Not the JK relay 2015
By Bill Vigar
Evergreen Bill Vigar and Sue Gard had a torrid time returning from the JK 2015 in the Lake District...
It does have a few similarities with the Orienteering version of a Relay, but the rules are rather different
Many of you will know that the Easter weekend is the time for the JK series of events, the last event being the Relay on Easter Monday. Although we were at the event this year, we had not entered the relay, but were able to experience an alternative Relay event known as the AA Relay.
On leaving the Day 1 event our vehicle developed a fault for which an 'on site' fix was not possible. In view of it being the Easter weekend the prospect of any local fix was remote so, as Sue is a long term subscriber to the AA Relay service, this was the obvious solution.
It does have a few similarities with the Orienteering version of a Relay, but the rules are rather different. Firstly, although you know the total event length, you do not know how many legs there are, or what the start time is. Also you do not compete directly yourself but you, and your vehicle, accompany your unknown 'runner' . It worked like this.
You 'register' by phoning a special number and having to quote your membership details and explain your problem. You are then given an expected 'start time'. This is probably always rather vague, in this instance it 'could be up to 2 hrs'. After the 2hrs had passed, it was now 6:00 p.m. with no 'start' in sight, another phone call to 'enquiries' assured us it was 'on the way'.
At this point the dread of all relay runners occurred, our 2nd leg runner was not there waiting
It was, and by 6:30 we were loaded and on our way. Our first leg runner was a freelance, probably on a 'zero hours' contract, which restricted him to a 60 mile radius from his base. This meant he had to decant us just off the M6 J36. At this point the dread of all relay runners occurred, our 2nd leg runner was not there waiting, but we were assured he would be there in 'about 1/2 hr'. After rather more than this a 'real' AA person arrived and we were re-loaded.
There was however a problem, due to 'working hours' regulations he only had about an hour left before having to have his 3/4 break, so could only take us to the Keele services, it was now 11:00 p.m.. He could 21 not have taken us any further, even if we waited for him to have his 3/4 hr break, as the system did not allow it. Again our 3rd leg runner was not at Keele and after 3/4 hr we saw our leg 2 runner depart still with no 3rd leg runner yet in view.
So how did we do in orienteering terms? Well 1.33 min/K, with a fuel consumption of about 2000 mpg sounds pretty good, no splits were taken due the poor handover techniques. However, as far as we know, we were the only competitor.
Can I recommend this alternative relay? All the runners were friendly and efficient, but the 'back room' section seemed a little lacking at times. I know there are others purporting to offer a similar service, but like changing bank accounts, or energy providers, can you be sure the change will be for the better? After all it was Easter Saturday, just as well the event was not at Oban.
Just as we were contemplating another call to 'enquiries' an AA vehicle was spotted in a different part of the empty car park. He turned out to be our leg 3 runner but he had bad news. He only had 10 mins of his shift left before his 3/4 hr break. He was most apologetic and we sat in his nice warm cab, he kept the engine running, for his 3/4 hr break and then we were off again, it was now 1:30 a.m.. I dozed off a bit after this and in no time, actually 2 1/2 hrs, we were at Gordano services by 4:00, real progress, and furthermore our last leg runner was already there waiting. Another 'freelance' this time, but he had a 100 mile radius centred on Oxford, so we just made it to Hemyock by 5:30 a.m.. and so to bed!