Green Belt Relay, May 21st & 22nd 2011

Organised by the Stragglers, the GBR sees teams of 11 running on both Saturday and Sunday, completing 220 miles to roughly follow the green belt round the outskirts of London. Describing the route is always a bit of a struggle though settling, as one person was overheard understandably to do, for saying “we’re running round the M25” gives slightly the wrong impression.

The club had two teams in this year’s relay, both mixed which made for more evenness amongst the teams, and while the A team was a little lower than usual and the B team a little higher, the A team still came out ahead, 18th overall compared to the B team’s 24th. The GBR is hard work for all concerned – racing two days in a row, often covering large distances in between and not quite getting enough sleep, thanks to the other teams paying an elite squad of Essex partygoers to give it large outside 26.2’s Brentwood hotel rooms.

Well done everyone, then, particularly those who ran the highest graded stages (and I really do believe there is quite a drop in toughness from a level 10-graded stage to any of the others), 4,5 and 13. However, for the rest I’ll concentrate on the first-timers.

Huge thanks for Joe and Jacqui Chang and Dave Wilson for their tireless efforts in both organising the weekend and taking on the bulk of the marhsalling and driving responsibilities. With only one of you running it this year, that dedication is all the more impressive. The single best thing that comes out of that hard, sometimes fraught, work, is that we (just) get two teams in which means people new to the GBR get to run it each year. Thanks and congratulations, then, to first-timers Sue Garnish, Andrea Bennett, Zoe Ashcroft, Kevin Stone, Matthew Pritchard, Daniel Harris, Rob Hinton and Ross Muir. I hope you all enjoyed the special brand of leg-soreness that the weekend brings on. Sue and Andrea were paired to share the same stages on both days; I’d anticipated them running together but it seems that Sue had other ideas, at least at the finish, managing to put another club’s runner between her and Andrea both times!

Zoe ran well both days but deserves special mention for finishing the last state with a +1 next to her name. The + and – refer to any change in the team’s position after that stage, so there are many more changes early on than late (for instance, on the 2nd stage 31 teams changed position; on the last, just 3). Sometimes the margin is still narrow after 21 stages. Not in this case – Zoe took over 20 minutes out of the Golden Joggers, well worth all the hard effort. Kevin Stone ran after the disappointment of missing out last year, and enjoyed a tough leg on Sunday. Did he ask for a tougher one next year? Will he get one? Start the rumour now. Matthew Pritchard was ‘rewarded’ for his recent improvement by being placed with other teams’ best runners on the tough tough tough stage 5, and that he ran it uncomplainingly and in the mood to come back for more showed great determination, and his finishing in a higher position on Sunday showed his strength. Daniel Harris ran as strongly as expected to gain a top-ten finish in his first run, while Rob Hinton focused on his running to the exclusion of all marshals, finishing well. Finally, Ross Muir. As those who have run with him know, he is quick enough to toy with us all on training runs, fitting in with whatever pace we set. However, this weekend a 26.2 runner was able to beat him, step forward… Zoe Wingfield. Congratulations Zoe, but also Ross, who took the magical misdirection of the marshals in good part, and was seen encouraging the runner he (eventually) finished with over the line. No such behaviour on the Sunday, however, as Ross made up for Saturday’s extra miles by, as he put it “smoking” a Straggler into third, to take our highest finish of the weekend, 2nd on leg 14.

26.2 Mixed A 18th
26.2 Mixed B 24th

Stage 1
31 GARNISH, Sue 26.2 Mixed A 1:55:52
33 BENNETT, Andrea 26.2 Mixed B 1:57:14

Stage 2
8 FLYNN, Declan 26.2 Mixed A 1:05:12
18 ASHCROFT, Zoe 26.2 Mixed B 1:17:59 (+4)

Stage 3
9 CHANG, Joe 26.2 Mixed A 1:14:55
23 ANDREW, Sharon 26.2 Mixed B 1:26:26

Stage 4
27 NEAL, Jon 26.2 Mixed B 1:46:24
33 WHITEMAN, Greg 26.2 Mixed A 2:03:32

Stage 5
18 PARKER, Kevin 26.2 Mixed A 1:38:32
34 PRITCHARD, Matthew 26.2 Mixed B 2:00:51

Stage 6
6 WATKINS, Steve 26.2 Mixed A 0:54:21
28 STONE, Kevin 26.2 Mixed B 1:16:40

Stage 7
10 HARRIS, Daniel 26.2 Mixed A 1:24:45
14 HINTON, Rob 26.2 Mixed B 1:26:41

Stage 8
9 MATTHEWS, John 26.2 Mixed B 1:13:43
30 BATH, Ann 26.2 Mixed A 1:35:03

Stage 9
21 WINGFIELD, Zoe 26.2 Mixed B 1:34:56
33 MUIR, Ross 26.2 Mixed A 1:50:35

Stage 10
29 DAVISON, Grant 26.2 Mixed A 1:23:14
35 FURLONG, Kevin 26.2 Mixed B 1:39:16

Stage 11
18 GOULDER, Richard 26.2 Mixed A 1:00:05
30 SUNDERLAND, Neil 26.2 Mixed B 1:11:45

Stage 12
17 GOULDER, Richard 26.2 Mixed A 1:25:39
35 FURLONG, Kevin 26.2 Mixed B 1:55:00

Stage 13
26 DAVISON, Grant 26.2 Mixed A 0:55:45
31 SUNDERLAND, Neil 26.2 Mixed B 1:02:53

Stage 14
2 MUIR, Ross 26.2 Mixed A 0:50:49
26 PRITCHARD, Matthew 26.2 Mixed B 1:08:12

Stage 15
12 HINTON, Rob 26.2 Mixed B 1:04:49
33 BATH, Ann 26.2 Mixed A 1:32:15

Stage 16
12 CHANG, Joe 26.2 Mixed A 1:43:03
31 ANDREW, Sharon 26.2 Mixed B 2:06:29

Stage 17
9 FLYNN, Declan 26.2 Mixed A 1:07:28
33 WINGFIELD, ZOE 26.2 Mixed B 1:40:47

Stage 18
9 MATTHEWS, John 26.2 Mixed B 0:58:52
12 PARKER, Kevin 26.2 Mixed A 1:01:10

Stage 19
12 HARRIS, DANIEL 26.2 Mixed A 1:15:27
32 STONE, Kevin 26.2 Mixed B 1:41:04

Stage 20
3 NEAL, Jon 26.2 Mixed B 0:33:22
22 WHITEMAN, Greg 26.2 Mixed A 0:40:50

Stage 21
27 GARNISH, Sue 26.2 Mixed A 1:11:14
29 BENNETT, Andrea 26.2 Mixed B 1:12:03

Stage 22
9 WATKINS, Steve 26.2 Mixed A 0:59:55
18 ASHCROFT, Zoe 26.2 Mixed B 1:05:45