On Saturday 8th June, we entered our intrepid team, assembled and coordinated by our uber-organised and very lovely Sally Roberts, into the annual Round the Island Relay Run (not a race!). Organised by Pat Harris of the IWRR, it was a beautiful day considering the gale force winds and stormy conditions the night before. Our trusty mascot/baton was rubber chicken, Cluck Rogers who thoroughly enjoyed his day! This event was not based on ability or speed, it purely embraced and combined three simple aspects – our beautiful island, our love of running and our friendship, support and encouragement for each other as a club. This is the day, leg by leg, in the words of those who ran it…
Leg 1 Reniera & Mel
(Newport to Cowes)
Reniera – Despite the absurdly early start (who knew 6am on a Saturday was a thing?), the first leg set off in time after much discussion about which team had the best ‘baton’. Squeaky chicken and the Road Runner’s squeaky poo emoji were top contenders!
The 5 mile flat course was brilliantly sheltered from the winds and we got to watch the festival set up from across the Medina and enjoy an oasis of calm in the metropolis of Newport! Melanie James and I finished within our allotted 50 minutes and thoroughly enjoyed our chat the whole way along!
Leg 2 Simon
(Cowes to Porchfield)
Running directly against 40+ mph winds was definitely enough to blow away the early morning cobwebs. It meant pushing harder than anticipated but running by the sea and along the costal path was still enjoyable as always.
It was only me and Cluck Rogers the chicken on this leg. I didn’t think we’d have much in common, but we really bonded by the end. To be honest though, from an athletic point of view, he really didn’t seem to be pulling his weight. I felt I was carrying him throughout the whole run. Still, he was a really good listener and I felt he really appreciated my jokes which is a rarity.
A lovely event and I can’t wait to do it again next year
Leg 3 Caroline & Jo
(Porchfield to Cranmore)
Caroline – We set the Harrier scene earlier on, whilst the other teams limbered up and stretched Jo and I worked out how to take a timed selfie #runningskills. We started to feel under pressure as we waited for our “squeaky chicken” to arrive (no offence Simon). The Vegan ‘lean bean’ runners & IWRR appeared and disappeared without the expected ‘How was your leg, glad the rain has cleared up, well done” chitter chatter.
This was when we decided to up our game and go for a speedy start, with the obvious caveat that this would be tempered as soon as we were around the corner and out of sight, approx. 200ms in!
Our leg seemed slightly fraudulent as ‘Coastal path’ should really have read ‘tarmac road, away from the sea’ but we trotted on enjoying the sights and feeling smug that we successfully kept to the route.
Our final mile included a long awaited run along the beach and blustered by the wind we ploughed on until we saw fellow red shirt, Steve Lee (who’s in his 70’s – who knew?!!) who ran us in and the old bird was handed over to Sir Ken and Brian.
Leg 4 Steve, Ken & Brian
(Cranmore to Totland)
Steve – There was a traffic jam at the end of Cranmore Ave. as all the teams gathered to start Leg 4. The previous leg runners arrived in quick succession and we set off along the coastal “path”, which turned out to be a narrow twisting rutted scramble through the woods, which I had to walk/stumble, thus delaying Brian Warren and Ken Beak as they waited for the poor old man who was tagging along with them. Emerging on to the road through Yarmouth we then had a strong headwind to contend with, but nevertheless started to make up time (and overtake a couple of the teams who had passed us in the woods). After a sheltered climb past Fort Victoria we then felt the full force of the gale again as we hit the beach at Brambles Chine, but we still made Totland Pier in 64 minutes.
Leg 5 Nige & Julie
(Totland to Freshwater)
Nige – Julie and I set off into a head wind along Totland sea front but this was short lived as the climb up Headon Warren was completely sheltered. As we reached the crest of the warren we were greeted by it’s full force once more but the beautiful view of the white horses crashing around the Needles more than made up for it. The climb to the coast guard cottages on Highdown was once again fairly sheltered and we knew that as we turned the corner above the old battery the wind would be our friend. Just as expected we were lifted onto our toes and made light work of the climb to Tennyson’s monument even being able to maintain a conversation. Our finish was now in sight and we could see the carpark above Freshwater bay was now teaming with eager runners and their support crews. After a lovely descent into the bay we climbed the last hill to hand over to Trevor at the beginning of his 3 leg adventure.
Leg 6 Trevor
(Freshwater to Brook)
It was just myself Cluck Rogers on leg 6, but Rogers wasn’t up for doing any of the leg work by this point, and got into a bit of a flap until I agreed to carry him.
As we set out along the south coast of the Island, Cluck Rogers spent the first part of the journey looking forlornly out at the surfers with their kites soaring around Compton Bay. But I soon cheered him up with a speedy run along to Chilton Chine, making light work of the two teams we flew passed on our way.
Cluck was then in high spirits as we joined the gaggle of hens (plus Les & Richard) for legs 7 & 8 all the way to Ventnor.
