A bit surprised to be invited to join this year’s Horwich RMI Harriers team but found myself on route to Birmingham this weekend to compete in the British Masters Road Relay Championships in the Vets 35+ category.

I was to compete in a relay team of 8 over a demanding 3 mile course, each runner taking a single leg and the overall time determining the championship ranking. I was put on leg 6 by our captain so the nerves had plenty of time to kick in before my turn.

What was immediately obvious is that I was in the company of some exceptional talent, with many teams having England internationals capable of clearing the undulating course in less than 15 minutes. Our own team captain in fact took the first leg and came over the line with just 15 mins on the clock. A brilliant effort.

Just as I was thinking about pulling a sickie, I caught sight of our 5th runner coming in and was unleashed from the holding pen by the marshal. After a long initial climb of around a mile the picturesque course through Sutton Park undulated but did little to distract me from the fact that my wheels could come off at any moment. Running shoulder to shoulder over the remaining 2 miles with another competitor served to work each other hard with surges here and there, but I eventually took the lead on the last hills to finish my leg in 18mins 27 seconds. The 2nd slowest time in our team but I couldn’t have pushed the pace any more without a mobile defibrillator or roller blades.

Our team finished 28th overall, but the team had taken a decision not to run our 8th man due to a hamstring injury which had automatically pushed us down the rankings. A different experience for me to have the pressure of a team result on my shoulders but as always an enjoyable one once I’d collapsed over the line.