Green Belt Relay

Each May a number of running clubs or groups of people that are dotted around the M25 take part in something called the Green Belt Relay (GBR).

The Green Belt Relay is a 22-stage running relay race around 220 miles of the Green Belt around the outside of London over a single weekend. The course mainly follow footpaths, towpaths or minor roads. It started back in 1995 and involves around 35-40 teams. Runners form teams of 11 people, and each runner runs one stage each day.

Although the race is a relay, each stage starts at a fixed time. This allows each stage to be a competitive race in its own right, and also allows teams of all different standards to stay roughly together as they advance along the route.

It can be really pretty and fun but, as you have to do a stage on the Saturday and another on the Sunday it can really eat into a weekend, depending on what stage you are running.

Luckily hubby had chosen for stages fairly near home. As a result I went along to support and get my own little run in on the Sunday.

The weather had been horrendous leading up to the weekend but Sunday dawned bright and sunny. Hubby left to take a buddy to his stage and get ready for his own, I made my way to where the Essex part of the GBR would end ready for the Kent section.

It would be my first visit to Davy Down, a patch of green that is seconds away from Lakeside shopping centre with some parts under the M25. Davy Down itself is not large, running round it would take about 10 minutes but it is at the end of the Mardyke Valley so there are options to run on towards RSPB using cycle path 13.

I wanted to get a run in but also support my friend who was running down from Upminster, his route just starting from outside Thames Chase where hubbys route ends. So I stayed in the general vicinity, glad I did it was very warm.

The trees nearby offered some shade but the recent downpours had left some soggy bits underfoot.

It wasn’t long after getting a message from hubby that he had finished and then joined us, we made our way to watch the running, the first of the runners coming through at quite a pace. Our friend wasn’t that far behind, looking strong he seemed to be enjoying it although hot too.

With about 500 meters left we joined him to run him in, quickly left behind as a sprint finish seemed to be the only way he wanted to finish, hubby was by his side though.

All done, we turned to cheer more of the runners in 45 running this stage in total.

As it was so hot we elected to decamp to a place nearby for milkshake and ice cream sundaes, well deserved. The GBR is a big commitment for the weekend, hubby has completed it for the last 3 years, doubtful he will do it next year, time for someone new to give it a go. Anyone can give it a go as long as you can get a team of 11 together and commit to a weekend of driving and running. More details can be found here.


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