The Ladies Team at the Round Norfolk Relay

Deborah English on the Ladies Winning Team at the Round Norfolk Relay 2017

This was the 2nd year Stacey Harper and I (Deborah English) had captained the ladies team for NRR and this year we were quietly confident we could get near to the top of the 5 ladies teams entered. The main competition would come from Wymondham AC and Ryston Runners (last year’s winners). It was a really exciting battle. After setting off from Norwich at 5:30am Saturday the team started from Kings Lynn at 7:30am along with Ryston and Wymondham (the other 2 ladies teams predicted slower times so started an hour before us).

Stage 1 (Kings Lynn to Hunstanton) – Jo Killingworth put in a storming performance finishing 8 mins ahead of her predicted time! Ryston had a super fast runner on that leg but Wymondham were not so speedy so after stage 1 the team were comfortably ahead of Wymondham but trailing Ryston by 14 mins.

Stage 2 (Hunstanton to Burnham Ovary Staithe) - Catherine Henery took over from Jo on what is a really tricky leg to navigate and a few do get lost here. We stood at the first access point waiting for Catherine to appear but out of nowhere came Sarah Peachy for Wymondham and we started to get concerned for Catherine. About 10 mins later she appeared looking worried. She had got lost on the beach with about 2 other runners and had run an extra mile or so! However, Catherine being the strong minded runner she is did not let it deter her and she powered on without it affecting the rest of her run. We were now sitting in 3rd.

Stage 3 (Burnham Ovary Staithe to Wells) – Roisin Marks took up the baton and flew round her leg in an eye watering time to Wells where the heavens had opened up!

Stage 4 (Wells to Cley) – Stacey Harper in a desperate attempt to get warm ran her heart out and caught Wymondham, overtaking them for the first and last time that weekend, we never saw them again.

Stage 5 (Cley to Cromer) – Deborah English stormed off down the shingle beach at Cley towards the shoreline (following others doing the same) in the hope that the ground would be firmer, thankfully it was and with a little walk up those pesky hills ran into Cromer about 5 mins ahead of predicted time.

Stage 6 (Cromer to Mundesley) – Anna Kirkham grabbed the baton and took on the chicanes of the Cromer cliff face path, up and over the golf course and into Mundesley, again ahead of her predicted time (we just about got to Mundesley in the nick of time to get Vicky Jones our cyclist in place for stage 7!)

Stage 7 (Mundesley to Lessingham) – Jess Behan having had a very tiring week in the lead up didn’t let it slow her down (nor her stomach cramps) and ran a fabulous leg into Lessingham.

Stage 8 (Lessingham to Horsey) – Alicia Lacey was pumped. Jumping up and down like Sid Vicious! No-one was going to beat her on this leg and that would have been true if it weren’t for that pesky GB runner Iona Lake! Awesome time though Alicia and again, ahead of predicted. Nice work!

Stage 9 (Horsey to Belton) – Ruth Steele was keen to do this leg again this year having ran it superbly last year but with a slight little loss of direction in Gt.Yarmouth she made sure that wasn’t going to happen again. Managing a fab 8:10 pace overall, 10 secs a mile quicker than expected. The gap on Ryston was closing.

Stage 10 (Belton to Earsham) – Julz Williams set off and by the 3rd mile had Ryston in her sights. She overtook and we were jubilant to be in the lead!! Great run Julz even with those hills! Well ahead of prediction.

Stage 11 (Earsham to Scole) – Claire Rackham made her first appearance at the RNR and ran a blinder. Nice, steady and consistent pacing. With a slight panic at the end that she’d missed a turn, she needn’t have worried, all was well as she made the right turn into Scole.

Stage 12 (Scole to Thetford) – Caroline Houghton accompanied by her fabulous friend Theresa on the bike with her tunes blaring out. Both were witnessed fist pumping the air as they went along singing and thoroughly enjoying the long, dark slog of the A143 from Scole to Thetford. Anyone who takes on this leg in the dead of night should be congratulated. Just brilliant Caroline.

Stage 13 (Thetford to Feltwell) – Ali Middleton was raring to go at 4am and carry on the baton. Another solid performance by Ali in very cold conditions too. It seemed Ryston had chosen a very strong runner in this or the previous stage and somehow had managed to get in front again. The race quite literally was on!

Stage 14 (Feltwell to Wissington) – Ruth Gaunt was ready and waiting. We knew the gap between us and Ryston was small. With the sun just about starting to surface we saw Ryston again and overtook them for the last time. Ruth powered past and Ryston disappeared into the rear view mirror never to be seen again.

Stage 15 (Wissington to Downham Market) - Lisa (Juicy) Owen ran a corker! Smashing her estimated time and increasing the lead on Ryston even further.

Stage 16 (Downham Market to Stowbridge) – Amy Beck finally made her first appearance in the RNR and what a performance! This is the perfect stage for Amy who is a fabulous shorter distance runner and she didn’t disappoint flying into Stowbridge for the final changeover.

Stage 17 (Stowbridge to Kings Lynn) – Niki Park ran this same leg last year. Her friend and fellow club runner Nicki Gibson accompanied her on a very uncomfortable bike (I won’t say how Nicki described it!). A brief stop at an access point to see Niki half way, we then drove on to Kings Lynn to see her into the finish. As a runner came into view on the other side of the track there were cries of Niki!! Is that Niki?! Yeah it’s Niki! Are you sure that’s Niki? Niki! Yes it’s definitely Niki! Niki! Niki! Niki! She ran through the tape victorious on the glory leg to take the prize for first ladies team!!!

We had done it! Our overall time was 26:25:35, some 17 mins ahead of Ryston and 1 hour ahead of Wymondham in 3rd. This was the first time in 10 years the club has won this award and we couldn’t be prouder of the effort that all the girls put in. A massive well done and thank you to the support crew which included Rachel Miller our fabulous timekeeper who kept a steady ship, Vicky Jones on cycle support (she’d not ridden a bike since she was 15!) and moving people’s cars (including the French ones), and of course our honorary lady Andy Palmer mainly driving the minibus but a bit of cycling too. Absolutely everyone gave it their all, arrived in good time for their stage and just got the job done.

Well done ladies, you're all champions. Can’t wait to do it all again next year!