2006 Race Story

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by Dick Kearn

2006 Race Story

The official report of the 2006 GUCR


The saying goes ‘better late than never’ but I can’t help thinking that perhaps I should have left this and hoped that everyone would forget. On the other hand its late production will, if nothing else, serve as a reminder to runners either: to apply for next year or, more likely, of how awful it was and that they should resist the urge to try again. For marshals it will, no doubt, simply remind them all to book holidays for the end of May next year. With sincere apologies for the inordinate delay, what follows is the report of GUCR 2006.

Another year older, another year wiser - well maybe not. You would think that after eleven attempts at organising this race, Phil and I should have it pretty well sorted, but, as usual, weaknesses were exposed. Of course we got away with no real harm done and the event was far from a disaster. In fact, thanks to the tremendous commitment shown by helpers, runners and crews, the Twelfth GUCR was the most successful yet. That said, there are several aspects proven not to be good ideas. In no particular order of priority, here is the list so far:

Bikes for support or buddies; moaning and shouting at competitors without checking your records; believing the BW website is up to date with situation on the ground; trusting runners to carry the maps; relying on first-aiders to bring their kits; asking support crews to remove their vehicles from Navigation Bridge; not having shelter on the towpath at Little Venice.

I don’t wish to bore you with much detail of these (there’s plenty of scope for boredom to follow) and the causes of most items on the list are easily imagined. We are working on rule changes and other solutions, but the second item is down to me and requires explanation.

Mick Gilbert contacted me before the race to inform me that his support would be partial. Unfortunately, by the time Anthony Taylor called from Hamborough Tavern to say that they had a supported runner there dropping out, and that the runner no longer had a crew, I had forgotten the arrangement. I threw a monumental hissy-fit and gave Mick, Anthony and anyone else within a half mile radius an ear bashing about runners who take advantage, don’t appreciate the problems caused, put others at risk, etc, etc. To their immense credit, Mick took all this quite calmly, while Anthony sorted some transport with Ernie Jewson’s crew (for which I am also most grateful). Having entertained those present at the Finish with my outburst, I skulked off into the half-light only to realise that we had Mick’s bag already at the finish and, of course, that he was thus ‘one of ours’. Well, suffice to say that there was much apologising and consumption of humble pie. Mick has been most understanding and I have learned a lesson.

Because the time of writing is so far distant from race-day, much of the goings on have been forgotten. For this reason, and that I’m a lazy git, the ‘story’ is simply an account of who dropped out and where they did it. Other than these facts (well some of it is fiction) I have only recollection of blank faces at the Start and an unusual number of runners needing treatment with antibiotics post race.

The blank faces were caused by my reference to the fantastic Thomas Heatherwick designed sculpture B of BANG! in Manchester. The reason for bringing it up, apart from the obvious running connection, is that Mr Heatherwick was also responsible for the amazing curling-up bridge in Paddington basin, just round the corner from the Finish. Although I say it myself, a rather clever link beginning to end.

As for the foot infections, I guess the wet muddy conditions on Saturday must have played a big part. If anyone has a proper theory, I’d love to hear how we might avoid this problem in future.

Beside these and all other insignificant issues, the principle purpose of this story is to put on record the huge debt of thanks owed by all competitors to those who give up their time to make the event happen. It simply would not be possible to maintain the ambience and reputation of Britain’s Longest Annual Race without the generous support of those listed at the very end.

It goes without saying that I too am extremely indebted for all their help.

Not so much a story more a race of strife.

Alan Kiff has had a long and most welcome association with this race. Indeed he and Kiff Junior seem to have been at more GUCRs than Phil and I. Sadly this year’s attempt came to an early end at Hatton, when knees (that have had a very active life and aren’t getting any younger!) called a halt to progress. Alan declared that this was definitely the last attempt and that he’d be back from the Far East again next year only to help. We have heard this all before, but either way, we’ll be looking forward to seeing both Kiffs, in whatever capacity, next May.

Ian Kirby, in his first ever ultra, also stopped at the 22mile checkpoint. Realising that he was dropping back and that perhaps more training was required, Ian did not seem too unhappy to be giving up so early. He has been bitten by the GUCR bug saying, “My toe has well and truly been dipped in the water, literally on one occasion.” and, “I hope to see you again next year.”

Ray Willett is another with a long GUCR association. He has seen all aspects having been supporter, checkpoint crew and, of course, multi finisher. Ray reported to Jan himself and was relieved to find that he was not her first customer of the day. Perhaps the slippery conditions were the cause of his knee problems which forced retirement at Flecknoe Bridge.

