8th July 2018

Interest in the Dronfield Relays emerged after speaking to running club social secretary Neal after a Power Yoga session one Thursday, its a Sunday, its two weeks after my 100 miler so I should be just about legful enough to run again and its quite local.

Grateful for the freedom to run

At 5 miles per leg, 3 legs in persons of 2, we needed 6 club members to participate in the Steel City Striders annual event. We would be ‘invited guests’ swamped by the ‘Yellow and Green’ vests.

It was one of those typical 2018 hot Sunny Sundays that we were becoming too familiar with. Even jogging up to the other ‘Helen’s’ house half a mile away I was already sweating buckets.

The logistics were as complicated as navigating Kinder Scout in deep fog with your eyes closed adding to the complication were too many Clare’s and too many Helen’s. Only the boys Neal and Alan were sensible with the names. The team ended up being, Alexa, Clare, Helen, Neal, Helen and Alan.

We got dropped off at a random layby as myself and Alan were going to do leg three, with the leg two runners dropping off the leg 1 runners then going back to leg two or something, good job we weren’t dogs and had four legs.

So myself and Alan had the GPX track and a map in hand, as we had a while to wait a good hour or so before the first runners came by we decided to reccie the first mile of the route by walking and chatting and getting to know each other. Alan is a very amusing character telling me all about his recent ‘track’ events bagging loads of medals without wearing track spikes.

Back at the start / finish of leg 3 / 2 we were swarmed with lots of wasps I mean Striders. After all it was their event and we were only ‘guests’ in the blue and black not the yellow and green. (If you need me you’ll know where I’ll be – or not).

The first Strider runners came in, everyone was based on a ‘handicap’ so it was not necessarily the fastest runners in first. Then the second lot came in, then the third, then possibly another ‘guest’ team then the forth, then the fifth, then maybe another ‘guest’ team, then teams six seven and eight came in. Another guest team came through, then nine, ten, eleven and twelve. That left a Strider’s team and us. The yellow and green vests appeared then disappeared as we were left wondering where our fellow team mates had got to, had they been pinged by a drone in a field, or were they admiring the surroundings a bit too much?

Don’t rush things. Anything worth having is worth waiting for.

Eventually they arrived, remember this was a handicap so we were not necessarily last by any means and so what if we were?. It was past midday by this point I think, and it was hot and sticky, really hot and sticky.  Hot sticky and hot and sticky. Sticky hot. There were a few bumps in the route to make it even stickier. We knew the first mile we could switch off a little and enjoy the fields of stillness, jumping over the stiles and saying ‘baa’ to the goats, or sheep we couldn’t tell what they were.

Once on unfamiliar territory I got out the map and followed the route as best I could Alan following behind me as best as he could suffering a little from the heat. At around 800ft of climb in over 5 miles this leg was not to be sniffed at especially if you are not really used to off road hills. I was enjoying the new pathways the new trails and reading the map, on occasions guesstimating a couple of pathways. We at times shared the decision making using the GPX watch really only as back up.

I had a soft flask with me which came in handy to sip bits of water when the heat hit the fan. No others in sight it was just the two of us following the route and the trails back to Holmsfield. At times I recognised some of the route from when I had ran to Chestfield for a couple of races a few years ago. Nice undulating trails.

Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.

Eventually we could see the ‘finish’ – well at least we could see the church spire (not that of Chesterfield otherwise we would have been a bit off route) but that of Holmsfield. Over the final Stile, Alan looked like he’d really had enough after I had dragged him up the previous grassy banking. The final stretch up a little lane was all it needed, and it was then that Alan’s sprinting talent came into play as he suddenly put on a massive spurt. I was grinning ear to ear as we raced each other to the gate. A fantastic finish to a great little event.

Well done Striders for putting on a cheep and cheerful little running event, and having us as ‘guests’. I’ll be back next year if we can get a team out if that’s ok?

Dronfield Relays

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