Ely Runners are celebrating 7th place out of 61 teams in the Round Norfolk Relay (RNR), held over the weekend of 16th and 17th September. The club’s elite ‘A’ team of male athletes completed the continuous 198-mile challenge in 23:02 hours, while a mixed ability and gender ‘B’ team finished in 27:57 hours to take 49th position.
‘A’ team members Ross Payne and Paul Waggitt won their respective stages, with Alan Darby and Alex Tate narrowly second in theirs.
The annual event began on Saturday morning in King’s Lynn, sweeping around the county to end back in the town on Sunday. 17 team members each took a stage, varying in length from just over 5 miles to just under 20. They ran on everything from shingle beach to riverbank and the A143, through dawn, dusk and pitch black, and in bright sunshine and heavy fog.
The event is as much a logistical challenge as a sporting one. Runners must navigate the route themselves, and each club has to provide a support crew of cyclists, drivers and timekeepers to keep runners safe on the roads and record performances.
The club’s RNR ‘A’ team captain, Stephen Howard, said:
“The team was all set for a top three finish when a puncture en route to the start of his stage put one of our runners out of the race. We had to take a time penalty in lieu of that run, putting us out of the medals this year. This was a serious setback but the team soon recovered their fighting spirit. To claim 7th position in these circumstances is very impressive, and everyone can be proud of their strong performances.”
“I want to say a big thank you to the support crews of both teams for their hard work, dedication and encouragement.”
RNR ‘B’ team captain Sarah Starr said: “Our team of male and female runners gave it their all in tough conditions, with many beating the time targets they’d set themselves. Several were competing in the RNR for the first time, and even those who’d run it many times still got a huge thrill from being part of this unique event. On behalf of the club I thank all the RNR organisers and volunteers for their hard work in making this possible.”
The ‘A’ team members were, in stage order: Robin Webb, Gordon Irvine, Stephen Howard, Ross Payne, Alex Metcalfe, Ben Cook, Richard Hill, Rob Pope, Alan Darby, Craig Holgate, Lee Tatum, Kieren Drane, Peter Royle, Jason Mann, Alex Tate, Lee Thompson, Paul Waggitt and support crew Jon Evans, Steve Presland, Nick Dowdy and Martin Courtney. (Runners Ross Payne and Stephen Howard also doubled up as part of the crew).
The ‘B’ team members were: Samantha Collins-Shirley, Sarah Starr, Steve Starr, Charlotte Cook, Barry Graves, Caroline Brown, Andy Thompson, James Lee, Cara Macfarlane, Jason Fretwell, Amy Southward, Emma Greaves, John Foster, Lauren Thomas, Pete Wood, Anne Booth and Justin Smith (with runners Sarah and Steve Starr, Caroline Brown, Andy Thompson and James Lee also forming the support team).
Ely Runners is a friendly running club which meets to train at the Paradise Club on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. New members are always welcome, whatever their ability, and the club runs regular beginners’ courses. For more information visit http://www.elyrunners.co.uk/