"A" team James Wignall, on leg 12, flew past close to finish line as I finish leg 10 for "B" team.
Pat and I arrived at Catterick Garrison at 11.30 for the Northern Road Relays. We'd had a very pleasant, relaxed, almost traffic free journey through some very attractive, idyllic North Yorkshire villages, having decided to avoid the A1M with its contraflow roadworks.
Just in time to see around 47 men start out on the first of 6 "long" legs of approx 8K/5miles alternating with 6 short legs of 4k/2.5 miles. Already would be champions Morpeth, Leeds City, Derby were showing upfront plus teams who would fall away and aspirant Olympian Tom Lancashire of Bolton who was running their first and only leg!
Five minutes later the women flashed by on the first of their 6 short legs. It was pleasing to see the green, white and red of the Sale ladies. But no Bingley or Otley ladies in the bunch. Before long of course the races would merge.............
Sale's Cara Kavanagh battles with Gerry O'Neil (Salford ) and Adam Osborne (Leeds City)
First task was to find the Sale Harriers tent and report for duty ! Team manager, Dave Rodgers gave me number, pins and, for the first time at this event , a timing chip card for my shoe.
I looked at the team sheet and could see that our "B" had already suffered alterations and sadly Dave confirmed that the team would finish "incomplete" after my 10th leg. For the second year running I would run knowing that no one would be there at the changeover to carry on the relay!
I immediately reacted by saying that I would run leg 11 and leg 12 as well to complete the event. Ok we would be disqualified but at least we would achieved something. But of course it was pointed out that this was impossible with the chip system in use.
I returned to the car for the 2 hour wait before starting my warm up.
Deflated, disappointed, frustrated.......and just a bit angry.
It was 2.45 or so by the time I eventually set out on my leg. The commentator gave me a namecheck as I started out and said I was the man to talk to if "you need club vests"! If nothing else then I'd achieved a free advert by turning out. Scant consolation.
Our "B" team had finished the first leg in 35th postion and we more or less stayed there throughout. I went through the motions on my run with the adrenalin level on zero but appreciating the encouragement of former rivals lining the course. I lost no places in the event but by this time the faster teams were sending out runners on legs 11 and even 12 and of course they simply flew by and went on. Far too fast to latch onto and share the 4K sprint.
So our "A" team, hoping to win medals as they did last year, were 7th. Our ladies were similarly down in 14th spot.
For the record, Morpeth took the lead on leg 3 and were chased down by Leeds City until leg 10 but went away on leg 11 and 12 to win by 1.20 minutes with Derby A.C. third. Good to see local club Bingley up in 5th place, with neighbours Keighley in 21st and Otley 29th.
But at least I answered the call!
This shot includes Dave Rodger out on the course supporting James Wignall and myself as we finish, as he had done all afternoon. Thanks Dave.