Run Fest Run – a new UK running festival

RunFestRun poster.

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 £350 to £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:

  • Camping
  • Running
  • 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!)

Some tents in the campsite of a UK running festival.
The obligatory tent shot… what you can’t see is that there was a snapped pole at the other end!

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.

Registering

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.

Sunset Shuffle

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.

A field with trees and a lake. The sky is blue with light clouds.
Open water swimming in this lake was one of the activities available at the weekend.
A woman pushing a buggy on a tarmac path. To the left are fields with sheep in them. On the horizon, a fairground can be seen.
It’s just about possible to see the festival ground in this photo.
A woman pushing a buggy on a tarmac path by a field.

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.

A traditional helter-skelter (slide going around a central tower) at night. It is decorated with lights.

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.

10km run

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.

Stuart and M at the bottom of the traditional helter-skelter.
Stu and M at the bottom of the helter-skelter.
A child riding a cockerel on a merry-go-round.
Carousels normally have horses, but M chose to ride a cockerel!

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.

A band on stage at RunFestRun, a new UK running festival.

M loved having an opportunity to climb on the beehive climbing frame…

Children climbing a beehive-shaped climbing frame made of wooden blocks.

…and she also persuaded me to let her go on the carousel again!

A child on a merry-go-round waving.

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.

Sister Bliss performing with Faithless on stage at RunFestRun.

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.

A crowd of runners at RunfestRun a new UK running festival. The runners are watching a stage where Colin Jackson is talking to Vassos Alexander.
Vassos explaining how Big Bug Run would work.

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.

M in her running buggy with butterfly wings attached to the bumper bar.
The timing of the run coincided with M’s nap time, so she wanted to sit down, rather than run.
Selfie of Tamsyn with M.
As you can see, M wasn’t happy to be in my pre-run selfie!

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!

Stuart and Tamsyn wearing their butterfly t-shirts and wings by a waterfall during RunFestRun's Big Bug Run.

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.

Children wearing enormous butterfly wings lining the path.
People wearing enormous butterfly wings.
Children dressed as butterflies.
Rear view of Stu pushing the buggy with people dressed as butterflies on either side of him.

It wasn’t long before we were heading back to the start/finish area.

Stuart and Sandra with the buggy near the end of the Big Bug Run. A trail of runners can be seen off into the distance. They are at the top of a hill overlooking a lake.

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.

Stuart, Tamsyn and M with Paula Radcliffe.

Final stroll

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.

Sandra, Tamsyn, Stuart and M at RunFestRun.

My final thoughts on this new UK running festival

Tamsyn's RunFestRun bib and three medals.

I really enjoyed this festival. I think the full ticket price would be too much to pay, but at £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.

I'd love to hear your thoughts...

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