Selina Coldicott was a late entry to the race. She was very pleased to get in at short notice and this seems to make it even more unfortunate that her race was over so quickly. Husband Ian reported that she was suffering a very painful knee and had been forced to walk before stopping at Braunston tunnel. Despite the disappointment both have enjoyed their taster and are game for more of the same next time.

Rob Edwards & Dave Higgins were both reported stopped at the former checkpoint spot at Buckby. This would normally have required around 49 miles of running, but normally competitors are able to resist the pull either of magnetic north or the Leicester Arm of the canal. These two succumbed to the invisible forces and consequently squandered 1½ hours of their lives. No doubt this had some bearing on the decision to stop.

Roy Flemming made the call reporting his retirement at Long Buckby himself. An unsupported runner, he was not to make too great a demand of our transport needing a lift only as far as Weedon where his wife was to collect him.

Tim Walls was another entrant new to ultra running (13 miles being his previous max!). He was impressed by the friendliness and helpfulness of all involved and has learned a lot from the experience. He also enjoyed the hospitality of the Heart of England checkpoint crew, but an ankle injury meant that he was denied the opportunity to sample that of others further on. He’ll be back, ‘eyes now wide open to the joys of ultra’, next year.

Matt Walker managed to go further than ever before, covering the 60 miles to Gayton before phoning Jan with “just had enough” as his reason to stop. He was “slightly disappointed I did not reach the end” and vows to be “back year after year to eventually complete that monster.”

Alicia Hudelson called Jan from Stoke Bruerne. She was OK because her crew were with her, but really painful shin-splints were preventing further progress.

Peter Crossman took last year’s detour at Gayton turn. A call to the man in the van prevented too much of an excursion towards Northampton, but couldn’t prevent another slight deviation at the end of the road above Blisworth tunnel. These two delays unfortunately put Peter too far behind schedule to reach the cut-off by 01:00 so Daf was despatched to collect him from Stoke Bruerne. The rest of Peter’s trip to Paddington was in the ‘luxury’ of our transport where we greatly enjoyed his company.

Ian Harding reported to Simon at Navigation Bridge that he’d actually retired at Stoke Bruerne because his ‘legs have gone’. Sounds like a pretty good reason to me.

Steve Suttle ‘beat himself up’ last year for not pressing on from Springwell when he could have walked to LV and still been well up the field. This time he was easier on himself having made the London Mara his main focus. Next year he promises to make GUCR his number one objective, so we will be expecting him to do well.

Rob Weed is the last entry on the progress chart at Navigation. Under the heading Notes (e.g. reason for retirement) is written, ‘attacked by swans (knackered)’. Having arrived only just ahead of the cut-off I suspect knackered to be the true reason, and the fact that neither of Rob’s arms was broken could be taken as confirmation.

Andrew Smith is, as far as I know, the first of our competitors to empty his stomach over a narrow boat. He is certainly the first to admit to it. Having pushed his luck this far, it was probably better to stop at Cosgrove rather than risk violation by bargepole later.

Denise Pickering was solo cycle supported this year by new husband Jon. (I say new not in the sense that she is in the habit of casting off old worn-out husbands and picking out fresh ones, [as far as I know] but more in the sense that that they were only married earlier in May.) For one who designs bikes, you would think Jon might have chosen one a little more suitable for the muddy conditions, but, I guess the commuter-bike was easier for the journey to Brum. Anyway, they both battled on as far as the cut-off point before deciding that spending the rest of the night in a hotel at Newport Pagnall was more appealing than suffering more hardship on the towpath. They both seem to have enjoyed the outing and may well be back for more. I hope so.

Paul Blackburn was pleased with having run further than ever before. He actually claims to have enjoyed it all, although he admits to being unprepared for mud and the loneliness of the night running. In fact ‘depressed by the canal’ is written on the CP list. This hasn’t totally put him off as he hopes to try again ‘sometime in the future’.

Tim Holsgrove actually has a recorded departure time from Navigation Bridge, but reappears 20 minutes later on Simon’s sheet. Also on the sheet, the reason for stopping is noted as ‘rectal prolapse’, but Simon is famous for his vivid imagination.

Mark Ball ended his race at the Proud Perch. His crew reporting in that he was “very tired”. Now listen up Mark and crew, “very tired” is just not good enough. Pro-Plus, Red Bull or perhaps some pre-race rest are recommended solutions. Bear this in mind next time.

