Sidmouth Running Club latest - Mighty Greens make huge success of the 2.6 Challenge

PUBLISHED: 08:36 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:36 30 April 2020

Alan Kay and Adrian Horne  taking part in the Sidmouth Running Club's 26.2 Challenge effort. Picture: SRC

Alan Kay and Adrian Horne taking part in the Sidmouth Running Club's 26.2 Challenge effort. Picture: SRC


Sidmouth Running Club (SRC) fully embraced the 26.2 Challenge that was held to replace the London Marathon in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, writes Hamish Spence.

Just days before Sunday’s event, SRC member Paul Mitchell formed the ‘Mighty Green Fantasy London Marathon Lockdown Relay Team’.

Using social media he put the word out for others to join him and he was inundated with fellow members wanting to ‘play their part’.

He very quickly had a team assembled, but there was a problem - there was no baton!

Back to social media and Laura Broughton came up with the solution, a very bright, but perfect shade of shiny Mighty Green coloured roll of wrapping paper.

The rules of the relay were set as:

1. All social distancing rules apply.

2. The Mighty Green Baton must be taken all the way from the start to the finish (for health and safety the real baton may appear as an image on your cell phone).

3. During the Sunday (April 26) event, each team member was to run 2.62 miles at their own pace with one of those miles counting towards the overall marathon run effort.

4. Runners were to be in SRC colours with a rainbow adorned somewhere on their person.

5. Each runner to identify a chosen charity to support and make a donation of £2.62 or multiples there-of.

Getting the relay dream team started on its ‘remote and virtual’ social distancing fantasy event with Mighty Green Baton in hand was Laura Broughton.

Wearing a dazzling rainbow head piece she set off to the sound of the Klaxton out of Greenwich Park bang on time!

The crowd were all keeping a social distance, dressed in rainbow colours and waving flags.

They were cheering and clapping the runners on their way.

In her head, Laura ran up to her favourite area, Aylesbeare Common. A place that holds special memories for her and her family and somewhere to which she has been able to visit with her children most days since the start of the lockdown.

As she approached the end of her mile the sight of bright pink socks belonging to Suzi Rockey appeared ahead of her.

Suzi started her jog as Laura made the approach and the baton was passed without hitch.

It was then over to Jessica Davies who wanted to see Tower Bridge, but knew she would have to wait until after her stint was done.

There was a Caribbean steal drum band playing a rhythmic tune and the music lifted her spirits. She imagined the tranquility and mesmerising rhythm of standing on Harpford’s bridge and listening to the running water of the River Otter, a favourite place that Jessica likes to run.

Jessica then noticed the familiar sight of another green shirt being worn by Debbie Marriott. A little confusion now took place!

The gleaming Mighty Green baton needed to be given to Stuart Coles.

Where was Stuart and why was Debbie here? All very suspicious! It turned out that Stuart was talking to Her Majesty the Queen who was enjoying the sunshine while out walking her Corgi’s and passing the Mayflower Pub.

He also made some other wild suggestions, like for instance, that he had seen Naomi Garrick standing outside the same pub with a massive wooden clothes chest, cloths strewn everywhere.

He was claiming Naomi was wearing a strawberry outfit with a bridal veil over her head and rainbow socks on her feet!

A quick phone call alerted Stuart to get back to his post asap.

He managed to complete his section, gaining a few minutes on the expected time.

He explained how that was done saying: “I imagined I had a slight descent all the way, you should try it sometime.”

He continued: “I pretend I’m running down The Byes in Sidmouth and it works a treat”.

Jess and Debbie were raising funds for Krabbes UK and Stuart donated to Allen Kay’s fund raiser.

Having seen, felt and tasted the rainbow the Salter girls decided to draw the rainbow, so chalks in hand they did just that right across the road. Both Emma and Yasmin Salter pushed themselves hard, building on the already good start made by the previous four.

Yasmin was the first to notice something strange about the bright Mighty Green baton, it was no longer cold to the touch.

While flying along the streets of London Emma and Yasmin imagined their favourite route up Jacobs Ladder and Peak Hill. Both ladies have donated to the Devon Air Ambulance.

After a swift handover of the gleaming Mighty Green baton from Yasmin, Kerry Salter started her mile.

She left the area of the Cutty Sark at speed. The spectators were spaced apart and being fantastic along the route with lots of cheering and clapping. One hundred yards in she decided, it was time to check her pace.

It was fast and furious, so looking around she realised the number of bulky fancy dress costumes had reduced.

She said: “I thought to myself, fantastic; my running has finally reached the next level”.

She continued: “This spurred me on to finish with a strong handover of the baton to Cheryl Boulton.

“It was an amazing day to be part of and I’m donating to Force.”

The gleaming green baton was now getting more than warm to hold as Cheryl Boulton took charge of it.

Digging deep and thinking about the sound of waves on the shores of Sidmouth seafront she took on her section of the fantasy relay raising funds for the Samaritans.

Rocker Shepperd took over for mile nine making a perfect change over with Allen Kay.

Allen had been running around a football pitch all day raising funds for The Fire Fighters Charity so its fantastic that he volunteered to divert from his circuits to pick up from Rocker and carry the baton on to a very colourful Terry Bewes.

The Mighty Green Rainbow King ran like the wind.

Monica Read took the baton from the south side across the River Thames, over Tower Bridge and on to Richard King.

Next up was Adrian Horne, earlier in the day Adrian had been pacing for Allen Kay and giving much needed support and encouragement around the football pitch.

