Saturday, 11 February 2017

East Farm Frolic - what can go wrong?

It started so well.  Then we got up.  Everyone was at their meeting point to be collected on time, well nearly everyone.  After Sheralee had been phoned a few times she rushed out to the car for us to finally head down, through the rain, to Winterbourne Whitechurch in Dorest for the inaugural White Star Running East Farm Frolic race.

The race was a 12 hour relay over a loop of 3.78 miles and like most WSR races it had hills and mud. The basic idea is that as long as everyone in your team (or solo runners) complete a single loop they can collect their medal and leave.

The masses gather.

Having booked in and pinned numbers it was soon time for one of the famous WSR race briefs.  The weather was changing rapidly on the hillside, but mostly it rained.  The team were specially selected for their speed, agility and gullibility to join me on a race.

Nicky, Matt, Sheralee, Chicken & me

We had a simple plan, take it easy and fuel throughout the day.  It even nearly happened!

Sheralee was first out on the course at 8am, not because we wanted to start strong but because she'd been late! Time to start and the runners were cheered on by all the remaining team members, supporters and staff.

We watched Sheralee set off across the field. Hold on, that's not taking it steady! Surrounded by other runners she shot off at race pace, setting a bizarre precedence for the day.  We retreated into the shelter of the marquee for tea and warmth.  Music played throughout the day giving the race "village" the feeling of an English summer fete, complete with the weather.

Sheralee over the start/finish

After much guessing we finally saw Sheralee enter the final field, still at race pace, and crossed the line handing over the baton (rubber chicken) and ankle chip timer to Nicky who also didn't stick with the race plan and shot off at pace.

The disadvantage for the first two runners is that they are both running the course blind. When Sheralee finally regained her breath she was able to brief Matt and I as to the hills and course condition.   The hills were not particularly steep but the extremely rough ground made the going hard and parts of the course were already very muddy.

Nicky completing a lap

British 4 x 100 should take notes here
Nicky finished in good time, handing over quickly to Matt - who disappeared across the field at a great pace as I warmed up for my lap by drinking another cup of tea.  Having learnt from LC24, the time spent between running is best spent resting and fuelling.



and entertainment

Matt came in at a blistering pace for a trail relay and literally threw the chicken and timer at me.  I set off across the field, immediately deciding to swap shoes on my second lap as the ground was harder and rougher than I expected.

it's a grimace

The laps started to mount and the rain continued to sweep across the hillside.  Many teams started to pull out after a few laps and by lunchtime the field had diminished considerably, however, we kept a rollin'.  The laps did slow with each turn as the legs became tired, the course became more slippery and the hay bails became over a fence became a real obstacle.

I took the last lap at 5pm and we each covered about 17 miles.  Had we stuck to the plan the 12 hours would have been easily achievable but we went for fast times and had an amazing laugh.

Matt & Sheralee chatting and laughing

Would I do it again?  Maybe.

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