Paul Taylor spent time in hospital after much nausea at Navigation Bridge last year. He managed to retire into the care of a nurse again this time. Caroline Fox (who I think was supporting Tim Welch) reported Paul’s withdrawal at Great Linford and also delivered him to our ‘care’ at Bridge 99. Unfortunately the nausea returned later en route in the Snail, but Paul’s hat prevented a very unpleasant experience for the other passengers. (Note to self. Must get hold of some airline bags.)

Dave Peabody was the first of the Peabody brothers to throw in his towel, thus ending any hope of being the first ever sibling finishers. ‘Left knee gone’ is the listed excuse for pulling out at Milton Keynes and I guess sixty odd miles of hopping is tall order. He has since vowed to return to do better.

Spencer and Ron Summers were another family pairing, being son and father. Ron had obviously become fed up with Spencer’s failures to finish, so came along to show the boy how it should be done. Unfortunately Spence’s tendency to wander away from the canal in towns starting with the initials MK, must be a congenital problem. The pair called Jan for directions knowing that they were on the A422 at Tongwell island heading towards the M1. Jan suggested that although the canal runs under the 422 they should be heading away from the motorway at this point. Details beyond this are a bit sketchy but I believe the Webbermobile was responsible for returning our lost sheep to the fold. Last words from Spence, “I bloody hate Milton Keynes – I SHALL RETURN!”

Carl Sommer reported his retirement with a very precise distance of 82.5 miles which I make to be Mount Farm just before Fenny Stratford. I am, of course using canal miles, so if Carl was using one of those GPS thingies he probably stopped somewhere completely different – who knows?

Christine Costiff reports stopping at Fenny Stratford, our old CP site. She must have been very quiet about it. She and her crew managed not to incur the wrath of the troll who lives at the pub there and reports to British Waterways any humans who might dare to trip-trap over his bridge.

Kathy Hearn withdrew from the race somewhere in Milton Keynes. She is most grateful to the supporter who gave a lift to the Bridge 99 CP and provided “the best hot chocolate ever”. Having been in two minds about starting because of a lack of training through illness, she was not too disheartened by stopping. In fact, on reaching LV with us, she commandeered my bike and thoroughly enjoyed herself shepherding the field from Hamborough to the end.

Jackson Griffith joined us in the Loyal Snail at Bridge 99 for a ride to London. I did not know at the time that he’d knocked himself nearly sensible after banging his head on a bridge. I had thought him a little quiet on the journey and would have been much more concerned if aware of the possibility of concussion. Anyway, all is well as he is still daft enough for another bash – at the race not the bridge.

Tom Neill ended his race at Soulbury, a place that holds historic memories for Phil and me. Tom had run more than twice as far as he’d gone previously, but does not feel able to wear his t-shirt because of the DNF. At the time he was certain that this was a one-off attempt, but now feels there’s unfinished business – another infected by the GUCR bug perhaps.

Mark Denham-Smith was pleased to have covered around 90 miles in twenty four hours, but simply “blew up”. He says “It was too flat for me,” which is a not uncommon complaint. He aims to stick at the mountain challenges for the next few years but will be back next year supporting Susan – though he wants to return and finish it sometime.

Gary Barnes, an honoured regular, gave bruised feet as his reason to stop. He was last of several runners to drop in at Tesco, Leighton Buzzard, for some late shopping. With so many of our people calling in there, it is no wonder that they are trying to extend Sunday opening hours.

David Lock reported himself as “completely exhausted” when he stopped at Tesco. Phil and Daf were sent to collect him, but at first could not find him in the car park. Jan called David (who was actually on a bench outside the car park at the time) for a description. “Black top, blue hat and walking like a crab” made him fairly easy to spot. David is the recipient of the ‘Finger in the Eye’ award for spotting that the P is missing from Hempstead on the race t-shirt maps. It’s been gone so long we may have trouble finding it, but I’ll see what we can do.

Jean-Pierre Whitfield first disappeared from our list at Hatton. We realised that he must have been missed so called the Birdingbury CP to confirm that he had indeed gone through. He went on a good way further than that but eventually joined the late shoppers at Leighton Buzzard.

Rob Goodwin was aiming for a qualifying time for entry to Spartathlon. Sue reported that his hip had locked up and ‘we don’t know how we’re going to get him in the car’. From my rugby days I remember that good sharp blow to the gonads will usually induce some bending of the legs, but I trust a less painful method was used.

