Sutton Park in Birmingham is a long way to go to spend 18 minutes running. I've run there before; 2008 was my first trip. I blogged about it again in 2010, when apparently the highlight for me was getting free donuts off the donut man. He wasn't running. The Masters Road Relay championships is a small victory in the war of staving off the inevitable. Only the best, the brave or the loyal may be found competing. Its just a little difficult sometimes working out which category you fall into. I was in a four man team of 'only if you need me's'. It was good of someone to ask us to run, and a small feat of endurance for someone to drive us down and back. The spirit was good though and we've never looked out of place in the past. There were plenty of self deprecating jokes about evergreen runners and such like in the car on the way.
The weather was hot and still and a good crowd was present. We put up the new tent and slung the bags in before setting off to run the course, checking that it remained as we remembered it. The course was the same, but those of us who'd been there before were just a bit older.
As our first runner set off at the start, the field in our age group of 45-55's comprised around 40 teams. The ability range was wide, but there were some fast lads present and they set the pace. Each runner worked their way around the course and before I knew it I was off and chasing. The distance between the runners I could see ahead of me was not insignificant and it took me until nearly halfway around the 3 mile course before I began passing folk. I got by three. However, they were all in the younger age group category (35-45).
Ahead of me, I spied another group of three and ploughed on in the heat and was soon on the shoulder of a Les Croupier runner. We never see them up our way, and whenever I see their name, all I can think of is roulette. They're from Cardiff and had a nifty team out. The lad I'd caught was going well though and I clung to him while he, in turn, chased hard to catch the other two who had crept ahead.
We finished a gallant 20th which was fine with everyone making a contribution. I'm going to have to work hard next weekend in Edinburgh to carve out something respectable, but its probably just what I need to get me back up there.