At the end of the Bank Holiday week we were due to run in the SOC team for the Dorset Coast Path Relay. As the weather forecast looked set to stay dry we decide to camp the preceding two night’s on a (randomly selected) campsite on the outskirts of Charmouth. Whilst well placed for the start of the relay, it was rather too close to the A35 and we had to drive to the beach. Rather more annoying was that, despite being quite expensive (£27 per night), you were expected to also fork out for a session at the indoor pool. To be fair though, the money seemed to be well spent and there was a life-guard at the pool and the site generally appeared to be very well kept.
We had a great day at the beach in Charmouth on the Friday and met up with Christine’s brother and family that evening for dinner. (It was our anniversary and, after 11 years, I couldn’t wear my wedding ring as it has developed a split!)
In keeping with the tent’s previous outings this year – it was wet on the morning of our last night. However, by the time I’d been to Lyme Regis to do my short leg at the start of the relay and returned, the wind had done a reasonably job of drying it out. Having got everything back in the car we headed over to Abbotsbury where we were running the legs either side of the hill fort. We then weren’t on again until after Lulworth but sadly spent most of that time in traffic around Dorchester for the Dorset County Show. We had lunch on a windswept Povington Hill, watching the dark clouds form over the hills adjacent to the sea.
Christine ran the section from Flower’s Barrow to Kimmeridge. A hill team then brought the baton up to meet at Clavell Tower and I set off for Chapman’s Pool. With the restart at Lulworth there was, for a change, other runners around. I was fairly confident that I should be able to stay ahead of Jack Benham but as we approached Chapman’s Pool and I passed the fourth changeover for the Junior Squad team, I wasn’t sure I’d manage to hold them at bay for much longer. Thankfully the hill team weren’t quite as late as arriving as they had apparently been at some earlier handovers and I wasn’t forced to climb all the way back out of Chapman’s Pool.
We then set of for Studland where the children had a chance to play on the beach. The other members of the SOC team slowly assembled (three are required to run the beach leg to Sandbanks together) and we were greeted to the sight of Paul Whipple splashing through the water round the headland just as the Kerno team came down the hill. The blue and yellow tops therefore inter-mingled as we set off along the shoreline (where thankfully the sea was leaving some relatively firm wet sand) in the race to be third team across the line. I reached the ferry terminus ahead of the first Kerno runner but who were those next two runners? It turned out that Iain McNally (who hadn’t been there when I started) had arrived late but had caught us up which thankfully meant we had three runners home before the next Kerno runner appeared.
In the final reckoning we were fourth over the complete course and second in the handicap with a new fastest time for SOC of 8 hours 34 minutes. In addition Iain was crowned King of the Coast. And most importantly (given that I had told Christine to leave the waterproofs at home) the forecast rain didn’t return until the evening.