By Ryan Holt
Paul O’Mara suggested we try something new and give the Neptune relays a go. Based in Hardwick country park, the route was a nice change from racing on the roads. The terrain was a mixture of grass and paths round the park. This was the clubs first time fielding teams in this event. The fact that we had four teams on the day, is a great sign and hopefully encourages more members to put their names forward for future team events. As a guy who wasn’t bothered with competing when I first joined Tyne Bridge. I can personally attest to how getting involved in relay events can rekindle joy for running.
With it being an unfamiliar course, I was keen to jog round for a rekkie. You start on a grassy downhill, taking a sharp left onto the path. From there you run a long narrow paths most of the way with plenty of twists and turns. Then you make a short uphill climb onto the grass section and awkwardly steer anti-clockwise as you attempt a sprint finish.
Sedgefield Harriers offer bags of fruit for prizes in this race. With the cost of living as bad as it is, we were all eager to get our five a day. Before race day, North East project had made it clear that they were serious about winning bags of fruit. They announced a strong mens team which meant the race was going to be a lot tougher than we initially thought.
Running last leg gave me more time to warm up and do my drills before I was thrust into the action. It also allows more time for your mind to think over the race and excitement to kick in. Once I stepped into the change over pen, I could feel the adrenaline coarsing through me. I scanned back and forth to watch for runners coming in and organisers calling out numbers to release next leg runners. I had to check my own race number a couple of times to make sure I didn’t forget it. Number 48! I stepped up to the line. Go! Off I went. I managed to catch the young Durham runner a head about a mile into the race. I knew that first place was out of reach but It’s always worth battling for those remaining places.
It was a fairly successful day for the club with two podium places. 2nd place men’s and 3rd place women’s. Unfortunately for the women, 3rd place meant no fruit. As the saying goes, “to the victor and runner up goes the fruit.” We all had big smiles on our faces at the awards ceremony. Tom Charlton had the honour of taking home the runners up certificate for running the fastest leg on the team. As is tradition. I’m sure his guests will be keen to hear of the Neptune Relays, when it inevitably sparks a conversation over dinner.