ARC permit 17/380
The 31st Round Norfolk Relay attracted it's biggest entry yet for it's annual 198 mile jaunt around the outskirts of Nelson's county over the weekend of 16-17th September, with 61 teams competing for trophies in five classes - Open, Club, Masters, Ladies and Mixed.
Despite concerns earlier in the week that the race route would be affected when a light airplane came down near Wolverton, stage one runners were still able to follow the regular route over the Sandringham estate.
The weather had been changeable all week and it was no different over the race weekend with some runners enduring monsoon conditions whilst others were searching for the sun cream! Drizzly conditions together with the early morning mist didn't make for good driving by the support vehicles during the night, but support teams were as undaunted as ever. However the early starters at 5:30am on the Saturday morning set off with ideal calm conditions and the sight of a new moon.
Six teams covered the route inside 23 hours, led by CoNAC 'A' (Club Winners and Best Norfolk Club - 20:23:40) followed by Cambridge and Coleridge 'A' (Open Winners and Best Visiting Club - 21:12:52), Ryston Runners 'Open' (21:36:30), Wymondham AC (21:52:31), North Norfolk Beach Runners 'A' (ARC winners - 22:05:34) and Norwich Road Runners 'Masters' (Masters Winners - 22:48:37). CoNAC 'A' were helped along to their win with eight individual stage victories, followed by Cambridge and Coleridge with four.
CoNAC 'B' lifted the newly presented Birketts trophy for the mixed team class (14th overall in 24:23:34), whilst Norwich Road Runners 'Ladies' won the increasingly popular Ladies class (26th overall in 26:25:35). Bure Valley Harriers (13th overall in 24:11:37) were again fastest Small Club retaining the trophy they won in 2017 - this despite incurring a DNS on stage 13.
There were no debutants in 2017 but we welcomed back again for their second RNR, Bure Valley, Wellingborough AC, North Herts RR and Newmarket Joggers making their return to the event after a six year absence. Wellingborough have certainly warmed to the event by finishing a mere 61 seconds slower than their predicted time (not bad for nearly 28 hours running!) and picked up the Carrott Trophy for the best time estimate. At the other extreme, in the process of being quickest team to finish, CoNAC 'A' ran over 2 hours faster than their predicted time to collect the wooden spoon award for the worst time estimate ..... this probably explains why the finish area was so quiet for their arrival.
The individual awards are based on age grading with Nigel Arnold (Norfolk Gazelles - 86.2%) producing the best overall performance to receive the Kelly Holmes Trophy. Jake Stearman (Dereham) and Maisie Pritchard (Riverside) won the junior prizes respectively with Jake taking the Richard Nerurkar Trophy. Dominic Blake (Reepham) and Iona Lake (CONAC) won the senior men and ladies awards, with Dominic collecting the John Barrow Trophy.
With nearly two thirds of participating runners being masters, awards in these categories are particularly well contested, so congratulations to Stephen Mead (Stowmarket - 85.7%) and Jane Ashby (Ryston Runners - 85.7%) who came out as top performing male and female masters. Stephen also took the Paul Evans Trophy.
The Ron Hill Trophy for the best family performance, based on three family members, went to the Rackham family from the Metros RC. Remarkably there were five Rackhams in the Metros RNR line up.
On the individual runners front it's generally regarded that any performance age graded over 85% commands respect, and in this years race only 7 out of 1037 runners achieved this. So hat's off to Nigel, Stephen and Jane mentioned above and to Nigel Rackham (Metros - 85.5%), and the CoNAC trio of Matt Bidwell (85.5%), Adrian Mussett (85.1%) and Jane Clarke (85.1%).
There are five trophies awarded to specific stage winners or age graded performances. These were won by Sullivan Smith (C&C - Eastern Daily Press Trophy for stage 1), Adrian Mussett (CONAC - Dave Wootton Cup for stage 2), Tony Witmond (NNBR - Darryl Davis Memorial Trophy for stage 4), James O'Neil (Ryston - Fat Birds Don't Fly Cup for stage 5), John Ferguson (C&C - Peter Andrews Cup for stage 11) and Andrew Shields (C&C - Winning Ways Trophy for stage 16).
There's no doubt that the RNR continues to go from strength to strength and much of this is due to the enthusiasm of those taking part, many of whom come back year after year for their RNR fix. So special congrations to the 19 runners celebrating their 10th RNR appearance and in particular Paul Woodyatt of CoNAC notching up his 20th appearance.Neville Knights Race Director - Round Norfolk Relay