Anniversary 5 Miler

Wow, it has been a busy month at TeamSLGR with preparations for our first ever race, a mob match and the AGM. It’s all go. I don’t think we realised just how much there is to think about when organising a race but thankfully it all went off without a hitch.

Firstly, the mob match between the four Dartford based clubs. It was run at Lullingstone which is a brutal course. Every runner from each club was counted and points were awarded based on their position within the overall Park Run results, so if there were 300 runners, the first place runner would be awarded 300 points and the last 1 point. They then took the scores for each team and added them together. We had the smallest team with 30 runners, Road Runners had 67 runners with CPA and Harriers somewhere in between, we were never going to win on points but as always we won on team spirit, encouragement and support. We all stayed to cheer the rest of the team home and any other runners and a group of us ran out to bring our last couple of runners in to the finish line, while all of the other teams drifted off to the café, we showed them how it should be done. So proud to be part of SLGR and we also had lots of cake courtesy of Gavin and Kay. They are planning on making it an annual event, hopefully at a different course and possibly scored in a different way, however and where ever, I know we will bring just as much spirit as we always do.

On to our first race, it had been advertised around the So Let’s Go Running groups and SLGR to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the first ever So Let’s Go Running session at Dartford but we hadn’t put it out to the general public, we wanted to test it all out on a relatively small field first before it’s bigger and better next time. We also made it our January GP event to encourage as many of you as possible to come along and be our guinea pigs. It was a challenging 5 miler run on the offsite path at Cyclopark, the first 1.5 miles on the lower section and the rest up the hill, across the A2, looping through some fields, back across the A2 further up before a nice long downhill finish.

Chris and I have been a bit nervous about a lot of things over the past few weeks; would anyone turn up, would the mugs and race numbers arrive in time, have we got pins, let’s run the race route 5 times to double, double check everything, where to put the marshals, have we got enough of them, the water station, course markers, can we get a gate open, what happens if we can’t, have we got water and cups, have we got enough entry forms for people entering on the day, race timing, jelly babies, Jaffa cakes and biscuits, prizes, first aid kits the weather, I had spreadsheets for who had signed up, who had paid, finish times. ARHHH !!!! I don’t think either of us slept particularly well in the weeks before and we messaged one another several times a day with updates and worries. In the end almost everything went without a hitch.

The day before Chris, Mark, Steve Lucas, Clive and myself went out to mark the route and run it one more time just to triple check, Clive was to lead the way on race day on his bike so we had to make sure he knew where he was going, we put in mile markers and arrows and hoped that they would still be there the following morning. Job done.

Race day dawned and it was freezing but a beautiful crisp morning with a clear blue sky. We had just over 30 runners already registered and were hoping for more on the day, we ended up with 46 runners and a tail runner. Just enough to make it competitive but manageable and just about break even on cost. That was a big relief. We had plenty of marshals and they headed off to their spots, the water station crew Dave Reid and Ian Pullen headed off to set up, they had to move from where we had planned them to be as it was a private road and the locals got a bit antsy but it worked out in the end. Chris gave his pre-race briefing and they were off. We hadn’t managed to get the gate open at the side of Cyclopark so our first worry was whether we could get 47 runners and a bike through the small gate at the side without a hiccup. Luckily they had just enough of a run up to the gate to spread out and not cause a bottleneck, no one got hurt.

Our first marshal was Lynne Hill at the 0.75 mile turnaround point who was messaging just before the start to ask where she should be, I said it was marked and should be easy to find, well it would have been if the marker hadn’t been stolen from that bit of the course. Clive pointed her in the right direction as he lead the first runners through, she made it in time for the main bulk of the runners and all was back on track.

As the first runners came back through past the start at 1.5 miles it was neck and neck between Alan G Smith and James Merry as they headed up the hill towards the bridge and our next marshal. Each marshal was letting us know as the leaders came through and the tail runner so that the could clear their stations and head back. They were all brilliant and thankfully no one got lost or injured along the way.

I was stood at the last crossing ready to stop the traffic when we spotted the first runners heading down the hill, I got ready with the camera, Dawn, John, Chris, Lynne and Stephen Burgess were at the finish line to record times and positions, give out mugs and refreshments but who was going to take the title of winner of our first race ?

In the end we had a fairly clear winner in Alan G Smith a whole minute ahead of James Merry with Steve Lucas taking third. Bringing it home for the ladies were Rene Marie Young, an ex SLGR member, Suzanne Curran and Janet Cooper. Great effort by all. There were some very quick times including a couple of PB’s and a very happy Luke Oxlade who made it home in under an hour. The weather was perfect, the marshals and runners were great and the only complaint that I have heard is that the jelly babies were frozen, if that was the worse thing that happened, we’ll take that. Jo Conway managed to drop her mug but miraculously it bounced, just shows that SLGR are made of tough stuff.

Thank you all for coming out and making our first event a huge success.

I have added a few of the photos here, the rest are on the So Let’s Go Running Facebook page.

We would love any feedback so that we can learn from it for next time, good or bad, all helps.

That just left breakfast for the hungry runners and crew before we went and put our feet up for the afternoon and started thinking about the AGM.

The trophies are in, the votes have been counted and we hope to see you all there on Monday.