14th A Coventry Way Challenge Commentary

17 April 2011

It is always a pleasure being associated with the A Coventry Way Challenge. That is because those taking part are always such a cheerful set of people all through the Way. So congratulations to all who started, however far you got whether it be Wolston; Ansty or as most did all the way back to Meriden – you are all stars!

The 2011 Challenge was a true team event. Before the day Bob Carey, ably assisted by John Green, persuaded Caroline and Lawrence at The Queen’s Head in Meriden to host the 2011 event. In turn Caroline and Lawrence made the Challenge very welcome in their back garden at the pub. The marquee, which was was erected prior to the weekend, provided an ideal focal point for the start & finish. James Osbourne added his skills as electrician so that we had a safe supply of electricity to light the activities at either end of the day and also to provide the important hot water for that refreshing cup of tea.

As we have come to enjoy, Anne Wade was in charge of organising the refreshments for the day. This involves several visits to the supermarket, and sharing things out into boxes for use at the checkpoints and at the finish. Also, for sometime prior to the day, Anne’s mum Maude had spent some time in her kitchen. The outcome included the excellent date-slice to be found at some checkpoints and the scrumptious lemon sponge cake as dessert at the finish – which was really delicious with hot custard. An extra pat on the back for Maude. Several people assisted Anne this year with the making of filled rolls – these included Vron Nicholas; Sue Hallett & Greta Greenall; Bernard Roebuck; Maureen Chapman. Anne also made her usual circuit of the 40 miles.

I asked Bob for information on who had been helping at Meriden. “Helpers at Meriden were Paul McKeeney on results, Alan Townsend, Roger Brown and Bill Eve all to start with on car parking and then Alan and Roger on certificates, results and T-shirt sales. Plus later on Keith Greenall and John Aylmer. Hope I haven’t missed anyone. Not forgetting of course Anne’s mom and dad, David and Maude on refreshments.”

Ulli Ull and Miranda Aston were looking after the early Kenilworth checkpoint and were soon ringing in to say that people were getting to them well before their checkpoint was due to be open. Tina & Bill Eve were, as usual, looking after the Bubbenhall checkpoint. This year due to a clash with other bookings at the village hall, Tina and Bill set up shop outside the Malt Shovel public house where Karen and Mark made us all feel very welcome.

I was situated at another new venue in Wolston at the Leisure & Community Centre. Here Amy looked after the timekeeping (in between mopping the floor). Tim was on refreshments and managed to have date-slice left over (which was returned to Meriden for the finish). One or two missed this checkpoint out as the signage was turned by someone (?) to point the other way. We are grateful to Keith at the Centre for looking after us and even laying on some music.

Frank Tonkinson and Doug Shelton were at Brinklow where the main street also hosted a Scooter rally at the White Lion. As ever, village resident, Sylvia Cree supplied quite a lot of water during the day. At Bedworth, the lawn of the front garden of Maureen and Jim Chapman was the place to flop for a few minutes as people recharged their energy with bananas for the final 10 miles. Debbie Osbourne (and her daughter) found that helping at Bedworth was far easier that walking the 40, both being a great assistance to Maureen & Jim.

Out in the sticks at Beach Oak Lane Vron & Ken Nicholas cared for those who by now had only about 6 miles to go. And at Corley Moor Dave Burrin and family were assisted by Mary Hewison who made sure that everyone continued through on their way back to Meriden. Dave as usual escorting the last (of many from Princethorpe College) finishers back to the Queen’s Head.

Two surprise (maybe not for our regulars) refreshment stops were put on at Ansty by Marie & Mick Hudspith and at Barnacle by Irene Rogers. These again proved a welcome relief.

Sue Bicknell offered to be sweeper along the Way, picking up the last man, woman and dog at Brinklow and bringing them through to Bedworth where they retired. Using information provided by Tina and then Sue en route, I was able to monitor progress of the tail enders from Bubbenhall through to Bedworth, which is often where people disappear into a black hole.

Out and about during the day were John Green and Peter Page, making sure that everything was running smoothly, taking the odd competitor with swollen ankle back to Meriden. No doubt we can enjoy Peter’s excellent photographs taken during the day.

A Coventry Way was devised by Cyril Bean. It was good to see Cyril & Iris present on the day. The two are soon to move to Nottingham to be closer to the family. We wish them well in their new home.

Finally a word of congratulations to Kenilworth Runners for this year taking the Relay title from the Sphinx, no mean feat with Bob Carey as time-keeper.

Bob Brandon