Round the Island Relay 2018
by Sarah Probert
Saturday 9th June saw the 3rd annual Round the Island Relay Run. This was a fun event (and not a race) organised by Cherry and Pat (WWRR) where teams of runners take on the 10 leg route around the Isle of Wight. Various Island groups and clubs entered teams including IWRR, WWRR and the ubiquitous Godshill Massive (GHM), some putting in ‘fast teams’ and ‘slower teams’ (although it definitely wasn’t a race!). As always, the emphasis for the Harriers was very much on working together as one team and as such, all 10 legs were undertaken by a mix of our members regardless of ability.
Leg 1 started at the utterly offensive time of 07:30 with Beth Holloway, Amanda Chaddah & Julie Kingsbury rocking the ‘Red Vests’ at Cowes Floating Bridge with the Harriers team baton ‘The Squeaky, Purple, Rubber Chicken’ who had no idea just how abused it was going to be over the next 12 hours.
Starting as we meant to go on, the ladies absolutely smashed it and arrived at the leg 2 handover (Porchfield Village Hall) at 08:53 where Julie King, Mike Dignan and Hannah Walker raced on with the chicken aloft towards Ken Beak (no relation to the chicken) who was trying to contain his excitement waiting at the leg 3 start at Cranmore. Having already undertaken a trial of their leg the previous week (which included 3 wrong turns, 2 phone calls to Ken and a hovering search and rescue helicopter!) the trio navigated their way along the route using other runners and random dog walkers through numerous fields, tree lined paths and a beautiful stretch of beach before
arriving impressively a whole 10 minutes ahead of schedule and Julie, taking her responsibility very seriously, transferring the chicken into Ken’s capable hands! Mike carried on the next leg to Yarmouth with Ken before courageously and sensibly slowing down to rehydrate (this was most definitely not because he’d burnt himself out trying to keep up with Julie and Hannah). Being the absolute legend and warrior he is, Ken abandoned Mike like a true friend and bravely ploughed on alone for the team in some pretty hot and hilly conditions towards Nigel and Jimi Eldridge at Totland Pier.
After the all-important chicken handover and wracked with guilt for ditching Mike in his hour of need, Ken doubled back to find him and they valiantly completed the last 3 miles to Totland. Having already seen the formidable Mr GHM himself, Michael Coultrup and some of the IWRR’s already pass through, the Eldridge boys now had some ground to cover (what with it NOT being a race an’ all). The shade of the climb up from the beach soon opened onto the dry, sun-baked Headon Warren. Their discomfort was short lived though as they were greeted by a cool sea breeze, an outstanding view of the Needles and a glimpse of a little yellow GHM dot ascending to the coastguard cottages. The base of the climb to Tennyson’s monument saw the pair overtake the relentless Mr C so any half-arsed thoughts of walking could be well forgotten! A wonderful sea-mist covered descent to Freshwater Bay was followed by a final push up to the chalk car park to ceremoniously hand over the perspiring chicken to the Clifftop Greyhounds, Les Cupis and Trevor McAlister.
Feeling fresh and obviously having had a great night’s sleep (more than most of us it seemed), Trevor sped off, with Les admitting he struggled to keep up initially (no, we didn’t believe that part either!). The pair soon settled into an amiable and synchronised pace. At 10 miles, this was the longest leg of the relay and with Trevor’s ankle starting to feel the pressure, it saw the two reach Whale Chine and the Leg 6 Ladies in a stonking 1 hour and 28 minutes!
Les (feeling like he’d barely warmed up) joined Sally Roberts, Tracey Dillon, Elaine Parry and Sam Fancourt for a few testing undulations along their 7-mile stretch. Tracey was in charge of the strap on cock (the rubber chicken tucked in her belt!! Please people, keep it clean!!) and with laughs and banter aplenty, they took in some beautiful views past St Catherine’s Lighthouse and through Steephill Cove.
One final sterling effort brought them out at La Falaise car park, Ventnor bang on their predicted time of 15:15 where Harriers resident timekeeper, photographer and race guru, Chris Lewis, joined them for a well-earned pint at the Spyglass and uber-runners Richard Melville and Graham Gardner sprinted gracefully and effortlessly on towards Yaverland car park to the awaiting Rosie Eldridge, Carolyn Ward, Bob Somers and Nat Rose who had sensibly carb loaded with ice cream whilst waiting.
Nigel also joined the leg 8ers (not wanting to be outshone by Rosie but failing miserably!) Having been spurred on by the Harriers group chat that had been keeping us all updated and motivated throughout the race (Oops! Sorry, ‘fun run’!) there was much ‘whoop-whooping’ as Richard and Graham handed over the chicken (which was frequently squeaked at innocent bystanders!) and the comrades in arms skipped off up to the Culver Monument and down towards Whitecliff Bay with laughs and shouts of ‘Roots!’, ‘Step!’ and ‘Hole!’ as they went! Having taken it in turns to carefully cradle the rubber poultry they were greeted with low tide and a stunning view of Bembridge Lifeboat Station which they passed with more smiles and banter and headed towards the Duver car park and our penultimate group of intrepid runners.
Pippa Sharp (nominated chicken carrier and leg 9 team captain), Ana Carolina Parkman, Louise Wilcock, Hayley Tutton and Stephen Lee were set on enjoying the run and finishing together which is exactly what they did on their beautiful scenic leg (after the killer hill up to Priory Bay!) and through our trusty Harriers stomping ground of Seaview, Ryde Esplanade and good old Spencer Road. Brian Warren, not wanting to miss out on a photo opportunity but not wanting to actually run anywhere, took some snaps of the team on Ryde Esplanade and cheered them on with that unwavering Ryde Harriers spirit! Not wanting to be outdone in the excitement stakes, Stephen took a spectacular stunt-esque dive en-route but smoothly dusted himself off and carried on running, picking up the unofficial ‘Hard-core Hero of the Day’ award.
Passing Quarr Abbey and heading to the final leg at The Fishbourne Inn they were greeted by a wave of cheers and red shirts jumping up and down and waving! The group for leg 10 was the biggest of the day with Harriers who had already run their legs joining Jo Beak (Guardian of the Chicken), Sarah Probert and Michelle Martin for that unrivalled Harriers unity we’re famous for (Scott, Nick, Graham, Sarah, Nat, Rosie and Hayley).
Waved off by some of leg 9 plus club legends Dave and Joy Furmidge and Nige Eldridge, the final descent (after the pretty hefty undulations of Brocks Copse Lane and the surrounding area of Wootton) towards The Lifeboat at East Cowes was a victory run like no other!
The Lone Warrior Ken running uphill towards them to take photos and then joining the ever growing rabble as they rounded the Prince of Wales and steamed on down into East Cowes and across the finish line to glory and rapture and a sea of red poured into The Lifeboat where we joined some of the other clubs and runners who had all performed so impressively on a really hot day. Bewildered diners looked on as we all toasted our success as the best club on the Island (We’re pretty sure that’s what the other runners were toasting anyway!)
An absolutely stunning day full of laughs, support and most of all pure, unadulterated teamwork! Special mentions for all those Harriers who ran more than one leg to support others particularly Ken Beak, Les Cupis and Nigel Eldridge who clocked up over 20 miles each on the day. Massive thanks to our own Sally Roberts for organising us so efficiently and effectively and also to the race/run organisers who made it possible! Team Harriers are definitely up for it again next year!