Suz West Reports: It was a few months ago that I had seen on another runners Facebook page a link to something called Whale Ale. On further investigation it became clear this race was a relay event, you had to have teams of four and each run 2 miles. At the end of the leg race numbers are swapped for ale. It also just by chance happened to be on my 40th birthday. It had to be done; it really was to good an opportunity to miss. So I asked for some teammates: Jude, Katie Thomas and Linda Howell stepped forward and ‘Suz’s barmy Bday Bash’ team was born.
This was then followed by ‘Team Moby Teal’ who were Sharon Newman, Steve Doswell, Emma Hopkins and Alan West (replacing a recovering Simon Newman).
Then, team ‘Four Pints of Ale and a Packet of Blister Plasters’ was formed. This was Monica and Matt, Stacey Marston and Clare Mullin.
Then another team – ‘Beer Need’: Philomena, Rachel Partridge, Helen Lawrence and Pauline Wright.
I was pretty sure I had organised this with transport etc. under control. Little did I know there were secret plans behind my back. Helen Lawrence very kindly offered to drive a mini bus to Stratford recreation ground where the even took place. Brave of her knowing beer would be involved and it may get slightly rowdy!
We left Rowheath in plenty of time to arrive in time to collect numbers. As we were on the journey I was handed lots of presents mostly consisting of bottles of J.D., or cans of J.D. and coke. I thought this was quite funny and it was definitely not expected. I also was presented with a 40 balloon, an air guitar and chocolates amongst other things but mostly jack Daniels. We arrived at Stratford Recreational ground in plenty of time for captains to collect numbers and decide on running orders.
I was captain of my team and once I had done this I put my number on my teal vest. Then I was summoned over to team teal and presented with a Jack Daniels T-shirt which on the front was the logo with vintage at forty and on the back “I’m awesome”. I was pretty chuffed with my new t-shirt being a big fan of Jack for any one who doesn’t know me. I was even more chuffed when everyone revealed a Jack Daniels T Shirt with various things on the back: “I’m with Awesome”, “Suz’s 40th”, “A Formula with Suz West – Awesome at any Distance”.
I was by this point pretty overwhelmed and eager to run with my new favourite T Shirt. There wasn’t much time before the start when I was given a 40 sash. I also was sporting the 40 balloon strategically place for running – along with a baton! We were called to the start. I had said I wanted to go first, as it was my 40th I needed the drinking time. I am also struggling with injury so had to be careful not to over do it. Once we started there wasn’t too much chance of that I felt like I was being strangled by the sash that I kept messing with and finished with it tucked in my shorts. The balloon was taking out other runners and encouraging shouts of Happy Birthday.
The pace was quite fast to start with, I decided I should slow down as not to aggravate my injury. The start was along the river then up onto a road and back down into the recreation ground. It was quite a nice little route. I started to speed up a little towards the end although I felt tired, but the thought of that beer spurred me on. Just as I was going back through the car park, Linda and Colin (Philomena’s husband) were cheering me on. This was also the place the balloon got caught on something and pulled me back slightly! I could see the finish and Katie on the other side waiting for me. I handed over the baton which also had a chip in to record our teams times. I finished in 14 mins – something not to shabby for an injured 40 year old with a balloon, sash and baton to contend with!
I think my mission to the bar was my best pace. I handed my number over and had my first drink of 40. We had set up base on a park bench. I was handed a goody bag that had medals in, just plastic ones but I was so excited it’s the first thing I wanted and proudly put it around my neck. I had bought champagne and so had everyone else – something else I didn’t know about. As we gathered, being our usual loud club, we cheered as our teammates came in and set out. We then handed each of our runner’s champagne at the end of their race.
There were some outstanding performances – Monica, Matt and Linda in super quick times. Once we were all in we drank around a park bench while the PA system played some tunes. There was another surprise: Linda had baked a cake and the J.D. design in icing was my name with the logo on it. I was in a park drinking around a bench with my friends blowing candles out of my cake on my 40th having a great time. The air guitar also got used – there’s a video of myself and Monica to prove it but I don’t think we will be on Britain’s Got Talent any time soon!
There was also a bar and food at this event. Overall it was great, there was a bit of running involved that can be taken seriously or not. There were plenty of prizes to be won some for fancy dress. We didn’t win a prize but my prize was spending my 40th with my awesome friends who had gone to so much trouble to make this a special occasion for me. It was awesome.