Forum Vs. Luton Marathon Relay: The Luton Lunacy

Teams of three running nine miles each around rural Bedfordshire? It could only be the Luton Marathon Relay...


Posted: 4 December 2007
by Johnny Blaze

Anyone recognise this motley crew?

It was a wet day in July when Coops10 launched a deceptively simple-sounding idea into the forums - given that many forumites had never met, wouldn’t it be a great idea if we all met up for a r*ce involving teams of three running a marathon relay? Nine miles seemed do-able for most runners and, having perused the racing calendar, the Luton Marathon Relay in December sounded ideal. Luton is renowned for its balmy tropical airs and luscious Decembers so the weather wouldn’t be a problem and anyway, we’d had such a rubbish summer, what could December possibly throw at us?

The buzz quickly went round the forums, and runners flocked to the banner of the Laughing Cow. Teams were quickly formed by longstanding threads such as The Runner’s Arms, the Waggoners, Good Flicks and Shades, and by the time of the race there were more than 15 teams in place, ready and raring to go, as well as a number of full marathoners (including MicknPhil). More than 50 forumites were expected to race.

Of course, the race was not going to interfere too much with the deadly serious business of Having a Jolly Good Time. Now, at last, many forumites would meet face-to-face the people with whom they had been happily trading wisecracks and abuse over the preceding months. Many questions would be answered: Were people as tall as they appeared on the forum? Did their avatar give any clue as to the true beauty and gorgeousness of the person themselves? In fact, would we have to ditch previously-held ideas of age, hair colour and, in one or two cases, gender? (The answers to the above are no, no, and yes, by the way). Beers were to be sunk – in moderation of course – the night before the race and a big shindig was planned in the Leicester Arms by the Luton Travelodge. Possibly a few more drinks might slip down on the Sunday, we’d see how it went.

Runner's Legs: Woj, The Other Man and Geves

A major weather event

It has to be said, the weather reports didn’t look promising, with heavy rain and 40mph winds forecast. But still, we were all confident that on the day itself, the sun would shine, birds would sing, and squirrels would chatter happily in the trees as our brave runners trotted by on this glorious December day - in Luton!

The day dawned at Blaze Towers and I rose, changed and, pausing only to wave a paw to next door’s Red Setter (aka Dave the Dog), set off for Luton from leafy Warwickshire. It was raining. Oh yes, and it was windy. Both. And very.

Here's what fatface thought of the weather

Arriving at the Lea Manor Recreation Centre it became immediately apparent that Luton was in the grip of a Major Weather Event, and the authorities had chosen to use Lea Manor as an emergency housing centre for weather-distressed refugees. There were thousands of people inside, in varying states of disarray and undress. Some of them looked like runners. Chief amongst the throng were our forumites, who seemed very chilled about the absolutely appalling weather outside (RW breeds 'em tough!). Admittedly forum sang-froid started to dissipate when the occasional wind-lashed person would appear, scoured and dripping wet, from "a walk to the car park over the road". I was in a major wibble about doing two legs of the relay anyway, without running in Hurricane Katrina conditions, but the die was cast and anyway we could always blame Coops - it was his idea!

As for the race itself - the route was quite mixed, with some nice countryside sections and some back-of-the-housing-estate bits, as well as long stretches by the side of an A-road and some fairly undulating undulations.

Drenched, battered and shaken

Quotes Of The Day

Some of the conversations were slightly off-the-wall and certainly not repeatable under the heading of forum editorial content (but you can get a flavour of them on the race thread...). Your correspondent was continually on the alert for quotable quotes on the day, and some of the more memorable lines and thoughts are detailed below:

"Nine miles in those conditions were the equivalent of a marathon; an ultra, even"

"Really great atmosphere in the sports hall. Felt like I was part of something big and exciting. Great to meet so many lovely people and some forum legends (too many to mention). Not had such a fun evening in a long time - everyone was on great form."

"Where’s the M1 again?" "Erm, about 50 metres that way."

"Tell your dad he needs a back, sack and crack"

"I really enjoyed the weather during the race." "Erm, why?" "Because I’m a daft cow."

"Five pounds for a bowl of muesli!"

At 10.00am the buzzer went and it became evident that the first leg runners had really drawn the short straw. The wind was howling in from all angles – so strong that you really felt you were making no progress whatsoever in some stretches. The wind had a vicious sense of humour, saving his worst for uphill stretches and/or places where the route took a corner, so that one minute you were coasting along nicely and the next you turned a corner and ... Wham! you hit a wall of freezing water travelling at 45mph.

So, Leg One was tough, and the runners came in drenched, battered and shaken by the Luton Hurricane. The runners in the second leg were given the false dawn of a break in the weather before the tempest struck again. I was doing this leg and felt sure I saw Judy Garland being sucked up into a tornado as a squirrel went by on a windsurfer. It was 'orrible to the power of 10, but the runners kept running. The speed cameras on the A-road glared mockingly at us as we plodded by in the tempest, and the village road signs admonishing us to 'Slow Down' were also somewhat wide of the mark. It were hell! Hell and high water!

