Greensands Fun

Looking back, it is possible that I started running for the same reasons as lots of other people: to get fitter, to loose weight etc. Over time though, we discover many other things that keep us running. For example no one ever starts running to keep themselves sane, but it is something that you kind of pick up along the way and many a runner will state that they can’t imagine giving up running as they’d go nuts. It’s the same with fun. How many people would start running because it's fun? When you start it may even seem far from the truth, so I’d guess not many. However over time you soon learn that it can be…

That brings me to yesterdays event - the Greensands Relay race. The idea is a simple one, 35 miles of trails, lanes and tracks divided up into sections. Teams are formed to each complete a section of the course with various different route lengths. Of course there are also some that do the whole race solo. Once teams are formed, then starts the fun of recce’ing the various sections of the course so no one gets lost, but that always happens and adds to the fun. The word ‘race’ doesn’t really do the event justice. It’s more of a team ‘day out’. Normally you all jump into a single car and drive round the course, dropping off and picking up runners at the various checkpoints. It’s like a huge team-building exercise, people getting together to take part and bonding. We were ‘Team Golden Boot’ on account of having Dan ‘Golden Boot’ Green in our team and from the moment he set off running at 12.15, and the rest of the team jumped into a car, it was an amazing experience. You have an age-graded handicap and part of the fun is seeing if you can push yourself to get under that. That said, there are a lot of teams that take part purely to enjoy the day and are not interested in the results. So, Dan put us in a great position by smashing his handicap on leg 1. Then it was my turn on leg 2. I was apprehensive as I face-planted in the mud the week before on a test run…what was going to happen whilst running flat out this time? I need not have worried though, it was wetter than an otters sock, but great fun ploughing through tracks full of water and mud and I pushed us another 3 minutes under the handicap. Leg 3 was Martin Crane with the longest section of 9 miles, then Jo Lancaster, John Preston and finally Stephen Moore finishing. All the while, we were driving to the next checkpoint and mingling with the other teams, soaking up the friendly atmosphere, before heading off in the car again. It has a very ‘grass roots’ feel to the event, which is appealing and great to be part of, with fellow runners, friends, family and pets all out in support. There’s a slightly competitive feel to it too, but not too much, not too serious, it’s definitely light-hearted and supportive with all runners being clapped in by everyone at each handover. Just the right balance I thought! Then there’s the end. We drive through some nameless villages to find Northill, and on arriving we pass by a village green surrounded by thatched cottages and a maypole as a game of cricket took place. We all remarked that we couldn’t find a better example of middle-England if we tried! Finally parked up, we get beers from the pub and head to the finish line to support the last leg runners. It was almost a shame to leave, it was so much fun, but people need to get home so we set off and start dropping team members off along the way. This morning as I think back to the event I am reminded of an expression I first heard at school many years ago: “it’s not the winning that matters, it’s the taking part that counts”. I can’t think of a more apt phrase, the results are largely irrelevant when you enjoy a day like that. Greensands is not a race, it’s an experience! Looking forward to next year already!

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