Round Norfolk Relay draws in more than 1,000 dedicated club runners with Ryston Runners and West Norfolk Athletic Club both represented
The big focus for the weekend for Ryston Runners AC, as for many clubs across the area, and beyond, was the annual extravaganza that is the Round Norfolk Relay.
More than 1000 dedicated club runners competed in the showpiece even on the athletics calendar, now in its 34th year.
The 198 mile course is divided into 17 multi-terrain stages and follows the county boundary of Norfolk.
Starting from Lynnsport, the race headed out along the picturesque North Norfolk Coastal Path via Hunstanton, Wells, Cromer and Yarmouth, before turning inland for several long night stages through Bungay, Thetford and Downham, finally finishing back on the athletics track at Lynnsport on Sunday morning.
As well as a new race director in Martin Ive and a first appearance by a wheelchair athlete, there was a new headline sponsor in the form of Watlington-based design company Officescape.
New race director Ive, of Ryston Runners, was race director for the Wissy Half Marathon at Oxborough for fully 20 years.
Ive took on over the role from Neville Knight of Dereham Runners, who has helmed the big event since 2014.
“Neville has done a truly remarkable job in keeping all sorts of balls in the air for the last five years,” said Ive.
“Having cycled, run and driven the RNR many times over the years, I know it is a team effort.
"The same holds true of the work behind the scenes, and Neville has left the relay in fantastic shape going forward.”
Sarah-Jane Lavelle, from sponsors Officescape, added: “We are delighted to sponsor the Round Norfolk Relay. As a commercial office fit-out company, wellbeing and teamwork are important both to us and our clients.
"Sponsoring the RNR this year, and sharing our enthusiasm for wellbeing and teamwork with all the clubs and teams taking part, is a tremendous honour.”
The event proved as challenging and exciting as ever.
Ryston's open class team finished in ninth place overall and fourth in category, while the mixed team, 24th overall, were fifth in their category.
Also, impressively, both Ryston teams finished within 10 minutes of their pre-race estimated times, indicative of how well the runners and the managers know their abilities and rehearsed the course, as well as their ability to cope with and cover the inevitable last minutes changes caused by late injuries, drop outs, and substitutions.
Stage win awards went to Dominic Hughes (stage 14) and Charlie Wakefield (15), with Charlie also bagging the Richard Nerukar Award for the best performance by a junior man.
Amy Chapman picked up the women’s stage win on Stage 12.
It is somewhat cavalier to single out any performances in an event which relies so heavily on team cohesion and spirit, but there were also top-three places in their respective stages for James O’Neill (5), Andrew Simmonds (6), Rob Simmonds (11), and Callum Stanforth (17).
Ryston's open team manager Dickie Ebbs said: “The whole team pitched in, pulled together, and totally ran their socks off. The support crew were fantastic and a pleasure to work with.”
His words were echoed by Lesley Robins, a more seasoned team manager for the mixed team, who said:"There were some notable great runs and a great new support team who got the runners round, headed by Graeme Leeson, who hopped on the bus after completing stage two and a quick dip in the sea at Burnham Overy.
"Great team spirit as always.”