Thursday 31 May 2012

2012 Hilly 100 Relay

Given almost two weeks to reflect on the race, one would hope that I'd have developed some deep insight into this year's instalment of one of my favourite events.  Alas, perhaps not....

The day, once again, started oh-so-very-early.  After 2011's fun, we decided that the race is easiest to manage if someone is following the baton, with a small band of dedicated family members and club runners acting as transport for the runners.  As a result, we needed to be at the start before 5:00.  Having made my final substitution of an injured runner the day before, I was a little twitchy when the alarm went off at 3:50.  By 4:30, I'd confirmed that the first 2 runners were in position and headed to the start line with super-crew-chief Nic relieved that I wouldn't have to stand in for the first leg.  My leg wasn't until the afternoon, to give me time to re-jig runners if needed, but I was happy to avoid the need for any last-minute shuffling.

The early birds ready for the start

When I sent in the entry form, I still didn't have a clear picture of the team.  April is marathon season, and people have a tendency to drop out with injuries and insufficient recovery.  With the list of ~15 runners, I knew at least a few wouldn't make it to the start - but I didn't know which ones.  Therefore, I entered the team in the earliest start time to make sure we finished well in advance of the 18:00 target deadline.  By the time the participant list had nearly solidified (3 days before the race), it was clear that we had a chance of a podium finish.

Any event that lasts for 13 hours will have its little incidents.  This year's Hilly was no different.  My leg 3 runner nearly missed the baton change by parking up about half a mile down the wrong road - we recovered her just in time.  The leg 4-5 transition point was perfectly placed to attract the attention (and wrath) of a local farmer who really didn't appreciate a load of runners parking in the drive to his farm.  A change in transition points confused the team captain (me) and resulted in a poor estimation, which had the leg 6 runner handing over to said team captain a bit behind schedule.  Add to that a great run by the leg 6 runner from Kenilworth, and I had my first 1-on-1 race in quite a long time (honours even - after a big effort to close the gap, he struggled to hold on in the final 5km and I regained our buffer).  Finally, 13 hours after the start, we confirmed that EVRC had successfully defended our 2011 B-race 3rd place (as well as defending our title as 1st mixed team).

Amazingly, we had knocked 39 minutes off last year's time.  I think we might just start at 6am next year - I look forward to the extra sleep!

While we were stopped to cheer on our runners, Nic took the opportunity to capture some of the sights that make this race such a joy.

Warming up - it took a long time to get the legs moving after all that "passenger-time".

Local asparagus - you can't beat it in season!

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