Well, another year, another exciting day out. With the weather forecast promising blustery heavy showers we all prepared for the worst as the teams set off on the 43 mile race to Basingstoke.

The run along the seafront didn't disappoint as the westerly wind slowed everyone to a crawl. Those not racing this leg used the time to catch up with the runners from the other teams along with promising the virgin runners a good day's running.

Once away from the coast, with the wind on our tails, the racing began in earnest.

Nick from Basingstoke Bushwhackers led the way at the first changeover at West Leigh with Basingstoke Whippets and Dawn to Dusk - the first mixed team - half a minute behind. Southampton B and Victory A closely followed a further 45 seconds back. Victory Vixens led the ladies race ahead of Wally' Angels and Hart to Hart.

The short hop to Rowlands Castle saw the Whippets with an 18 second lead over the Bushwhackers with Southampton B overhauling Dawn to Dusk for 3rd.

The short stretch along the Sussex Border Path to Finchdean saw Victory A overtake Dawn to Dusk and Southampton B with the 1st 9 teams seemingly arriving at less than one minute intervals.

The leg to Chalton contains a hill that just seems to go on forever but with a nice downhill towards the end. Neil from Victory A arrived into Chalton with a 3 second lead over Dawn to Dusk who had overtaken Southampton and sent their next runner off after the two Basingstoke teams ahead.

Buriton saw the Whippets emerge from the woods with a 10 second lead over Victory A. Dawn to Dusk, who had overtaken the Bushwhackers arrived 3 minutes down. Southampton C and Portsmouth Joggers A arrived together but The Lost Boys dropped a couple of placed further down the field with Hart to Hart at the rear 30 minutes down on the rest of the field.

The short leg to Petersfield saw the Bushwhackers retake 3rd spot from Dawn to Dusk, Victory Vixens move up the field at the expense of Southampton B, Wally's Angels and East Hants Disaster Crew came in together, and Hart to Hart dropped further back.

Dave from the Whippets arrived at Steep in a leg record time to find his next runner still checking out the route in the woods. The Bushwhackers and Dawn to Dusk passed Victory A and sent their runners off to try and close down a 7 minute deficit. East Hants overtook Wally's Angels and the Lost Boys.

With the Whippets gradually extending their lead the other teams kept swapping the order until at Lasham, on a seemingly short easy leg, navigation cost a couple of teams dearly. Dawn to Dusk arrived in 2nd, followed 4 minutes later by the Bushwhackers. Portsmouth Joggers mixed B were next, closely pursued by Southampton mixed A. Victory A, one of the teams that went astray, followed - a further 14 minutes behind.

Weston Corbett saw Southampton pass Portsmouth Joggers.

Hackwood Park enabled the Bushwhackers to change a 3 minute deficit into a 2 minute lead over Dawn to Dusk, Portsmouth Joggers reclaimed 4th from Southampton A, and Southampton B moving up a couple of places.

The last leg to Down Grange left the teams in the same position with the Whippets knocking 7 minutes off last year's winning time.

On a year when Dawn to Dusk, with only 1 runner in their mixed team, showed that, good preparation and navigation can produce results. When someone seemed to be holding an umbrella over all the runners so nobody got wet. When Hart to Hart, despite getting lost on a large number of legs, still ran almost all of them. When the Colemen, who hadn't done any running since this time last year, managed to finish.

The race this year was run in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease and was organised by Cyd Hill of Basingstoke & Mid Hants Athletics club; he even organised a seemingly endless supply of rolls, tea and cakes at the finish with help of his daughters.

Thanks to everyone to ran the race. I hope you all 'enjoyed' it and will be back next year. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

Don Powell

Basingstoke & Mid Hants A.C.