Now Adrian had to listen to his own advice and carry the very warm gleaming Mighty Green baton onto Mark Derwick.

Kerry Boyle collected the baton from Mark Derwick and steadily ran her mile through the Docklands to pass it on to Cath Miller.

I caught up with Cath Miller after the event and she reflected on the atmosphere saying: “Wow, what a day! Although the streets of London felt unusually quiet, there was still a cheerfulness about it all.”

She continued: “As I took the Mighty Green baton from Kerry, my legs turned to jelly and my mental state was not good.”

She told me this wasn’t helped by looking over Canary Wharf.

But she knew she had to just get on with it. Asking her what happened next, she replied: “I gripped the gleaming Mighty Green baton hard in my hand, boy did that baton feel hot!

“I then remembered where I’d come from, Sidmouth through and through, I’m a Mighty Green and that mile section will not beat me”.

That was it, Cath, raising funds for the Devon Air Ambulance, taking the Mighty Green spirit with her.

Claire Ashby had been warming up for around 10 minutes and was fully charged and hot to trot. Although no one could do the real marathon this year, doing one fantasy section quicker than her husband Justin Ashby is what she intended. She wanted to beat him on pace. Immediately the baton exchange happened, there was a green flash! Claire was gone, off like a rocket.

We will never know the exact pace, as her recording device could not keep up!

Rob Edwards nervously waited for the baton while trying to blend into the background in his camouflage kit. The hand over went really well considering the speed Claire came in at. He set off at his standard speed of four-miles-a-fortnight, (his words not mine). It’s normally fairly quiet by this point in the London marathon, but that’s how Rob likes it.

He told me: “There is nothing like a morning run on the route up Fire Beacon Hill, with only the sound of chiffchaffs for company”. His donation went to Shelter and the Trussell Trust.

David Lee took over from Rob with Jon Hanson following on, both keeping the Mighty Green pace.

The change over with Julie Mitchell was not the best, she had not expected the baton to be so hot!

Julie had decided to take on the really big Tower Hill. Having followed her other half around a number of marathons, she knew it starts getting difficult at this point.

To overcome the thought of such a hill Julie put remembered the climb up from Weston Beach to the Frog Stone, all 262 steps!

The climb up Tower Hill was going better than expected and she focused on the young runner in front of her.

Helped by his regular stride (or was it his physique), anyway all she needed to do, was to concentrate on matching his pace and then overtake him on the down hill section.

At the top of the hill she picked up speed, her adrenaline pumping, the crowd all well spaced and willing her on to the home straight.

Her pace increased again as there was a realisation that cake was available at the end of her section, lovely chocolate cake…victoria sponges… cookies. Julie did her bit and has raised funds for Exeter Mardon Hospital.

She passed the now very hot Mighty Green baton onto Paul Mitchell.

Getting to Blackfriars quickly is what Paul intended, not far to go now. I asked him about the change over and he replied: “It was a clean exchange of the gleaming, but very hot green baton, I was properly warmed up ready for the challenge.”

The spectators were willing him on with a cacophony of sound, chanting encouragingly, Mighty Green, Mighty Green.

Halfway into his mile, Paul looked around and saw a familiar face, maybe a celebrity runner or tv personality, then he noticed under the rainbow wig was ginger hair, it was Chris Evans… he’d just overtaken Chris Evans!

On he went, overtaking many other tired rainbow coloured runners, doing his bit to uphold the prestige of wearing the Mighty Green shirt. Paul spots his change over buddy and SRC marathon record holder for the 60 plus age group, Colin Flood.

Colin Flood took the baton from a tired looking Paul and set off down the Embankment. He set off fast, with good reason, apart from his top level of fitness he could hear the unmistakable sound of jazz music spurring him on. But where was it coming from? Was it behind him? It was definitely getting louder.

Stealing a glance over his shoulder, he noticed a magnificent paddle steamer, smoke billowing from her twin stacks, a jazz band playing on the open deck.

In a moment she was gone, around the next bend, leaving a swirl of foam in the water and a tang of woodsmoke in the air.

Ever since he’d read Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn as a lad, Colin wanted to travel the Mississippi, but he realised that in these days of lockdown, the Thames would do just fine.

He did find holding the scorching hot Mighty Green baton was almost impossible, so had to, to keep swapping hands. Colin had managed to place the MG team in third place and Danny Baker was going to have no choice, but to continue with the relentless speed.

He would have to hope that his old injury would not speak up now.

The change over went well, Danny picked up speed but there was now no-way he could hold that scorchingly hot gleaming Mighty Green baton! Swapping hands was no good either! What to do? Then it struck him as he passed a Bong-less Big Ben, he could juggle.

So, with his water bottles and the baton he maintained his pace, water bottles and baton spinning through the air as he ran.

Sitting quietly on a park bench watching out for the runners, was a majestic looking lady and her corgis. She was so excited to see the front runner that she stood up and started to clap enthusiastically. When she saw him chucking things up in the air and catching them and running in the lead, she got her corgi’s to start barking with excitement.

As a juggling Danny Baker speeds by she called out: “One is most amused”, and “Bravo, one is doing very well, keep it up young man”.

Danny was still able to raise his cap as he went on his way. Question is, will HM ask for Danny to perform at the next Royal Variety Show?

Danny maintained his position at the front, putting the Mighty Green Sidmouth Running Club firmly on the map.

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