Every now and then, club running turns up a classic occasion, and that was the case 10 days ago when a gang of unlikely dynamos turned out for Chippenham Harriers for the Road League 5 x 10K race at the Two Tunnels.
We could not have been less heralded at the outset nor more proud and united following the result of our 14th place from 26 teams. Up at the front of the race, some of Wiltshire’s finest battled out an incredible result, a full on, 1 second photo finish to win after the full 50K – but back in the field we felt every bit as special, a team that was thrown together after our club Chippenham Harriers had somewhat undersold the opportunity.
It is fair to say that Chippenham Harriers were not over-represented in the team event. Whilst neighbouring clubs had four, five, even six teams out, our club had none until I took it upon myself to recruit a team on the club Facebook page with the caveat ‘must want to run in a relay’ pretty much the only qualifier. 3 runners stepped forward, quietly saying that they might not be that quick but would love to pull on the club blue and whites if the opportunity arose. So, that was four including me, and we needed 5 – and then it came to my attention that Matt Scarsbrook was working, managing his student sports massage team, ‘The School’ at the event – and proved happy to be recruited so long as he could run leg one before starting work.
Now we had a team, and it was a cracking mix and match.
We barely knew each other, none of us were 10K record breakers, but we were keen and sounded good. As I entered the team by typing in our collected names, each one sounded like they might be be in a crimefighting gang. We sounded much more A Team than C Team. In terms of the cool names vibe, only I let us down. My name sounds like I am some kind of Victorian industrialist’s accountant.
Matt ‘The School’ Scarsbrook
Dawn ‘Usain’ Bolton
David ‘Ace’ Ventura
‘Hot’ Stu Sweetlove
Frank ‘mumbling something about the parlous state of the tannery bookkeeping’ Wainwright
There’s not that much to say about the race itself, except we all pushed hard and ran well. The Two Tunnels is quite a 10K course as it goes through each of two long redundant railway tunnels twice. It is definitely odd running in the still damp underground air whilst August is doing its vibrant August thing up above. But breaking out into the sunshine up the last hill to the handover tent, we were all champions, pushing it on for our supportive teammates.
And it was that sense of team that will make this event so memorable for me. Amongst the 5 of us, we started the day basically acquainted, but because we were all in this to get the best from it, we finished as a united force. We had shared cookies under a blue and white sky. It was just a lovely repeatable experience, making nonsense and perfect sense in equal measure.
If we were the A Team, then hopefully The Two Tunnels was just our first episode. I know I’d look forward to running with this gang again.