About two years ago while training for marathons Paul Biggs mentioned that he had found a leaflet online about the Round Bracknell Ramblers route which was 26 miles long. We thought it would make a good training run and ran it one evening with Newton. We were surprised how good the scenery was so close to the middle of Bracknell. We mentioned it to a few people and Nikki suggested it would make a good basis for a relay.
Fast forward to this year and it was suggested that taking this up to 30 miles in our 30th year as part of the anniversary celebrations. I rashly volunteered to organise.
A notice was published on Facebook and by email; almost immediately nearly 30 people had said they wanted to take part and several people had volunteered their or their children or spouses to help marshal.
Finally on Sunday the day arrived. The mountain bike event I assumed was taking place elsewhere in Swinley was taking place at the Look Out but did not appear to interfere with the leg 1 route. People arrived and the first runners left on time, disappearing as a group amid much discussion of what lay ahead.
I drove to Wildmoor Heath, the end of the Leg 1, where Helena and children were busy taking tables and chairs out of their car along with pen and paper to record times and hi viz jackets. We determined where the finish would be and I returned to the car park to set off the runners for the second leg. The first runners soon arrived having had a close race across the forest to Camberley and back to Crowthorne.
On to Jennetts Park and the end of Leg 2. I had confirmed with all the runners that they expected the finish to be in the Swifts Field carpark so knew they would arrive there but there are several different routes into it so Paul and Newton where not too sure exactly where to put the finish line. I had thought of a slightly easier route out avoiding the housing estate at Jennetts Park but was over ruled by those who had recce’d the leg already and the Leg 3 runners left as a group to run through the estate. Soon after the first of the Leg 2 runners arrived.
On to Warfield Church. What a lovely spot and never having driven to it before found some lovely roads and surprisingly close to Bracknell. Keith Venables was already there and ready to record times, no need for my carefully prepared finishing tables. Steve Casey and daughter soon arrived to help. The runners for the final leg arrived and like all the other leg starts, much discussion of the finer points of the route took place. Soon we spotted Jenny running down the hill across some fields, towards the finish. She and Jim managed to complete the leg faster than I had predicted so the runners for the final Leg had not gone by the time they arrived. Jim was running two legs but opted to wait for the final leg to start and set off with the rest rather than running straight through. Off the final leg went, Heidi literally arriving at the start time, and soon after the other runners from Leg 3 arrived. A great run from Teresa who had not got lost saw her finish ahead of runners who had decided 8 miles was not enough and made detours on route!
Then off to the Look Out. Very difficult to park due to the mountain bikers but I arrived shortly after Graham had finished. Lots of runners from previous legs had been home, changed and then come back for a picnic. It made for a nice finish that so many people had come back, especially those bringing home-baked cakes. The final runners arrived and picnic lunches were brought out of cars, tables rearranged and everyone sat down to discuss their runs and for me to sort out the results. The winning team was announced to applause but I got the feeling that most people were only marginally interested in it. They were more interested in other people adventures on different Legs.
For me personally, Janet’s comment on Facebook I think sums the Relay up; ‘I didn’t know the route before and now I know my way from Warfield to the Lookout through some lovely scenery and (just) behind some new friends’. Well done to those who took part and thank you to those who helped.
And in answer to the several people who asked if it would happen again, well maybe as a 26 mile relay. We know the route and we know the changeover points, just need to order some decent weather.