By and by, the third leg of the relay commenced. The third leg had the most beneficent weather, but that wasn’t saying very much at all - the weather was extreme to the max. While the relay was taking place the marathon runners were still grinding it out over a course of three laps, and maximum respect is due to those who completed the course in such atrocious conditions. The marshals were a particularly pleasing feature of this race, with lots of smiles and shouts of encouragement, which, given they had probably been stood outside in gale force freezing rain for several hours, was quite an achievement.

Well, we counted them all out and we counted them back in again. It does appear that the RW Forum Pests came top out of all the forum teams listed on the original thread, in a creditable 90th place (passing swiftly over the fact that the RW Towers team came in 68th), with the other teams appearing scattered through the results.

(Article update: the winning relay team Tergat 222 also comprised RW forumites – hearty congratulations to coronium, JamesEarlJones and Padams who completed the course in just 2:30:09 between them!)

As for me, running 17 miles was new and proof that I can think about a full marathon next year, so it was a top result in difficult conditions.

Post-race pints and presentations

Once out of the rain the teams swapped war stories on "The Day We Outfaced The Luton Hurricane", before retiring to the Travelodge for a shower and the chance to slip into something more comfortable for the festivities ahead. Unsurprisingly, the weather had drastically improved by this stage, and a short toddle was all it took to get to the pub.

Hashette, Pizza Man, Sweetest Thing, Johnny Blaze and Brooks The Beast celebrate with a drink

The gathering was a chance to circulate, press the flesh and also gave an opportunity for a few special presentations. Coops10 was presented with a cow-pattern posing pouch in honour of his sterling efforts in organising a top forum gathering. It was generally agreed that his pouch looked very nice, particularly when in situ, and a steady stream of ladies fingering his pouch had a prominent effect on Coops’ general demeanour (read that in any way you like!).

Birthdays were also celebrated. We all sang to Tickled Pink (strange looks from the locals) and presented kittenkat with a birthday cake for her birthday the following Tuesday (though somebody got the age wrong...).

The evening continued, with lots of laughing and joking, until eventually last orders were called and it was up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire. Which was a timely end to the day, as well as being factually correct, because Luton, as we know, is in Bedfordshire.

Will the forum ever meet up again in such diabolical weather conditions? Watch the skies... and keep your eyes open for the Laughing Cow!


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As you know, I have made a couple of disastrous attempts at organising things over the last year or so, however, I have another, and this could be a goer.

Basically, on the 2nd December, there is a marathon relay in Luton (teams of 3 - 8 and a bit miles each), and I am laying down the gauntlet.

What I want to see, is a team of 3, for EVERY one of the most used, and popular threads on Clubhouse.....e.g.

Single Male Runners
London Social
Brum Social
Oxon Social
Liverpool Social
South West Social
Moderately Annoyed
Radio Worcs
Person Underneath
Runners Arms
Coffee Shop
BB's Kitchen
Psychiatric thingy
Shoreham Coasters
Sutton Park
RW Towers (yes Dan, that is you)
etc etc

If you are a regular on the above, or any other threads, get a team together, and then we can have a giant piss up afterwards. Nothing too serious, no real competition, just a good laugh. Come on, it'll be good!

Thoughts??
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 10:29

I would sooner trust you with my lifes savings.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 10:30

Up yer bum.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 10:31

coops, im running the whole thing

great idea though
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 10:31

That's my team sorted then.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 10:31

Well I think its a nice idea Coops.

That doesnt mean Ill be there just that I think its a nice idea;-)
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 10:32

Come on you bunch of freakin idiots.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 10:39

KK - you are now the SW Social Team Captain. Go and sort a team out!
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 10:41

I'll see if I can galvanise the Scouse crew but I don't hold out much hope - its the distance and over night stay thing that gets tricky...
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 10:52

Good girl......
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 10:55


K9
I'm guessing there won't be a team from 'The Bench'

Oh yes, it's from injuries not the clubhouse.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 10:57

Nah hopefuly will be india!
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:00

Sounds like a good idea.........
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:00


Sounds like fun Coops but im not involved in any of those threads above and its the Norwich half that day :-(

Have fun
xx
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:04

I'm not involved in any of those threads either, so we are going to have to have a few "neither here nor there threads".
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:06

I'll do it. Then everyone can buy me a birthday drink afterwards.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:11

I'll try and rustle up some Radio W support, seeing as Luton is vaguely near me.

