I think he used an air-horn to start the race. I say I think, because I was being mugged by two brothers (aged around 3) at this point, who tried to steal my bike, then my map. By the time I'd finished backfilling the hole the race was underway, and I was on my bike before I had time to let anyone know where I'd buried the Tiny Kray Twins. At least they hadn't got my bacon sandwich.
...Julia was determined to defend her Championship lead to the bitter end....
Unable to follow the race route on my bike, I guessed I'd have to make Craster within 30-35 mins to have any chance of seeing the race leaders. Having negotiated several unforseen obstacles (see above for example) and with a tailwind at last, I shot down the hill into the village at around 40 minutes in, rounding the corner just in time to see Mr Unwin (Keswick AC) passing the crabstick seller. My first thought was one of disappointment (nothing personal) because I had hoped to be up the coast nearer Dunstanburgh to see our runners come through. Also, I'd wanted to shout 'Careful, there's a cliff, Richard!', which now would just sound daft. What a waste. Also, I'd made rash promises of having a selection of ice creams /blueberry muffins /hot pies ready for our crew. No time for that now. They would have to starve. I pressed on through the crowds, through the steady stream of runners heading south, against the dramatic backdrop of Dunstanburgh Castle. Making my stand on a rocky outcrop, fighting off a bunch of curious cattle, I leant my bike on a nearby gorsebush and gazed north through my telescope. First ER vest to appear was Julia. She was running today as Dave Peacock (don't ask), and so could be heard regaling everyone, all the time, in a South Shields accent, about everything. Then came The Saagermeister, running with his usual swagger. Then came Gill Douglas. Now, as far as I can tell, Gill has a temperament that would make Mother Theresa look like Amy Winehouse. But even she would later admit to being sorely tempted to steal an icecream from the hand of an innocent child spectator. This is what running does to us, my friends. Not far behind, swooping south like a September swallow, came Sally, still running despite her modest expectations. She had loads of blokes chasing her, as you can see here. Then came Mr Andrew Walker, clearly struggling with his debilitating injury, but bashing on regardless. A couple of minutes later Kevin shot past, completely oblivious (as usual, it has to be said) to my words of encouragement. Kevin was evidently so far into 'The Zone' that he was almost out the other side. I hung around until Tony zipped down the path, couldn't see any sign of Karen C, and so decided I couldn't wait any longer, saddled up an' headed south, 'cross the Rio Grande.
I followed the race route through the village, past the harbour & up the hill, eventually coming to a halt at the gate onto the cliff top. No way through for blokes on bikes, not today. Retracing my tracks, I took to the road to try to meet the race again at Howick, where the route rejoins the tarmac for a while. On the hill out of the village I passed a cyclist wrestling with a mechanical problem, looked like a snapped chain. I should have stopped and offered help but I was on a mission. Sorry, whoever you are. First I caught up with Andy, then Sally, then Gill again - all running strongly. The route then switched off road again, using narrow tracks which forced me to ride alongside the runners for a while. That was a bit odd. These people were working really hard, which isn't a surprise in itself, but it didn't really occur to me when I was one of them. At least 17 different people said 'That's cheatin' as I rode past. (Note to self - always resist the temptation to state the bleedin' obvious.) When we eventually made the road again, I managed to catch Paul, still smoking his metaphorical cigar. Julia was even further ahead. (Julia had fitted a set of wing mirrors so she could monitor Paul's progress. Of course, the mirrors bore the legend 'Objects viewed in this mirror may be larger than they appear to be'. She also has a scanner which alerts her if any other ladies in her age group are within thrashing distance. But it's only for fun, of course). I caught Julia just as she turned left onto the beach for the final section.
which is the ER Road Championships (Male) Trophy. As you can see, no expense spared.
......sorry it's a bit late.