I read about RunFestRun, a new UK running festival a while ago and thought it sounded great, but the cost of tickets and my lack of running fitness meant that I didn’t expect to take part. However, just over a week ago, someone shared a discount code with me that reduced the cost of a family ticket from Â£350 to Â£9.50. Well, who can resist a bargain like that?! (I later found out that it was possible to get complimentary running club tickets! I’ll be keeping an eye on that for next year!)
There were lots of aspects of the festival that we were looking forward to:
- Motivational speakers/athletes
- Fitness sessions and workouts
- Live bands
Also, we had decided not to go to Thunder Run (another UK running festival /24-hour event) this year for a variety of reasons, so this was a great alternative.
Setting up camp
The running festival started at 2pm on Friday. Stu had to work, so I agreed that I would drive there with my mum and M. We would set up camp and Stu would catch a train and join us later. If you’ve ever set up a tent with someone in their 70s who has never camped and a toddler, you’ll realise that I drew the short straw. (Sorry, Mum!)
Because we’d had plenty of time at home in the morning and had eaten a good breakfast, we brought sandwiches with us for dinner. This was a good strategy as it meant that we didn’t have to spend money on a meal and we also didn’t have to juggle pans on our one ring camping stove.
After Stuart arrived, we went down to the festival to register. Unfortunately, there were long queues and we were told to come after Sunset Shuffle.
I think that if we were to do this event again, we would plan to arrive earlier on the Friday. We would then get the tent up as fast as possible before heading to the festival to register and check out all of the stands.
Frustratingly, when we got back after the Sunset Shuffle we were told that registration had closed and that we should come back in the morning. At some point, someone realised that that would cause chaos in the morning, so the decision was reversed and registration reopened.
Stuart, my mum and I each received a t-shirt and the four of us received butterfly wings. The t-shirts were ‘athletic’ fit and as the background is black, they’re quite hot, but I liked the designs.
We booked our places for RunFestRun too late to sign up for the ‘Light up the Night’ run, so we decided to do the Sunset Shuffle to get a Friday run in.
I sent Stu off to do 5k at his pace, whilst I agreed to jog/walk with my mum and M. M wanted to run parts of it, so I let her out of the buggy to join in. Most people had started a lot earlier than us, but there were still plenty of people on the course.
The pace we were going at meant that it was possible for me to take photos out on the course. It also meant that we had some idea of where we would be running in the other events.
After we had completed the Sunset Shuffle, we wandered around a bit but decided not to linger for too long. The bands sounded good, but it’s not really feasible to stay out with a toddler.
Frustratingly, a family had pitched their tent so close to ours on one side that we could only use the other entrance. The family on the other side had pitched up late and then spent until long after midnight discussing where to put their underwear. I got close to shouting, “I don’t care where you put your pants!!!”
Saturday morning swim – or not 🙁
The first race on Saturday morning was a half marathon. Neither Stu nor I had trained enough to run that far, so we decided not to risk injury. We could have gone to Chippenham parkrun, but had read that open water swimming was available.
We’re busy training for Castle to Coast triathlon, so decided to take advantage of having a babysitter to do an open water swim. We’d packed our wetsuits and our dry robes. Unfortunately, no-one had said that it was necessary to book the open water swimming in advance and that there were no places left. It was incredibly frustrating. If we’d known we could have saved a lot of space in the car… and I’d have persuaded the others to come and do a parkrun with me!
5km with M
We started our running on Saturday with a 5k. Stu ran at his own pace, I ran with M and my mum was free to jog/walk. I was glad that we had walked the course the night before. It meant I was prepared for the off-road section towards the end of the run.
M was asleep for most of the run. However, she woke up towards the end when someone was handing out snack bars.
I thought this race was a good opportunity to run in my new buggy-running t-shirt. You can’t see it clearly in the picture above. The image below shows the design more clearly.
It wasn’t a fast run, but I really enjoyed it. My official time was 38:44 (with a 39:58 gun time), so I managed to stay under 40 minutes.
My second run of the day was 10km. I wanted to run well, but it was a lot hotter than I was expecting and the terrain was quite challenging. It was quite clear to me that I hadn’t trained for it.
Stuart came to cheer me on towards the end. I was giving up by that point and just wanted to finish!
When I reached the finish line, I felt so grateful!
I finished in 1:23:17, which is the slowest 10k I’ve ever run. At least I managed a negative split as I ran the first 5k in 42:37 and the second 5k in 40:40,!
Afternoon and evening relaxation
After running we headed back to our tent to make gnocchi with pesto and sweetcorn for lunch. Possibly not the most nutritious meal, but it’s very easy to prepare in one pan!
in the afternoon, we took Mto the fair in the afternoon. She was entranced by the carousel and helter-skelter.
In the evening, we listened to some of the bands whilst tucking into fish and chips. I also had a glass of cider, which is unusual for me.
M loved having an opportunity to climb on the beehive climbing frame…
…and she also persuaded me to let her go on the carousel again!
We stayed around for some of the Faithless/Sista Bliss DJ set, but M wanted to go to bed and I was also feeling tired.
Big Bug Run
The final ‘race’ of the weekend was the Big Bug Run. Throughout the weekend, teams had been amassing points based on finish positions and there was the promise that every member of the winning team would get a free day entry pass to CarFest.
As the event was scheduled to take place late morning, we packed up our tent as soon as we were dressed. Then we had plenty of time to mingle with other runners who were wearing the insect-themed outfits.
We were set off in waves, with butterflies in the third wave of 4.
Along the way, we had to pick up balls (‘nectar’) to score points. The last wave were best prepared and managed to get bags to carry their balls in. This was one time where being a buggy runner was an advantage as I had somewhere to store the balls I collected. However, I was sad that the timing of the run meant that M fell asleep near the start and missed all of the fun. Even when someone squirted her with a water pistol, she didn’t stir!
Time wasn’t a focus in this ‘race’, so Stu and I stopped along the way to have our photos taken and to take photos of the characters along the way.
It wasn’t long before we were heading back to the start/finish area.
When we got there, we had to empty our ‘nectar’ into the boot of a Volvo (one of the event’s sponsors). Paula Radcliffe was there greeting runners, so we stopped with a photo.
After the run, we couldn’t return to the tent to change as we’d taken it down, so we decided to stroll around the stands. We hadn’t explored the village before, so it was nice to see what was on offer. I quite liked some of the Flanci skorts that were on sale. We also picked up some free Epsom salts and some kefir. Club La Santa also persuaded us to pose for a phot.
My final thoughts on this new UK running festival
I really enjoyed this festival. I think the full ticket price would be too much to pay, but at Â£9.50, it was excellent value for money. I’ve also learnt that many UKA members got free entry to the event. The camping facilities were good, although I queued for over an hour to shower, so that’s something which could be improved in future. The queues for food were also long.
A lot of thought had been put into family-friendly activities. I think in 4 years time, M would really appreciate what was on offer.
Some people have suggested that the medal for each run should be different. That would be good, but I wasn’t in it for the medals.
The only real downside to this event was the lack of information about the wild swimming on offer. Hopefully, that will be rectified by next year.