Mark Wittering was reported by his wife Jan as stopped at Tesco. The reason, in my Jan’s notes, is in quotation marks – “worn out”. I sympathise with them both as supermarkets have that effect on me.

Glyn Marston has an enviable record of GUCR finishes. So reliable is he that his crew did not believe him when he said he was pulling out. They drove off leaving Glyn so piqued that anger overcame his pain and he tore after them to let them know that he meant it. Stan Dolan was most surprised when Glyn, who he had passed earlier, came by like a man on new legs. We expected Glyn to be distraught at failure but at L.V. he was very happy to see club mate Colin finish and even happier to have Amy administer first aid to his knee.

Allan Clarke finished his race at Slapton. Jan’s log has the quote from his wife “it’s been a tough one.” We’re not sure from this whether it was Allan or the crew who had had enough by this point, but we agree with the sentiment.

Ian Peabody decided, on brother David’s retirement, that he would carry on to 100 miles regardless of time. He succeeded in this aim but has the unusual entry “Due to retire at GJA after CP closing time” in the race log.

Cliff Cox was reported by Rod to be suffering agony with his feet. Cliff’s wife also called Jan confirming this and noting that her man had reached GJA six minutes ahead of last year. Although we’re pleased to see he is still improving, we’d much rather see him at L.V. in future.

Richard Woodrow had been suffering increasing back pain for some time before arriving at Bulbourne. He wisely waited for a while before reporting to Rod that he was giving it best. Disappointed that he didn’t see us this time at L.V., he has already intimated that he’ll be back next year.

Bryan Henderson, wearing unlucky 13, nearly made it to Springwell – the point where most decide that it is worth pressing on to the end. Instead he was reunited with his kit, by David Sawyer who was on duty at the CP, and transported to the station. We don’t seem to have recorded the reason for stopping, or indeed if he made it home safely, but I guess we would have heard something by now.

Mick Gilbert was to be the exception to the rule that if you get to 120 miles you should be OK for a finish. He became one of very few to end their race at Hamborough Tavern. I am sure that the disappointment of stopping so ‘close’ to home was bad enough, without the unfounded ear bashing from me.

Allan Pollock sent this epitaph by email post race. “I think it’s about time to face the fact that I might never finish the GUCR in daylight hours. Faced with this reality and also family instruction for a proper bank holiday next year, I will not be entering in 2007.” We’ll see.

Tim Welch has had a couple of practice runs at this race without success. Not one to give up on it, he came back for more. Tim won’t thank me for pointing out that his was the slowest time over the last section. It must have been soul destroying to have others come past so close to the end, but his dogged determination saw him through. Well done Tim.

Ed Milbourn described the event as ridiculously challenging. Is anybody going to argue with that? Ed should, by the time you read this, have produced a report for his ultrarunner.co.uk website and would welcome others’ views, although it may be a bit late now. Anyway, he can be contacted via ed@ultrarunner.co.uk so give him your views.

Ernie Jewson reported post-race that he’d no serious damage - enough to keep him in bed for two days, but nothing serious! You can view images of his race on the Benfleet club site, but there are no pictures of the injuries. Thanks are due to his crew for transporting Mick Gilbert from H.T. to L.V.

Mark Cockbain was reported as ‘struggling a bit’ at GJA. He struggled on though and held it together all the way to Paddington.

Peter Johnson can usually be found running next to John Poole. Often in the past they have arrived at L.V. together. Last year John was forced to pull out so Peter finished alone. This time his pal finished ahead and was able to help guide Peter, via mobile phone, through the unexpected final diversion.

Mat Dowle, as can be viewed in his excellent video diary, did not have a comfortable run. On the Monday after the race he was admitted to hospital with cellulitis, a serious infection, which could have caused permanent damage to his foot and, possibly, his life! He has since recovered and says, “It was well worth it to be able to say ‘I’ve finished the GUCR.’” I’m not so sure.

Niall Dinwoodie managed to avoid Simon’s eagle eye when setting out from Navigation, but a call to Bridge 99 confirmed that he had indeed gone on. He went further on and on, so far on that he made it all the way to L.V. He is one of the few who did not say “Never again,” on crossing that line.

Peter Chandler can be seen at all stages of his race in a great photo diary that can be found at http://peteslongrun.jessica-hall.com . Apparently the event is not romantic enough for his girlfriend (now there’s a surprise) so he’s not allowed back next time. Just as well he managed to raise a fortune for Bowel Cancer UK this time.