TT - you got a Visa for India? Wonders never cease
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:11

No worries Sezz, get two more for a team then.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:11

TT - you got a Visa for India? Wonders never cease

Nope mastercard :)
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:25


LOL TT!

sounds like fun....! I'll put my name down.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:26

That'll be you and Fat Face then.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:37

Looks like the FLM Wibblers might be up for it Coops - 2 interested so far :-)
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:40

I might be convinced to turn up on behalf of the London social.-
( not sure we can make a whole team off the last couple of months though )-:
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:44

Coops, great idea. I'll work on the Runners Arms and Moderately Annoyed threads.

You should add the On the Wagon for January thread to the list.

Kathy?????
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:46

TEAMS:

Neither here nor there - Sezz, Fatface, Coops
Single Male Runners
London Social - IP
Brum Social
Oxon Social
Liverpool Social - MTB
South West Social - Kittenkat, Arctic Lady
Moderately Annoyed
Radio Worcs - The Trickster
Person Underneath
Runners Arms
Coffee Shop
BB's Kitchen
Psychiatric thingy
Shoreham Coasters
Sutton Park
FLM Wibblers - Screamapillar
RW Towers (yes Dan, that is you)
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:47

TEAMS:

Neither here nor there - Sezz, Fatface, Coops
Single Male Runners
London Social - IP
Brum Social
Oxon Social
Liverpool Social - MTB
South West Social - Kittenkat, Arctic Lady
Moderately Annoyed
Radio Worcs - The Trickster
Person Underneath
Runners Arms
Coffee Shop
BB's Kitchen
Psychiatric thingy
Shoreham Coasters
Sutton Park
FLM Wibblers - Screamapillar
RW Towers (yes Dan, that is you)
On the Wagon for January
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:48


Can't ST - its the Norwich half that day and B & i are doing it :-(
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:50

Can those of us who post on more than one thread regularly run one leg but credit it to more than one team?

;-)
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:53

Cos I doubt I'll get the Scouse crew down to Londinium...

TEAMS:

Neither here nor there - Sezz, Fatface, Coops
Single Male Runners - MTB
London Social - IP
Brum Social
Oxon Social
Liverpool Social - MTB
South West Social - Kittenkat, Arctic Lady
Moderately Annoyed
Radio Worcs - The Trickster
Person Underneath
Runners Arms
Coffee Shop
BB's Kitchen
Psychiatric thingy
Shoreham Coasters
Sutton Park
FLM Wibblers - Screamapillar
RW Towers (yes Dan, that is you)
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:54

I'm not on any of these threads but happy to make up the numbers - provided no-one minds having a fat plodder on their tem.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:54

Tem=Team
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:55

Nope, teams of 3 as per the rules ST. Check out the Luton Marathon Website
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:55

That's a bummer...;-p


Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:57

ST, you have got the influence to get another 5 easily from those threads. SVT will definitely do it for starters (as we had a team last year).
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:58

Just adding Treacle Tart who alerted me to this fab idea....

TEAMS:

Neither here nor there - Sezz, Fatface, Coops
Single Male Runners - MTB
London Social - IP
Brum Social
Oxon Social
Liverpool Social - MTB
South West Social - Kittenkat, Arctic Lady
Moderately Annoyed
Radio Worcs - The Trickster
Person Underneath
Runners Arms
Coffee Shop
BB's Kitchen
Psychiatric thingy
Shoreham Coasters
Sutton Park
FLM Wibblers - Screamapillar, Treacle Tart
RW Towers (yes Dan, that is you)
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 11:59

Coops, I will start working on them.

I think it will be a great day out for runners and supporters:-)
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 12:03

okay, we're in!

TEAMS:

Neither here nor there - Sezz, Fatface, Coops
Single Male Runners - MTB
London Social - IP
Brum Social
Oxon Social
Liverpool Social - MTB
South West Social - Kittenkat, Arctic Lady
Moderately Annoyed
Radio Worcs - The Trickster
Person Underneath
Runners Arms
Coffee Shop
BB's Kitchen
Psychiatric thingy
Shoreham Coasters
Sutton Park
FLM Wibblers - Screamapillar, Treacle Tart
RW Towers (Dan, Catherine, Raymondo)
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 12:04

TEAMS:

Neither here nor there - Sezz, Fatface, Coops
Single Male Runners - MTB
London Social - IP
Brum Social
Oxon Social
Liverpool Social - MTB
South West Social - Kittenkat, Arctic Lady
Moderately Annoyed
Radio Worcs - The Trickster
Person Underneath
Runners Arms
Coffee Shop
BB's Kitchen
Psychiatric thingy
Shoreham Coasters
Sutton Park
FLM Wibblers - Screamapillar, Treacle Tart
RW Towers (Dan, Catherine, Raymondo)

NEED A TEAM:

Johnny Blaze
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 12:12

I think Min might be trying to get teams together from two threads, maybe?

Much the same as I will be doing.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 12:21

I think Min might be trying to get teams together from two threads, maybe?

Much the same as I will be doing.
Posted: 10/07/2007 at 12:22

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