Good Friday Relays, 7th April 2023

It was a welcome return for the Good Friday Relays for the first time since the start of the pandemic, albeit at a new venue – Albemarle Barracks. Although the event was advertised as being at the Barracks, it was actually at the adjoining disused airbase at Ouston. There was another first for inter-club relays in the North East – the use of real batons!

There was a pretty good complement of Claremont teams with 4 teams for the women and 2 for the men. There were 3 ladies making their Claremont relay debuts – Cate Walker, who bravely ran the first leg for her team, Jenny Roberts and Ann Smith. All did a sterling job for their teams. Special mention must be made of Catherine Young who, having dropped out due to illness, came along (with cake) to support anyway then stepped in to run anyway as we were a runner short due to a late withdrawal!

The women were first off and the 4 first leg runners disappeared off into the wilderness only to reappear with about 800m to go. As expected, Sarah Kerr was first to show as she continued her recent excellent form to leave the “A” team in a good position in the field. This gave her time to change and loan Catherine her vest so that she could run in club colours. So it was not just the baton being passed between runners! There were some good times for the girls and all 4 teams can be pleased with their performances.

For the men, it was good to see Roberto and Mungai running competitively for the club for the first time in a while. Paul and Laurie got both teams off to good starts, Paul being the fastest Claremonter on the day. I think the rest of us also put in solid performances with the only mishap being that Roberto was unaware of the use of batons and had not got into position to receive it from Chris Jones. There was some confusion which no doubt cost the team some time – though I am not sure if this was added to the time given for Chris or Roberto.

Although I can appreciate the choice of venue as it ticks lots of boxes – availability of car parking, no need for road closures, no disturbance to the general public etc, I can’t say that I enjoyed the course. Firstly, it wasn’t very spectator friendly. There was just a small section around the final bend where spectators were allowed and we were kept well away from the finish line. Even in the waiting pen, we had to be quiet. I was on the second leg and as the race leader came into view in a ridiculously fast time, the waiting runners broke out into a spontaneous round of applause. We were immediately told to be quiet so that we could hear the numbers being called. So there wasn’t the usual pre-run banter between team mates and opponents alike.

As it was a one-lap course, this also meant that there was no support and no real atmosphere for the vast majority of the run, especially for runners on the 3rd and 4th legs when the field was well spread out. Being a disused airbase, the course was flat and on wide paths and had the feel of being a derelict site. There was a section where we ran through some disused (I think) military hardware. All in all, I thought it had a dystopian feel, but think that Gill summed it up best when she said that it felt like being on the set of a Dr Who episode – I could certainly have imagined the cybermen marching around! But it stayed dry, we all had a run and there was plenty of cake, so, all in all, not a bad morning out!

26Sarah Kerr
Julie Cross
Heather Steel
Team Time
48Cate Walker
Rose Hawkswood
Catherine Young
Team Time
61Maria Duenas
Jenny Roberts
Lena Lou
Team Time
71Lynne Cornell
Ann Smith
Gill Milne
Team Time
51Paul Robinson
Tom Tinsley
Chris Jones
Roberto Marzo
Team Time
70Laurie Johnson
Mungai Wairia
David Lydall
Jose Gallego
Team Time
Tom Tinsley -