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Round Norfolk Relay
Saturday 14th September 2013
Alex Downie

So many threads go into the grand tapestry that is the RNR that it almost seems futile to document just one, but hey-ho....
So Dave, Fiona and I set off at 7am Sat to get to the start of stage 2, Dave's leg, at a wet, cold and windy Hunstanton, meeting up with Saint Kristoffer of Rhubarb. Thence to Thornham, so that Fiona could cycle-support Dave when he hit the road section of his leg. Not as easy at it sounds, because they were carrying out a refurb of the coastal path, which meant that the runners were diverted - and thereby hangs a tale........and came on to the road at a different place. Anyway, Fiona was equal to the task.........
Meanwhile, I was driving to Burnham Overy Staithe to limber up for the start of stage 3, which is a fun leg to run. Straight into the teeth of the wind to begin with, then scampering/floundering over the dunes and on to the beach. Now....which bit of the wide open spaces, stretching out to the infinite sea, to choose from? Do you hug the coast, where the sand tends to be loose, or head further out for the firmer stuff? It's a terrible dilemma, so I compromised somewhere in the middle. I thought it might be a good idea to follow previous runners' marks, but the most obvious ones I saw turned out to be horses' tracks! I did have a moment of doubt and fear, as to when to exit the beach, but fortunately there stood a strategically placed marshal stoically pointing the way.
Narrowly avoiding the former naturist area, the route takes you once more through the serried ranks of dunes (more floundering than scampering this time!), leading to a sheltered trail through the pinewoods to.....Steve at Wells, who flew off towards Cley.
Fiona and I drove to Cley, with Dave driving Steve's car. Steve duly arrived, looking a bit wind-battered, handing over to a slightly nervous Carrie. There's nothing easy about any of these off-road stages, but Cley - Cromer is particularly tough...shingle, big hills, more hills, that sort of thing. So you can be forgiven a bit of fear and loathing.
Anyway, she made it, (AND ran back to Cley!), handing the baton on to Fiona. I cycle-supported her to Mundesley, and lo! the sun shone forth! Well, of course, er........like jazz, some like it hot, but my wife is not one of them...anyway, many hills later, we were devouring cake and tea, courtesy of the W.I. in the Village Hall, which is a real haven for RNR-ers. A word about Fergie......I mean, what's he on? He did this leg at under 6 min/mile pace, and it includes a zig-zag burst up the prom, a steep slope, then an even steeper scramble through bracken upto the lighthouse and then a whole series of hills all the way to Mundesley. Superhuman! And a stage record to boot!
The next port of call was Lessingham, to meet up with Dave who was cycle-supporting Adam. Lessingham is a lovely sleepy little hollow which probably sees more action on RNR-day than the rest of the year put together.
And so to Horsey, where the ubiquitous St. Kris and the increasingly ubiquitous St. Charlie of Ritchie were setting up the flashing light for our car-support of Glyn up to Great Yarmouth. Thus, we watched in awe as the 67 year old gave us an object lesson in pacing and technique, though by this time we were fair salivating for fish 'n' chips and that's one thing that Yarmouth excels in.
So,............ just a microcosm of the epic picture that is the Round Norfolk Relay, just one part of one team out of 54 teams, all with their tales to tell.
There was to be a brilliant coda, though, as our way home took the relay route, passing the countless twinkling jewels of the illuminated cars and glowing, fluorescent runners, and that's the iconic RNR image that stays with you, just as the final sentence of 'Feet in the Clouds' (Richard Askwith) stays with you'.........and of Kenny Stuart, dancing like an angel on the points of needle-sharp rocks, light and sure footed as the rest of us are in dreams.'

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