Datchet Dashers Relay is fast becoming one of my favourite races. It debuted last year and I enjoyed it so much I had to grab a place this August too. I run for Shepperton Running Group (SRG) so Windsor is not far away, and with a low entry fee (£10 per pair) plus a medal on offer, I was sold again this year!
Last year I entered with a school friend Felicity, plus Guilaine and Nikki from Bedfont Lakes parkrun and I loved the short, sharp laps and the breaks in between – like interval training but with the motivation of racing against others and teamwork. This year I paired up with Neil from SRG and the event was once again fantastic. We knew some other participants from parkrun and spotted some familiar faces from Runnymede Runners. It was nice to see many clubs and levels represented.
The setting of Home Park is amazing, with clear views of Windor Castle and miles of grass. The sun was out and the ground dry too. The Relay is a fairly compact event, around 90 teams, and super organised by the Dashers with an air of calm, toilets close by, excellent (free) parking, no queues for race numbers etc. We didn’t even need a bag drop off as everyone milled around the main area, either spectating or waiting to run their lap! The rules were simply and clearly explained.
It’s a 10k so basically you each take turns to run 1km laps; 5 each in total. I must admit this distance and set up is how I run best. I find long runs difficult (mentally, and my knees get fed up) but love the challenge and adrenaline rush of a pairs relay where you run hard then get a little heartrate-lowering rest before taking off again 🙂
Our team Moreton-Frediani (#56) was rather conservatively named after ourselves. Some of the other entries were brilliant: “The fastest team ever” (and they were, taking 5th place), “We’re only doing this for the cake”, “I’d rather be cycling”, “Four legs and a funeral” etc. I requested to be 56’B’ taking the even laps, mainly as I like a sprint finish and didn’t want to go first. Neil was happy to be 56’A’ so no arguements there. We’re a pretty similar pace and our goal was to maintain between 4:20-4:40 minute kms – I’m pleased to report we both stayed well under 4:40 🙂 So just after 7pm, off he went along with 88 others and it wasn’t long before the first runner came through in 3 minutes something – wow. Soon I could spot Neil’s signature purple headband (matching our purple SRG tops) bobbing along, and I prepared to run. As I took the ‘baton’ (a hi-5 in this case, thankfully) I was surprised to find myself taking off at sub 4-minute pace. Having the challenge of overtaking or being overtaken kept me going and I was happy with my performance. Being out for three months earlier in the year with a knee injury has knocked my confidence slightly but I was pain-free and feeling strong.
Between laps I had just enough time to grab a drink (again, hardly any queue, ample cups and no litter) before the purple headband was coming round the bend again. Lap 3 was my least favourite which isn’t surprising, as that’s usually my slowest split at parkrun. As I gulped my water I heard someone talking about their final lap coming up and I tried to forget I still had two to go. After lap 4 I almost took a wrong turn towards the finish funnel (I wasn’t cheating, honest!), got re-routed, but then couldn’t see Neil at the changeover… suddenly he was there and set off for his final lap.
I was feeling ready for MY final lap, and just as I stepped up, I glanced at my Tomtom…
WHaaaat! I was about to record my best ever 5km on Strava (albeit with paused breaks) and my watch had died. Completely my fault for not charging it after a long run – see, long runs are not good 😉
So I ran ‘naked’ for the final km with the tall Runnymede Runner guy as my target who seemed be my nemesis on every lap! I managed a strong finish and crossed the line at 43:54 for Moreton-Frediani. In response to our Captain Steve’s question ‘did you win?’ no we did not, that honour went to “Dodgy legs and daddy legs” who crossed the line first at 32:56. Well done speedy legs! I think we were happy with our result regardless, much faster than our usual 50 minutes in individual 10k races.
So, what did we get for our efforts? Well, a goody bag which included food and Aloe Vera products – nice. We also got a medal to match last year’s so I now am the proud owner of two sets of DD Relay bling. Plus there was a lot of lovely cake which was amazing, especially the cinnamon treat with a creamy topping! I think I might have had two pieces…
All in all it was a great (family-friendly) atmosphere, well organised and the sort of event you earmark as a ‘must do’ for next year. I definitely hope to be back in 2017! Thanks Datchet Dashers and well done to everyone who ran, organised and volunteered. Get it in your diary, SRG and parkrunners!
As a final note, I love the idea of a relay for parents and kids, maybe 5 X 500m. Pairing up with my 5 year old daughter would be a fantastic way to run at our own pace but as a team. Food for thought! Ooh did someone mention food…? 🙂
Relay results can be found here.