The sweltering hot evening sun bore down on our car which slowly followed Bank Holiday brake lights around Stratford-upon-Avon. On board were three of ‘The Insane Bolts’ our works team on route to the Run for Beer event, Lady C, driving had to central lock the doors in case Beer Monster Bubbleman escaped to join one of the many packed pub gardens we were passing.
By the time we’d found a spot and left the car park celebrity runner Doug Richards and his Angels were following us, after the simple process of stating team name, collecting 4 race numbers and a handful of safety pins at registration most of the Redditch running community had been spotted. Everyone was there Kingfisher Harriers, RMS, even Jeff Mosforth in his BRATS top (sigh another club fine) but surely the heaviest presence was Triathlon Redditch, showing sky blue was in fashion this summer.
We staked out a claim to some grass with a picnic blanket and coolbox which soon attracted Mike Fidler who shepherded his RMS team in along with team “Where’s Wally?” Eventually the fourth bolt team member was texted into us in the form of Dan Dan the running man and his support team. Now it was a case of enjoying the weather down by the river, catching up with like minded running folks, hydrating, maybe a warm up? The only down side was a nagging reminder that you had to run 2 miles shortly. An odd distance, needing to be more competitive and quicker than Parkrun pace, but a fast effort would be unmaintainable.
Team race numbers showed A,B,C and D so you could easily tell who would be running each leg of this relay event, it was time to start shouldering up to, and psyching out your opposite numbers, could I buy the other C runners- Steve T, Natalia, Martin P, Martin R, Helen, Kelly and Phil Walker hotdogs to scupper their runs? It was part of the Club Championships after all.
Too late, the crowded inflatable start arch had released the A runners with an air horn blast including Bubbleman, anxious eyes in the B runner holding area watched and waited to see their team mate coming in on the final bend soon Lady C was off maintaining her poshness by holding the chip timed baton with little finger raised. I started my stopwatch as we’d all given 2 mile run times which helped in predicting when the others would finish their leg.
‘She won’t be long now’ said Bubble joining me who had already, unsurprisingly, swapped his race number for a bottle of beer. A flawless handover and I was off keeping to the left away from the river, but out of breath after the first corner and out of sight of the crowd. If I swallow many more flies there would be no need to buy a hot dog later. Now out of the Park and running along the closed off Banbury Road back towards the bridge, a very tight left corner – so unfair to make you run through the smell of beer and steak from the Bear pub in this weather. The long drag down the Greenway absorbed all moisture from the mouth, a short sharp drop down to the Parkrun start and it was time to head for home, no chance of grabbing a candy floss sugar rush as the fairground was passed then through the carpark to a packed cheering bandstand, it was always going to happen and I was ambushed by RMS’s C runner in the last 100m and rounding the final curve could I shave seconds off my time and throw the baton across the line to my mucker? It was a delight to see Dan ready for the off, and off he went!
Another flawless handover was in the beer tent an exchange of race number for beer, the silliest question of the night was ‘Do you want it opened or unopened?’
Our D for Dan runner powered home, breaking all running etiquette rules by photobombing past Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the super hero team who decided to finish together. He looked cooler and fresher than me and I’d finished 14 minutes ago.
The more serious runners including the Triathlon Redditch Team ‘Tri-ing all the Beer’ were queuing around two laptops which continually updated the relay’s progress showing lap times and run positions. At Prize giving it confirmed Chris, Stuart, Steve and Robert had come first in the non running club category.
Following an Emergency Club meeting and healthy debate Robert Williams was not given a disciplinary by Triathlon Redditch for failure to display a sky blue top while collecting his award as he innocently claimed his glaring orange fluorescent shirt was the result of taking part in a fire drill at the Hot Dog stand.
To top off a fantastic night Bubbleman mixed four refreshing shandies from the coolbox for the good and benefit of the team. Kevin Parsons will have to go some to match this event with his similar styled Tag 1234 relay on 23rd June but with your help and support it will happen. We’ve entered again and I’m looking forward to another hot night of running banter and relay tactics in aid of Birmingham Children’s’ Hospital and Action Research for Children charities.