Well where do I start to describe this amazing event!!
For those who haven't heard of it Thunder Run 24 is an adidas sponsored 24 hours relay round an off road 10k course at Catton Park Farm, Derbyshire. It can be run by solo runners, pairs, teams of 3-5 or teams from 6-8.
There were 2,700 runners and all their family and supporters camped out around the farm with the course winding in and out through the campers and into the woods and fields nearby.
We originally hoped to enter a team of eight from the club (Oldham & Royton Harriers) but injuries had reduced us to five - Sara, Kirsty, Anne-Marie, Dominic and myself, before we recruited new member Tony Muir to give us a team of six!
We arrived at 9am Saturday morning ready for the 12 noon start but many runners had arrived on the Friday to get the best camp positions but we got a good spot between 8 and 9km on the course. The downside was a 10 minute walk to the star/finish area.
We registered and collected our timing chip, number and excellent event t-shirt and then headed back to our camp to prepare. We set ourselves a tough taregt of 24 laps in 24 hours averaging 60 minutes per 10k loop and I'd worked out the running order aiming to have the three guys running the tough dark hours from 1-4am.
This plan gave Sara the first leg followed by Dom, me, Tony, Anne-Marie and Kirsty. We gathered near the start to listen to a runners briefing and I met up with Melanie Floyd and Lorraine O'Connor Ramos and their team and got a quick photo with them.
We also got a team photo near the start/finish line.
We then wished Sara good luck as she headed onto the start line. Here's some pics of the start as they set off.
On the photo above you can just see Sara between the two runners in yellow.
That was the last time we were all together until the 24 hours were over and Anne-Marie finished the final lap and we joined her for the final 100m to finish as a team.
The early laps were in the sun and heat and I ran my first two laps in 51:29 and 50:09 on my watch but I think there'll be some differences with the chip timing. Everyone was running well and after all our first laps we were over 50 minutes ahead of our target schedule. However we knew that thunder storms and rain were forecast for that night which would slow us down. Before the rain came we managed to get some photos as our team passed our part of the campsite.
Between 6-7pm there was a special sprint challenge where chip timing mats were placed at the start and finish of a 100m section of a hill and everyone running at that time was timed. Dom was running for us and had a great sprint to finish 37th out of over 400 runners. The winning runner did it in 13.4s and won a pair of shoes for each of the team!
During the evening the rain started and was soon followed by thunder and lightening. The torrential rain lasted for around 6 hours and turned the course into a mud bath. And like most of the other runners we kept going, headtorches on and running into the night.
My third run began at 5 to 1 in the morning and the rain was horrendous. My headtorch lit the 5m in front of me and I was loving it and pushed myself on through rivers of mud that were unbelievable. If the climbs were difficult the downhills were amazing as we slid and ran down as best we could. The first half of the course was difficult and I went through 5k in 33 minutes.
I then started to kick on passing other runners and enjoying myself especially through the woods where the trees were very close together and the course twisted and turned through the trees. I really enjoyed this leg finishing in 63 minutes to hand over to Tony.
I went back to camp and Anne-Marie then went out to take over from Tony. I then found out that none of the others were capable of getting out for another lap just yet. I set off to relieve Anne-Marie but knew I hadn't recovered from my run or eaten anything to replenish my energy levels. I got very cold waiting at the changeover point and realised I couldn't do another lap just yet so waited to persaude Anne-Marie to take a break and we'd get going again after a rest.
Anne-Marie was brilliant, she just said 'I'm enjoying this' and she clicked her watch and set off to do another lap. By the time Anne-Marie got back Sara was recovered an ran her lap and then we all got back going and finished the day. Very fittingly Anne-Marie got the glory leg to finish our grand adventure.
Our final total was 23 laps just short of our target but we'll be back! We all put our race shirts on and went to meet her just before the finish and ran in the last 100m with her.
We got a finishers medal and had a team photo taken at the end.
We loved the event and have learned a lot from our experience and hope to be back next year, when we'll beat our 24 laps target.
The hardest thing was the lack of sleep - partly due to the torrential rain which made getting to sleep difficult. But in all we had an amazing time and really enjoyed the event.
I'm sure I've missed something but so much happened that it'd be impossible to cover everything! Just one example was on my second lap when suddenly I heard someone shout 'It's Pete! Go Pete' I shouted thanks but carried on with my run not knowing who it was. To discover on Monday that it was Tracy from work who was also there running in a team but happened to be supporting at that point!
A great event but no one should try to enter for next year's event, until after we've got our entry in!
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