GB Relay 2014 – Leg 20

Nina Jensen has recently completed a leg of the GB Relay and sends this report.  Sounds like fun but I am not sure about the early start!

On Monday 2nd June my alarm went off at 4.45 am and I jumped out of bed and pulled on my running gear. A bit early I hear you say. Aren’t you mean to be going to work not out for a run? Not me I’m off making (hopefully) a piece of history and a chance to get into the Guinness Book of Records.

This started, as these things often do, with a few glasses of wine and some pizza 2 months ago. My friend Julie who runs for Blyth running club was telling me about the GB Relay 2014 also known as The Peoples Relay – 7000 kilometres in 594 stages between the 1st June and 2nd of July 2014. She had signed up and wondered whether I wanted to run with her or sign up for a leg myself. Having looked on the website there were very few North East places left (which shows we have a strong running community in the North East) so I became part of Julie’s team. The baton was not a traditional baton but was a small case with a handle which had a camera and gps tracker known affectionately as Casey and the rules were:

1. Don’t drop the baton! (a big worry for me being Mrs Clumsy!!!) The baton must be kept moving at all times, stop and the relay fails.

2. Baton must be carried in the hand. You can swap carrying arms as many times as you like.

3. There is a time lapse camera in the baton so keep it steady if you can.

4. Last but not least Enjoy the day our stage is amongst some of the best coastline Northumberland has to offer.

Our leg was Cambois to Lynemouth and was due to start at 6.25 on 1st June. The organisers had a route planned but were happy to bow to local knowledge and as long as the start and finish were in the same place, and you could run the distance in the allotted time then you could amend this. As our route went inland rather than towards the coast, Julie decided that we would re-route so we could run along looking at the waves rather than the Spine Road. However her first attempt ended up being a 9 mile route so there was no way we were likely to get from start to finish in 1 hour and 5. Julie had another go at planning so on Friday night we got our bikes out and cycled it, just in case we needed to do it a couple of times to get it right. Anyway we didn’t and the route came out at 7.3 miles taking in the coastline at Cambois, the river Wansbeck, the promenade at Newbiggin and Woodhorn church.

So back to this morning, I was just about to leave the door and drive over to Julie’s house when my phone beeped – “relay running over an hour late!!!” Great. Anyway after much texting, checking of the tracker and phone calls we decided to just drive over to the start and hang around hoping that some time was made up between Cullercoats and Cambois.

At approximately 7.10 one of our supporters announced that the runner and baton were near – we were off. We ran towards John from leg 19 so that we could do a decent handover without dropping the baton and get some photos too. John had ended up splitting leg 18 so in total had ran 9 miles but he still came down the road at a fantastic 7.45 min mile pace as we tried to keep up with him. (John was due to start work at 8am so was obviously in a bit of a hurry!!!!). Anyway Julie told me to get the baton and we ran at that pace to John’s car where he stopped and we agreed we would try a more steady pace!!!!

We were off. The sun was out, the sky was blue and we were running.

We agreed to swap the baton between us every mile as it felt a bit weird running with what looked like a small tool box in your hand (and the plastic handle made your hand sweat). We kept to a nice steady chatting pace along the route and before long we were running past Alcan. Julie’s dad who was our support car driver and photographer had contacted leg 21 and as we ran the last mile along the cycle path we spotted 4 guys in high viz tops waiting. Julie whistled loudly and they started running in our direction towards the handover point. Julie handed over the baton and we cheered them off at 8.11am. It was over and with a hug and a bottle of Lucozade we celebrated the fact that we might just become world record holders before rushing back to head to work and the rest of the humdrum of a usual day in the office.

Yes I was in work a bit late but what a story to tell about the reason why!

Details of the relay can be found here and although there are no places left in the North East there were some available elsewhere round the country including some in Scotland.


Tom Tinsley -