No sooner had I landed back on the island, after a couple of weeks on granddad duty in the UK, I was hunting around my apartment for a clean pair of running shorts in readiness for one of my favourite annual events – the Bahrain Relay Marathon.
Today, through the dedication of the organisers – The Bahrain Round Table and Rotaract Bahrain, part of Rotary International – and their valued sponsors, the event has grown to become one of the largest charity sporting events in the kingdom, helping to promote the value of team spirit and a healthy lifestyle.
Once again, I was sporting the number of ‘The Mission To Seafarers’ team, supporting a worthy cause that provides help and assistance to the 1.5 million crewmen and women who face danger every day to keep our global economy afloat.
The Mission works in more than 200 ports, including the one in Bahrain, caring for seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs. Through its global network of chaplains, staff members and volunteers it offers practical, emotional and spiritual support to seafarers through ship-visits, Flying Angel seafarers’ centres and a range of welfare and emergency support services.
As I lined up for a second time at Stage 2 just outside Bahrain International Circuit where the event kicked-off, I couldn’t help but remember my first relay a few years back when I was desperate to lose weight and took up the challenge laid down by my former colleague, the late Camille Jones, to sign up.
I was so determined to try and beat her time that I got bitten by the running bug and have never looked back. I’m sure to she is still smiling from above at the monster she created who now actually enjoys a morning jog.
My family support was missing this time too. The last time I waited in this spot the baton was handed to me by my son, Stan Jnr, who is now studying for his A levels at Bristol Grammar School.
I don’t recall it being so hectic. This year I had trouble spotting my opening leg compatriot as he had to push his way through a disorderly crowd blocking the route who made it difficult for all the opening runners to find their teammates.
That’s something for the organisers to have a look into when they come to making tweaks to next year’s event … as well as the scary driving noted by runners on the desert part of the course as cars got too close for comfort at times.
One thing, however, they must be congratulated on, was the successful introduction of technology as the batons recorded the times successfully electronically at every stage.
Although we were nowhere near the triumphant BAPCO team’s amazing finishing time of 2:38:55 or had anything like the energy to copy the youthful celebrations of the University of Bahrain runners as they crossed the finishing line in fourth place in just over three hours, I was well satisfied with recording a personal time of under six minutes for my leg (despite the first waves of man flu) helping our team to finish the 48.8km course in 4:14:08, taking an overall position of 57th place out of 210 teams.
There is method in my madness too. If you run leg 2 the finishing line is very close to Fuddruckers, one of my favourite breakfast haunts!
Well done to everyone who completed the event which is expected to raise around BD20,000 for good causes.