However, fast forward to a week and a bit before the event and there were appeals being put out on the club Facebook page saying that we may have to pull out one of the HERC teams unless they found some more ladies to run. I reluctantly said that I would do it if no-one could be found and a little bit of arm-twisting from Giuseppe later, I found myself signed up for leg 5 as part of team 2.
By this point, many appeals had been made within the club for male chaperones, so I decided to try to find my own chaperone out of my non-HERC friends who run. Gareth kindly offered to accompany me and we arranged to recce the course on the Thursday before the event. Kelly then mentioned that she was also looking for a chaperone, so back I went to our non-HERC friends and Simon offered to help out too, although he was worried that Kelly might go too quick for him. When Kelly said she was aiming for 7:30min/mile pace, we agreed to swap chaperones – Gareth would run with Kelly and Simon would run with me.
Gareth, Simon and I all met up on the Thursday to recce the route. It was a lovely evening for a run and really peaceful (other than Si squealing at the nettles!). The cows left us alone, and apart from having to double back a few times to check our route, it was an uneventful and really enjoyable run. It was lovely to run with people that I don't normally run with and have a good old natter through some beautiful countryside.
A bit later, another two Hedgie vests were approaching – Suzanne and her chaperone Jason. Simon moved up to where the narrow path started on our route and I got to the changeover point. I touched hands with Suzanne, reminded her to text Emma and shot off – the adrenalin of a team relay changeover does something strange to your legs! Simon slotted in behind me and we settled to a slightly steadier pace. We only saw about five other runners during the course of our nearly 5 miles so it was not like running in any other race, but again it was lovely to run with Si. Chatting was out of the question this time though as my plan to take it easy and enjoy the run went out of the window! The route seemed a lot longer than it had on Thursday, but we did it in just under 45 minutes – just over 5 mins less than our predicted time and more than 4 minutes quicker than we had done it in on Thursday. The relief on coming in to the final stretch and seeing Emma waiting for me, along with Gary and Lisa timekeeping, was huge! I touched Emma's hand, wished her luck and she was off.
Simon kindly dropped me to Romsey, so I was able to cheer in Kelly and Gareth as they finished leg 7, and then we went on to Totton to cheer in Keith (we got there just after Michele had finished her leg). There were quite a few Hedgies at the pub at the finish point and it was lovely to catch up with how everyone had done and enjoy a drink together.
The Test Way relay is a logistical nightmare, but it was really good fun. As we all know, Hedgie team spirit is second to none and has impressed Simon and Gareth so much that they are both now considering joining the club :-)