John Poole, at Navigation Bridge, could easily have been mistaken for someone on his last legs. (If you don’t believe me have a look at the figure in the background in Mat’s video.) At Paddington, when dashing for a cab to the station, he looked twenty years younger! What a difference a finish makes.

Chris Ette looked pretty tired when I saw him at the finish of the Thamesmeander this year. He looked slightly more weary at L.V. but could head for bed with the added comfort of having raised funds for the DREAMS charity.

Anke Molkenthin has been blighted by injury problems during her previous canal races. With her record of results in extreme races there was never any doubt that she could do this one, but we (and, I think, she) were beginning to wonder when. Perhaps she should have asked for her lucky number 17 sooner as, much to our delight, it worked for her this time.

Stan Dolan needed a finish to qualify for the Spartathlon in September. He got one. Job done.

Simon Laporte is our most often finished finisher. His quiet, unassuming demeanour has made him very popular with all our crews. His immense strength of will, which earned high regard and admiration from helpers and runners alike, is undoubtedly a major factor in his repeated successes. Despite curtailed training, due to activities in defence of the realm, there was never any suggestion of failure. Respect.

Glyn Morris appreciated the camaraderie of the competitors, marshals and helpers, but found the event a tough one. Like many others he took a while to get over it, but enjoys the sense of satisfaction that comes with success.

Stuart Shipley was abducted by aliens during his race. They returned him to the towpath almost immediately, but forgot to reset his watch - which naturally would have been stopped during time aboard ship. He and we, would have been totally unaware of this, had not Glyn Morris been able to confirm the official result for Stuart.

Colin Highfield had doubtless heard more than enough of GUCR stories from Glyn and the famous Snyed support crew. You’d think that would be enough to want to keep well away, but, far from deterred, he came, ran, finished and gave them all something to cheer about. Good for him.

Andy Mason called it off with sore calves and bleeding feet at GJA last year. There was to be no hobbling off into the daybreak this time, Andy being the third of our unsupporteds home.

Tony Brimstead found the prospect of only 100 miles still to go insufficient challenge at Braunston, so he added a few by going north on the Oxford to Bridge 84 and back. By this means he met up with Alicja at Wolverton and from there they ran together for most of the race.

Alicja Barahona is probably the best female ultra runner in the world. She is our course record holder and has completed (often ahead of the men) many extreme races in some very inhospitable territory. Despite all her experience she was struggling with my directions for the first diversion when Tony Brimstead came to her aid.

Jimmy Carter and Steve Allen seem to have done almost all of it together. Apart from a six minute interval at Hatton (possibly a typo anyway) they appear on all our records, and in the finish photo, together. They were separated on their return home, though, when only Jim required a visit to hospital while Steve settled on a trip to his physio.

Martin Ilott finished probably strongest of all. His time over the section from H.T. to the end would have been quick without the changes and was the fastest this year. He was fortunate to be the first to be warned of the alteration at Southall and was able to negotiate the obstruction without too much difficulty.

John Kinder really struggled with the route through that final diversion. Weary and alone, trying to match the issued map and description to a different section of the towpath must have been a nightmare. As one who has, on occasion, strayed from a race route I can well imagine the degree of confusion and frustration induced. He did very well to see it through.

Henk van der Beek was well pleased (and somewhat surprised) by his placing this time. So pleased, in fact, that his arrival at L.V. was not accompanied by the usual abuse for the organisers. Even the difficulties of the later diversions did not provoke too much comment – perhaps he’s getting old.

Bob Brown is a living legend. Nothing more needs to be said, but he sums up exactly the attitude that makes him a star with this simple statement afterwards. “Can’t say I enjoyed it much, but feel immense satisfaction at getting to the end.”

Matt Giles has been a regular contributor to the Runners’ World GUCR thread. Much of the pre-race discussion on this thread was devoted to ‘What run/walk regime should I follow? How long should I rest each hour? How many changes of shoe should make? What should I eat? or similar queries. If I’m honest I am driven to distraction by all this, believing that you just go and run as much as you can. I had Matt down as one who would worry too much to do well. How wrong can you be? I won’t flatter myself by thinking that he took the least bit of notice of anything I’d said (although I do ask somewhere in the website advice “While you’re doing all this shoe changing aren’t the others getting away?”) but he covered the whole distance without once taking the weight of his feet. That’s the way to do it.

