Friday, 15 May 2015

Beckenham Team Relay 2015

With the warmer months and lighter evenings rapidly approaching, it was time to start looking for some midweek relay races to enter with my SLGR team mates. The first of the 2015 season that we liked the sound of was the Beckenham Team Relay Race, which is hosted by Beckenham Runners.

#teamslgr [photo: dani]

In the weeks leading up to the race we managed to gather enough runners to form five teams which was much better than we had managed the last time we tried to get some relay teams together. As expected, there were some changes in team line ups at the last minute, but thankfully it all went roughly to plan and there were no major problems.

Relay races come in lots of different shapes and forms, and this one was an undulating 3 x 2.6 mile race. Underfoot was tarmac, paving stones or gravel so road shoes were the way to go. I assigned myself a place in team SLGR 2 and secured the services of Richey and Adam by using the lure of vegan waggon wheels as a bribe. We decided to run the legs in order of expected pace with us getting progressively faster after each changeover. The three of us in SLGR 2 wore bibs displaying number 79, but Richey had an 'A' prefix, Adam 'B' and I had 'C' to indicate which legs we would be running.

i do love a chalk start line [photo: dani]

On paper, we were the fastest SLGR team present on the night which you might imagine would take the SLGR 1 moniker. However as the original idea to run this race came from my team mate Kat, I thought it only right to allocate the coveted number 1 to her team. The five teams were made up of 2 male teams, 2 female teams and 1 mixed team.

Race HQ was at the Beckenham Cricket Club and that's where we all met and registered our teams. The cost was £10.50 per team (£3.50 per person). Our five teams and supporters then headed over to the start-finish area which was within the grounds of Beckenham Place Park. It took about 10 minutes to walk over and our five first leg runners only just made it into the start funnel in time. Note: don't hang around in the race HQ taking team photos immediately before the race! (my fault, sorry)

the mass start (leg a) [photo: dani]

With the leg 'A' runners sent off around the course, it was time for the leg 'B' runners to warm up and then head towards the changeover area to await the return of their team mates. It was at this point that I realised exactly how many teams were in attendance. The race had reached its race licence limit of 100 teams and it was pretty packed in there!

Richey had soon completed his leg of the race and was now free to spend the rest of the evening cheering, which is actually one of the great things about relay races. Having only a few runners out on the course at a time means that there's always a great atmosphere and support for all the runners at the changeover area.

richey handing the virtual baton over to adam [photo: dani]

With Adam now out on the course I knew I better start getting properly warmed up for my leg and after a bit of running and some dynamic stretches I got myself into the changeover area, which was pretty packed with anxious looking runners awaiting their respective team mates.

Then, in the distance, I spotted Adam and moved into position to await his arrival. A quick tag and I was off. The course started at one of the high points of the course and first section was downhill along a private road which weaved through Beckenham Place Golf Course where I managed to gain two places for the team. At the end of the road the route left the park and went out onto the streets, where I caught and overtook another runner.

my turn to take the virtual baton [photo: dani]

The first incline started about 1 kilometre into the lap and went on for about 600 metres; at its steepest it reached a grade of 8%, during the ascent I managed to grab another two places. Once at the peak of the hill, the course turned to the left and the descent started.

This lead the runners back into the park where I overtook another runner as I ran along the slightly gravelly meandering path adjacent to the Ravensbourne River (this section also forms part of the Beckenham Trail 10k race which I ran in 2013). Once at the other side of the park, the runners venture out onto Beckenham Hill Road for a short 100 metre stretch along the pavement.

part of the last 700 incline through the park [photo: 7t]

Upon re-entering the park it was time for the second uphill slog. I spotted another runner in front of me and set my sights on catching him. This incline was around 700 metres in length and took the runners all the way to the finish line. With an average grade of 4%, it was not as steep as the first incline but, as it came right at the end, it felt just as hard.

I caught and overtook my opponent about half way up the hill, and then I became the prey! After working hard to take the position, the last thing I wanted to do was hand it back, so I put everything I had left into the last couple of hundred metres and even finished with a decent sprint, eventually crossing the finish line two seconds ahead of my rival to the excited cheers of my awaiting team mates and supporters.

the course hill profile [image: my strava gps data]

Before the race, I had looked at previous years' results and it was pretty clear that none of our teams would be anywhere near challenging for one of the top spots, but that really didn't matter because what we took away from the evening was a fantastic team experience on a lovely early summer's evening.

The official results were available early the next morning, which was pretty good going considering that the whole event was timed manually. I'm guessing someone had to sit up pretty late in order to get it all processed - great commitment and it was the icing on the cake of a very enjoyable and well organised event.

slgr 2 race complete [photo: clive penny]

Our teams' results were as follows;

SLGR 2 - Richey 18:25 / Adam 17:30 / Steven S 16:30 (total time: 52:25) (40th)
SLGR 3 - Terry 20:06 / Alex 20:45 / Steven B 18:29 (total time: 59:20) (72nd)
SLGR 5 - Renee 22:52 / Dawn 20:53 / Chris 19:56 (total time: 1.03:41) (81st)
SLGR 4 - Carla 24:46 / Michelle 21:55 / Caroline 20:00 (total time: 1.06:41) (90th)
SLGR 1 - Kat 28:39 / Carol 29:03 / Lynne 22:58 (total time: 1.20:40) (99th)

go #teamslgr (heart) [photo: dani]

We had a small but great team of supporters with us which was fantastic, so thank you to you all. A special thanks must go to Dani and Clive who, despite the light conditions being tricky, managed to get a really nice selection of photos between them, some of which I have used here. As always, I recorded my run using Strava so if you want to check out the course in more detail you can click to view my GPS data.


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