It was a warm morning already at 4:45am when the Crowborough Runners latest SDWR team met at Goldsmiths to travel to the start of the 2019 100 mile South Downs Relay at Beachy Head.
This years team consisted of Paul Bailey (captain and 3rd timer), Alex Cole (first timer), Bob Cook (first timer), Ben Morris (first timer), Matt Flannagan (first timer) and Claire Harvey (3rd timer).With driver Ron Cutbill and navigator Roger Stone (old timer).
Training days for the event in the previous months had gone well and we knew we had a shot at making the 14 hour cut off time. Just had to make sure no one got lost, sustained an injury or succumbed to the heat!
Bob started the day with his first leg from Beachy Head with several other teams at 6:30am. As Ron drove the rest of us to the next changeover we could spot the runners making their way over the first part of the downs. At the changeover, while waiting for Bob to appear on the horizon, we could see the Stubbington Green team coming along the wrong way!! Then another!! They were like Lemmings all following the wrong path!! We knew this means a time penalty as they most likely gained a half mile advantage! We then were praying that Bob didn’t follow suit and kept to the right route! Then we saw him! He was ok!!!! 6.25 miles!!
Leg 2 - Matt ran from Exceat to Bo Peep, 5.5 miles and handed over to Claire for her leg to Itford Farm, 4.5 miles. It really started to warm up now as Leg 4 saw Ben smash his estimated time during his gruelling 7.5 miles to the A27 where he handed over to Captain Paul. Paul ran a hot 5 miles to Ditchling Beacon where he handed over to Alex. Alex had a great run 5 mile to Saddlescome though the golf course! Just as he was finishing his ankle went over on a rock... he felt it but didn’t complain! Next was Matt to do a steady 5.25 miles where there was a 2 baton changeover for Claire's hard 6.5 mile leg though a pig farm! Claire then handed over to Bob for a 4.5 mile stretch. By now it was almost 1pm and we were on target to complete in our overall estimated time, so everything was working out perfectly! Paul then completed a 3.75 mile leg and then Ben a 5.25 leg. Next up was Alex... he set off in the top heat of the day... upon his return at the end of his leg to hand over to Matt, we knew there was something wrong! His ankle (which he twisted on his first leg) had ballooned and was turning a lovely shade of purple!!!!! He was in agony... so we all tried our best to help him with the limited first aid we knew.... Rest, Ice and Elevation!! He camped out across 3 seats in the mini bus for the next 4 hours while we all did our remaining legs....as Alex was due to do the last one he had time to recover but it was touch and go if we were to complete. Other team members are not allowed to officially run other legs and so it was vital, in order not to get a DNF, that Alex could complete his run somehow!! After lots of rest and pain relief, he set off. He amazingly manage to run his 5.5 miles in under 50 minutes!! What a champ!!!At the finish we all raised a glass to a great day and a team achievement! We finished in 13 hours and 36 minutes!!