Initially, I’d heard about the Real Relay through Facebook and thought it was an amazing endeavour. The aim of the Real Relay was to follow the route of the Olympic torch but, rather than being transported from town to town via bus, this baton would be completely powered by foot. All 8,000 miles of it! From one sweaty runner’s palm to another.
My cousin, Ali, mentioned that she knew someone who was doing Leg 370 (High Hesket to Carlisle) and this led to us looking up the Endurance Life Real Relay web page. There, we saw that the 8.5mile Wigton to Aspatria leg was still available! I live just outside Wigton and so it was too good an opportunity to miss (even though the baton was due to arrive in Wigton at 4:20am!!). After deliberating for several minutes, we took the plunge and signed up. As part of this process, we donated £10 to CHICKS, a charity that offers free respite breaks to disadvantaged children.
The night before, I laid out all my running clothes (ready to just grab them and go without waking up everyone in the house) and set my alarm for 2:45am. I also went to bed at 9pm although my girls chose this night to be exceptionally noisy at bedtime and the other half tried to burn the house down by attempting to dry out egg boxes in the oven (best not to ask!).
I must have fallen asleep eventually as I was woken at 2am by a text from Steve (running Leg 377 Carlisle to Wigton) to say that he’d received the baton and they were running 30mins ahead of schedule. Cue a mad panic to get up, dressed and fed! I had my usual bowl of Special K as soon as I came downstairs (I need to leave at least 1.5 hours between eating and running to avoid discomfort!) and a piece of Kendal mint cake.
I texted Ali (twice!) to let her know that we had to meet earlier. There was no reply so I called her phone, only letting it ring a couple of times in the hope that I wouldn’t disturb her partner. Still no reply after 10 minutes! I was starting to panic a bit now so took the plunge and just let her phone ring. And ring. And ring. Eventually she answered and it was a manic rush for her to get out the door and meet in Aspatria.
We met in Aspatria and I drove us back to Wigton, leaving Ali’s car in Aspatria so that we could get back!
We arrived in Wigton and parked up before waiting at the changeover point. Steve’s relatives were there ready to meet him and it was nice to chat to them. Apart from them, there was no one around (understandably (!) it was 3:45am!!).
Steve arrived at about 3:55am, following a car with orange flashing lights and carrying the baton that had travelled many miles around the UK already. We had a quick photo shoot and then we were on our way.
We carried the baton through Wigton but it would have been very difficult for us to carry it all the way without discomfort. So, we put the baton into my backpack and that’s where it stayed until we reached Aspatria.
The run itself was brilliant – a lot easier than I’d anticipated due to the time of day! We’d also been very lucky with the weather. The days prior had seen an unprecedented amount of rainfall. We stayed at a steady pace 9’30 to 10 minute miling and chatted away for most of it (apart from when we hit a horrible incline, that shut us up for a bit!).
It was so peaceful with only a handful of cars passing us despite being on a main road throughout.
We arrived in Aspatria at about 5:05am and took the baton out of my rucksack. For the final mile we alternated holding the baton between us and then, at about 5:15am, we met up with Peter (Leg 379 Aspatria to Flimby) and handed the baton over (again, after a quick photo shoot!)
And that was it, Leg 378 complete. We were both elated that we’d had an opportunity to play our small part in this baton’s amazing journey and I wish all the runners that are yet to run good luck and enjoy it!