Welsh Castles Relay

Over 40 Serpies enjoyed a successful and enjoyable trip to Wales last weekend to take part in the annual Welsh Castles Relay.  This 20-stage relay race covers over 200 miles from Caernarfon to Cardiff and we have been sending teams for over 30 years.  It is always a brilliant weekend away and this year didn't disappoint, despite a bit of rain, and we saw some excellent running performances and great team spirit.

The Serpie ladies' team were particularly brilliant this year, averaging a 7:13 minute mile pace across the 207 mile route to finish 100 minutes faster than last year.  The overall results are taking some time to finalise (largely relating to time penalties affecting one or two other teams) but we are confident that we came second in the women’s category, narrowly behind the winner (three minutes difference after over 24 hours of running!) and comfortably clear of third place.  We also took the sought after Queens of the Mountain prize (for the combined time over the six toughest stages of 3, 7, 10, 11, 14 & 16) with a winning margin equating to over two minutes per runner.   Tash Sheel, Caitie Meyer, Emilie Isaacs and Camilla West also claimed stage wins.


The open team were up against stiff competition in the open race but put in a great performance and secured (subject to confirmation) 15th place out of 65 teams overall.  Two team members won a coveted veterans stage winner yellow t-shirt: Eddie Ware (taking Monarch of the Mountain) on stage 10 and Kevin Murray (on a notoriously popular stage for faster veteran runners) on stage 9, and the team finished in sixth place in the King of the Mountains competition, with Glenn Hughes and Andy Reeves putting in particularly noteworthy performances.  Henry Kemp is also due a shout-out for making his own way from a Liverpool stag do to the start line of his stage in Caerphilly via five trains and one bus journey, as is Willem Gerritsen, brand new to the club, who swapped the Dutch plains for Dolgellau.


Across both teams there was great time spirit with team members working together and sometimes competing against one another, and they found the motivation to post some great times – for example Margaret King managed to set a 10k PB in the middle of a hilly 9.5m race.  As well as lots of running, there was fun too – Adrian Kerr claimed the fastest pint, and Kevin Murray proved surprisingly adept at drinking upside down.  The feedback I have had from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, with several people saying that they feel inspired by their team-mates and there were many comments, particularly from the newer members, about how they now feel more part of the club and more willing to try other club races and sessions.


This was a huge organisational challenge, which was ably led by Tash Sheel who did a fantastic job over a long period of time.  Sophie Flanagan and Megan Roberts (women’s captains) plus Adrian Kerr (open team’s captain) ensured that we had enough runners ready to race, and both Margaret King and Thom Martini did a lot of background work to ensure that things were in place to enable this.  A big thanks as well to the drivers, especially Daisy Gladstone who wasn't running but spent the weekend supporting and driving the team around.  The results (currently provisional, but should be finalised shortly) are at: https://www.welshcastlesrelay.org.uk/results/2019/index.html


Please do look out for announcements about taking part in 2020 – we expect the race to take place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June.  Expect to see some celebrations at the next Last Wednesday drinks!


Tom Poynton


Submitted: 13 June 2019