Matt’s report for the Gazette which is mainly about the Cotswold Way Relay….
It was the 26th running of the Cotswold Way Relay on Saturday and Thornbury Running Club were aiming to build on past successes in this event with 4 teams of 10 runners competing. For the past few years the Veterans Team have finished in 2nd place. Rob Watkins, Vets Team Captain, was given the pick of the available old(er) men. Sadly injuries and weddings reduced the pool across the board, but it was a pretty fast selection that wore Bib Number 1 on the day for the Vets Team.
The overall aim of the race is for teams of 10 runners to complete the 10 Stages of the 102-mile long Cotswold Way from Chipping Camden to Bath Abbey. The winning team is the team with the lowest cumulative time.
Putting together the teams and doing pre-race recces of the routes with the runners required military-like precision by Judy Mills and Mike Bennewitz, who organised Thornbury RC’s effort. They were also aided on the day by Jim Williams, who was present on most of the stages with extra water and encouragement for the team.
Each Stage is a race within a race. Although it is a relay, the stages have mass starts rather than a handover from the previous runner and with 118 Teams taking part in 2018 there was plenty of competition.
Added to the undulating profile of the Cotswold Way, there was the added dimension of the heatwave to contend with this year with the mercury levels rising very high in the afternoon.
The race started in fine drizzle at 7am in Chipping Camden church and Rob Hopkins was the first TRC runner in 61st place. The Stage finish at Stanway House was in sunshine, and by now Stage 2 runners were already on their way with Nick Williams the fastest for the Club in Team 2 in an excellent 6th place.
Stage 3 saw a battered and bruised Sonya Bryson, who took a heavy tumble before getting back on her feet and carrying-on regardless. Paul Thomas was the fastest TRC runner in 56th place.
In Stage 4 Henry Orna put in a great performance in 19th place. Jo Emerson perhaps the only runner in the whole event who really enjoyed the extreme heat was 6th female and 51st overall.
Stage 5 saw the ladies again excelling; Taryn in 22nd place overall and 5th female.
Stage 6 saw Dylan Roberts in 8th place overall, while on Stage 7 Rob Watkins put in a Captain’s performance, 6th finisher and 1st Veteran. Also on that Stage came Brian Godsman who has only very recently decided he is capable of anything over 5k, nearly 18 minutes ahead of the cut-off time.
Laura Orna took Stage 8 by storm to finish in 35th place overall and 6th female. Jim Godden epitomised the team spirit by filling in for an injured runner with 1 days’ notice on leg 9 and was our fastest runner in 38th place.
And so to Stage 10 where Magda Johnson and Rebecca Dunsford were witnessed singing and dancing their way down the hill to Weston before the run in to Bath. Andy Darton was the fastest in the final leg in 37th place.
The Vets team came a creditable 8th and the faster mixed Team 2 were 12th in that category. The other 2 mixed teams were 37th and 64th.
There were some parkrun results on Saturday too. On the Mundy Playing Field’s course in Thornbury Peter Blenkiron ran 26:35 mins, followed by Malcolm Carr 27:23 mins, Karen Carr 27:49 mins, Nigel Hale 29:36 mins and Terry Robinson 44:56 mins. At Chipping Sodbury Leighton Prescott ran 29:07 mins and in Birkenhead Carol Mosses ran 38:22 mins.