The Two Rivers Run
At about 6:45 on Wednesday 19th August visitors to the View Point at Landguard may have been a little bemused by the arrival of a number of runners in red vests. Little did the visitors know that their purpose in visiting the View Point that evening was not, as they in their innocence had supposed, to sit in their cars with a flask of tea and a pair of binoculars to gawp at the comings and goings of the container ships and other marine traffic on the estuaries of the Rivers Orwell and Stour. They were, in reality, there to watch, marvel at and admire the band of highly trained athletes assembling to take part in the eagerly awaited and highly acclaimed annual event known as ‘The Two Rivers Run’.
This handicapped run follows a variety of routes chosen by the participants themselves between the start at Landguard View Point and the finish line on the sea wall at Felixstowe Ferry. Requirements for entry are minimal. The event is open to all running members of FRR, those of more modest speed being as welcome as the hares among us. Participants must indicate their intention to take part in advance by submitting an (preferably accurate) estimate of their current best pace for 5 miles to the race organiser. This is used to calculate the appropriate start time for each runner with the aim of allowing all participants to arrive at the Ferry at (more or less) the same time. Much careful computation goes into this process aided and abetted and otherwise obfuscated by the relatively elastic nature of the accuracy and integrity of the estimated paces provided (see note below).
On this particular occasion a total of 34 of these highly tuned runners from the elite of the local athletic community collected at the View Point, emerging in ones and twos from all directions and by all forms of transport (well, actually only from one direction as the Landguard peninsula is surrounded on 3 sides by water and most of them arrived by car).
Shortly before 7 o’clock the event referee, Mr Rory Marriott, called the first runners to the start (an invisible line most kindly provided by SCDC between the back of one of its rubbish bins and the fence surrounding Landguard Fort) and with stopwatches synchronised, at 7pm on the dot, Mr Marriott dropped the flag (i.e. shouted ‘go!’) and the event was under way.
As each runner was called forward in turn it was to be seen that they all brought their individual running character to bear on the event. Some were eager, toeing the line like impatient racehorses and needing a restraining word from the referee to keep them to their time, others were intently focussed with furrowed brows and narrowed eyes concentrating on the route ahead, Garmins primed. Some were more laid back, quipping with their friends and sauntering so gently to the line that they nearly missing their turn.
As each runner left, to the accompaniment of cheers (and the occasional good-natured boo), those that remained would shake their heads and proffer a carefully considered opinion as to the advisability or otherwise of the speed or route of their just departed friend. Gradually, however, the remaining numbers dwindled till at last all the runners had gone and Mr Marriott and I hastened to our vehicles so we could reach the finish ahead of the pack.
When we reached the sea wall opposite the FBI a small band of interested spectators was gathered, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the runners. For a few minutes there was not much to see, then suddenly a moving dot was spotted in the distance. This rapidly approached and resolved into a figure in a red vest with legs and arms going like pistons, closely followed by two more. More still could be seen further back along the wall. After a few more nail-biting moments our winner approached and sped across the finishing line, effort and determination etched in every limb: it was Mrs Jo Whelan, with an even more closely fought tussle taking place behind her between Mrs Amanda Smith and Mr Simon Merrick in second and third place respectively. After that the runners came pouring across the line thick and fast, keeping our referee and other assisting officials (Mrs Lucy Sheehan and Mr and Mrs R & J Farnworth) busy taking down times and names and providing water to the exhausted athletes.
Once the final stalwart runners had completed their run the whole party moved across to the FBI to partake of refreshments while continuing with a lively discussion of the details of the evening’s proceedings.
While hearty congratulations are due to all our gallant runners for their efforts on the night, special thanks go to Mr R Marriott, Mrs L Sheehan and Mr and Mrs Farnworth for their invaluable assistance and support.
Mrs Anne Oliver, Two Rivers Organiser.
Note: To say that absolute accuracy is adhered to by all entrants in their reporting of these estimates is thought by some to be a little wide of the mark: rumour has it that a certain amount of ‘sandbagging’ may have been indulged in. (However, I am able to confirm that reports that holes in the Sahara, visible from outer space, are connected to the activities of FRR are totally without foundation)