Having failed to respond to a call for runners from SOC for the Harvester night relays due to it being my Dad’s 80th birthday on Saturday, I rather guiltily agreed to step-in and complete a team for JOK. The (unwritten) rules state that JOK members should run for their first claim clubs in preference if needed and consequently Jon Cross moved up to the FVO team at the last minute. Fortunately John Embrey was then able to locate a replacement ex-Oxonian at the last minute and the team was once again complete. That is, until Saturday, when Helen Gardener fell foul of an illness. With Jon Marsden prepared to run two consecutive night legs, we were able to complete all seven legs but sadly that would make us non-competitive.
I was due to run last leg so, having arrived at a rather damp Eridge Park near Tunbridge Wells, I located John who would wake me in the morning, pitched my tent, and went to bed. This was with the aid of a couple of paracetamol to dull the earache that had been getting worse since Friday evening. I woke every couple of hours during the night as other runners came and went and it was readily apparent that we weren’t making as good progress as we might have hoped. When John went out on 5th leg it was looking likely that I’d be in the mass start at 8:30am and this proved to be the case.
I wasn’t particularly upset about being in the mass start. If I’m going to have to run 12km after a disturbed night’s sleep then I’d much rather do it in the company of a few other people! I was out in front for the first six controls and then, having taken a wide sweep in to seven, I was caught by Keith Masson of Mole Valley. We then had a good race round the rest of the course exchanging the lead numerous times. I enjoyed my run and cleared enough mucous out my nose that my ear felt much better! (Unfortunately, that was short lived and today I have antibiotics for a middle ear infection.) I can’t claim it was a particularly sociable event though – I didn’t see or hear two of the members on my team!