The Birketts Round Norfolk Relay reached a significant milestone at the weekend (17 - 18 September) as 60 teams competed in the 30th annual race, starting and finishing at Lynnsport in Kings Lynn. The course follows the county boundary over a distance of 198 miles, divided into 17 unequal stages. Norfolk's spectacular skies at sunset and sunrise often provide the most vivid memories.
A staggered start, based on anticipated finishing times, ensures that teams of similar ability start together, with the faster teams chasing. The relay is held over 24 hours from Saturday morning and runners have to be accompanied by a cyclist at all times. If the stagger works well all teams finish the race by 10:00am on Sunday.
The top three teams in the Open Class were Cambridge and Coleridge (21:19:55), Ryston Runners (21:29:45) and Ely Runners (21:52:56). The hotly contested Club Class - which requires teams to include five women and six Masters in their line up - was won by City of Norwich (21:39:53). Bedford Harriers (22:00:53) and North Norfolk Beach Runners (22:49:47) completed the top six.
An extensive prize list included awards for the first Masters' team, Norwich Road Runners (23:39:46) and first women's team, Ryston Ladies (25:59:34). Paddock Wood (23:40:30) won the Carrot Trophy for the closest to predicted finishing time, with an amazing differential of 28 seconds (0.14 sec per mile)!
Individual awards also feature and the Kelly Holmes Trophy for the best age-graded performance went to Paddock Wood’s 48-year-old Maria Heslop (87.2%) for her third overall on the 12.45 mile 11th stage from Earsham to Schole (1:19:16).
An innovation this year was the ability to track progress through a GPS tracking chip in each baton carried by runners. This also enhances safety in what has to be one of the most unique, arduous and logistically challenging events in Britain.
Full results, information and photos at the Round Norfolk Relay website.
Image courtesy Round Norfolk Relay