Leg 7 & 8 Rosie, Sally, Tracey, Elaine, Sam, Les, Trevor & Richard
(Brook to Ventnor via Chale)
Rosie – Leg 7 and 8 think that’s right?? Chilton Chine to Whale Chine with the crew!! I knew it was going to be a great day when Sally pointed out I had my running shorts on inside out!! It was a beautiful run with lots of great banter, hills and daring chine crossings. Leg 8 Whale Chine to Ventnor was gorgeous, slightly more hilly and a windswept look was our aim of the day. Finishing off at the Spyglass Inn for a well-earned feast of chips and shandy!
Leg 9 Graham & Richard
(Ventnor to Sandown)
Rich – As I met Graham in Ventnor to start the next leg of the relay I was still feeling quite fresh if not a little windswept. We commenced with the obligatory photos and restocked on water and off me and Graham went. It started fairly comfortably along the sea front with the wind behind us at this point…….but things were about to change. As we headed into the wooded area in Bonchurch we soon remembered what was in store from last year, a mile and a half of yo-yo hills that had you questioning if you had actually run any distance at all, we passed many locals but as we neared the end of the woods we could hear the dulcet tones of Mr Coultrup encouraging us on ( well shouting at us for walking). After this it was a fairly easy jaunt down to Shanklin seafront where we begin the never ending run to Yaverland car park, it was lovely to see Charlie Connelly enjoying the sun outside her beach hut as we ran by. Yaverland car park just never seemed to be getting closer but after swerving in and out of what seemed like 1000 pedestrians we finally arrived to loud cheers and the vision of the hill that was the next leg on the relay.
Graham – I had been following everyone’s progress during the day and they were running about 25 minutes behind schedule. Okay I thought so I don’t need to be at La Falaise car park for the original estimate of 2 pm I’ll arrive about ten past. Well the drive over included far more hold ups than I expected and I arrived at 20 past. No money for parking so drove up the hill past the car park to find a free parking place. Ran back down to the rendezvous point just as the relay team appeared in the distance. They had no idea how perfectly I timed the changeover, lol! Well I was glad I just made it in time anyway!! Rich has described the leg perfectly. It is surprisingly hard work and I had to keep on reminding myself not to complain about being tired as I was running with the legend that had already run the previous two legs and was planning on carrying on til the end. Such a great day and loved being part of Team Harriers.
Leg 10 Rachel, Carolyn, Nat, Lisa, Richard & Bob
(Sandown to St Helens)
Rachel – Leg 10 started with Cluck still having a lift from Richard in his rucksack. He was in good form and not in the least bit tired out. The rest of us started to hike up Culver Cliff but as it happened we were helped along by the wind blowing us up. As quite often happens Bob fell over but luckily was not badly hurt. Only a bit of blood! The coastal paths round Bembridge kept us on our toes with many steep steps, rabbit holes, overhanging branches and tree roots. Then it was running past the Lifeboat station, along the stony beach before coming back up to paths again where Carolyn stopped us for an energy cashew bar. That really worked as she zoomed ahead of us all as we rounded a blustery Bembridge harbour. We next navigated the Causeway across the harbour before finally seeing the finish at St. Helen’s Duver. A great leg by a fab team!
Leg 11 Lou & Richard
(St Helens to Fishbourne)
Lou – Leg 11 starting at the sunny Duver. Thinking earlier in the week I may be running all on my lonesome, Richard stepped up to add another 7 miles to his and Cluck’s already existing 23 or so. After a quick intake of Coca Cola sugar we were off up Priory’s ‘killer hill’. The wind had died down somewhat and before we knew it we were back on familiar ground running through Seaview making our way towards the club house where we had a two minute pit-stop with time for a few photos. Back on our legs running along sunny Ryde Esplanade up towards the long and dreary Spencer Road. Lady’s Walk is a relief to get to in good time and is always a down hill relief until you come to the bottom of that hill. Past the lovely church towards Quarr Abbey estate where Richard informed me he has never been. It was lovely running through the estate and then before long there was Brian Warren cheering us on in his flip flops. At the finish line there was a nice crowd cheering us in. Richard had now had enough and decided not to do leg 12. Can anyone blame him? Fab run Richard and thank you for your support.
Leg 12 Alison, Jo, Beth, Jane & Sue
(Fishbourne to Newport)
Alison – You know those legs that went out beforehand to check the route? – not us. In fact, it turned out that none of us had actually checked where we were supposed to be going, a lack of organisational skills which may also be reflected in the fact that we are also last with our report! The lack of planning meant that we spent our pre-run period debating where we were supposed to be going, and whether we needed to take a diversion from the original route due to a possible footpath closure. We successfully managed to meet Sue at The Sloop in Wootton. The final leg didn’t seem to have any actual coast (at least, not on the route we were on!) but after Wootton took us through pretty country lanes towards Whippingham, continuing to gently debate whether this was the right way and where to go next. This meant that we were unusually pleased to see Brian and Ken running to meet us confirming, if nothing else, that we hadn’t gone too far wrong. We joined the main road into Newport, eyeing Festival preparations as we went, before turning to be met at the finish by a fabulous Harriers welcoming committee, and then a very well earned drink. It really was a fabulous event – great to be part of something with the Harriers family and IOW running community. Thanks to everyone who made it happen.