By this straightforward policy Matt achieved the third fastest time ever and, had it not been for those dreaded diversions, would undoubtedly have been much quicker. Prior to this year he was unknown to me. In conversations post race and since, I have learned that he is a very accomplished and extremely well liked runner. Many people commented to the effect that he is unusual in being so good without being ‘up himself’, an opinion which I wholeheartedly endorse. His was a truly great performance, by a thoroughly decent bloke.

THE GUCR 2006 CREW (In deliberately random order)

Shane Wilkinson at Catherine de B, continued his long involvement with the race despite needing to be home in Salisbury by Saturday afternoon. He hopes to have more time and be busy further into the route next time.
Jonathan & Liz Lee were at their ‘regular’ site at Weedon Bec. They have intimated that a site nearer the end might be desirable next time, just to see that people really do go all the way.
Pam Storey is well known to many ultra runners. Making her first appearance at GUCR, she was very active at the Start and Finish and, it seems, most points in between.
Celia Anger & Michael Seckington are a regular crew at the Compton event. For their first canal race, my sister and her bloke ‘kept it in the family’ by standing in for another sister and her bloke (Kerry & John) at the Springwell Lock site. They seem to have enjoyed the stint and may well be back next time.
David Sawyer was the other member of the first-time crew on duty at Springwell. Intending to run GUCR 2007, David came along to get a feel for the event and see how it’s done.
Penny & Ian Elliott have pretty much made the Grand Junction Arms their own. Having notched up a finish of her own, Penny vowed to restrict her involvement to crew duties in future. So far she has stuck to that vow.
Rod & Margo Palmer have been keen participants, at the very top level, since the earliest days of this event. Their experience of exactly what runners are suffering is invaluable at the 100mile check.
Mike Hickman has long been a member of Rod’s support crew. This was his first time on ‘official’ duty at the GJA check so he only needs to sample the GUCR as a competitor to have the full set.
Ramona & Andy Smith were at Bridge 99 and then the Hamborough Tavern later. I am not worthy of passing comment on how good at tending to runners these two are, but for my money they’re simply the best.
Anthony Taylor is a very dear friend of Britain’s Longest. As well as being highly regarded for his determination in completing this race, his calm thoughtful manner is much appreciated in the later stages when fatigue has rendered many of us thoughtless.
Jeremy Bolam holds the GUCR most promising runner award. He has been intending to run more times than he or I care to remember, but has been unable, for a variety of reasons, to take part. He was on hand at Southall and aims to run next time.
Ian & Joan Clark have been heavily involved for many years. Besides helping at registration and at Little Venice, they ‘do whatever needs doing’ along the way, as well as taking care of most baggage movements - relieving me of a great deal of stress in the process.
Amy Redwood (for reasons that I have long forgotten) is known in our family as the Badger of Bother. Introduced by Hannah to the joys of ultra crewing at the CDC two years ago, she is now veteran of another CDC and two GUCRs and is highly regarded for her confident and competent first-aiding.
Dafydd Meurig came new to the GUCR this year, also as a friend of Hannah. He stepped into the rôle of principle transport driver at short notice and made a damned good job of it.
Jan, Hannah and Diccon Kearn are the best wife, daughter and son I have ever had. Their acceptance of my obsession and their active assistance make all this nonsense possible. I count myself very lucky indeed.
Phil & Harriet Gadd, my brother-in-law and niece, are, like the family above, involved throughout the whole weekend’s activity. As co-organiser and safety officer from the second race onwards, Phil has experienced it all with me. I am lucky to have, and grateful for, his support. Harriet has established a reputation as the A-Team timekeeper. Her quiet efficiency will be greatly missed next year, when GCSEs may just take priority.
Simon Bolton, Lucy Gettins, Martin Fray & Susanne Enhard took over responsibility for the HQ van at the Navigation Bridge checkpoint while the A-team rested. Simon has attended here many times and his ability to record the night-time comings and goings is legendary. The other three coped admirably with what is probably the most stressful point of the race. Although all four are runners, so far Lucy is the only one to declare her intention to compete next year.
Oliver Dunc an-King is another thwarted competitor. He came to Hamborough Tavern to see what we are all about and will be feeling the pain for himself next time.
Ian Webber and Jill Beggs were intending to be runner and support respectively. When illness put paid to Ian’s chances they came again to help at HoE and Br 99 instead. [Just because I feel it ought to be reported somewhere; Ian came to Compton to run the ‘Canter’ in July. He sacrificed his race to save another competitor who had collapsed unconscious on the course in the extreme heat. All involved at Compton are extremely grateful that the right person was on hand at the right time.]