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Fellow Kew Camberwell team members for the
1980 New Zealand Road Relay Championships.

There is plenty of camaraderie in distance running, but it is not usually thought of as a team sport.  There are club competitions run by various State and National running organisations for road and cross-country running, but my observation is that it still ends to be an individual competition with the performances just aggregated to determine team positions after the event.

The exception is relay racing where each individual runner is very conscious of their team membership and expectations.  I have known runners who almost always perform better in a relay race than when they are running for themselves, and others who find the pressure too much and choke.

Start of the 1980 New Zealand Road Relay Chempionships.

Most of my relay running was done in the 1970s and 1980s when I was a member of Kew Camberwell District AAC and its antecedents.  In our heyday we were one of the strongest distance running clubs in Victoria and derived some perverse pleasure from our lack of national and international stars of the kind that characterised the ranks of the two best Victorian clubs, Glenhuntly and Box Hill.  We were a club of journeyman runners who enjoyed fierce, but good-natured, competition amongst ourselves then took great pride in our ability to be competitive with the best clubs in team competition.

Running my leg in the 1981 New
Zealand Road Relay Championships
(9.6km, 29:34).

Although there were some relay competitions in Australia, it was the annual New Zealand Road Relay Championships that really caught our attention after Glenhuntly returned from competing there in 1979.  The competition in New Zealand was of exceptionally high standard and the event, which called for a team of ten to run an average of 10km each, was very competitive and continues to this day.  As I recall, the super Glenhuntly team had only just got onto the podium.

We managed to muster sufficient members to run in the competition in three different years in the early 1980s, but it was the first trip that sticks most in my mind.  We travelled over as a group starting in Auckland where we competed in a local road race before driving south in a hired van to Wellington where the Relay was to take place the following weekend.  There were 23 teams in A Grade and our goal was a top ten finish.  Glenhuntly were there again.  Our early runners excelled themselves, and the rest of us lifted to match their efforts.  I was only a few months past major knee surgery and couldn't run very well downhills so was given a 6.2km all uphill leg.  I wasn't at my best, but can still remember the pressure I felt to maintain our good position on that long climb.  The junior runner in our team who ran the downhill leg after me, wore the soles off both his feet blasting down the hill and had trouble even walking in the days that followed.  I can still remember Chris Wardlaw, a two-time Olympian and Glenhuntly team member, complaining to us "that seven legs have passed and we still haven't caught you bastards", or words to that effect.  That made our day.  Their class ultimately told and they finished seventh overall, but we were just two places and two and a half minutes behind.

The Kew Camberwell team for the 1983 New Zealand
Road Relay Championships.

We never did quite as well in the subsequent years, but I'm sure all of us who ran in the Kew Camberwell teams still remember them fondly.

Being Saturday, it was the usual Terrigal Trotters run at 6:00am, and I went down to meet my friends who were running and went for a 6km walk while they were out.  I feel like I'm treading water, waiting for the specialist appointments and my body to repair itself.  Not much else I can do at present, but it's very frustrating.