Mon 30th May 2022
Winchester take gold
Do running days get any better than this?
The South Downs Relay is a hand to hand, baton relay, starting at Beachy Head and finishing in Winchester. We had two teams, one was classed as mixed which comprised of Dan Cunnington, Mikaela Price, James Moore, Vicky Gill, Will Harding and Emma Carter. Our A (open) team was made up of Andy Parkinson, Caroline Carr, Colin Mcmanus, Fiona Bolton, Mark Craven and Bruce Ayling. We also had three fantastic drivers (Jackie Ducker, Alex Lane and Pete Townsend) who were blessed with cool heads under pressure. They provided support, humour, encouragement, solutions and ensured everyone got to where they needed to be on time.
We were embarking on this fantastic event which has been quietly happening for 35 years over the 100 miles of the challenging and beautiful South Downs Way. WADAC first took part in 2015 and have been invited to enter a team every year since. It's a brilliantly organised and supported race that relies on the good sense of competitors and the goodwill of landowners across the course, and we are privileged to be asked to take part. The organisers Jonathan and Richard do a fantastic job and we are all very grateful to their commitment to ensuring such a mega race takes place.
Some of the teams chose to travel to Eastbourne on Friday, they enjoyed a bob about in the sea, Italian for tea and an alarm call at 6am. The other half left Winchester at 4am to arrive in Beachy Head for each team member to check in before our 7am start.
There are seven different start times ranging from 6am until 9am depending on your teams expected time to complete the race.
The running conditions were perfect, sun but not too much sun, blue skies, little wind and superb visibility.
It was a low key start at 7am as ten teams set off along the stunning and huge chalk coastline to tackle the Seven Sisters, and then the carnival began.
The focus now for the day was get to the end of each leg in time to set the next runner off. The legs are all of varying lengths and elevation. Six runners in a team, all running three legs each. Each leg begins to feel a little bit tougher than the previous one as the tired legs begin to have an effect.
All the legs are unique in their own very special ways, some are tourist honeypots with encouraging walkers and big views, there are gates, chalky trails, grass, gravel, high points, low points, cyclists, ultra runners and on some legs just the local wildlife for company.
WADAC provided a fantastic marshalling team led by Sarah Witt and including Kevin Frisby, Sam Parkinson, Matt Lavers, Cathy Kinnear, Jane Gandee and Karen Rushton. They provided excellent cakes, support and safety across the A272 at Holden Farm.
The finish was at Chilcomb playing fields and the WADAC mixed team enjoyed the thrill of the first team home, finishing at 7.01 pm with a time of 12 hours 16 minutes (including a navigational 15 minute penalty), proudly winning the Mixed Team category. Our A Team brought it home in an impressive 13 hours 53 minutes (also with a 15 minute penalty) and within eight minutes of their estimated time.
We celebrated with an eating frenzy from Shoal fish and chips and making full use of Jane’s pop up bar, watching the sun go down and cheering in the 46 other teams.
The biggest recognition and thanks for making this happen for WADAC must go to Jackie Ducker who worked tirelessly as our leader and organiser. Thank you Jackie!
Next years date is Saturday 3rd June.