Race Date: Saturday 30th September 2023
(Strider result for LDS :Stuart Jones Leg one – 6.1 miles in 1:02:13)
There is, they say, no such thing as a new idea, and this race / event was a straight lift from Steel City Striders back catalogue – the Committee might like to consider suing TAC over a breach of copyright. This was the first running of the event, after I got Teesdale Athletic Club’s blessing earlier in the year.
All you need is an idea (Dronfield Relays, RSR and Sheffield Way Relays lead the way on this), a copy of the definitive Rights of Way map, some local knowledge, time to complete recces, plotaroute and Strava, a computer and printer, race numbers, batons (I used tubes of fruit pastilles), safety pins, prizes, access to a beige buffet, sensible and practical start / finish and handover points and people who want to run.
I set up RRRBR as a two-leg circuit of Barnard Castle, where TAC is based. It’s only a small town and a lap of the parish boundary would be about 10 miles. (The postal area is huge, by contrast.) Starting and finishing at a pub (not too posh, not too much of a dive) added on only a couple of hundred yards and meant the Leg 1 to Leg 2 handover could be at the iconic Egglestone Abbey after 4.5 miles. Over 85% of Leg 1 is off-road.
The Abbey has a very small car park, however, so the usual carry-on of ‘both drive to end of Leg, one drives both runners back to start of leg, run to end of leg, drive back to start of leg to collect the other person’s car’ was going to be an issue. Solution? Hire a taxi minibus which, along with the one marshal’s car, transported all the runners there for Leg 2 and back from Leg 1. It cost the same per head as parking at the Abbey itself, so it was a neat solution as long as teams completed the first Leg in similar times.
Leg 2, after tinkering, came in at 6.2 miles, with about 65% off road only. It includes the uniquely named ‘Mount Eff Trail’ and a short section of the Teesdale Way.
TAC has Junior members, unlike Striders. This does present coaches and leaders with all the safeguarding matters that Striders tries to avoid. One Junior wanted to join RRRBS 2023 and so it was necessary to ensure his well-being when running his longest ever distance (with the fair chance of getting lost). The simple solution was to have him run with me – I know the route well (seeing as I set it), I have DBS clearance, and I know his limits and needs. Obviously, he burnt me off in the final 100 yards, uphill to the pub.
The fastest pair on Leg 1 were right dark horses – they had just returned from the Mont Blanc UTMB! The fastest pair on Leg 2 had studied the route carefully and did not need to read the provided directions as they went.
Having only promoted the event within the Club and to groups I run with outside it, I was pleased to get a full five teams of four runners for this first year. Next year, and there will be a 2024 version, we will invite other Clubs and groups – it will be offered at cost only (less than £5 a head).
The team of four I was in (inventively called Team B) finished third of the five, in 01:46:00
The winners, including UTMB runners Ruth and Jake, finished in 01:35:00
The final pair / team finished in 02:25:00
(Note – I didn’t think about taking a stopwatch. The marshal didn’t record seconds as her watch didn’t show them!)
We went to the pub to rehydrate, sample their four types of chips, and to present Club logo branded prizes.