I love running relays. For once you’re running not just for yourself but as part of a team. The camaraderie that comes from everyone in the team laying it all out on the track for each other is something truly special. So I was well excited to be heading off to Aldershot yesterday with my London club, Kent AC, for the Southern 6 Stage Road Relays.
I won’t call it a typical British day (because most of this British summer has actually been alright) but the weather gods certainly took the day off on Sunday as torrential rain and gales climaxed just in time for our arrival at the race venue. Now I say race venue, but this was just a paddock with some tents for officials, some well-used port-a-loos, and a beautiful undulating 3k road course (of which we would each do two laps to make 6k, with six runners per team). So, with the help of some plastic bin bags (with head holes) and an £18 gazebo, our squad of 20 guys managed to half keep dry and warm before the race start.
As luck would have it, the rain did ease off once the gun was fired and by the time I had warmed up for my third leg run I was actually feeling quite toastie (it helped that I was wearing almost every thermal I owned).
The course at Aldershot is almost star shaped, with the route passing near to the central start/finish zone several times. This makes for great crowd support (even despite the conditions) as well as plenty of banter between the teams (one team in particular enlisted the services of a megaphone for this exact purpose. There were some huge puddles left on the course from the rain that could be dodged by taking the long way around or just by plowing straight through (I went for the first option).
Our A-team had an incredible race, claiming Kent AC’s first major relay win ever. Our B and C teams also had strong performances by just missing the top 30 and top 50 respectively (out of 90 teams who turned up despite the weather).
What stood out for me on the day was the way that everyone wearing a Kent AC vest, whether they were running the fastest leg of the day or were making up numbers in the C team, would cheer on and be cheered on regardless. It was a true team approach typified by “Coach Ken” who spent the afternoon running back forth over the course yelling out splits to runners so loudly and enthusiastically that all of Aldershot knew how Kent AC were doing.
Being my first race (and even workout) for months, having been out with injury, I was pleasantly surprised to still have some good stamina reserves and to feel that I had another gear there if needed (while always nursing my dodgy calf by avoiding going up on the toes too much). It has definitely given me the confidence to begin targeting some more races before our time in London is up.
Overall, a great soggy day out with a great team.
The victorious A-boys of Kent AC (minus one member who had to dash off before prize giving).