Last weekend, Stuart and I took part in Thunder Run 2015, a 24-hour running relay that takes place in Derbyshire. It’s the 4th time that we’ve taken part in this event, so we knew what to expect. Liz, Suzanne and Jenny also ran (as members of two Run Camp teams). Stuart has previously run with some competitive male 5 teams, whereas I’ve usually been in mixed teams of 6-8. This time, we were in a mixed ability team of 7.
The race started at midday on Saturday. We decided to send Stuart out first as he was our fastest runner. Unfortunately, it had rained heavily almost all day on Friday. Although it was dry on Saturday, the course was horrendous. My team was camped at about the 9.5km point.Stu was able to shout to me that I needed to wear trail shoes as he ran past. I quickly swapped my fairly sturdy trainers for trail shoes and headed to the handover.
My first 10k at Thunder Run 2015
My first 10km was fairly difficult. Much of the course is on a camber and the mud was extremely slippery. Also, as Stu had run quite a quick lap, I had set out fairly early. There were lots of runners who were faster than me who needed to overtake. I decided to take it steady as I wanted to be able to do several more laps. Also, I didn’t want to risk injury.
I quite enjoyed my first lap, even though it was warm. The mud made it extremely slippery and my glutes had to work hard to keep me upright, which meant that I felt stiff afterwards. Fortunately, Stu and I had several hours to recover, so we went in search of Darren. Darren told us that he knew where Nadine and Sam were – the Big Red Party Bus. D was correct – Sam was there sharing some bubbles with Nadine!
We spent a long time chatting before heading back to our tent. Becky was out running, so I decided to go and get something to eat. Unfortunately, I completely mistimed it. I hadn’t realised exactly what time Becky went out for her run and I also thought that Stu was going to do a double lap. It took ages for my jacket potato for cheese and beans to be served and I arrived back with it, just as a Becky ran past. This meant that it was time for Stu to run and he pointed out that he was only scheduled to run a single lap. Doh! I wouldn’t normally eat so much 45 minutes before a long run!
My strategy was to do a double lap as long run training for Ironman Dublin 70.3. I realised that I should be able to do the first lap in daylight, but that I would need to pick up my head torch for the second lap. I got it out with a headband and put it by my chair at the side of the course. Soon afterwards, Stu ran past, so I headed out for my second lap of the weekend.
Fortunately, the course had dried out a lot and the slippery mud was merely sticky by the time I started running (about 8:30pm). It was also a lot cooler, so although I didn’t run any faster than I did for my first lap, I found it a lot easier. The sun started to set by the time that I headed down off the ridge at about 8km. I knew I would be fine getting back to 9.5km where our tent was, but that it wouldn’t be long before I needed a head torch.
I got to the tent. My head torch and headband had gone. I started looking for them. Stu told me to carry on and that he would bring them to the finish. I felt really annoyed as I had left them there ready so that I wouldn’t waste time grabbing them; Stu had thought he was being helpful by putting them away in the tent.
Lap 3 in the dark
I grabbed my stuff from Stu in the finishing straight and then continued on.
It was nice to run past Darren’s camp area although I heard some of his friends comment that I was running past “again?!” I was starting to feel a bit fatigued, but a runner cheered me up as he went past. I was wearing an unusual Adidas running t-shirt (which is half yellow and half turquoise) with a pair of turquoise running shorts. The runner called out, “Well done, little minion!” It made me laugh as I hadn’t realised what my outfit looked like:
The course includes a lot of hills as well as some technical sections in amongst the trees. I found that the constant turning really made my hips and ankles ache, and I really slowed down in the dark. I was so grateful when I passed the team again and was able to shout to Rikki to meet me at the finish.
As soon as I got back to the tent, I got my kit ready for the morning and then went to bed. In previous years, I have been very cold, but this year we brought a hot water bottle, so it was quite cosy.
My fourth and final lap was at 6:15am. I managed to lie down for a few hours overnight but hadn’t had a lot of sleep. Quite a few people were grumbling about how cold it was, but I much prefer running when it’s cold and managed to pick up the pace a bit. It wasn’t much, but I was feeling really good.
There was an opportunity for me to do a 5th lap, but I had already showered by that stage and was busy packing up our tent. (I also didn’t want to hold up our minibus driver, who had taken part as a solo runner and completed 12 laps).
It was really good to see my friend Pete who was marshalling at the 5.5km water station on almost all of my laps. If it weren’t for great volunteers like Pete, events like this wouldn’t be able to take place. Thank you, Pete.
Overall, it was a really fun weekend, with Stu and I each completing 4 tough 10k laps.