At midnight Friday (16 November), runners in bright orange jumpsuits made a break for freedom. Solos and pairs had 24 hours to Escape from Meriden. Chained pairs had 36 hours (writes Jane Holt)
Everyone waited in nervous anticipation as prison governor, sorry race organiser Richard Weremiuk of Beyond Marathon started the countdown to 12 o’clock. Weather conditions were unseasonably mild as we all set off in different directions from the 500-year old stone cross in Meriden (halfway between Solihull and Coventry), aiming to get as far as possible.
I was amongst those taking part in this unusual event, one half of a mixed pair called ‘Gruesome Twosome’ and accompanied by a solo (male) friend running the same route as us. Escape from Meriden differs from other similar races in that runners have to devise their own route and be self sufficient although they are allowed support crew. The organiser monitors everyone’s progress via GPS tracking devices and mileage is measured ‘as the crow flies’.
Medals are dependent on distance with silver for under 60 miles, gold for under 90 miles and black for anything over that. Route planning is vital and can be the difference between success and failure.
The orange, chain-gang style suits drew attention from several passers-by with at least one runner stopped by the police. There are so many individual stories coming out from this event which include a guy dressed as Scooby Doo for charity, two runners posing for a selfie with a police officer, others get comments related to the film 'Ghostbusters' etc.
Guillaume Arthus won the solo male category with 100.89 miles; Angela White won the solo female with 87.26 miles.
EvoVelo ran 82.01 miles to win the pairs category; Guinness and Gin completed 130.2 miles to win the chained pairs category.
For anyone who wants to try and beat the crow, entries open this Friday for Escape from Meriden 2019.
Image courtesy of Steve Williams.