Archive | July, 2012

Start of Real Relay Leg

21 Jul


Real Relay

21 Jul

I was feeling quite smug last night. I set the alarm on my phone to wake me at 1.15am so that I had about 45 minutes to get ready before leaving (I’m not great at running the minute I wake up) and I’d checked the GPS tracker and seen that the relay was pretty much on time. Lights out by 9.30pm.

The next thing I knew, it was 2.10am and I had a text message from Duncan, who was running with me, to tell me he was at the handover point. Aaaaargh! Not quite sure what went wrong with the sodding phone, but aaaaaargh! I gulped down a smoothie, changed into my running gear, grabbed my map and headed out of the hotel. The guy in reception looked a bit baffled: “you going for a run now?”. Umm, yes…

Thankfully, I managed to get to the hospital (designated handover) at 2.31am and joined Duncan. Tom (leg 261) arrived at about 2.45 with his running partner and after posing for some photos (at which point I realised I hadn’t picked up my camera: doh!), we set off.

The first couple of miles went through Croydon. Croydon is pretty lively at 2.45 on a Saturday morning, but there was nothing worse than drunken banter (and, to be fair to the good folk of Croydon, probably quite a lot of drunken bemusement) and after that it was pretty quiet. We saw the odd person who said something along the lines of “it’s the Olympic torch” and at one point seemed to attract the attention of a police patrol car, which slowed down as it passed us. Now, that would have been a brilliant conversation (“Well, officer, I wouldn’t say it’s a weapon, it’s a torch … No, I know it’s not actually lit up … It’s a representation of a torch … It’s for an alternative Olympic relay … Look, can I go, because I’m meeting someone called Jenny in Mitcham at 4.15am and I don’t want to be late?” It would definitely fall into the category of ‘things they don’t teach you at Bar school’…)

We handed over in Mitcham bang on target time, having made up the 15 minutes which had been lost at some earlier point (although to be fair our leg was only 9.6 miles, so it was easy to make up time, even with a couple of walk breaks – the light sabre is quite heavy!). Thanks to Jenny for the restorative cup of tea and I hope your leg went well. Come to think of it, thanks to Duncan for sending me a text at 2.10am, or I’d have been woken by a furious phone call at 2.45am, I should think…

Hopefully I’ll be able to get digital photos from Duncan and Jenny, given my spectacular failure to take my camera (and my phone froze at 2.42 am so I couldn’t even take any photos on that!).

6 days to go to the Olympics. And now I really feel part of it.

Real Relay Recce

15 Jul

Some runners were a bit surprised and a bit peeved to discover that the Olympic Torch is covering quite a lot of the distance around the country on a bus.  As a result, the Real Relay was born (you can see more about it at  Each runner covers about 10 miles carrying the Real Relay’s version of the torch (at least one person has described it as a light sabre – but how many light sabres have GPS trackers?).  I wasn’t able to do any of the legs which were local to me, so I am signed up to do a leg from Croydon to Mitcham next weekend.  Before fans of the official relay get too aggrieved, I think that’s great, too, and went to watch it in Bristol (twice – getting up at 5am to do so on the second day) but I do think it’s a real pity that so much of the journey isn’t being covered on foot.

I was going to be in London this weekend anyway to watch the Grand Prix at Crystal Palace (which was great – I had so much fun cheering on all the athletes and there were some really promising performances from some of the British athletes) so I decided to recce my Real Relay route this morning.

I was quite pleased with my organisation: I carefully marked the route onto my specially purchased Croydon A-Z and set off.  By halfway I’d only really made one navigational error and I’d corrected that pretty quickly (thanks to passerby number 1).  However, I came pretty badly unstuck in Sutton and didn’t clock for a while that I wasn’t supposed to have run past the station – the penny finally dropped when I realised I hadn’t seen any official Olympic route banners for ages (the torch relay route is marked with banners, which is reassuring for someone like me…).  I slowly retraced my steps with the help of passerby number 2, although it took a while for me to persuade her to give me directions so that I could start running again, as it was her plan to walk me there herself.  I can only assume I was looking particularly dim and in need of assistance…

After that I was back on track pretty well, and arrived at The Hub in Mitcham with about 12.5 miles covered, which allowing for jogging to the start and my diversions meant the leg itself was about 10 miles. Excellent!

Then the real fun began.  My organisation had only stretched to marking my relay route on the map.  I’d had a look at the A-Z and figured out a rough route back to Croydon.  Unfortunately, the road I’d selected didn’t have a pedestrian footpath.  Curses, indeed.  I tried to improvise something, but it looked like I was going to have to run a good 5 miles to get back to my hotel; this wouldn’t have been too bad but 5M would take about 40 minutes (and, realistically, more than that with navigation stops), and I was due to check out in not much more than an hour.  Botheration! (Only later did I spot a relatively short route back – heigh ho.)  I managed to find a train station and with a combination of train and tram made it back to the hotel with 30 minutes to spare.

The good news is that I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine on the Real Relay next week.  The bad news is that I could be navigating a new route at about 4am in the morning to get back.  The alternative, of course, is just to treat myself to a taxi!

The Real Relay is in aid of Chicks.  That’s the other thing which makes it great.  The thing which would be really, really great is if they would let the final leg into the Olympic Stadium next week.  So Seb/Jeremy, if you’re reading this (unlikely, but I’m a born optimist), you know you want to!

I know it’s early to make a 2013 New Year’s Resolution, but mine is to go running in London and cover the exact route I had planned to cover (excluding the marathon – even I don’t get lost when there’s a line painted on the road and thousands of other people to follow!).