept us in 18th place….just!
Next up was John Tollitt, the second “orange-man”, who burst from the blocks as I did my best to avoid the now belligerent Apples….I went and spoke to Alan, who was up next, as he was far more forgiving that my esteemed colleague.. The tricky course suited John’s strong style, and he dragged us up to 17th with a time of 18:34.
Alan Wallace, running under the guise of Chris Meek, took the 7th leg and had the difficult job of pushing on as some of the 6 man V45 teams finished and made it difficult to target another runner. A very powerful run by Alan, posting 21:48 saw us rise to 15th place.
Next came Ron Murray, with the so called glory leg. In a flagrant abuse of TyneBridgeetiquette, the shameless makem had adorned the glorious black and white vest with a RED ribbon…… Luckily for Ron, he ran what was arguably the best leg of the day, coming home in a time of 20:48… I hope I’m still running that fast when I’m 75 Ron!!! That put us in 16th place, a tremendous achievement for a team put together at the last minute, containing a wide variety of Veteran category runners…
A quick look at the other results showed that a reasonably full strength Tyne Bridge V45 team could have posted a top 5 finish, which must be encouragement for next year.
Its such a nice course in a beautiful park, that we really should try to put Ladies and Mens teams out next year!
The travel also was no problem, despite Dave Appleby trying to spoil my fun by predicting a late return to toon, I was back, showered and in the bar for a sneaky one by 8o’clock, and had joined the TBH big night out by 9 for what turned out to be a fantastic night out……..but that’s another story…..
* This account is almost completely fictitious, a product of my febrile imagination.
** The names of those taking part have not been changed to protect their identities, they deserve all the stick they get!